Signing ceremony between TMC and Royal Caribbean. In front, from left: Maria Del Butso, Global Chief Human Resources Officer at Royal Caribbean Cruises and Ma Kui Jun, TMC's president.An unofficial, back-of-the-envelope analysis by the China Cruise and Yacht Industry Association (CCYIA) shows that China will need to train at least 300,000 crew members in the next decade. This assumes that ships catering to the Chinese market will need Chinese crew members to serve Chinese passengers.

Evidently, the supply side falls greatly behind against such enormous pending demand.

Currently, there are only about 30 institutes of higher learning throughout China offering cruise-related courses, training no more than 5,000 crew members per year. In the current scenario, the shortage of Chinese crew is only going to get worse.

Taking a long-term view, Royal Caribbean Cruises announced a strategic partnership with the Tianjin Maritime College (TMC) in developing the Royal Operations Training Center (ROTC) in June 2013, the first industry-academia tie- up in China.

Speaking with Cruise Industry News, TMC’s spokesperson, Chun Mei Geng, explained that the preparation for the ROTC is on track.

“By July 2014, the first batch of 1,200 crew trainees will be recruited. Royal Caribbean will provide all training curriculum and materials, performance assessment guidelines as well as financial and managerial support.”

Geng also mentioned that during these past months, Royal Caribbean has trained their teaching staff in batches through intensive five-day courses as part of the preparatory work.

CACTET, established in November 2012, was a strategic alliance initiated by TMC’s President, Kui Jun Ma, in collaboration with the CCYIA to put a concentrated effort toward cruise talent education.

Geng added: “The Tianjin government has been showing tremendous enthusiasm and support on this very meaningful initiative, and we hope to be an effective talent source for the cruise industry, catering to the vast opportunity of the Chinese cruise market.”

Excerpt from Cruise Industry News Quarterly Magazine: Spring 2014