Royal Caribbeans Major Revitalizations

Image result for independence of the seas in dry dock
Independence of the Seas in Drydock.

Among the big out-of-water projects for Royal Caribbean Cruises, this year are revitalizations of the Adventure, Mariner and Independence of the Seas, plus the complete refurbishment and transformation of the Adonia into the Azamara Pursuit.

The company’s large-scale drydocking projects are overseen by the newbuild and innovation department, headed by up Kevin Douglas, vice president, who joined Royal in 2004 as a project manager overseeing a large-scale revitalization on the Sovereign of the Seas.

While smaller dry dockings (known as a “shave and a haircut”) are generally run by the brands, Douglas said his group comes together to plan the big changes, working closely with the operations teams to craft a program vision, whether it’s the Royal Advantage or Celebrity’s recent $400 million Edge-upgrade scheme.

With a schedule that calls for dry dockings every five years, the planning starts with a holistic look at each ship, and how they fit into the class and the brand

“The principal goal is how we improve the guest experience, offering a more meaningful product,” said Douglas. That ranges from stateroom upgrades to new restaurants and other features like the FlowRider surfing simulator. “We look at how we can add in IT and the smart ship concept, upgrading the technical experience and entertainment.”

Projects are evaluated not only on cost but in the number of containers and raw materials needed.

“We know how much material we can deal with on a daily basis, and that determines how much time we need,” Douglas said.

The technical scope of jobs is increasingly complex.

“Then we look at the stability of the ship with the increase in weight and the increase of the centre of gravity, and whether we have to add a ducktail to the stern.”

Allure of the Seas at Navantia

Another major technical project has been installing scrubbers (the company prefers to call them Advanced Emissions Purification Systems).

“They are about the size of a school bus,” Douglas noted.

Royal Caribbean has had its scrubber program going for five years, with some 20 ships outfitted with various systems from a number of suppliers with the project being overseen directly by Matti Heikkinen, vice president of newbuild.

“He and his team have done an awesome job,” added Douglas.

Under the waterline, the company has an on-going initiative to study hull coatings, with a new direction expected to be announced in early 2018.

“There is a massive benefit on fuel efficiency on drag and resistance,” Douglas said.

That project is being spearheaded by Captain Patrik Dahlgren, senior vice president of global marine operations, and Anshul Tuteja, director of energy management.

“We are looking at every type of paint, and which coatings work best in what areas,” Douglas explained. “Patrick and Anshul are looking very carefully, and we can actually track the performance of a hull coating relating to efficiency and how much fouling they are getting.

“We probably have every type of paint coating in the fleet, and are now starting to review final recommendations for future coatings.”

Royal Caribbean has also grown the scope of its drydocking work along with its shipyards, continually working to get leaner and manage bigger projects.

“Twelve years ago we were doing 12 to 16 containers a day and thought ‘wow.’ Now we are doing 50 containers a day and think nothing of it.”

And the spending is skyrocketing.

“We used to be at $800,000 per day, and now its $2.8 million; and we want to go even higher,” Douglas said.

The next hurdle may come in Asia, with a number of company ships in China. One of those ships has already been in a Chinese drydock for a repair, which Douglas said went well. SkySea also recently drydocked at a yard in China for a small refit.

Years of planning, million-dollar decisions and executing on a tight schedule, Douglas said it all came down to partnerships, whether internal, whether with the shipyards or with turnkey suppliers.

“It’s about how we do these projects in a short period of time, minimizing the risk and maximizing the planning.”


Marella Cruises aims to attract younger passengers with new adult-only ship

Golden Era (Ex-Celebrity Century)

Marella Cruises has revealed its Explorer 2 ship will be adult-only when it launches in May 2019.

The line also said it would become an all-inclusive fleet, offer 11 new itineraries and seven ports of call from next summer.

The decision to go all inclusive is expected to appeal to passengers who are new to cruise and younger, Marella said.

Marella Explorer 2 will enter the fleet as a result of the ending of a Chinese joint venture between Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd and Chinese travel firm Ctrip.

