With its main offices in Turkey, the USA, Malta and Greece, Miray International is a cruise management company specialised in recruiting and training professional crew, floating hotel service, cruise ship hotel management and their own cruise line.
They have collaborated with Carnival Cruise and Disney Cruise Lines for their dry dock operations and arranging the floating hotel for their crew. We had a conversation with Aliza Kukurtcu, Crew Manager at Miray International. She shared with us her experience booking crew travel and her perspective on the cruise industry for the coming year.
Like many ship management companies, Aliza and her team were arranging crew travel through a travel agent. When they had to book a trip for just a few people, they would do it online through the airline website or other platforms.
“In urgent situations, we couldn’t find solutions quickly. We needed to wait for the answer on email,” said Aliza “when we booked online, we had to call the call centre, and there’s waiting time, and there are fees. We lost a lot of time, and sometimes we had crew members waiting at the airport.”
As a crew manager having to jump through hoops and hurdles during emergency situations resulted stressful for Aliza, and she was so relieved when she heard about C Teleport.
“The method to issue and find tickets was a big advantage for us. The platform is easier to use.” Aliza mentioned, “We can issue, change and cancel flights by ourselves in one minute, and we don’t have to call any airlines; this was the first good point for me!”
Finding the best prices was also challenging for Aliza’s team. They had to go through different websites one by one. Once they found the cheapest ticket, they filled in all the passenger information just to find out at the end that the fare didn’t include luggage.
“The prices are actually lower or the same than in other websites or agents,” said Aliza. She loves that she can see all the flight information from the first page in C Teleport, but her favourite thing is the visa check feature. “Sometimes we have a crew from India, and they have to fly via Germany, and they have other restrictions there. C Teleport just shows me what I need to know by typing the nationality. That’s an excellent feature!”
With 300-500 crew members flying per month, another reason why Aliza likes using C Teleport is that she doesn’t have to type the passenger information over and over again. “For us, it’s an advantage that we have the crew details saved there (on the platform), and then I don’t have to write it again when I book the return ticket. Everything is just easier.“
Two things surprised Aliza from C Teleport: 1. The platform fee, 2. The mobile app. “I was surprised that it’s completely free to use the platform,” said Aliza during our conversation “there’s just a small commission on the flight ticket, and even with the commission, the price is lower or the same.”
C Teleport mobile app is a lifesaver for her as well. “When I don’t have the laptop by my side, I can just go on the app and cancel, change, find another flight.” said Aliza, “Once, I was on my way to the airport to fly to Germany, and another crew member was also at the airport. He couldn’t fly to Honduras because of the restrictions between Turkey and the USA. So, I changed the ticket right there in the car with my child next to me. Within 1 minute, I solved the problem completely with my phone!”
The cruise industry was one of the hardest hit due to the pandemic. Before COVID-19, Aliza and her team moved over 300 crew members per month, from engineers to hotel crew. They’re currently only planning crew changes for engineers, and they think that the crew industry will most likely come completely back to life in 2022.
“Unfortunately for 2021, the cruise market may work for 30% of the year, in our opinion,” said Aliza, “because it’s now April, and normally the cruises start in May-June-July, but the restrictions now are more strict than a few months ago. We think only dry dock operations, and maybe short term cruises can happen. But in 2022, I think the cruise industry will come back to life, I hope! But in the meantime, I don’t think that 2021 will be like 2019.”