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Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Carnival Corporation opens CSMART, a state-of-the-art training and simulation centre for cruise ships, as a part of Project Duin in Almere: the press conference by Amvest and the City of Almere.

During my visits to BNR Newsroom in the past year, I had the chance to talk with various guests of this program.

One of these guests was Wienke Bodewes, CEO of Amvest, a project development corporation.

Wienke Bodewes, CEO of Amvest project development
Picture copyright of: Ernst Labruyère
Click to enlarge
Wienke invited me to a press conference, as he wanted to present some very positive news for Almere, the city where I live.

Carnival Corporation, the largest operator of sea cruises in the world, will be opening a state-of-the-art training and simulation centre for cruise ships in Almere. 

This centre will host Carnival's educational and training campus, where all the high-ranked ship officers of all cruise lines, including Carnival's branch organizations, will receive their master training.

First, I will show the pertinent snips of the official press release by Carnival and then I will print the highlights of this press conference.

Press Release Carnival

Logo of the Carnival Press Release
Courtesy of: Amvest and city of Almere
Click to enlarge

Almere, the Netherlands (Dec. 9, 2013) – Carnival Corporation & plc (NYSE/LSE: CCL; NYSE: CUK), the world’s largest cruise company, announced today it has signed a letter of intent to purchase land in Almere, Netherlands, with plans to build a state-of-the-art Carnival Campus and Center of Excellence. The centerpiece of the campus will be a new and larger Center for Simulator Maritime Training (CSMART), which is Carnival Corporation’s world-class maritime training and research facility, also based in Almere.
The facility is used by all 10 of its worldwide cruise brands for professional maritime training, professional development and research.   

Carnival signed the letter of intent with the Dutch property group AMVEST Vastgoed B.V. in Holland for the purchase of a seven-acre property along the coast of the Netherlands in DUIN, a planned business and residential community in Almere, one of Europe’s newest and fastest growing cities, conveniently located on the outskirts of Amsterdam. Cushman & Wakefield acted on behalf of Carnival Corporation  as their real estate advisor.

“Carnival has established a world-class center for maritime training and research at our current facility, and our plans to build a new facility will help us continue our mission,” said Captain Hans Hederstrom, CSMART’s managing director.
Carnival’s facility, which opened in July 2009, features the most advanced equipment and instructional tools available for captains, officers and engineers, providing participants with a superior maritime training experience that fosters critical thinking, problem solving, ethical decision-making and confidence. Carnival’s advanced technology, which includes simulators capable of recreating almost any port in the world, and revolutionary approach to teaching has made it the industry leader in delivering high-quality professional maritime training in areas such as bridge and engineering management.

Here is a large summary of the press conference with Wienke Bodewes, CEO of Amvest – the project developer of Project Duin (i.e. ‘Dune’) – and alderman Henk Mulder of Almere:

Project Duin in Almere
Picture copyright of: Ernst Labruyère
Click to enlarge
Wienke Bodewes:

Carnival Corporation, the world's biggest cruise organization  is planning to build a new, state-of-the-art training and simulation centre in Almere, The Netherlands. The trainings in this centre will take place on a series of real life-size, computerized bridge and engine room simulators. 

These high-tech training tools will help the high-ranked officers of Carnival cruise lines to safely enter all destination harbours in the world with their cruise ships, and under all kinds of weather and sea conditions.

The building terrain in Almere will host a large training campus, tailored for thousands of trainees per year, and a five star hotel with sufficient room for hosting the majority of these trainees. 

At this moment, Carnival already owns a smaller training center in Almere. However, the new training facility will be established to train 5000 high rank officers per year, which are sailing on the cruiseships of Carnival and its subsidiaries: captains, steersmen, ship engineers and engine room operators. These people will all do their master training here in Almere.

Almere has been chosen by Carnival for its excellent connections with Amsterdam and Schiphol: through its auto highways, as well as the direct railway connection. On top of that, Almere has entered into a contract with the central government, that all connections will be doubled in capacity.

The second reason for Carnival to choose for Almere and Project Duin was that Carnival could establish a real landmark campus here, with 'cutting edge design', where the trainees can be truly at home for the 14 days of their training. 

The campus will become part of the Dune landscape. It will be a true living area with a hotel and food and beverage facilities, that blends in with the marina, the dune and forest landscape and the houses of Project Duin.

