CMU ramps up tourism training

by Mar 30, 2023Pulse

The tourism industry is set to benefit from a memorandum of understanding (MOU) that was inked, earlier this month, between Carnival Cruise Line and Caribbean Maritime University (CMU).

According to CMU President Professor Andrew Spencer, 45 maritime students will get hands-on training at sea with Carnival over the next three years.

CMU President Professor Andrew Spencer

Who knows, maybe one of them will one day become the first Jamaican to captain a Carnival vessel. That’s one of Spencer’s long-term goals. Another is to make CMU the university-of-choice for Carnival’s current and potential employees. They would be trained using equipment (life vests, life boats, etc) Carnival passes on to CMU after they have outlived their usefulness in the company’s commercial operations, but still cutting edge when used for hands-on lessons. All of this ties in with CMU’s goal of training 4,000 students a year and providing jobs for all who graduate, part of its five-year strategic plan that runs up to 2027. The plan also includes potentially expanding the CMU offerings available at Sam Sharpe Teachers’ College in Montego Bay to include the tourism degree offered at the main campus in Palisadoes Park, Kingston.

“The programme we currently offer at the Sam Sharpe Teachers’ College (SSTC) is shipping and logistics, primarily. But we realise there was a call now for us to serve the tourism space. And so the existing degree in tourism is something we’re considering offering in the Montego Bay area,” Spencer tells

“But, more importantly, the agility that the CMU has that some other universities don’t have is that we’re able to very quickly create certificate programmes through a cluster of courses. For example, from that tourism programme, three courses together could provide a certificate. In fact, we’ve gone a step further,” he adds.

He is referring to a laddering approach that makes it possible to build on certificate courses and eventually get to diploma or degree level.

“That’s how flexible we’re attempting to be to meet the needs. And we don’t have to reinvent the wheel. We already have a lot of this in house,” he adds.

Since becoming president, Spencer has formalised agreements with both SSTC and Carnival. He is eager to get going on implementation. Read on as he explains the details of the Carnival deal. (LTC): What is the significance of the MOU with Carnival?

Professor Andrew Spencer (PAS): Carnival Cruise Line is just one brand under Carnival Corporation. The MOU was crafted in such a way that we have access and the ability to negotiate with the other eight brands within Carnival Corporation. And this is not just for getting our cadets placed. But it’s for getting other students placed.

We would have had a relatively steady flow of individuals who graduate and then receive jobs on Carnival. For example, on the hospitality side, we have students working in guest relations. On the deck and engineering side, we have students working in engine rooms and so on. But we have never really formalised that agreement. And so that’s why March 7 was such an important date, because we’ve now inked that deal, a framework that helps us to roll out the partnership in a more seamless way in a more organised and uniform way.

CMU President Professor Andrew Spencer (second left) and Carnival’s VP of Crew and Travel Operations Richard Brearley (second right) ink the MOU that will see a series of initiatives over the next five years. At left is Professor Noel Brown, CMU’s Vice President of Academic Affairs and Accreditation. At right is Mihaela Costache, Manager, Marine Talent Attraction, Carnival Cruise Line. Standing (left) is Keisha Walker, Vice President of Administration/University Registrar, CMU; and Captain Devron Newman from the CMU’s Faculty of Marine & Nautical Studies.

So we’re very excited about this MOU signing. Carnival has come on board to enable us to do some key things.

We’ve had a challenge, securing sea time for our students. Carnival is committing to ensuring every year that a minimum of 15 people get sea time on their vessels.

Distinct from that is a discussion about scholarships, which is looking outside of just the Marine and Nautical Studies faculty, but at all faculties. So there are scholarship opportunities; that’s a second prong.

Another prong is the employment prospects at the end. Carnival now having the confidence in not just our theoretical delivery, but also the fact that they assisted with the practicum side of things by giving sea time and by giving internships is also committed to providing employment opportunities at the end of that process for our students.

LTC: Now that the MOU has been signed with Carnival, what is the next step and what are the long-term goals?

PAS: Carnival is offering us… an opportunity — whenever their ship is in dock in any one of our ports — for our students to be able to do familiarisation tours on the ship. So that starts as quickly as next week, if a ship is in port. So that’s the first step.

The other thing is that we are now working out, with Carnival, the value of the scholarships to be given and when we can start rolling out the scholarships. So it’s more a road map in terms of how we operationalise elements of the MOU.

We’re also moving to have discussions with Carnival and a major supplier of simulators to look at what might be the best way for us to upgrade our bridge simulator at this time, to enable us to be able to customise and address more ports. And these are all things that are happening in the next month [April], we’re to have a follow up meeting with Carnival in the first week of May to work out the actual timelines.

Now, as it relates to the placement of the cadets, that also happens immediately. So as soon as September we’ll start having a determination of which students are selected to go off and get sea time with Carnival. So we’re starting to roll over the 15 per year as soon as academic year 23/24.

The long-term goal for me is… a partnership so concrete with Carnival that we started exploring the potential of not only scholarships, not only job placements, not only providing business solutions, but having Carnival partner with us to the point where they’re helping to develop our physical space. We’re looking for naming opportunities for Carnival to help us to build out physically the space. Maybe a building named after Carnival, these are things they’re open to.

But even better, and more importantly, in the long term, we want Carnival to start sending us their employees and their potential employees for training. So we are saying if you want to learn the Carnival way, you really ought to be at CMU. And so it’s marrying those brands in such a way that they will have their own distinctiveness. But at the same time, one knows that there is something that will be synonymous about CMU and Carnival Cruise Line. So that’s really how we’re moving day-by-day to getting that to be realised over a five-year period.

Ultimately, we would love to have the first Jamaican captain on a Carnival ship, and that’s going to take some time, it’s going to take some experience. We want to be able to track that; our target for that is probably seven or eight years from now.

The reality is that we’ll know that the partnership is working when we are able to speak to the quantum of what we’re able to receive from Carnival.


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