Crew Management: Turning Freight Ships into a “must do” Passenger Experience
Posted: April 24, 2017 at 12:34 pm
Our crew management contracts are tailored to meet the needs of the clients they are with. In the case of our contract with NorthLink Ferries, their Managing Director, Stewart Garrett is very involved with all his crews which is why we work closely as an extension of NorthLink, ensuring visibility onboard and both crew and client are happy.
After taking over a crew management contract and inheriting both crews of the MV Hildasay and the MV Helliar, we wanted to ensure that our client NorthLink Ferries and their crews were happy particularly during what could be treacherous and trying waters of the transition period.
To ensure that we looked after both parties, we arranged several visits to both ships, we could do this as part of the bespoke services we can offer our clients.
After arriving in the Granite City, Aberdeen, we were greeted at NorthLink Ferries by Customer Service Director, Peter Hutchinson and HR Manager, Peter Gallately, for NorthLink Ferries.
With all our clients, we like to spend some time with them before we go on board the vessels to ensure that we acknowledge and understand their overall aims whilst we are on board.
For NorthLink Ferries, Customer Service Director, Peter Hutchinson, turning an overnight stay on the freight ships into a “must do” passenger experience when exploring Orkney and Shetland, is high on his list of priorities of the development of passenger experiences. This meant that, we needed to ensure that customer service skills of the crew, particularly those that are customer facing, were of a high standard.
After our meeting, we were taken to our first visit of the day, MV Hildasay.
As soon as we stepped on board the whole crew were warm and welcoming, particularly their Stewardess, Tiina.
Tiina has been on board the MV Hildasay for last seven years. She is clearly the surrogate mother to anyone who steps on board, regardless whether they are crew, passenger or visitor. As soon as Tiina spotted us, she was offering us coffee…this would be the first of many times we would be offered coffee during our visits.
Whilst talking about passengers travelling on board, Tiina was excited and proud to show us the cabins which are currently undergoing renovations. Already the cabins have new bedding, towels and mattresses – the same that you would find on any NorthLink Ferries passenger ship.
Tiina was filled with love and enthusiasm for the ship she calls home and even obliged to take a photo with our Recruitment Administrator, Jolanta, from our office in Latvia. Like a scene from “Stars in Their Eyes”, she whipped off her hair net and disappeared, quickly reappearing, seconds later photo ready.
Whilst we were chatting to Tiina about life on board, Third Officer Vallo Vellend came to find us. We asked him about the dynamics on board, he told us “We all do as Tiina says, she’s the boss!” With this we were told by Tiina, to visit the Bridge to meet the Captain.
We would soon learn, you don’t say “no” to Tiina…
Once on the Bridge we were warmly welcomed by friendly and softly-spoken, Captain Avo Orav. Again, we were offered coffee, “the best coffee on the ship was on the bridge”, and it was.
When on board any of our client’s vessels, the Captain is the first port of call for any questions the crew may have. Therefore, we make a concerted effort to see the Captain as soon as possible, to ensure that any questions are attended to as soon as possible.
All points raised were quickly raised and resolved with Captain Orav, which then gave us an opportunity to speak with the crew in the Mess.
As it turned out, all questions from the crew had, had previously been discussed with the Captain, which Orav quickly told them – this gave us an opportunity to have a general chat with the crew and join them for lunch.
Upon understanding that we would be eating on board, Tiina and the Cook, Aleksandr Kondrat, were deeply apologetic. They had not been told of our visits and so had not prepared enough fish, however, we could help ourselves to as much soup and salad as our hearts desired.
When we were given the “option” of dessert, we soon realised this was more of a request from Tiina rather than a question. Cake could not be turned down.
As we said our goodbyes, the crew tried to entice us to join them on their trip that evening, as it would be a “fun but bumpy ride”.
Whilst politely declining, Tiina told us to call her next time as she would personally ensure that there would be more than enough food for us all. In true motherly fashion as we said our goodbyes, Tiina pushed a Galaxy Ripple in our hands to ensure we had enough fuel for the rest of our visit.
After a quick check in back at NorthLink Ferries to go through feedback from the crew, we were off again, this time to visit the sister ship of the Hildasay, MV Helliar.
Thanks to over 30 years of experience within the industry, we that know that as no two ships are the same…neither are the crews.
Upon arriving on the Helliar we were welcomed by Second Mate, Alo Jaadla, who promptly took us up to the Bridge to meet Chief Mate Kaarel Nogu, and Captain Indrek Koster.
We resolved all minor points raised by Captain Koster then and there. This meant we had the opportunity to speak briefly with the other crew members about life on board the ship.
The crew were more than welcoming however this was a completely different atmosphere in comparison to its sister ship. From a customer service stand point the cleanliness and organisation on board went above and beyond.
Unfortunately, due to loading for their trip we couldn’t spend a lot of time with the crew however, we always aim to fit around the time they do have to speak to us.
Ultimately, we left knowing we had two very happy crews and that the customer service on board both ships were exceptional.
This enabled us to report back to NorthLink Ferries that they are well on their way to turning a trip on a freight ship into a “must do” passenger experience.
The MV Hildasay and MV Hellier have been servicing the Orkney/Shetlands routes since 2010 and 2011 respectively.