UK Hospitality Management and Tourism Program cruise groupIn the first program of its kind, the UK Hospitality Management and Tourism Program offered a unique intercultural academic experience to its students: a 10-day cruise through the Caribbean. The Special Topics: Tourism in the Caribbean course (HMT 359) gave students a chance to observe practical aspects of hospitality and tourism on board a resort cruise ship with stops in St. Thomas, St. Kitts, Barbados, St. Lucia, and St. Maarten.

Students began the class at UK during the 2008 Winter Intersession. The first week of studies covered such topics as tourism development and the cruise line industry within the context of the Caribbean. Once aboard, students were given "back of the house" facility tours, including food and beverage, storage, and housekeeping operations; "front of the house" tours, including cabin facilities, dining, and meeting/planning operations; and guest speaker presentations as well as panel discussions with senior crew and hospitality management staff.

In addition to the hands-on experience of exploring cruise ship operations, students learned by conducting destination market surveys to study the impacts of tourism on the local islands' economies. Special issues highlighted include island microstates, the role of the cruise line industry, and the future of cruise line tourism in the Caribbean.

Meeting with local tourism guideAssociate professor in the Department of Nutrition and Food Science, Dr. Desmond Brown created the class to expose students to the unique nature of the cruise line industry. "This is real-life experience at its best," Dr. Brown stated. "A cruise ship is one-stop learning within the hospitality market-it is essentially a floating resort."

Dr. Brown also spoke to the coordination and planning involved attending to the needs of all the people on board. "There were over 2,000 guests on the cruise, as well as over 900 staff members from 63 different countries. The logistics of taking care of that many people, and dealing with a labor force that large and diverse is a true learning experience for our students."

Dr. Brown is planning another cruise course for the 2009 Winter Intersession, which will be open to all majors and cost approximately $2,500.  For more information, contact Dr. Brown at 859-257-3829 or For more information on Education Abroad at UK, contact Janet Roccanova at 859-257-4067, ext. 229 or