Royal Caribbean Donates Scholarships to LJM Maritime Academy
A firm believer in education, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. (NYSE: RCL) on Thursday, October 18, deepened its commitment to The Bahamas donating two scholarships to the Lowell Jason Mortimer (LJM) Maritime Academy, the only tertiary education facility for the nation’s vibrant maritime industry. The donation of $28,000 which will fund two full-time students, including one for a member of the Royal Bahamas Defence Force Rangers, was made at the first day’s session of the Maritime Conference Bahamas 2018.
Royal Caribbean is the platinum sponsor of the conference, which is bringing together some 200 people in the maritime industry, for meetings and workshops at the Melia Nassau Beach Resort.
“We are impressed with what LJM Maritime Academy has to offer. Royal Caribbean recognizes the vital role it can play not just as a vehicle for higher education but also preparing graduates to be job ready and skilled for demanding and important roles in the industry,” said Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. Vice President of Government Relations, Russell Benford, speaking from the sidelines of the conference.
The concept of creating opportunities through scholarships at LJM Maritime Academy grew out of Mr. Benford’s recent visit to the $30 million facility that opened in 2014 on the grounds where Coral World marine park and beach resort once flourished. The Royal Caribbean executive said he was ‘blown away’ by what the academy had to offer, declaring it on a par or ahead of any he had seen in Europe or elsewhere.
Touring the campus packed with nautical and marine equipment, sophisticated technology and students hungry to make their mark in the industry, the VP said RCL felt compelled to initiate a strong and positive relationship with the institution.
“From the very first Royal Caribbean ship that ever left the port of Miami and made Nassau its first port of call to the relationship we enjoy today with The Bahamas, our commitment to The Bahamas has remained indelible. Now, as we strengthen our resolve to provide training and career opportunities for Bahamians at every level from shipboard to top management, we are proud to deepen the relationship with a country we respect and a destination that our guests continue to seek. The scholarships signify Royal Caribbean’s commitment to the destination,” said Mr Benford.
“As we seek to create stronger connections, we recognize LJM students not only as future employees, but also future regulators and industry leaders, in short, our future partners.”
When the academy, which grew out of a major grant by the Nassau-based Campbell Shipping opened, officials hoped to keep tuition to $5,000 a year. However, operational realities dictated otherwise forcing the school to raise tuition to $14,000 annually.
Nearly 180 students have entered the fully accredited program. About a third are female. Just over 40 students will graduate this year many with jobs already lined up on bulk handlers, cargo container ships and cruise ships. Their starting salary will more than compensate for their education, but first they have to find funds for the learning process that includes a year at sea.
According to Dr. Brendamae Cleare, president of LJM Maritime Academy, donations like RCL’s full one-year scholarships for two students is essential to the academy’s continued success.
“We would love for more corporate entities, particularly those affiliated with the maritime industry, to follow in RCL’s footsteps and play a significant role in the institution’s development,” said Dr. Cleare who noted pressing needs for endowments.
“We would love to offer even more scholarships to our deserving students, many of whom are in need, but we are very much on our own to financially sustain ourselves, so we are delighted that Royal Caribbean has decided to do this and we look forward to a mutually beneficial relationship.”