Hundreds show up for job fair hosted by Norwegian Cruise Line

LIHU‘E — The lure of life on the high seas, and getting paid for literally cruising, drew hundreds of people to the Kauai War Memorial Convention Hall here last week.

Representatives of Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) interviewed over 100 people while seeking to fill around 2,000 positions on two cruise ships which will begin conducting interisland cruises next year.

The Spirit of Aloha and Spirit of America are the ships.

“It would be a complete adventure,” said Rodney Nakashima of Lihu‘e, who applied for a position in the hotel department.

“It would be like taking the Hyatt and floating it,” he added.

The ships have numerous restaurants, bars, a theater, and other amenities, and NCL representatives are looking for workers in virtually every department in the floating hotels.

Steve Soltysik, of Puhi, a maritime educator based out of Florida, said he’s looking to get back into teaching employees of ships’ companies, in part because he understands that both company representatives and employees wish to work hard to raise the level of service and success.

Travis and Korey Grupe, 19 and 18, are brothers originally from Texas. They both agreed that it would be a new experience to work aboard a ship.

Others came from off-island to apply for NCL positions.

Dale Hahn, NCL administration and human resources director, said that recruiters interviewed 109 people on Kaua‘i last week.

There are positions available in all departments: food and beverage, cruise staff, front office, restaurant, operations, housekeeping and kitchen. NCL needs restaurant staff, entertainers, gift-shop clerks, front-desk staff, spa workers, tour group leaders, and warm bodies for just about every position imaginable in an on-land hotel.

Workers typically take 12-week contracts, and are off for six weeks at a time. Room and board are paid, and uniforms are provided. It’s a way to save money, Hahn said.

The promise of adventure lure many to the cruising lifestyle, but NCL is looking for “the right person” as an employee, Hahn and other NCL staff said.

Hahn said Colin Veitch, NCL president and chief executive officer, thinks Hawai‘i can be a very strong market for the company.

A native of Scotland, Veitch on his first trip to Hawai‘i quickly recognized the differences between the islands where the ships stop, and also quickly developed the feeling that Hawai‘i is possibly the world’s best destination.

Cruising is a great way to get a feel for each island, and having island residents as employees can only enhance passengers’ experiences, he said.

The Pride of America will start cruising in early July next year, with seven-day cruises, and will spend about 96 hours at various Hawai‘i ports. The Pride of Aloha is set to begin cruising in October next year, with three- and four-day cruises. The Norwegian Wind is offering 10- and 11-day cruises.

The Pride of Aloha will feature art and cultural items from Hawai‘i, said Susan Robison, NCL public relations director, based in Miami.

“It will be one central theme with one central destination,” she said.

That’s why it’s so important for the company to hire as many island residents as possible for available onboard positions, she added.

At a Honolulu job fair earlier this month, NCL representatives received about 1,200 in-person applicants.

“It’s going to have a huge impact on employment,” said William Grier, workforce development specialist with the state Department of Labor and Industrial Relations.

Grier said not many people on Kaua‘i are looking for work, and the island’s unemployment rate is low (5.1 percent last month).

“I think the unemployment is low, but we (still) want to hire the majority of people from Hawai‘i,” Robison said.

The county Office of Economic Development, state Department of Labor and Industrial Relations, and other agencies coordinated the event.

Representatives of NCL will also be at the Kauai Job Fair next Saturday, Aug. 9, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Kukui Grove Center. Applications may also be received online or via mail. Please see the Web site,, for more information.

Kendyce Manguchei can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 252) or


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