The Covid 19 pandemic has, without doubt, been a completely unique event in all our lifetimes. It has led to a huge volume of people re-evaluating their current position and re-aliging their priorities. This is also the same for business owners. From its beginnings as a small side event in Asia to a planet and life changing event, Covid 19 has forced change upon us all. This change creates uncertainty and uncertainty, of course, creates questions. It is our hope that we can answer these questions and relieve worries where we can through this update and our Coronavirus FAQ’s.
Firstly and most importantly, the alliance of brands that include Blue O Two, Siren Fleet, Master Liveaboards, and The Junk are continuing operations and looking to the future. The current operations look very different of course, but even if the situation remains unchanged past the end of the year, we will still be with you. Our focus right now in on several fronts
- Cancellation and re-arrangement
- Vessel ‘mothballing’ and maintenance
- Future business strategy and operations
Cancellation and re-arrangement
In order to be in a place where we can move forwards we need to be strong where we stand. This meant that we initially had to reduce our teams across the world to focus on the matters at hand. Hundreds of cancellations, re-arrangements, and; many may be surprised to hear, new bookings; have consumed our head office team. Our UK office staff are largely on furlough, though a skeleton staff was in place to assist, and we are now in a position to increase that staffing to help with the higher volume of traffic we are receiving. The international team in our Thailand office has been, and will continue to be for now, the central hub for customer communications. This is mainly based on the fact that there is very little governmental support and we feel an obligation to try to maintain as many staff as we are able through this period.
Vessel ‘mothballing’ and maintenance
As our vessels are no longer operating cruises, which means that they need to be made safe, maintained, and improved where possible. Of course a vessel not operating does not mean we do not spend money on it, in fact far from it. Each of our 15 vessels has at least a skeleton crew in place, is fueled in order to maintain regular power, continues to go through regular maintenance checks to meet safety and cleanliness standards, and has repairs made as required. All vessels are being deep cleaned and lovingly tended to by their reduced crews in preparation to begin operations as soon as possible.
While our vessels have mainly stayed in their home ports, our international crews needed to be repatriated. Across all the vessels, as the situation developed, we had to make sure our crews who wanted to get home to their families, could do so. This has meant moving close to 50 people around the world at a time when international travel is hugely restricted. It has not been easy and has involved journeys of up to 4 days for some, but we are almost there. Almost.
Future business strategy and operations
Regardless of the above, as the line goes, the show must go on. As the immediate maelstrom has died down and ‘the new normal’ has become a daily occurrence, we can now focus on the future. As we have had the time to reflect through this period, the focus has moved from survival to strengthening and, as we always have, we have risen to the challenge. We are in the process of looking at all aspects of the business and how we can improve, streamline, and future proof our operations. All the while, we will be aiming to improve on the service to our customers that we pride ourselves upon.
This evaluation includes everything from our IT systems and infrastructure, through our business processes and structure, and; as you would expect, the vessel operations themselves. We have already made some large and exciting decisions that will be communicated in the coming weeks and months with even more in the pipeline to decide.
While these are difficult times, they are also exciting times. We expect to look back on this situation in years to come as a moment in time that changed us both personally, as individuals, and as a business. Now we have weathered the initial storm we are focused and excited about the future. We can’t wait for the day that restrictions are eased and we can once again welcome you aboard.