Nov 22, 2016 · News

Permission to come onboard

Looking ahead to the autumn of 2019, Mike Jaworski says Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. (RCL) expects to employ as many as 120,000 people around the globe. If today’s patterns continue, they’ll represent more than 120 nationalities.

Crew members need work visas to join their ships and the demand, between new hires and returnees, never ends. Asked how many people handle this work, Jaworski answers simply, “Me.”

The cruiseline’s manager of crew government relations and visas says that labyrinthine task, and seeing to whatever immigration or customs issues arise in any of the 460 ports served globally by RCL, is more doable than it might seem. Still, it requires him to be on an aircraft for about two weeks out of every month.

One of Jaworski’s staffers handles corporate visas mostly for those immigrating to the U.S. to work shoreside. For Jaworski’s part, “I hold the relationship with all the U.S. and foreign consulates around the world.

“I meet with the consulate general and the vice consuls to ensure that our crew members are being processed in a timely fashion so they meet their schedule. Then if there are any questions in regards to a crew member they can come to me directly.”

Besides negotiating process and providing the consulates with the information they need to grant crew work visas, Jaworski also provides them with access to a system where they can verify employment.

And he sits on boards – one for the Cruise Lines International Association, which allows him to speak for the industry – that are shaping the visa codes in Europe to keep up with changes in the European Union. Part of that work is finding a way to separate maritime employees from the traveling public to make the visa process easier for cruise lines.

Jaworski also writes the formal letters of invitation for corporate job applicants from other countries, as well as current overseas RCL employees who need to meet with officials at Miami headquarters.

Last July, during an attempted coup in Turkey, Jaworski was vacationing with his family in the Florida Keys. But he was needed to assure the safety of crew members.

“I got hold of the people with the ministry in Turkey, then our port agent and various liaisons there to put a plan in place,” he says. “Within a couple of hours we had a corporate plan before the crew members even arrived.”

It was all a matter of knowing the right people.