Let's kick off season 2019!
Prior to the campus held on board the ships at the winter harbour, all management and crew have a series of e-learnings to do.
So, the last few weeks of vacation are also taken up with some live e-learning with seminars on the Net or recorded lessons from the Cloud. A lot of the work is preparatory for the actual on board campus itself.
Getting to Cologne, the winter harbor base, after an off-season is always a buzz to me. I love the city and I really like that one day before going to Winter Harbor to just start getting into the work groove.
I usually arrive the day before and this season start was no exception. As I like to travel light as I can with luggage, I avoid carrying anything more than my uniform and a few casual clothes.
Then I spend a little time in the afternoon buying the toiletries and odds and ends that I need for the season.
The next day I arrive at the Winter Harbor. Whilst it was only a collection of some of the operational ships, the others in Vienna and elsewhere, it was still and impressive sight seeing all the ships lined up and getting ready for their operation.
We start with a management campus first and then follow that with crew arrivals later in the week.
Meeting my new operational team, with a few new faces was great and we got ourselves settled in for the welcome that evening from some of the Viking Corporate.
The campus kicked off and the learning and refresher courses began.
Certainly, the training days are full. It is vital information that we have to absorb about the season plans and goals. I won’t bore you with the details but the campus is intense.
So much of the information that guests have noted in the previous season through their guest questionnaires is studied and discussed. This is why those questionnaires are so important, identifying what is good and what needs to be improved.
Within our new optional packages, I was happy to see more active pursuits being offered to our guests, from hiking, to cycling and kayaking.
I have noticed a trend in the past 4 years, not always younger but simply fitter guests are arriving at the ships. They are looking for more activity and Viking are addressing this.
Refreshed with our core philosophies and the goals for the season, it was time for our First Aid day. A professional outfit from the Netherlands come to deliver our training at the winter harbor.
Another full day where we are trained and retrained in First Aid. Given the fact that we are with our guests as Program Directors most of the time, we have to have a good knowledge of First Aid and emergency care.
Things happen on tour and on the ship. A fall, a cut or something more serious. It is vital that we have the training to deal with these issues until emergency services arrive to take over.
The final day is completed and now we get to meet our crew for the season startup 2019. They start to arrive and the ship begins to transform. During Winter Harbor, all items on the ships are stored, the carpets and furniture are covered with protective sheeting.
Obviously we have supplies to be loaded and that is a massive team effort of crew as they convey box after box of stationery, linen, food and tons of other things down lines from the delivery trucks. Within just a few short days, the ship is looking ready for guests.
During this time, the crew have to attend trainings delivered by me and management and so their days are crammed with activity. Close to sailing date, the ship is readied for departure. The first few days will be a repositioning cruise – “bare bones” as we call it….without guests, just crew.
This is when the crew are preparing the aesthetics of the ship and practicing their skills in the galley with guest meals and presentation tested on the crew themselves. By the time the first guests of the season arrive, everyone is ready.
My time with the ship has ended for awhile as I leave them at the winter harbor and take a short break. I intend do some work on the program directors blog and catch up on the website. My colleague will be meeting the first guests in Paris. I will fly to Zurich for the group coming in the opposite direction. This will be my first cruise of the season