GUMPTION. It's a word you don't hear that often but it's a word immediately evoking a sense of strength of character.

"Gumption," says Joyce Landry, in her gentle New England burr. "I don't know what you say here." We say it too, only not commonly.

Ms Landry is on board the MS Victoria in Leith docks, a few days before it is due to depart after serving as home to hundreds of Ukrainian families for the past 12 months.

It has also been home to Ms Landry for the bulk of that time. Normally resident in Miami, the American CEO and co-founder of Landry & Kling also lived on the cruise ship that her company had chartered on behalf of the Scottish Government as floating accommodation for refugees.

While on board she saw that children and young people had little to do and so engaged residents on the ship to set up a children's project that would entertain them and keep them occupied.

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She picked the women - who she now employs to work for a new charity, Mission of Innocents, that was born on the vessel - because she saw in them "gumption". And surely also a sense of fellow feeling.

Ms Landry has dedicated a career to being a champion of women. She and her business partner Jo Kling - and there is a real romance to the story when she tells it - founded Landry & Kling in New York City in 1982; two young women in a male-dominated industry who were determined to take their place in the world.

Now a global endeavour, Landry & Kling is still women-run and employs a largely female work force.

That female touch, she says, helps them do business differently and leads to a compassionate way of working where, as an example, a charity might be born after identify a need.

The children's group on board MS Victoria used art therapy to help young Ukrainians process the trauma of war and the separation from their home country. To help her settle into a new flat in Edinburgh, Ms Landry has taken some of this art to hang at home.

"I have one of the paintings where it's a little girl stepping on tanks and every time she steps, she's crushing them," she describes, "and she's holding the Ukrainian flag and she's smiling.

"It's a very strong image of women, a very strong image of hope."

As all Americans come from somewhere else, Ms Landry is of Polish origins and used that to connect with the Ukrainians she was working with.

Last Christmas she and her team were thinking about how to help the guests through the holiday period and she remembered the tradition of making pierogi.

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"I asked the women if they had the same tradition I had in Poland growing up where women hand made pierogi," she said. "They replied, 'We call them Vareniki'. Their eyes lit up.

"We talked to the ship and we had a Ukrainian chef on board so they created the door but the women created three different fillings and for three days they made 30,000 pierogi on board.

"There is an oral tradition of singing and making the pierogi. For three days you could hear them singing through the ship and it was truly wonderful."

"And then," she adds, "we ate them all."

In the late 1970s Ms Landry worked at Holland America, the US cruise company, but had an idea in mind to charter cruise ships for large scale events such as conferences. "No one was doing it at the time, she said, "and we thought why not us - so we started our business in New York City with no money and no clients and just a dream."

The two women approached the New York Times - then the only way any self-respecting New Yorker took their news - and told the reporter he would want to write about them: they were going to be big. "And we never looked back".

Landry & Kling had its first dockside charter in 1987 in Boston for a convention hosting 20,000 people and it hit the news as something that had never been done before.

"It was during Fall foliage when there were no hotels, and it was a company that no longer exists was called Digital Equipment Corporation.

"They called and asked if we could put a ship in the harbour? And I said, 'Well, it's never been done before. But let's see what we can do.'" So Ms Landry called up the president of the Cunard Line and asked to charter the QEII.

They put the grand old dame and a sister ship in Boston Harbour and ended up in Forbes magazine. That, she says, "really launched us".

But during the coronavirus pandemic when the industry "came to a screeching halt" Ms Landry was "undaunted" and brainstormed new ideas with her team.

She said: "We realised that there were ships laid up all over the world and crew that were unemployed. And we started to market to that.

"We started looking at floating dormitories for universities, floating covid isolation centres, floating hospitals, using vessels for disaster relief crews."

Calls came in from around the world, including England where Landry & Kling was asked to provide floating accommodation for Devon and Cornwall Police during the G7 summit.

The Scottish Government followed up with a request for a ship to house workers during COP26 in Glasgow. And that, in turn, led to MS Victoria and the MS Ambition housing Ukrainians in Edinburgh and Glasgow.

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Ms Landry said: "We got a call on a Thursday. And over the weekend we found the ship and got a proposal out and within a week we had the ship here. "And a lot of people were sceptical and they will tell us that they were sceptical both on the local council side and the government.

"They all came on not knowing what they were getting themselves into and when they met us they just relaxed because there was somebody in charge, somebody who had done it before and somebody who could relieve their anxiety."

It was her formative years in tough, male-dominated offices that gave her the gumption to set up her business and now, she said, mentoring younger women is a vital part of the role.

"I started my career at the end of the 70s, she said, "And that was a very tumultuous time. Women were just starting to make headway in business.

"And so I was in meetings with mostly men. I worked for a cruise line that was all men: men in the conference room, men in senior positions.

"I was in that realm where I knew how hard I had to work in order to get to be heard. I wanted to be thought of as significant, that I had something to offer, that I had something to say in these meetings.

"When I was able to start my own business and then throughout the years, I've put my time and attention into mentoring other young women in business and helping them to understand their place and what they can accomplish in the world."

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It's still important, she adds, to do this because "I don't think much has changed". In post-Trump America women's rights are still under threat; there is yet to be a woman in the Whitehouse.

Ms Landry adds: "There's still a fair amount of scepticism when you walk in the room and you say that you're a CEO or that you're running a very large company.

"So I like to support women, I've been in their shoes, it's a goal of mine. So I love it. It just makes my heart sing, you know to be around young women."

Ms Landry's father, John, drove her to New York City for her first job interview and waited outside for his daughter. Despite being from a different era, he was intensely supportive and a huge influence on his daughter's life.

She said: "Someone once told me that you look at any successful woman, you'll find a really strong and supportive father.

"My dad was able to encourage me to do anything that I wanted to do and that was huge, you know, and my dad certainly did that for me."

Currently Landry & Kling is supplying floating accommodation to the UK government; the Bibby Stockholm, berthed in Dorset, will be used to house asylum seekers. It's proven a controversial move against a background of a right wing government fostering a hostile immigration environment.

Ms Landry, though, is determined she can change minds and set up a positive and nurturing home on board, despite protests and intense scepticism.

She points to previous work by Landry & Kling to encourage large corporations and clients to invest in communities they're based in.

During the devastating Hurricane Ida in the Caribbean, the company persuaded an insurance company for which it was setting up a corporate event, to carry out charity work in each of the disaster hit islands.

She said: "In one island, we helped them to rebuild the outside of their homes. And we redid the gardens for the schools. In every place there was a give back instead of just having parties and being taken care of."

During last year's 40th anniversary celebrations of the company Ms Landry and Ms Kling brought their staff - who work remotely as well as at the base in Miami - to Scotland to let them experience the Ukrainian refugee project.

As well as a fierce, round-the-clock work ethic, the CEO is on the board of trustees for Barry University in Miami and, when she's at home, she is a Miami Waterkeeper, part of a charity that advocates for South Florida's water and wildlife watching, for example, for breeding manatees or sea animals injured by motorboats".

"That means," she says, "when I'm in Miami, I keep my eyes on the water always. And I report in anything that I see that is not right."

It seems like this would be Ms Landry's ethos whether in Miami or not and, for the people living on board floating accommodation, it is an instinct they will rely upon.