SEVGİ SAYAR BAŞARAN
ANKARA - Referans
The demands of yacht tourism and increasing number of purchases of personal yachts have meant the industry is facing a staff shortage. The maritime sector is in dire need of 900 new captains as well as service staff capable of working on yachts.
Mustafa Balcı, who first made cruises available to Turks by establishing the Istanbul Line Company in 2000, is now working to meet current crew needs by training new personnel at his new Cruiseacademy.
Cruiseacademy was initiated under the slogan �Travel and make money� to attract new staff for yachts and cruise liners. Today, the academy has offices in both Istanbul and Bodrum. Balcı stated that Cruiseacademy was able to train service staff to work in different areas in 15 to 30 days.
�Cruise companies and yachts have trouble finding well trained staff. Thus, I took action to fill the need in the area. Trainees of Cruiseacademy get a chance to find overseas employment on cruise ships with high salaries,� Balcı noted.
Good staff never unemployed
Before establishing Cruiseacademy, Balcı started research in 2006 to determine the industry's needs. The first course at the academy was in Istanbul. However, the academy also started training courses in Bodrum this year due to a great interest from people in Anatolia.
�We started our courses in cooperation with the Boğaziçi University in Istanbul and Milta Marina in Bodrum. The greatest demand for courses comes from Anatolia region. While we had 120 trainees last year, this year's trainee number is already 80. Our course fee is YTL 540. We especially accept high school graduates and multilingual people to our courses,� Balcı said, adding that cruise ships, like hotels, need many staff in different areas ranging from waiting staff to hairdressers, and retainers to animators.
�Trainees of the courses also have a great chance to work abroad. Greek ships employ many people while Dalmatia also calls for staff. A well trained crew member has no chance of ending up unemployed. Forty-five trainees who attended courses last year have easily found employment,� he said.
Salaries of up to $3500
Salary rates are fairly high on cruise ships. A skilled staff member can start off on $1200, with tips taking that to about $1900.
�One can make over YTL 2000, even at the beginning. I know some Turks working on ships who get salaries of around $3500,� Balcı said, maintaining that they will soon be enlarging the scope of the course, with classes such as marine administration to be added to the curriculum.
�Marine administration classes will be the first of their kind in Turkey. We will not only expand the course program to meet labor scarcity but also plan to form an association,� Balcı noted. He is currently working to establish the new association, to be called the World Mariners Training Association.
Cruise sector on the rise
Balcı recalled that when the first cruise advertisements were published in newspapers in 2000 everybody warned him that he would lose money. �They said I was crazy and claimed that Turks do not board ships for a vacation,� he said, pointing out that today everybody goes on cruise ships. �Almost 300 people took a holiday on cruise ships in 2000. Today, the number has approached 20,000.