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Leslie Gibson, first Bahamian to land in Royal Caribbean’s Corporate Offices

Job fair to fill open positions on the cruise line’s Perfect Day at Coco Cay resulted in 62 offers

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — When Leslie Gibson accepted a position on Royal Caribbean International’s Perfect Day at Coco Cay in the course of the height of the COVID pandemic, he didn’t imagine the chance would lead him to his dream job.

“The craziest thing is that what I’m living now, I dreamt about,” said Gibson, who’s now based in Miami.

“I studied engineering, but I prayed for a job where I could be traveling and dealing outside of where I’m from. I like The Bahamas and I’m all the time able to return home, but I’ve all the time desired to get more exposure, see the world and all it has to supply. And Royal has been in a position to provide me that.” 

Gibson said he found his footing in human resources after family and friends saw his natural affinity for working with people and problem-solving. 

Gibson began his journey with Royal Caribbean as a human resources specialist on Coco Cay in June 2020, where he worked for 11 months before he was chosen to maneuver to corporate and tackle a bigger scale of recruiting for personal island experiences around the globe, a job that has expanded to incorporate shipboard recruiting.  

Gibson’s promotion reflects a company culture of promoting from inside. Michael Bayley, president and CEO of Royal Caribbean International, began as a purser onboard the corporate’s ships before rising through the ranks to move the cruise line that now has 26 ships and greater than 77,000 employees.

In only two years, Gibson has helped to recruit greater than 300 people to work in The Bahamas, together with one other 100 for Labadee in Haiti and greater than 1,000 to work on Royal Caribbean’s ships. 

“I feel that’s why I like being a recruiter, due to the undeniable fact that I’m in a position to help people find their dreams,” Gibson said.

“Some individuals who don’t even know they’re good at certain things, I’m in a position to help them navigate through that by giving them the chance to work with us.” 

Gibson recently traveled to Dominica and St. Vincent as a part of Royal Caribbean’s recruiting efforts, and he was on the bottom for the job fair in Nassau recently when Royal Caribbean made offers to dozens of individuals within the hopes of filling several different positions on Coco Cay. 

The exercise was part of a bigger regional hiring effort to draw more Bahamian and Caribbean talent for Royal Caribbean’s private destinations and its ships. Royal Caribbean’s Director of Talent Acquisition Cindy Williams, said the corporate is coming back “higher than ever.” 

“Now we have a powerful employer brand, and we’re committed to creating our return to service higher than ever by bringing new crew members to Royal Caribbean,” she said. 

Gibson said the magnitude of the post-pandemic boom is obvious in Coco Cay’s guest numbers.

“We went from seeing as little as 2,000 to three,000 guests a day at Coco Cay to now as much as 10,000 guests and two ships a day,” Gibson said. “So, that went from our headcount being 350 to 450 employees to now almost 600 who’re needed for a call day.”

Royal Caribbean President Michael Bayley earlier this yr announced the corporate’s intention to hire more Bahamians. 

Gibson said that goal is only a microcosm of the corporate itself, which maintains diversity and inclusion as key priorities. 

“I actually have coworkers from all around the globe,” he said.

Recalling Royal Caribbean’s swift response to Hurricane Dorian in 2019, Gibson said the corporate’s passion for its employees was a considerable consider his decision to simply accept his first job with the cruise line. 

“I selected Royal due to a few of the things they’ve done,” he said. “When Hurricane Dorian hit those islands, Royal Caribbean were a few of the first people on the bottom. I wouldn’t even talk in regards to the individuals who were employed by Royal Caribbean — they spent tens of millions of dollars helping employees get back on their feet.”

And although Dorian made history as probably the most powerful Atlantic storms ever recorded, Royal Caribbean’s response — rushing in to supply food, water, shelter, and medical supplies for those impacted — was not particularly unusual for the corporate.

“When I say this, I mean throughout any disaster,” Gibson said.

“In 2020, there was a typhoon within the Philippines,” he added. “We assisted so a lot of our team members with helping their families back home. And this happens on a regular basis. Our company is all the time about putting its employees first.”

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