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London 2023: Insights from Fabiana Estrela, Director of Global Operations at Cast-A-Way

July 07, 2023



Join us as we delve into the world of cruise ship recruitment with Fabiana Estrela, the Director of Global Operations at Cast-A-Way Cruise & Resort Hiring Agency. In this exclusive interview, Fabiana shares her insights and experiences from the renowned Cruise Job Fair London 2023, shedding light on the objectives, highlights, and invaluable role her company plays in connecting qualified professionals with the cruise industry. Discover the skills and qualifications sought by cruise companies, the impact of participating in recruitment events, and gain expert advice for those aspiring to embark on a career aboard these floating marvels. So, grab a virtual boarding pass and embark on this captivating journey into the fascinating realm of cruise ship employment.


Could you tell us a bit about the Cruise Job Fair London 2023? What was the main objective, and what did your company hope to achieve by participating in this event?

Fabiana Estrela: Cast-A-Way decided to participate in some recruitment events yearly in key markets based on the client's demands for candidates from that region or regional skill sets that are demanded by the cruising industry. It's also an excellent opportunity to meet the clients in person and network.

The London event is one that we partake in every year, as most of our clients also attend. We receive a diversity of different nationalities as many candidates travel to the UK from other countries in Europe. We successfully spoke to approximately 800 candidates and delivered a Chat Away with Cast-A-Way Q&A session, where candidates can ask whatever they want in a friendly and informal environment. They feel comfortable asking anything as they do not feel judged and "on an interview" with the employer.

Our participation goal was to meet qualified candidates to screen and submit to our clients and to meet and mingle with our clients.


How did participating in this event contribute to the growth of your company and the success of selecting professionals for cruise ships?

Fabiana Estrela: Participating in events does not result in the company's rapid growth. It's part of a branding strategy as well as an opportunity to meet new candidates in person and be able to respond to questions on-site. Since most recruitment happens online, it's a chance for candidates to meet our team in person and ask questions. The results come long term through high hiring rates with our clients, lower turnover for our clients, and superior customer service compared to other agencies that do not offer an opportunity to meet in person with potential candidates.


Based on your experience at the event, what are the primary skills and qualifications cruise companies seek in their professionals?

Fabiana Estrela: All cruise lines look for candidates with prior experience in the Hospitality and Tourism industry, preferably with 4-5-star hotels and reputable brands known for exceptional customer service. Cruise lines and concessions also look into personality and attitude, and additional language skills are great assets to offer to employers and to increase the candidates' employability.


What were the highlights of the Cruise Job Fair London 2023? Was there any particular moment or activity that caught your attention?

Fabiana Estrela: It has become a "tradition" that every London Cruise Job Fair, Cast-A-Way, has the largest queue from the event! Candidates take the time to wait in line to meet one of our team members and get the guidance they need to apply with any of our clients. We've had some top cruise lines wonder why their queues are not as large as ours, demonstrating the respect that our brand has built over 25 years of experience within the Hospitality Industry (the event organizers can confirm that).


During the event, you had the opportunity to interact with job-seeking candidates. What were their main concerns or questions?

Fabiana Estrela: Usually, candidates come by to ask if the position of interest is open and with which client. Although we scan their tags and can access their resumes later through a barcode, most bring a printed resume so we can have a quick look and advise if they qualify for the position they are aiming for and, if not, what they need to do to qualify in the future. That is very helpful as most employers decline candidates without the time to let them know why so; that guidance is appreciated so they can prepare and re-apply once they meet the recruitment requirements.


How does your company plan to leverage the connections and partnerships established at the Cruise Job Fair London 2023 to benefit both the candidates and the cruise companies?

Fabiana Estrela: We already work with most of the largest cruise lines in the world; therefore, we offer a variety of opportunities for candidates to choose from if the desired position is open with multiple clients. We also strive to make the best "match"; it's like a "dating" company. Cruise lines and concessions have different "personas" and look for different personality traits in candidates. Making the most accurate "pairing" will increase the chances that both the employer and the crew are happy, and the crew will remain longer with that employer, reducing turnover. Everyone is then happy. If a candidate is placed in the wrong "brand" for their personality, they may quit the job before the end of the contract or be terminated, resulting in a negative outcome for both the cruise line/concession and the crew. In the past decade, we've had a success rate of less than 2% of candidates who do not complete probation or contracts with our clients. Some of our clients have confirmed that we offer the industry's highest retention and success rates.


In your opinion, what is your company's role in developing and enhancing the cruise industry through the selection of qualified professionals?

Fabiana Estrela: We believe that the recruitment agency plays a key role in coaching candidates to find meaningful employment that can change their lives and the lives of those around them. While our core activity is helping our clients with their talent acquisition needs, we also help candidates find suitable employment that can change their lives and improve their career achievements. It's gratifying to play this role and empower people from all corners of the world to move up the ladder and contribute to their local economies when they bring back USD dollars, often of greater value than the salaries they would be making in their own countries.


What are the plans for your company after the Cruise Job Fair in London in 2023? Are there any other events or initiatives you are planning to participate in?

Fabiana Estrela: While most of our recruitment efforts are made through our social media channels, we are always considering events in key markets where we have demands from our clients.


Could you share a recent success story or gratifying experience related to the selection of professionals for cruise ships that occurred recently?

Fabiana Estrela: While we do not have a standout story at the moment, our company has doubled in numbers since the resumption of operations. It demonstrates that we are moving in the right direction with the quality services we offer to both employers and job seekers.


Lastly, what essential tips and advice would you give professionals who want to work on cruise ships and seek opportunities through your company?

Fabiana Estrela: We'd recommend they browse our website and conduct prior research online about cruise lines or concessions and the positions available in the industry. Knowing the job they want will help them get it. Many candidates approach us with the desire to gain "any job." The cruising industry is very fast-paced and requires candidates to have some experience, as there is very little time for onboard training. Fluent English is a must-have, so unless they can speak advanced English, it's hard for us to be able to help. All candidates must also be at least 21 when they board, with rare exceptions. Preparing a tailored resume that stands out from the crowd is also key to catching the recruiters' attention. Sending multiple applications will not help unless they possess the experience our clients seek.


Cast-A-Way fully complies with MLC Maritime Labour Convention laws, and all our selection and recruitment processes are free of charge.

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