According to the company's annual filing, Royal Caribbean's sea-based workforce at the end of 2023 totaled approximately 88,700 employees, marking a six percent decrease compared to the previous year. However, its land-based workforce, including private destinations, saw a notable increase of 17 percent, reaching about 9,500 full-time employees.

The company's robust performance was reflected in its first-quarter bookings, which hit a record high, driving quarterly revenue to US$3.73 billion, a notable 29 percent increase. As a result, Royal Caribbean's stock price has doubled over the past year, reaching new heights.

A spokesperson for the company highlighted that the recruitment strategy aligns with its business strategy of moderate capacity growth. With plans to introduce three new ships in 2024, Royal Caribbean aims to expand its workforce accordingly.

To meet the increasing demand for skilled workers, Royal Caribbean, along with rival Carnival, has approached institutions like the Caribbean Maritime University in Jamaica to enhance short-term skills and certification courses for prospective employees.

Expanding its reach beyond the Caribbean, Royal Caribbean has expressed interest in hiring more workers from regions like The Gambia and Netherlands territory St Maarten. The Gambia Tourism Board confirmed discussions with the cruise operator, with plans to provide up to 1,000 additional workers. Similarly, St Maarten is in talks with Royal Caribbean after a previous recruitment drive yielded fewer applicants than anticipated.

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According to the Florida-Caribbean Cruise Association, tens of thousands of individuals from the Caribbean and Latin America will need to be hired to support the deployment of new ships across the industry. However, one of the major challenges identified by tourism boards and ports is educating potential candidates about the opportunities for a career at sea to meet the growing labor demand.