V.Ships Leisure: a powerful partner in cruising

Director Per Bjornsen discusses how the company is helping cruise groups address the challenges of a growing and increasingly diverse market

V.Ships Leisure: a powerful partner in cruising
V.Group will provide technical management services for Magellan Explorer

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.

Growth in all regions, and the increasing diversity and specialisation of players, are creating an exciting market for ship management company V.Group and its dedicated cruise brand V.Ships Leisure. “Alongside the big players, smaller companies offering tailored services in unique locations are becoming more common,” observes Per Bjornsen, director of V.Ships Leisure. “For V.Group, we see this as a chance to leverage our scale and drive the transformation of the market.”

The company’s global reach means it can respond quickly to the needs of seafarers, customers and the vessels it manages, while Bjornsen says its scale brings significant purchasing power that will be used to benefit customers. “Our scale enables us to be a flexible partner for customers who need to flex their fleet size without worrying about the cost of change,” says Bjornsen. “While we have the scale to cater to the major cruise groups, independent operators and start-ups can leverage our scale and systems to compete with these large groups. One recent example of this is Magellan Explorer for Antarctica21, an Antarctic vessel customised for fly-cruises, for which V.Group is delivering technical management.”

Attracting and retaining crew is a challenge in a growing market, and Bjornsen says many of the issues stem from the fact that the seafarer journey is still paper-based – a challenge that V.Group is addressing through Project Embark. “Finding a new assignment, organising travel documentation and submitting the necessary certification paperwork is still, for many seafarers, a time-consuming and frustrating manual process,” he says. “Through Project Embark, we have developed an app that streamlines the journey from shore to ship, digitalising the process of searching for assignments, signing contracts and managing documentation so it’s as simple as shopping online or booking a flight.”

The company is also reinventing its crewing offices around the world to deliver a consistently high level of service through its innovative operation model, supported by centres of excellence. “This will ensure that best practice is disseminated throughout the organisation,” says Bjornsen. “The project will also create a consistent model for professional development.”

For expedition cruise operators, V.Ships Leisure is helping to address the challenges of sourcing senior deck officers with Polar Code certification and ice navigation experience. “The mandatory Polar Code certification requires both training and sea time, and the only way we can achieve this in the numbers required is if we work together with the operators to allow for deck officers to sail alongside the crew,” says Bjornsen. “The main challenge on these small vessels is to get the berth onboard.

“We also need to focus on delivering the necessary Polar Code training, which is split into basic and advanced sections. V.Group’s e-learning expert, Marlins, has developed interactive e-learning for the Polar Code, which is approved by the Bahamas flag. This enables us to provide the training to a larger number of deck officers and for them to be better prepared for the advanced part, which must be taken at a training institute supplemented by sea time.”

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Jacqui Griffiths
By Jacqui Griffiths
Tuesday, May 7, 2019