Robin Jones, one of our cruise experts, was recently given the opportunity to visit the Centre for Simulator Maritime Training (Csmart) facility just outside Amsterdam.
Csmart is the main training facility for officers on Carnival’s fleet (which includes P&O Cruises). It’s an accurate simulation of a cruise ship bridge, built to train officers — not just for standard procedures — but also in handling challenging and uncommon scenarios. It features a huge wrap-around screen showing the bridge in all sorts of different situations. There’s also a bridge-wing simulator (used when manoeuvring into port and berthing) and an engine room simulator.
All About Csmart
What makes Csmart really special is its fantastic flexibility. It can programmed to simulate virtually any ship in any location and — wait for it — under any combination of circumstances. This could be all sorts, like weather changes, tides, currents and marine traffic.
Photo: ©: CSMART
It was built by Carnival in 2009 as their main European training base and is used by all their officers for five day courses and training. This allows staff besides just the Captain to have input and be able to help with important tasks onboard, helping the smooth running of the ships.
The simulator’s triple screen shows what you exactly what you’d see through a ship’s windows, with one screen showing the course, one the speed and the other direction — along with the radar.
Trying It Out
Amazingly, we were lucky enough to test the simulator out. We were set a route around the islands of Hong Kong on the Grand Princess. Getting behind the control, you really got a sense for how the ship to responds to your inputs. We also had to bring the Costa Serena into Fort Lauderdale — no mean feat!
I was navigating alongside my co-pilot, with one other person steering. Responsible for the speed and course, we guided the ship between the buoys into the port, whilst flicking between the radar and maps to see where we were in relation to the docks.
As we pulled into port, we had to turn the ship to starboard, bring it to a complete stop and then reverse it into the berth. We discovered first-hand, just how well-trained you need to be, as we somehow managed to crash into the dockside. Think we’ll leave it to the experts next time!
The visit to Csmart has given me a valuable insight into how the systems and the bridge of a cruise ship works. It also made me realise how much skill and training they go though to get to where they are today. A real eye-opener — and can’t finish without a big thanks to Carnival for the opportunity.
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