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Behind the scenes of Camper & Nicholsons yacht management division
6th April 2023
Camper & Nicholsons is focused on ensuring its clients have an enjoyable yacht ownership experience. And just as important as pairing a buyer with the right yacht, is managing the smooth running of its ongoing operations. While the multifaceted world of superyacht operations can be complex, the C&N yacht management team of experienced industry professionals can take care of every aspect.

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Behind the scenes of Camper & Nicholsons yacht management division

Marianne Danissen, head of Camper & Nicholsons yacht management division, oversees the operation of 70 luxury yachts, while ensuring their ongoing running is efficient, safe, and cost effective. The operational tasks include legal compliance, flag and class rules, ownership structuring, staff training, crew employment, onboard mediation and accounting services for owner, captain and crew. “We work in the background to make the experience of owning a yacht flawless,” explains Danissen. “It’s our job to make the impossible possible.”

To perform this task, Camper & Nicholsons have assembled a yacht management team of highly qualified industry professionals, including captains, chief engineers, naval architects, and surveyors. Danissen herself spent ten years at sea working on superyachts, latterly as a chief engineer. After joining Camper & Nicholsons yacht management team in 2003, she performed every role in her division — with the exception of accounting — rising to helm the team in 2019. “That experience showed me how best to manage boats on behalf of an owner,” she reflects.

Danissen’s colleague Richard Williams also has in-depth technical knowledge about how yachts operate. The company’s safety and security manager helped develop the international standards associated with yacht construction and operation today. "As a surveyor for new builds and yachts in service, you see a huge range of issues,” he explains. Williams also led the Industry Working Group’s LY3 yacht code for the MCA's large yacht unit, as well as international standards for helicopter decks operations and carbon fibre masts. 

Williams’s experience grants him insight into what regulations the Camper & Nicholsons fleet should prepare for in 2023. “I helped with the creation of regulations for large ships,” he explains. “Those regulations increasingly crossover into large yachts, as the training, environmental and safety systems are for similar sized vessels.” 

Williams also stays informed of upcoming changes over a five-year horizon. “We study what's going on at the International Maritime Organization and International Labour Organization in areas as diverse as carbon emissions and cyber security,” he adds. “Those rules will filter down to the yacht industry.”

Williams is used to problem solving in his role as a designated person ashore (DPA) – an essential link between ship and shore. This relationship ensures that all crew have someone to speak to if they feel a yacht isn’t a safe and legally compliant place to work. Camper & Nicholsons provide both a male and female DPA to offer confidential advice or discuss an issue that crew feel their captain or senior office has not taken seriously. “A yacht can be a high-pressure environment,” acknowledges Williams. In his experience, it’s easier to address issues relating to employment swiftly and sympathetically, rather than letting grievances grow. 

This human aspect is also a pressing issue for Danissen, who encourages crew training programmes. The company also organises leadership seminars for captains and heads of departments concerning leadership tools, preventing critical situations at sea, and encouraging mental fitness. 

To further the company’s aims of transparency and efficiency, Camper & Nicholsons has invested in technology as an aid to its yacht management division. “Our digital tools were created in collaboration with our tech hub to ensure that we deliver minute-by-minute information to all stakeholders,” explains Danissen. 

For example, aspiring crew members can apply for a job opportunity by uploading their data on a GDPR compliant platform. The latest C&N Crew software immediately filters the right candidate for the right role. The data is instantly shared within the yacht management team, allowing crew placement colleagues to follow up on the request. If approved, captains looking for specific staff will receive notification on their phone a few seconds later.

What else can these digital tools do? Firstly, they provide owners with real time data regarding charter revenue, insurance premiums, pending invoices, crew costs, maintenance schedules and much more. “Essentially an owner can check at any time the financial status of his or her yacht and use the tool to filter out specific data as required,” explains Danissen.

Secondly, Camper & Nicholsons digital tools arm owners and prospective owners with actionable data to make informed decisions. For example, an owner wishing to purchase a 50m Benetti can receive an instantaneous and accurate breakdown of operating costs, charter income, fuel consumption and staff payroll, all based upon the statistical history of the world’s largest yachting database. 

Moreover, these digital tools are unique. Camper & Nicholsons navigated against the tide by developing, at the cost of millions, their own in-house data solution. By avoiding third party software, the yacht management team can share data, adapt or add fields as clients demand them, such as for monthly ISM checklists or specific charter requests.

Camper & Nicholsons clients can also interact with their yacht manager inside a protected portal. In times past, owners or family offices shared their financial information and travel plans by email – a poor choice from a security point of view. Now their data is protected in-house.

Danissen and Williams have stepped aboard a thousand yachts during their decades-long careers. They will doubtless visit many more. “We solve the stress”, concludes Danissen, “so that an owner can enjoy their yacht”.