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March 10, 2017 12:52 PM

Hospitality and Tourism students set sail for applied learning experience

A group of Conestoga Hospitality and Tourism students spent the February study break on a seven-night Western Caribbean tour on board the world’s largest cruise ship, Harmony of the Seas. The cruise provided students with a hands-on learning environment where they could experience multiple sectors of the tourism industry in one spot.

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Conestoga Hospitality and Tourism students spent the February study break on a seven-night Western Caribbean tour on board the world’s largest cruise ship, Harmony of the Seas. Students met with tourism officials, cruise managers and conducted site inspections at ports of call during the week.

“The cruise encompasses eight tourism sectors and provides an applied learning experience that can’t be created in the classroom,” said faculty member Cora Roselli. “The food and beverage industry is represented by the ship’s 20 restaurants, accommodations are available for thousands of guests, the event sector is represented and the ship itself is the attraction.”

The study abroad course included daily lectures on board the ship and students were required to complete two assignments prior to departure. To earn a course credit, they were also required to complete daily reflections and will be graded on a presentation and practical evaluation.

Cruise managers, representing a diverse mix of tourism sectors, met with the group throughout the week to provide mentorship and insights on topics ranging from human resources to housekeeping and guest services. Students also interacted with tourist boards at ports of call that included: Labadee, Haiti; Falmouth, Jamaica; and Cozumel, Mexico.

“The Jamaica Tourist Board provided a tour guide and complementary overview of the island, which also gave students a unique experience,” explained Roselli. “As industry professionals it will be important for the students to familiarize themselves with destinations, not just the resort properties available at each destination.”

Students completed site inspections at the Grand Bahia Principe in Jamaica, and both the Casa Mexicana and Grand Park Royal in Cozumel. “Students need to know the product, so site inspections help them understand what the product is and what it offers,” said Roselli. “They have to consider the availability of group accommodations and the amenities for hosting events and conferences.”

Conestoga launched this study abroad experience in 2016 with 10 students. Roselli said interest in the course has grown considerably; she accompanied more than 20 students on the excursion this year, along with Conestoga Business and Hospitality chair Keith Muller.

“We had a wonderful time. Students met the learning outcomes of the course, but were able to experience it firsthand,” said Roselli. “Take customer service as an example. Students said they had never experienced service at the level it was presented on the cruise. Now they have observed fine dining and white glove service and understand the personal attention that is expected and provided to each of the 5,000 guests on board.”

Conestoga’s School of Business and Hospitality provides a broad range of culinary and hospitality programs to prepare students for successful careers in the growing hospitality industry. For more information, visit the School’s website

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