Catering to the cruise sector

Bernhard Schulte Cruise Services (BSCS) was formally established on 1st of January 2018. However, arrangements to set up the business began long before to ensure the latest addition to the Schulte Group of companies is well equipped to offer leading maritime solutions for the cruise industry.

BSCS is dedicated to ship management activities for the cruise sector, such as technical, deck and engine management, rendered through a pool of personnel with many years of experience within this industry. The company is incorporated in the structure of BSM, but acts as a Ship Management Centre of its own.

BSCS took its first cruise ship under management on March 1st, 2018. “MS Albatros” has 28,000 gross tons and capacity for approximately 830 passengers. The Schulte Group supplies circa 80 crew members, who are responsible for the smooth technical, deck and engine operations; over 300 crew members cater to the guests on board.

Offering world-class passenger ship management services to third-party customers around the world is certainly at the focus of BSCS activities. However, its portfolio extends beyond supplying professional, trained and experienced deck and engine crew. As part of BSM, BSCS benefits from a wide scope of integrated solutions, whilst at the same time contributes to enhance the Schulte Group’s profile in other areas, too.

Les Royle, Managing Director of BSCS, explains, “With a broad portfolio of complementary services, we offer more than our core business of ship management.”

In fact, there are various services that appeal to the cruise industry. “Some of the major players in the cruise business are taking care of shipmanagement services in-house, mainly because of their size. They operate large ships, which may be able to carry 6,000 passengers and close to 2,400 crew. However, in general, operators are keen to purchase some of our value-added services, even if we do not manage their ships. For instance, we can offer travel arrangements for crew through Eurasia Travel Network or provide various applications via MariApps Marine Solutions, such as Live Fleet or crew tracking and provide hull cleaning services via Dive Marine” Les illustrates.

In 2017, the Schulte Group acquired Dive Marine, a hull cleaning service provider. The benefits to cruise operators are clear: rather than taking the vessel into an expensive and time consuming drydock, hiring a company that goes under water to clean the hull is much more efficient and cost-effective.

Looking into the future, BSCS expects additional vessels to come under management by the end of 2019. Furthermore, the company is well positioned to adapt to the market. Industry analysts assume that the size of newbuildings for the cruise sector has reached its zenith (source: Cruise Industry News). For BSCS, the niche within this sector consisting of ships with a size of 50-70,000 gross tons provides great potential.

“Especially well-travelled people prefer these smaller vessels, as they are more intimate and offer a chance to get to know the crew and usually visit ports the larger vessels cannot call at. Many people believe a smaller cruise ship offers a better overall cruise experience,” Les elaborates.

BSCS is in the right position to cater to that growing market. Cruise operators of vessels that size evaluate the economic circumstances carefully. For them it is crucial to decide if they are going to operate their ships themselves and hire their own personnel, or if they will bring in an experienced, company like BSCS, which has all this expertise at its fingertips and has significant global presence with 26 offices worldwide.
The luxury expedition market provides another area to expand. During the past years, this niche has grown substantially.

“At present, there are close to 20 expedition vessels either in construction or under negotiation, and many of them will be run by one-ship operators,” adds Les.

For smaller operators with a fleet of two to three ships, appointing a third-party ship manager can be cost-effective. Being part of the Schulte Group, BSCS provides not only expertise in terms of how to manage ships but brings the benefits of economies of scale to the table as well. Amongst other factors, such as the right contacts within the business world, BSCS customers benefit from the size of the Schulte Group, which helps secure pricing levels inaccessible to smaller operators.

Further, BSCS is truly global with a 24/7, 365-day service, being able to utilize the Schulte Group’s offices around the world, helps BSCS to attend to any issues on board within a short time frame, wherever the ship is sailing.

When it comes to ship management, size is not all that matters, so much is obvious. And for BSCS, the vision is clear: “We do not have to be the biggest, but we want to be the best. With our broad portfolio of integrated solutions, we service the cruise sector in a unique way. Whether on board or on shore, our staff is highly experienced. And the human factor is what really makes the difference. It’s that team effort that gets us across the winning line. Without such a great team, my job would be a lot harder,” Les is convinced.