Demand for shipmanagement services is bolstered by new cruise start-ups and first-time investments in cruise ship newbuilds
Cruise lines investing in newbuilds for the first time coupled with more variety in the cruising sector are helping to drive new business, says V.Ships Leisure director Per Bjornsen.
Reviewing the past year, he tells Passenger Ship Technology “We have seen new entries into the market and more diversity in small and medium ships and start-ups, which is very positive. We see this as an opportunity and are very confident this can help create significant future business.”
Mr Bjornsen cites V.Ships’ contracts with Saga, the UK-based company catering for the over-50s demographic, and polar adventure specialist Quark Expeditions. Saga made a game-changing decision to sell its older pre-owned vessels and construct its first-ever 999-passenger newbuilds, Spirit of Discovery launched in 2019 and Spirit of Adventure which will debut this year; and Quark moved from being a charterer to an operator with its first owned newbuild, the 199-guest Ultramarine, also slated to launch in 2021.
He adds “Saga is a key client and we have been delighted to support them with the transformation to building brand new ships. The partnership with Quark also underscores V.Ships Leisure’s position as the partner-of-choice for companies launching new vessels and who insist on safe, resilient operations for their guests.”
Technical management software
Saga uses the latest V.Ships’ ShipSure software for technical management of its ships and in a statement, Quark says one of the reasons V.Ships won the selection process for managing Ultramarine was the priority it places on sustainability and protecting the environment.
ShipSure has undergone a significant update which has now been rolled out across all of their partners’ fleets.
Mr Bjornsen explains “Digitalisation has become more critical, and we have been making improvements there. For example, in the management of hotel departments we have been monitoring trends where specific areas might have challenges and looking into the root causes, which has resulted in more predictive maintenance.”
In other news, V.Ships Leisure partnered with Sanya International Cruise Development Co to launch China’s second domestic cruise operation aboard Charming, Princess Cruises’ former Sea Princess. The company also handled the crewing and hotel management for China’s first large cruise ship, Piano Land, previously P&O Cruises’ Oriana.
Mr Bjornsen comments “We started investing in China very early on and this has now paid off. Our industry is based on relationships and trust and that is something that is not built overnight. Being selected once again to manage the start-up of a cruise line in China highlights our unique capability to manage vessels locally with our highly experienced cruise-dedicated team in China.”
New ships, partnership
In Europe, following the collapse of UK-based cruise line Cruise & Maritime Voyages (CMV) in July 2020, V.Ships Leisure took over five vessels prior to auction. Mr Bjornsen says that while Marco Polo and Astor were sold for recycling it was “fitting” to see Vasco de Gama, named after the Portuguese explorer, sold to Portugal-based Mystic Cruises. CMV’s Columbus and Magellan were both purchased by Greece-owned Seajets.
Elsewhere, Mr Bjornsen says another key contract involves the new partnership with Braemar Shipping Services, an international provider of shipbroking, financial advisory, logistics and engineering services to the shipping and energy industries. The co-operation agreement with wholly owned subsidiary Braemar Naves Corporate Finance provides a one-stop platform to support cruise and ferry operators, their investors and financiers as they collectively navigate the challenges currently facing the passenger ship industry.
He comments “We’re passionate about this sector and keen to assist by using our know-how and partner network to help our industry colleagues get through this crisis and build a brighter, more sustainable future. We know the team at Braemar Naves well, have worked on a variety of projects together, and are convinced that together we can make a real difference.”
In conclusion Mr Bjornsen says “The pandemic has made the industry stop, think and reflect on how businesses can be run most effectively. We are never going to have this opportunity again and it has been a time to re-evaluate and spend time in a constructive way. Start-up must be very prudent and step-by-step. However, as the industry prepares for start-up, we are looking at a massive operation as vessels are prepared, upgraded and new protocols introduced. Recruitment will be the biggest anybody has ever seen, coupled with crew medicals, training and travel, and it will be a massive boom for the industry.”
CSM, Wärtsilä partner in cloud-based training programme
Cloud-based technology developed by Wärtsilä Voyage is enabling simulator training to continue worldwide during the pandemic following a partnership between the marine technology company and Columbia Shipmanagement Ltd (CSM).
The agreement signed with AWA Marine, Wärtsilä’s distributor in Manila, will see the launch of remote cloud-based simulator technology for navigation and engineering trainees at CSM’s global training centres, including the Philippines, Russia, Latvia, Ukraine, Georgia, South Korea and Croatia.
Announcing the collaboration, CSM group director of training Captain Faouzi Fradi says “While officers and crew have been kept away from classrooms and simulators for several months because of the pandemic, Columbia has worked hard creating innovative solutions to ensure continuation of their professional development as well as their readiness to operate safely and effectively on board.
“We will certainly continue our co-operation with AWA Marine and Wärtsilä in the Philippines and will install similar hardware simulators in our training centre when the restrictions are lifted.
“Cloud-based solutions will continue to be the best choice in the future to train those seafarers located far from our training facilities, or those who are unable to travel.”
AWA Marine director Liam Murphy adds “For this project, we will be providing CSM with Wärtsilä Voyage’s cutting-edge cloud-based simulator technology. This will allow it to continue training its crew to the highest standards available in the maritime industry.
“This project is actually the result of another existing development, which was unfortunately delayed due to Covid-19, so we had to adjust our course to adapt to the ongoing situation. The Wärtsilä cloud-based simulation training will be a perfect stop gap solution while face-to-face training is not allowed.”
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