Carnival Corporation, the world’s largest cruise company with 10 global cruise brands that collectively sail to more than 700 ports of call, owns and operates the Arison Maritime Center, home of the Center for Simulator Maritime Training Academy, also known as the CSMART Academy.
Opened in July 2009 and located in Almere, Netherlands, outside Amsterdam, the CSMART Academy established itself from the start as a world-class training center for safety and excellence in maritime operations. It features the most advanced simulator equipment, technology and instructional tools, which provide participants with a superior maritime training experience that emphasizes critical thinking, problem solving and decision-making.
The CSMART Academy sets a high standard for progressive training protocols for bridge and engineering officers, with one of the world’s most experienced maritime training faculties. The staff and faculty have helped pioneer ground-breaking advances – including Carnival Corporation’s function-based bridge and engineering management system, an approach never before implemented on such a large scale.
Building on the CSMART Academy’s legacy of training excellence, in July 2016 Carnival Corporation expanded its training operations with the opening of the Arison Maritime Center, a spectacular, state-of-the-art campus featuring the CSMART Academy and the 176-room CSMART Hotel.
The center is named to honor the legacy of the Arison family, which founded and grew Carnival Corporation into the world’s largest cruise company.
The centerpiece of the Arison Maritime Center is the CSMART Academy, which features the most advanced bridge and engine room simulator technology and equipment available, with enough space to complete rigorous annual professional training for the company's 6,500 deck and engineering officers.
With its scale, technology and equipment, and progressive training approach, the new facility is the most progressive maritime center of its kind in the world for training and continually improving industry-wide safety and excellence.
Carnival Corporation partnered with top Dutch companies in various fields to ensure the Arison Maritime Center met the company’s standards for excellence. This included working with the Dutch property group AMVEST Vastgoed B.V. to purchase a seven-acre plot of land in Almere Poort called the DUIN, a planned business and residential community in Almere, one of Europe’s newest and fastest growing cities. The center’s campus and buildings were designed by renowned Dutch architect Paul de Ruiter, and the Dutch construction company Dura Vermeer built the CSMART Academy and CSMART Hotel. The design and construction meet the rigorous environmental and sustainability standards required to achieve LEED Gold certification, and the campus fits aesthetically into the Duin environment. The outcome is a stunning state-of-the-art, environmentally friendly facility.
The CSMART Academy features four full-mission bridge simulators including bridge wings, four full-mission engine room simulators, eight smaller part-task bridge simulators, 16 part-task engine room simulators and a hotel for trainees. At nearly 110,000 square feet, the new CSMART Academy more than doubles the capacity of the original center, enabling Carnival Corporation to train more officers more often, spend more time training on simulators and provide more real-time feedback to officers.
The CSMART Academy’s full-mission bridge simulators are modeled after the newly designed bridge of the Koningsdam from the company’s Holland America Line, which began sailing in May 2016. The simulators underwent more than 15 months of intensive development to ensure the visuals and operational characteristics closely model today’s technologically advanced cruise ships, providing an authentic shipboard experience for participants to build skills in navigating complex control and automation systems. The simulators can virtually transport officers to 60 ports around the world to gain real-world education and training in the intricacies and challenges of navigation. The simulators provide a wide array of scenarios and sea conditions including ship traffic, aircraft interference, weather events and wildlife circumvention.
As well as providing education to the company’s bridge officers, the CSMART Academy provides engineers with advanced training utilizing the latest in visual simulation technology. The full-mission engine control room simulators facilitate exercises in all phases of engine control room and engine room operation. They also feature four ground-breaking interactive multimodal machinery outstations that represent the systems and equipment critical to engine room operations.
Like the bridge simulators, the full-mission engine room simulators are based on actual ship layouts and systems, scaled to size and representing a diesel electric engine room comprising six diesel generators and two propulsion motors, along with ancillary and auxiliary equipment. These simulators allow trainees to navigate their way around the actual engine room of a ship to operate and repair equipment, with the genuine sights, sounds and even temperatures found in a cruise ship’s engine room. Engineering officers also work on the all-important communications with the chief engineer overseeing the team in the engine control room.
Along with the simulator training, CSMART Academy has 15 large instructional classrooms with video capabilities to review and discuss exercises conducted in the simulators. To accommodate officers participating in the training program, adjacent to the CSMART Academy is the 176-room CSMART Hotel with a full-service restaurant.
The bridge and engineering officers study an intensive 40-hour course, accredited by the United Kingdom’s Maritime & Coastguard Agency and the Netherlands’ Shipping Inspectorate. To make sure officers reach training goals, there is an assessment at the end of each day and at the end of the course.
The CSMART Academy employs a seasoned and diverse staff of professionals as instructors, with an average of 25 years of experience in the shipping and maritime industries. Faculty members have served as officers, ship captains and pilots on ships as well as directors and consultants, and many have served as lecturers at major European maritime academies. In addition to providing maritime training, many are skilled at port risk assessment, on-ship command and control assessment and training.
In keeping with the faculty team’s leadership, the new Arison Maritime Center provides the additional space needed to implement the industry’s first Proficiency Training and Assessment (PTA) program. Launched in 2017, the weeklong program is based on a specially developed curriculum that annually refreshes and then evaluates each of the maritime officers from each of the corporation’s 10 cruise line brands.
