Gelen Marine: More Cruise, Less Confrontation

Windstar stretch project

Paul Read, the managing director of Gelen Marine, saw the company’s 2017 entrance into the cruise industry as an opportunity for something bigger and better for the UK-based marine consultancy firm.

“We’ve only just started getting into the cruise industry, mainly because of the way that the cargo industry collapsed and the cruise industry was going bananas. But, of course, with COVID, it has changed,” Read told Cruise Industry News.

Gelen Marine has so far worked with two cruise brands: Windstar Cruises for the lengthening of the Star Breeze, Star Legend and Star Pride and Storylines for its new residence ship, the Narrative.

“We’ve got the Storylines project which is coming to a real milestone with the signing of the contract. There are other small cruise companies with whom we’re talking. We hope to work in other areas as well,” Read noted.

He explained that by other areas he means new building within a repair structure.

“With that (Windstar) experience, we can go more into conversions. But I love newbuilds. You start from scratch and end up with something brand new,” Read said.

Working on ships in other drydocks, the number of people working on each project varies. The skeleton team is five people with five more for CAD approval work.

Windstar stretch project

“We put together teams of engineers and go into the drydocks for the owners to supervise the work that’s being carried out. So, we’re taking on the management challenges that the shipowner may not have the resources or capability to take on. For instance, Windstar Cruises has the capability to drydock ships but they didn’t have the capability to supervise the construction of the midship section and the newbuilds of the new public spaces. We were brought in as an engineering team to go onboard with the yard, help them design the structure and design the new spaces and be on site while they build them and make sure the quality of the construction is to the requirements of Windstar and the regulations,” Read said.

“We become part of the cruise line’s team … We’ll be subcontracted, but … the shipyard sees us as the owner. So, we will go wherever they are. The cruise line chooses the shipyard, but we can advise, of course … Not only can we help them with the design and supervision of construction but also come in right at the beginning and help choose a yard that will carry out the work,” he added.

The key to getting projects done, according to Read, is minimizing confrontation.

“Trying to create a team where the shipyard is part of the team and not fighting against you, it’s not us and them – is a real key to making a project success. If you can do that, you’re going to have a lot fewer issues and have mutual trust and respect. That means that everything gets done correctly and how you want it. It’s challenging … but if you can achieve it, you’ll have success,” he said.

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