Peter Fetten, senior vice president of corporate ship refit for Carnival CorporationIn picking a shipyard for a refit, Carnival Corporation looks at six main aspects: deviation from itineraries, infrastructure and logistics, management, safety, price and contractual conditions, and local regulations, said Peter Fetten, senior vice president of corporate ship refit for Carnival Corporation, speaking at the Cruise Shipping Asia-Pacific conference and trade show in Singapore.

“This is only the baseline,” said Fetten. “We are seasonal customers for shipyards, we never go to drydock if we can avoid it in the high season.”

Thus, those six aspects will form the baseline for a risk assessment in picking a shipyard, explained Fetten, adding that the average berth age of the Carnival Corporation fleet is 9.8 years.

In picking vendors, Fetten said Carnival looks for a win-win combination, looking for vendors that understand what the cruise line needs; as well as vendors that are present, mobile and competitive.

“We don’t want cheap business,” he said. “We want the highest value and that can be seen by being flexible, mobile and present.”

Seventy five percent of refurbishment budgets are contracted directly by the shipowner, Fetten continued.

“We are searching for new qualified vendors all year long,” Fetten continued. “We know we need them. If we can source are resources locally it is a huge benefit.” Not only financially, but logistically, Fetten stated, meaning weather can get in the way with supplies coming in from non-local vendors.

“I encourage vendors to talk to us, we will listen and work with you to find your niche for a win-win situation,” said Fetten.

Moreover, drydocks are a logistical challenge, since they generally happen in the shoulder season, all around the same time.

And with more ships in Asia-Pacific, more drydockings will happen, meaning cruise lines will need more suppliers in the region.

Carnival Corporation has also sent older, more mature ships to the Asia-Pacific market, meaning those vessels will need more maintenance and upgrades, Fetten said, noting Carnival’s standing partnership with the Sembawang shipyard in Singapore.

Another challenge, meanwhile, are visa requirements in China, preventing Carnival from flying in experts to address issues with ease.

 “We need to focus on time out of service,” Fetten concluded, “to reduce time out of service. That means seamless work between partners, a lot of preparation and good infrastructure.”