How floating hotels can cut costs during ship refits

Miray International’s chairman Vedat Ugurlu tells Rebecca Gibson how housing crew, vendors and project teams on chartered ferries can help cruise brands save time and money during ship refits

How floating hotels can cut costs during ship refits

This article was first published in the Spring/Summer 2019 issue of Spring/Summer 2019 issue of International Cruise & Ferry Review. All information was correct at the time of printing, but may since have changed.

What options do operators have when it comes to accommodating personnel during a cruise ship refurbishment project and are there any downsides to these approaches?
Traditionally, crew, vendors and the project team stayed onboard the vessel while it was in dry dock, but renovations are now becoming more extensive as cruise lines upgrade technical systems to ensure they meet new industry standards. Housing everyone onboard the ship requires strict coordination, particularly if the staterooms where workers are sleeping need to be refurbished. In addition, dry docks are noisy and work sometimes goes on for 24 hours a day, so it can be difficult to provide a quiet and comfortable environment where people can sleep easily, which could potentially lead to performance and safety issues. One alternative is to put personnel in hotels, but ship refurbishments typically involve around 2,000-4,000 people so they can’t all stay in one property, which increases transportation costs and challenges. Feeding workers is also harder – teams usually start work before the hotel serves breakfast and it’s not feasible to transport everyone to different hotels for meals throughout the day. This means the cruise company must pay its food and beverage staff to service the ship’s galleys and dining venues, and staterooms, throughout the dry dock. It can also be a logistical nightmare if the galleys or the staterooms are being refitted as part of the project.

Chartering a ferry to accommodate a workforce is another viable option. How does Miray International help with this?
Chartering ferries is a newer approach to accommodate workforces during a dry dock. In summer 2016, we chartered three ferries for a large cruise brand which was carrying out a six-week revitalisation of one of its ships in Cadiz, Spain. As part of this contract, we berthed all three vessels at the shipyard and ensured they were connected to the necessary services (water and waste removal) and provided quiet accommodation for around 3,000 people in total. We also offered all personnel three meals a day (including a late-night meal), laundry services, bar services and entertainment in the evenings.

This March and April, we will be chartering two ferries for a well-known cruise line that will be upgrading a vessel with the help of around 4,200 vendors and project team members at the Cadiz yard over a 40-day dry dock. This time, we’ll provide accommodation for around 2,200 people and meals for all personnel. We’ll use our proprietary wristband system to ensure the security of the individuals coming on and off the ferry.

What are the cost benefits of chartering a ferry for personnel?
Miray International can provide accommodation and meals for the entire project team onboard a chartered ferry for less than the cost of a hotel room – and we can berth it in the shipyard so there are no transportation costs. Meanwhile, cruise lines can operate a skeleton crew because they don’t need anyone to service the galleys, restaurants and staterooms. In addition, revitalisation work can be carried out on a 24-hour basis, so the dry dock can be completed in a shorter timeframe, cutting the cost of work permits and enabling the ship to resume service and start generating revenue sooner. All of these factors allow cruise lines to more accurately calculate their budget in the planning stages of the dry dock, rather than worrying about having to reimburse personnel for unknown expenses at the end of the project.

Are there any other advantages?
The individuals working on the dry docked ship always have access to clean and quiet accommodation so they can get the rest they need to ensure they can work safely and productively. This included meals throughout the day and evening, as well as access to hot showers, laundry facilities and more.

How have cruise lines responded when offered the option to charter a ferry?
Initially, cruise lines expect the price of chartering a ferry to exceed their planned accommodation budget, but they quickly realise that they will save money. We’ve received positive feedback from project teams who said that it was convenient to stay on a ferry at the shipyard because they were able to relax as soon as they finished work for the day.

Is Miray International able to provide this service across the world?
We have strong relationships with multiple shipowners and shipyards, so we can easily provide chartered vessels wherever they are needed.

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Rebecca Gibson
By Rebecca Gibson
Wednesday, April 17, 2019