As cruise operators know, effective passenger ship management is a painstaking, and often expensive, undertaking. World Cruise Industry Review talks to Hans Rood of FleetPro about how it allows cruise companies to outsource these services while continuing to maintain high levels of quality.

The foremost responsibility of any cruise company lies in ensuring customer safety and satisfaction, and operators are increasingly realising that achieving both lies in the effective delegation of operational responsibilities. "Our passenger ship management services take care of the day-to-day decisions involved in running ship operations, without confusing the core task of filling the vessels," says Hans Rood, commercial executive vice-president of FleetPro. "That means our clients can focus on what they do best, which is filling the ship at the highest capacity for the greatest revenue."

The company currently aids in the operation of over 60 ocean and river-going cruise ships, providing what Rood describes to be a "menu of individual services" for cruise companies looking to outsource the daily management of their vessels.

"Some will just require help with insurance, while others require support in hotel or spa services," he explains. "And that’s fine. It doesn’t matter to FleetPro, as long as the client knows that they can pick and choose any of the services we provide."

Its list of services is extensive, and includes crewing, accounting, recruitment, catering and IT support. With FleetPro Leisure, the company also has a dedicated hotel management division, offering the support clients need to ensure their vessels are luxuriously outfitted for the enjoyment of their passengers. "We set the technical requirements for the built hotel, but it’s our clients who set the standards," says Rood.

Expansions and efficiencies

Decades of experience in the cruise management sector have acquainted FleetPro with the practical knowledge essential for overseeing operations across such a large fleet. "To remain effective in passenger ship management, you have to prepare for emergencies at sea, society requirements, legal changes, and the preparation of relevant itineraries around the world, where different needs always have to be considered," says Rood.

To that end, FleetPro maintains a close working relationship with organisations like the US Coast Guard, the US Department of Health and Human Services, and the International Maritime Organisation, ensuring they are prepared for the array of emergencies commonly faced at sea.

FleetPro oversees its ocean and river-going arms from Miami and Basel respectively, servicing a client base largely spread around Europe and North America. Success in these areas has seen them begin to build new relationships in Australia and the Far East.

"We place a strong emphasis on helping our clients navigate the challenges that come with expansion, and so in many cases the brands we serve have a strong interest in evolving with us," says Rood. "For example, we’re finding that ocean companies are increasingly branching out into river routes, and vice-versa in the case of river tour operators. We’re ideally placed to guide our clients through that transition."

Ultimately, says Rood, the opportunity for clients to outsource these tasks to FleetPro provides the economies of scale that would be lacking if the services remained in-house. "For smaller operators, that is almost impossible; and it is certainly of great benefit to larger cruise lines, where economies are so important in driving pricing as well as quality standards."