Italian cruise liner hires more Kenyan sailors

Maritime Transport PS Nancy Karigithu (second from right) with MSC Cruises recruits at the Bandari Maritime Academy, Mombasa. [Robert Menza, Standard]

As the global cruise industry rushes to fill crew counts following the disruptive two-year Covid-19 pandemic that has also upended global economies, several cruise lines have now started hiring new staff.

This is as the service capacity of the cruise industry increases.

Kenya has not been left behind as an emerging hub for crew personnel with global cruise giants MSC Cruises and Royal Caribbean Cruises running camps in the country to hire thousands of new staff. .

In the latest such takeover, MSC Cruises, which signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructure at State House Nairobi on August 16, 2018, hired another 74 Kenyan sailors to work on board its flotilla. of cruise ships as deck and engine room personnel.

Already, MSC Cruises and MSC Cargo have absorbed up to 1,200 Kenyan sailors since 2018.

Speaking while addressing the successful crew of the Bandari Maritime Academy, the Principal Secretary for Merchant Shipping and Maritime Affairs and Special Envoy for the Blue Economy, Dr Nancy Karigithu said Kenya is on the way to realizing its earlier dream of having more of its personnel in the maritime labor market. .

“We are seeing the continued fruits of our partnership with MSC. MSC is our savior and we don’t take that for granted,” she said.

Six female sailors took part in a rigorous recruitment exercise. They are Sophie Ochuodo and Virginia Muhindi while Scovia Achila, Priscah Bahati and Villa Auma Otieno have been hired as ordinary ratings.

Dr Karigithu noted that the journey to transform Kenya’s maritime sector has been a long one, involving many meetings with potential employers.

“Our government has taken the lead and remained committed to ensuring that it fully harnesses the benefits arising from blue economy tourism, which is part of cruising being one of them,” said- she declared.

She welcomed the partnership with MSC which, in addition to employing Kenyans to work on its cruise ships, has also enabled hundreds more to work on its cargo fleet.

“This is a valuable partnership between Kenya and the private sector. We look forward to more partnerships as we seek to fully establish Kenya as a maritime state,” the SP noted.

Renowned mentors for seafarers in the port city of Mombasa, Steve Owaki and Joseph Khaemba have praised MSC for showing confidence in hiring Kenyan crew to work aboard its fleets.

“We commend the efforts of the Government of Kenya and MSC for this healthy cooperation and call on the new government to show commitment and support for the full revival of the maritime sector,” Owaki said.

Maritime commerce

Mr. Owaki noted that MSC is an active participant in international maritime trade which accounts for a significant percentage of Kenya’s total trade.

“They have a fully-fledged staffing office and have even employed Kenyan staff who continue to be professional in their work,” Owaki noted.

The International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) Ship Inspector based at the Port of Mombasa, Ms Betty Makena, said the shipping industry is complex, full of worker exploitation and social dumping.

“We are pleased with the way MSC has conducted its business in terms of hiring Kenyan seafarers. We note that other international shipping companies have also followed suit,” she said.

“There are people like Royal Caribbean and Celebrity Cruises who have also started hiring Kenyan crew from the local hospitality industry.”

The ongoing recruitment of Kenyan sailors comes at a time when there is demand for more crew personnel, a recent report by Cruise Industry News says.

Capacity is up from August to around 595,000 berths in service with 388 vessels in service compared to 389 in August. A handful of expedition ships spend the month of September out of service, transitioning between polar seasons and charter operators. Ships starting commercial service include the new Norwegian Prima, Volendam, Sapphire Princess and Viking Polaris, as well as the Venus Australis.

After her baptism in Iceland at the end of August with Katy Perry, the Norwegian Prima sails first in Northern Europe before crossing North America, arriving in New York before her debut in Galveston, Miami and then Port Canaveral.

For Holland America Line, the Volendam returns to service on September 24, marking the last ship to return to service for the Carnival Corporation brand when it departs Trieste. The 1,432-guest ship has spent the past few months hosting Ukrainian refugees in the Netherlands.

Compared to a year ago, the industry has seen a significant increase in capacity as last September just over 200 vessels were scheduled to sail, representing approximately 325,000 berths.

MSC Cruises will launch its latest ship, MSC Seascape with a 17-day maiden voyage from Rome to New York. It will depart from Civitavecchia (Rome) for an enchanting transatlantic cruise in November.

The 17-night Grand Voyage of Discovery will stop in Barcelona, ​​Valencia and Cadiz before heading out to the Atlantic, with stops in Funchal and Bermuda (King’s Wharf) en route to New York.