Due to the unpredictable nature of sailing schedules in the shipping industry, crew change logistics is a complicated matter. This complexity increases if the application of a Schengen visa is part of the process. This is because the application for a Schengen visa must occur at the embassy of the Schengen Member State where the crew change will take place – while the country and port of call are sometimes only known at short notice.
The vast majority of vessels in the Dutch shipping industry sail according to irregular schedules that are usually determined by the cargoes per voyage – the so-called tramp trade.
Tramp trade can be truly global in nature, with voyages taking up to a number of weeks in duration. However, short trips, last minute changes in the sailing schedule and last minute (un)loading stops occur on a regular basis. This is so-called ‘deep sea shipping’, where crew changes can often, but not always, be planned for a maximum period of a few weeks.
The other part of the Dutch tramp trade involves a sailing area that is generally limited to European waters. This is ‘short sea shipping’. Voyages tend to be short; most commonly with an average duration of less than a week and last minute sailing schedules are common. In short sea shipping operations, the next (or second from next) port of call is often only known at short notice, or it can change at the last minute. Crew changes are naturally planned well in advance, but in many cases the port where a crew change will take place is only known at the last moment; sometimes only a few days in advance.