The Proficiency Training and Assessment Program is a new concept in the cruise industry. In other safety-critical industries such as aviation and nuclear power, similar programs have been in place for some time. Designed by the CSMART Academy faculty to meet the complex operations of bridges and engine control rooms/engine rooms on today’s modern cruise ships, the PTA program combines recurrent training with measurable assurance that the officers have achieved and are maintaining the training standards that their responsibilities require.
Completing the PTA every year is compulsory as part of the company’s Continuous Professional Development matrix, exceeding regulatory requirements and further establishing Carnival Corporation and its 10 brands as leaders in safety and excellence in maritime leadership. The program is ultimately designed to ensure that officers are kept well-informed of emerging changes to best practices, equipment and regulations while they are also assessed on the knowledge required for the performance of their duties.
In 2007, four groups of nautical educators traveled on eight ships from P&O Cruises and Princess Cruises – part of the Carnival Corporation family of brands -- to evaluate bridge and safety management practices, report on their findings and recommend potential improvements. The educators agreed that each ship operated to a high standard of traditional navigation, but with today’s evolution to operating large cruise ships in ports with minimal operational margins, they believed it was essential that navigation and maneuvering be carried out with high precision using all available resources, and that bridge practices should be adapting with the times. Recommendations included officer understanding of bridge navigation equipment, new bridge organization and procedures and simulator training.
To meet these recommendations, P&O Cruises and Princess Cruises established a training center with actual bridge equipment and a layout identical to ones onboard their most modern vessels. In July 2009, the CSMART facility opened, forming the foundation for today’s Arison Maritime Center.
In all industries, training and best practices evolve over time. The original CSMART faculty began pioneering a team-based bridge management system in 2009 for P&O Cruises UK and Princess Cruises. Starting in 2012, the CSMART facility expanded to begin training bridge and engineering officers from all of Carnival Corporation’s global brands – providing an across-the-board foundation for safety and excellence in maritime operations. Referred to as function-based bridge and engine room management, the approach is based on roles rather than ranks, with the officers operating as a coordinated team, with each officer assigned a role for specific functions.
The system builds on the airline industry model by using navigator and co-navigator roles. The navigator, who is “conning” the ship, is required to verbally communicate intentions to the co-navigator, who has prior experience in the navigator role and whose tasks include monitoring, cross-checking and supporting the navigator. As needed, they are supported by the operations director, which is the captain or his or her highest ranking officer, who maintains an overview and provides guidance and who can step in at any time depending on the circumstances. There is also an administrator to manage alarms and internal communications. A helmsman and a lookout complete the team.
As part of the team-based approach, the CSMART faculty introduced new ways of communicating intentions designed to reduce confusion. In a departure from past protocol, this includes encouraging team members of all ranks and seniority to speak up to challenge or question a decision. It also includes a concept called “Thinking Aloud,” used by the navigator to verbalize intentions, reasons and expected outcomes. For example:
Intention: “I intend to start the turn one cable early.”
Reason: “As we have a following current, as indicated by the curved heading line.”
Expected Outcome: “So that we should end up on track as the turn completes.”
These fundamental changes were introduced in several stages, starting with the development of new bridge procedures for normal, abnormal and emergency operations. To be successful, bridge officers needed to know why this change was necessary and how it worked, so an extensive training curriculum was developed that covered the roles-based approach. Training includes insight on human performance and its limitations. This transformation has resulted in a higher level of safety and operational excellence, with officers making effective use of the new structure and constantly evolving technology.
As Carnival Corporation has increased its operations at the CSMART Academy, the goal has been to immerse officers from all its brands in the world-class training experience. The company is using its resources as the world’s largest cruise company to bring all 10 brands together under one roof with an advanced training program that provides expert training in progressive bridge and engine room management techniques and utilizes the latest in simulator technology. Carnival Corporation also used the CSMART Academy at the Arison Maritime Center to continue managing research and development projects that will lead to future innovations in maritime safety training and professional development.
Carnival Corporation and the Arison Maritime Center produce a significant economic impact in Almere and the greater Amsterdam region. In addition, the presence of one of the world’s most recognized global brands provides important benefits to Almere, Amsterdam and the Netherlands, highlighting their positive business climate, which serves as a compelling testimonial for local, regional and national business development efforts.
The Arison Maritime Center is a major operation. The original CSMART facility had more than 50 full-time employees, and trained more than 4,000 bridge and engineering officers from Carnival Corporation’s 10 global cruise brands around the world. When the new CSMART Academy opened in 2016, the company hired another 11 instructors, and increased its training capacity over 30 percent to instruct approximately 6,500 bridge and engineering officers. Such a large operation requires an extensive network of support, ranging from food and beverages, maintenance, air and ground transportation to legal and accounting services. When these factors and more are taken into account, it is estimated that Carnival Corporation and the Arison Maritime Center generate an annual economic impact of up to 17.5 million euros for the local community and region.
In addition, the construction of Carnival Corporation’s new Arison Maritime Center in Almere generated a significant direct investment that is estimated to be 75 million euros. The new center represented a major construction project that involved the land purchase, construction, furnishings, a large network of business partners and hundreds of jobs across the Netherlands.
Carnival Corporation made the decision to bring the original facility to Almere for several reasons. Since officers travel from all over the world, predominantly Europe, to participate in the company’s training program, it is important that Almere is convenient to Amsterdam International Airport at Schiphol, a modern airport that serves as a key hub in Europe. Other factors include the long and rich tradition of maritime excellence in Holland and the country’s reputation as a welcoming place to do business.