ON TUESDAY morning, over 2,000 applicants stood outside the National Academy for the Performing Arts (NAPA), Port of Spain, hoping to fill various positions offered by Royal Caribbean Group International.
The crowd stood on the pavements and in the car park as the hot sun beat down on them. Others blocked the entrance, prompting police to move them.
An officer on patrol, who gave an estimate of the number of applicants, said officials told him there were only three interviewers inside NAPA.
Each applicant was to be interviewed for ten minutes during the allotted period, 9 am-4 pm.
Newsday visited around 10.30 am, when groups of people were seen, some holding snowcones, others manila envelopes containing their documents, hoping for their turn inside. Some applicants said there should have been better planning to ease the congestion.
Many seemed to be in their 20s, but there were also more mature people, and a wide cross-section of the population seemed to be represented.
One applicant, who said his name was Andre, lamented, "I came here and see about 1,000 people – and my hopes just dropped."
Andre is a chef who wanted this job to gain more experience, which he would then use to open his own food business and bakery. He said he bakes "on the side," and selling sweetbread and cakes kept him afloat during the covid lockdown.
He said if he didn't get through the front doors of NAPA, he would try the Southern Academy for Performing Arts (SAPA) in San Fernando on Wednesday when a similar recruitment drive is scheduled for.
Kareem Richard, 22, said, "I know it will be something good to help me and help my family as well."
Richard said his biggest motivation for applying for a job with the cruise line is to provide for his family. He hopes for a maintenance position since it was what he knew and has been doing throughout the pandemic.
He added that this could also help him better himself and give him unique experience.
A woman seemed to have lost all hope of getting an interview, as she said, "Well, I'm thinking about going home. It's confusing and uncomfortable because of the covid19 situation, and seeing so many people jam-packed here, it's frightening."
Melissa Timothy wished there was more order to get more people in and speed up the process. She said getting this job would be a push in the right direction, since she suffered job instability during the pandemic.
Deja Mitchell said she wanted to "gain some uncomfortable experience by doing something new."
Contacted for comment, Tourism Minister Randall Mitchell said via WhatsApp:
"The interviewers are from Royal Caribbean. There are ten interviewers and three medical staff doing quick medical examinations.
"Can't comment much further as this is a Royal Caribbean event and not a ministry event. We have facilitated with the venue and organisation. Some small hiccups yes but it went smoothly later on."
Labour Minister Stephen McClashie could not be reached for his views on the huge turnout.
The Ministry of Tourism, Culture and The Arts signed a memorandum of understanding on May 23, with Royal Caribbean Cruise, for provision of jobs for roughly 2,000 TT citizens on the company's cruise-ships.
These 2,000 people would be eligible under 500 job titles in various categories, such as food and beverage management, culinary arts, guest service and guest relations, hotel management and entertainment.