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Jamaican Ainsworth is Carnival Cruise Lines' main man

BY MARK CUMMINGS Editor-at-Large — Western Bureau cummingsm@jamaicaobserver.com

Sunday, June 22, 2014    

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FALMOUTH, Trelawny — Jamaican Peter John Ainsworth, a 27-year veteran in his field as a crewman, could hardly contain his joy when he got word from his employer, Carnival Cruise Lines, last month that he has been named the company's Team Member of the Year 2013.

Ainsworth, who was on vacation spending time with his family at his New Heaven Heights home in Trelawny, when he got the awesome news, told the Jamaica Observer last week that he still finds it hard to believe that he was able to come away with such a prestigious award.

"I am numb, I still can't believe that I have come out ahead of the thousands of persons who work with the company," said an elated Ainsworth, who leaves Jamaica at the end of the month to rejoin his fellow crewmen.

According to Ainsworth, within days after he was advised by officials of Carnival Cruise Lines about his "good fortune", his employer flew his wife, Dorset and himself, into Miami, Florida, for a three-day all-expense-paid trip where they were feted at the company's Miami headquarters during an elaborate ceremony.

There, a proud Ainsworth, who was presented with a plaque and cheque, was acknowledged for his accomplishments by employers of the cruise line, as well as his co-workers.

Ainsworth, a senior team headwaiter at Carnival Cruise Lines who has been working on the company's Carnival Glory cruise ship for the past four years, after stints on several of the company's other vessels for more than two decades, was the first person to cop such an award under the company's 'I AM' employee fleet-wide recognition programme, introduced last year.

Last November, the Jamaica native was nominated as Team Leader for the month, as part of the initiative, which saw an employee being singled out for special recognition every month during 2013.

An official of Carnival described the 56-year-old Jamaican as a very dedicated individual who has great pride and passion for the job he does.

"He aims to deliver his best and this is evident in his quality of work and service standards. Peter is a hard-working, loyal and reliable team member. He is willing to go the extra mile and works well with minimal supervision," said an official of Carnival.

"He is positive, takes feedback constructively and constantly looks for ways to improve. He strives to ensure that his department runs smoothly and the employee dining areas are functional and clean at all times."

The official added that Ainsworth shows genuine care for his team and is always ready to step in and assist, especially when the going gets tough.

"Peter is ambitious and continues to perform with a great attitude, while remaining humble. He is a great asset for our team and has gained the respect of management and team members across all departments," the official went on.

Founded in 1972, Carnival, which currently operates 24 cruise ships, is said to be the world's most popular cruise company, carrying more passengers than any other line. Its "Fun Ships" sail voyages of three to 23 nights and visit destinations such as Alaska, the Bahamas, Australia, New Zealand the Caribbean, Hawaii and Mexico.

The company employs more than 31,500 people — roughly 28,000 work on its ships — from over 50 nationalities.

Ainsworth explained that the criteria for the award were based mainly on reviews and feedback from guests, interaction with crew members, honesty and dedication, as he lauded the cruise line for giving him the opportunity to provide for his family.

"What Carnival has done for me is more than what I had expected. I am thankful that they have given me the opportunity to provide for myself and family and in the process to help others," he said.

Ainsworth left Jamaica for New York in the US almost 28 years ago, to explore economic opportunities for his wife and baby.

But after spending a few months there with his aunt, the Jamaican did not find favour with the "fast life in the Big Apple", choosing instead to head to Florida, the 'Sunshine State' to join his older brother.

Eager to land a job in an effort to support his family, Ainsworth decided to visit the corporate offices of Carnival Cruise Lines in Florida to seek employment, despite strong opposition for his older sibling — who had worked on cruise ships for a few years — and having no experience in the hospitality industry.

It, however, did not take long for him to be gainfully employed.

Starting as a bus boy at Carnival, within a month the then inexperienced Jamaican was promoted to waiter, and years later to senior team headwaiter, a supervisory position which he still holds.

He noted that he was among the first set of employees to be appointed in the newly created team headwaiter position.

"This is really a supervisory position where you work with management of the ship to instruct and delegate duties in accordance with company's policies," Ainsworth explained.

His job with Carnival has taken the Muschett High School in Trelawny graduate to a number of countries including Sweden, Turks and Caicos Islands, Mexico, Guadeloupe, Grenada, Nassau, Canada, Belize and Puerto Rico.

He admitted, however, that in the early days, working aboard the cruise ships proved to be very challenging.

But despite the many obstacles, he said, he managed to stay focussed.

"It was difficult on the job at first. But you have to know why you are there and you have to be humble and avoid conflicts," said Ainsworth, adding that "there are so many distractions out there if you are not careful you will lose your money and everything."

"For me, adjusting to the new environment and the food were not easy. I really missed home at times, and I had to show respect to the crew members who were there before me. But at the end of the day, I had to tell myself that I have to stick it out, because I have a family to feed and I don't want them to be in the same position financially that I was in when I was young," he explained.

Meanwhile, Ainsworth is calling for more attractions in the town of Falmouth, which started to welcome cruise passengers just over three years ago.

"As a person who has been all around the world, I must tell you that the hospitality in Falmouth is poor. What they are doing there seems to be an experiment. They don't even have a proper restaurant and there are too many supermarkets in the town," he argued.

He is calling for the old fountain in Water Square to be transformed into a tourist attraction, as well as the erection of a statue of the legendary Usain Bolt in the town's square.

"How can you not have a statue of Bolt who is from Trelawny?" he asked.

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