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Jun 21, 2023

What Life is Like to Captain a Cruise Liner

Sunday will be celebrated as International Seafarers Day to recognize the services of people who work aboard ships. The day is organized by the International Maritime Organization, and today, personnel from the Belize Port Authority, the Belize Coast Guard and IMMARBE were afforded a chance to step onboard one of three vessels that were docked in the Belize City harbor to get a brief, firsthand experience of what it is like to be on a liner. While the cruise team’s aim is to provide first-class luxury for tourists, the job also comes with high demands for the seafarers. They must leave their families and friends for weeks or months on end to work, before they return to their loved ones. News Five was on board one of the ships and Marion Ali filed this report.


Marion Ali, Reporting

The tours began with a short ferry ride from the Fort Street Tourism Village dock to the awaiting vessels. This year, those vessels were the Carnival Vista, Royal Caribbean’s Grandeur of the Seas and the container vessels, Ual Manitoba. IMMARBE’s Senior Deputy Registrar of Ships, Annette Garel welcomed the visitors on board the Carnival Vista.


Annette Garel

Annette Garel, Senior Deputy Registrar of Ships, IMMARBE

“We’re here to extend our thanks to the seafarers on board the Carnival Fiesta as we celebrate the International Day of the Seafarer. This is a day that is set aside for us to celebrate these individuals that work on board vessels, not only cruise ships, but all vessels all over the world. And IMMARBE, as a Maritime administration, we extend our thank you for these individuals that work very hard on board these vessels.”


Once the visitors cleared the ships’ security system, personnel from IMMARBE, the International Merchant Marine Registry of Belize and the Port Authority welcomed them. The ship’s captain, Paolo Severini received a gift from the Belize Port Authority, which is the authority responsible to determine where port facilities are located. He shared with us what drew him to this line of work twenty years ago.


Paolo Severini

Paolo Severini, Captain, Carnival Vista

“We feel blessed because we have a opportunity to do a very professional and skillful job and to be at sea. So if you are a person that you love to be at sea and, uh, if you like the sea environment, so to be a seafarer is, uh, is very, very, very nice and, uh, very beautiful job.”


At the docking facilities, the Port ensures that there is compliance with the Port Security Regulations and the International Ship and Port Facility Security (ISPS) Code. Ports Commissioner, Darlin Gaitan explained that the protection of the marine environment is key.


Darlin Gaitan

Darlin Gaitan, Ports Commissioner

“This year we recognize seafarers for their invaluable contributions to the implementation of the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships, MARPOL. Our oceans are worth protecting, and the Belize Port Authority, the designated port state control authority, with coastal state functions, ensures the compliance with MARPOL is an integral part of the regular inspection regime. In enforcing MARPOL, our Port State Control Officers interact with seafarers to ensure the protection of the marine environment from pollution of oil, sewage, garbage and G.H.G emissions emanating from ships.”


The growing tourism and commercial shipping industries has created employment opportunities for people who, like Severini, want to pursue a career in seafaring. Garel says Belizeans have shown an interest.


Annette Garel

“Last year we had a job fair, and we were delighted to receive a number of applicants that were interested in joining not only IMMARBE, but the maritime industry on a whole. So far we have recruited three new employees to work with IMMARBE, but we do look forward to expanding our recruitment process.”


But Garel feels that there’s a need for Belize to have some support mechanism in place to cater to employment in this field of work.


Annette Garel

“Belize really needs to implement a system where we would train young people to work on board seagoing ships internationally. The time has come that Belize needs to look at implementing that career drive in young people to seek opportunities outside of Belize. And the seafaring business is a very positive way forward for that.”


The team will be boarding the Songo Puma, a cargo ship that will dock at the Big Creek Port on Sunday, the actual day of seafarers. Marion Ali for News Five.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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