Wienke Bodewes describes the lay-out of Project Duin
Picture copyright of: Ernst Labruyère
Click to enlarge
In the Duin project, the 8 km long Markermeer lake coast will be developed  with artificial dunes and a forest area, and with room for 3000 houses - flats as well as single family dwellings -, food & beverage facilities, office buildings and cultural recreation facilities. 

When Amvest was approached by Carnival, their plan for this training centre could be seamlessly fitted in in Amvest's development plans for Project Duin. Carnival has entered into a contract with Amvest to purchase the ground. This is a very good kick off for project Duin.

Henk Mulder:

Carnival has approximately 90,000 crew members. The company hosts 210,000 beds on their ships and arranges 11 million holidays per year. My wife told me: 'When Captain Stubing of the Love Boat series would be captain in the present time, he would have had his training in Almere'. That is a wonderful image for me.

The campus will be accompanied by a 5 star hotel. The total investments for Carnival will be about $50 million dollars or roughly €40 million euro, not including the hotel. 

The project will yield at least 200 jobs, apart from facilitary services and transport. Besides that, the glamour that comes with this largest cruise corporation in the world, is very good for Almere. 

Our city beat Vlissingen and Rotterdam in The Netherlands and a series of foreign locations in Croatia, Italy and The Philippines during the bidding process. We are extremely pleased about that.

As Wienke already stated, in Almere we have excellent connections with Amsterdam and Schiphol airport: the current highway will be expanded with four more lanes and the railroad connection will be doubled to four tracks, which effectively doubles the number of trains per hour that can travel from Amsterdam to Almere and vice versa.

Henk Mulder, Alderman for the city of Almere
Picture copyright of: Ernst Labruyère
Click to enlarge
On top of that, the excellent common knowledge of English in The Netherlands has been a Unique Selling Point too. And last but not least for Carnival, there was the very positive track record that Almere already had, through Carnival's current, smaller training centre, which has resided in our city since 2009.

The Almere city council had not a direct interest in selling the building terrain to Carnival, as it was already sold to Amvest. Nevertheless, we are very pleased with Carnival as a customer, as this really spurs the development of this landmark Project Duin, which is very important for the expansion of Almere.

Ernst: Did the city of Almere offer any kind of financial or economic incentives for Carnival?

Mulder: The only incentive lies in the creation of jobs by Carnival. Almere has a special incentive program for the creation of new jobs. We declared to Carnival that the company qualifies for this program, when it creates new jobs. No other state support has been offered, as this is not allowed.

Bodewes: As we already owned the ground, we had to decide whether Carnival / CSMART (Center for Simulator Maritime Training) was an interesting partner for our Project. This wasn't a hard decision on our behalf, as the maritime atmosphere of Carnival was exactly what we wanted for our Project Duin.

Mulder: The architecture of the Carnival Campus will be very important, as it will be about the first object that you see in the future, when you drive into Almere. 

BodewesThe architecture is also important for Carnival itself, for promotional purposes. The accident with the Costa Concordia  part of the Carnival Corporation  in January 2012, was a very important motivation for Carnival to establish this state-of-the-art training centre. 

Carnival Corporation wants to promote this training centre, as a landmark for safer cruise traveling. Consequently, the campus has to look good on TV.

Mulder: For Carnival it is very important that the development of the Duin area takes place at full speed. The company doesn't want to have its training centre in the-middle-of-nowhere, but in a vivid, maritime environment.

Bodewes: The first part of Project Duin will be developed in the summer of 2014; this is very quickly indeed. Almere will also further develop the infrastructure during the development process of Project Duin.

Ernst: Does the city bear any financial or other risk? 

Mulder: No!

Ernst: And can Carnival abolish the contract? 

Bodewes: There are a few common conditions for dissolving the contract, which are already best practice in the building industry. That would be when either Almere or Amvest could not meet their part of the deal, when it comes to development of the project and the infrastructure.

What will be further interesting for Almere in the future, is the level of the trainers on the campus. These are highly-qualified jobs that require a high level of skill and knowledge on a universitary level. These trainers will probably live in Almere and give another positive impulse to this city.

I have no personal interest in Project Duin nor in Amvest, but I wanted to print this press conference as it is a positive impulse for Almere and The Netherlands, when such an important corporation chooses to reside in The Netherlands with this training centre.


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