World of opportunity: Cruise ships search for Asian chefs
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World of opportunity: Cruise ships search for Asian chefs

Following the recent Costa Concordia tragedy in which a luxury cruise ship capsized off the coast of Italy, the cruise industry has taken a heavy beating in the international press. There have been concerns that the incident might dent the popularity of cruise holidays. However, no noticeable decline in consumer demand has been registered, although a short-term impact is expected. This is testament to the growing might of the cruise industry, a prominent revenue-earner in the hospitality sector.

One of the leading players in the international cruise lines industry is Dubai in the UAE. Cruise line holidays have become an increasingly important part of Dubai’s tourism strategy. This can be demonstrated by a leap in figures from about 7,000 passengers on a handful of cruise ships in 2001 to more than 375,000 tourists on 135 ships last year, according to the Dubai Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DDTCM).

Dubai has always commanded a strong presence in the tourism industry, with a record 8.5 million tourists visiting the city in 2011 alone. The added investment in promoting Dubai as a cruise destination has bolstered its hospitality business, and the DDTCM predict a growth in excess of 58% in cruise tourism by 2015.

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Oceania Cruises

Such thriving numbers have increased investment in the industry, and with more demand there is an increased need for trained personnel to deliver the high standards that the city is famous for. Dubai has a reputation for providing world-class luxury, comfort and style and there are plenty of jobs for hospitality industry professionals with the right qualifications.

Like many professions, working in the hospitality industry needs a mix of passion, dedication, hard work and training. Especially within the cruise industry, training is of vital importance and employers across the globe are seeking qualified personnel who are trained at skill-focussed institutes.

Odyssey International is a specialized recruiting company in the cruise industry. It is the authorised International Cruise line Recruitment Partner for industry leaders such as Norwegian Cruise Lines (NCL), USA, Seabourn Cruises and the Apollo Ship Chandlers that run premium cruise companies such as Oceania Cruises and the Regent Seven Seas Cruises.

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Luxury aboard a cruise ship

Director of M/s. Odyssey International, Matthew Dymtchev, tells Asian Correspondent: “Employment on board the cruise ships will require hard work and determination. In return it comes with vast opportunities for the candidates to learn and to progress in their careers. They will travel the world and experience first-hand the highest standards of service and the finest quality of cuisine. Employment on board will broaden their professional and personal horizons and will pave the way for lasting career in hospitality industry worldwide. On board experience is highly recognized and valued internationally.”

It is all these perks that are drawing a young workforce towards employment opportunities in the cruise lines. In Dubai, the workforce aboard cruise ships is mostly foreign, allowing an international expat community to form a part of the service industry at all levels of operation. This has resulted in creating an exciting and multicultural atmosphere which contributes significantly towards life on sea.

Due to the expectations and reputation of the industry here, it becomes crucial to recruit custom-trained employees for specific roles.

Matthew explains: “Culinary training programs are tailor-made to prepare candidates for the specifics of on-board culinary and food production, and gives solid basic knowledge and practical skills at a very high level.”

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Pic: ICCA Dubai

Odyssey International works in close collaboration with the region’s leading hospitality school, ICCA Dubai, to bring in the best talent to the cruise industry. ICCA Dubai’s custom-training programmes have earned the confidence of employers and ICCA has garnered a reputation for providing highly-trained graduates from their customised vocational training programme aimed specifically at cruise line employment. Matthew says of their collaboration with ICCA Dubai: “Candidates coming from the Culinary Training Program that we conduct in association with ICCA are employed in equal terms with all other candidates having 3-5 years practical experience. This fact alone states the level of qualification and the advantage that the students at ICCA will get.”

ICCA Dubai fills a gap in the thriving hospitality industry in Dubai which suffers from a lack of focussed-training specific to the cruise industry. This has made the institute an attractive option for students looking to gain employment at some of the leading companies in the sector – ranging from Norwegian Cruise Lines (NCL), USA, Seabourn Cruises, and Apollo Ship Chandlers.

Matthew tells Asian Correspondent how they conducted extensive search to collaborate with the best school in the region: “Before setting up the Culinary Program with ICCA, we have done extensive research and visited many schools and institutes in Asia and India. We chose ICCA for their visionary approach and for the level of professionalism that they maintain in delivering training for such a demanding segment of the hospitality industry as the cruise lines are.”

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Pic: ICCA Dubai

ICCA Dubai’s excellent reputation for providing graduates who are able to effortlessly integrate themselves into the highly-demanding food production environment extends right across the cruse industry. Corporate Chef of Seabourn Cruises, Michelin Star chef Tony Eger, said during his recent visit to ICCA while conducting a culinary test for aspiring chefs: “I am pleased with detailed knowledge of the students at ICCA. It is the hard work of the teachers and the excellent set up of the school that helps of course, but above all is the determination of the students, the drive and ambition they have that makes them successful”

Students at ICCA Dubai participate in client-specific training – allowing them to lead employment lists – and receive intensive practice in production, sanitation and USPH – a module wherein students from the institute have the opportunity to work with highly experienced professional chefs. ICCA Dubai’s ability to produce chefs who can create a distinctive gourmet experience has earned it an international reputation among students and employers alike.

To read more about ICCA Dubai, click here