How CMI Leisure Management is finding the balance

Dietmar Wertanzl of CMI Leisure Management tells Elly Yates-Roberts about the opportunities and challenges created by the Covid-19 pandemic and the cruise industry’s focus on sustainability

How CMI Leisure Management is finding the balance

Aurora Expeditions

CMI Leisure Management has committed to several sustainable initiatives to protect precious landscapes such as the sea ice in Antarctica

Flexibility, perseverance and partnership.

These are some of the words that have become key brand values for CMI Leisure Management as it resumes operations. As a provider of hotel management services to cruise operators, the organisation was hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic but overcoming the associated challenges has bolstered its ability to adapt, says Dietmar Wertanzl, president and CEO of CMI Leisure Management.  

“We really entered unknown territory with the pandemic,” he says. “When you look at the maritime industry, we were forced to become pioneers of new business avenues and partnerships during such challenging times. It was a total reset, so we had to be open-minded and appreciate the collaborative relationships we had.”  

Communication was also a key part of CMI Leisure Management’s strategy for success, particularly with its clients and stakeholders. “You need the support of your whole team and we have been very lucky,” says Wertanzl. “Our shareholders have been incredibly generous, providing a loan programme for our crew while they were out of work.” 

Practices like these are helping CMI Leisure Management define itself as a truly sustainable business, but the company is implementing initiatives in addition to those that ensure its survival and that of its employees’ livelihoods.  

Among these is the firm’s ‘Save the Waves’ programme, which aims to reduce ocean pollution by minimising the chemicals released from CMI Leisure Management’s operations and the laundry done onboard.  

“It can use approximately 15 litres of water for every set of towels, so we are encouraging our guests to hang up clean but wet towels, and only leave out dirty ones to be washed,” says Wertanzl. “Our laundry detergents are also biodegradable, but the less we put into the ocean, the better.” 

The cruise industry has strengthened its commitment to environmental sustainability in recent years, particularly with the global sulphur cap that was introduced in 2020. “The whole industry has been really focused on the idea of becoming good global citizens,” says Wertanzl. “This philosophy is especially relevant for our expedition clients, where we need to go above and beyond to operate in an environmentally friendly way. We need to preserve the destinations we visit and the local marine wildlife to ensure our guests can continue to have the experiences they dream of.” 

In an effort to achieve this, CMI Leisure Management has implemented recycling schemes onboard the ships it charters. Staff and crew are encouraged to reuse items where possible and are provided with recycling bins to separate rubbish. In addition, the company has committed to eliminating all single-use plastic items, such as individual portions of condiments and spreads, straws and disposable cups, onboard its ships.  

“We are doing what we can, but we cannot achieve true sustainability alone,” explains Wertanzl. “The saying ‘it takes a village’ is particularly true here – for example, we need to work with each port of call to ensure that we can effectively dispose of our recycled waste. 

“When we commit to something, we know we have to execute. We measure our progress against our commitments and adjust our methods accordingly to ensure we can reach our goals.”  

For CMI Leisure Management, the shift in perspective to improving sustainability is a welcome opportunity to re-evaluate its processes, says Wertanzl. Many cruise lines are now opting for digital alternatives to paper-based resources for information such as daily activity programmes, itineraries and menus. “But it will take time, and we need to involve other stakeholders in the supply chain,” he explains. “They need to be given the information to make educated and informed decisions about their impact. We have done a lot in the industry in this area, particularly surrounding food.” 

Wertanzl is referring to the brand’s commitment to sourcing sustainable seafood, using only ingredients that have been caught or farmed in ways that consider the long-term vitality of harvested species and the well-being of the oceans, as well as the livelihoods of fishery-dependent communities. CMI Leisure Management only purchases seafood species approved by the Marine Stewardship Council.  

“Sustainable choices often require investments,” says Wertanzl. “With the pandemic, those budgets have been affected, so we have to make sustainable decisions that also make sense economically, especially considering the fragile situation of the cruise industry following the hiatus. 

“Having said that, we are excited to resume normal operations. We need to learn how to balance the spread of the virus with sustainable initiatives that do not compromise the well-being of our guests. But with large-scale roll-out of the vaccine and the hope that variants will gradually become milder, we are in a good position to continue making positive changes across the cruise industry.” 

This article was first published in the Spring/Summer 2022 issue of Cruise & Ferry Review. All information was correct at the time of printing, but may since have changed. 

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Elly Yates-Roberts
By Elly Yates-Roberts
01 June 2022

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