The vessel Golden Era earmarked for SkySea Cruise Line for the Chinese market will instead be bought by the Tui-owned UK line.

The ship will launch as Marella Explorer 2 in 2019 following an extensive renovation.

This will enable Tui Cruises in Germany to retain Mein Schiff 2 which had been destined to be sold to sister brand Marella.

Both Golden Era and Mein Schiff 2 are former Celebrity Cruises’ Century-class ships.

Golden Era was previously Celebrity Century, which entered service in 1995 with a capacity for 1,814 passengers, while Mein Schiff 2 formerly operated as Celebrity Mercury, entering service in 1997 and capable of carrying 1,912 passengers.

Royal Caribbean (RCL) is a half owner of Tui Cruises but is dissolving a 36% shareholding with Ctrip in SkySea Cruises.

SkySea Cruise Line began operations in May 2015 and established two home ports in Shanghai and Xiamen.

Tui Cruises announced last month plans to expand its fleet to serve the German market with an additional new build vessel for delivery in 2023. Tui Group’s overall cruise ship fleet will grow to 18 vessels by then.

Sebastian Ebel, the member of Tui Group’s executive board in charge of cruises, said: “We will continue to invest in our cruise portfolio and expand, modernise and rejuvenate our fleet. With these decisions, we increase the offer at Tui Cruises and accelerate the expansion of this growing segment.“

Marella Explorer 2 will feature new cabin types, including the 102 metres squared Royal Suite where occupants will be able to use a separate bedroom, dressing room, dining area and a whirlpool bath.

Forty percent of the 907 cabins will have balconies.

Marella said the popularity of adult-only sailings from Dubrovnik and the Asia itineraries for winter 2018 prompted the decision to offer an adult-only ship.

Marella Explorer 2 will be the first ship to be exclusively for adults in the fleet.

The vessel will be tailored to meet the needs of couples and groups by doubling the size of its sunbathing area, called The Veranda, featured on the Marella Explorer.

The Veranda on Marella Explorer 2 will feature new facilities, the line said.

Marella Cruises will also offer 11 new itineraries, such as Cities and Ice, Idyllic Italia and Secrets of the Mediterranean, and seven new ports of call next summer across its fleet.

Skagen in Denmark, Castellon in Spain, Alta in Norway and Margherita in Italy will all be included in Marella itineraries for the first time.

Chris Hackney, Marella Cruises’ managing director, said: “We continue to look at ways to offer something different to our current customers who have come to enjoy our ships and friendly service onboard and those who may be thinking about booking a cruise for the first time.”

The summer 2019 programme will go on sale on April 5.

The planned transfer of Mein Schiff 1 to Marella Cruises as Marella Explorer in May is unaffected, with the UK line also introducing its 2019 itineraries on April 5.

The vessel previously operated as Celebrity Galaxy as a sister ship to Century and Mercury, first entering service at the end of 1996.

The US cruise giant said: “Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd and Ctrip announced today that they are ending the SkySea Cruise Line joint venture.

“Tui AG’s Marella Cruises has agreed to purchase Golden Era, with delivery expected in December 2018.

“As a result of this transaction, Tui Cruises will now retain Mein Schiff 2 in its fleet, rather than selling it to Marella Cruises, giving Tui Cruises increased capacity in the strong German market.

“After the sale of Golden Era, it is expected that SkySea will wind down its business operations before the end of 2018.

“The companies expect that favourable business conditions in China and elsewhere will allow them to absorb most SkySea employees into available positions at RCL and Ctrip.

“Through its Royal Caribbean International brand, RCL will continue to serve the Chinese market, with the largest fleet deployment in the region and a strong collaborative relationship with Ctrip.”

Royal Caribbean expects the impact of the transactions to fall in a range of $0.12 to $0.15 a share this year. The loss will be excluded from 2018 adjusted net income, the company said.

Watch a cruise ship get cut in half

Image result for silver spirit being cut in half
Click the above photo to watch a Timelapse video of the Silver Spirit being cut in half.

Why would anyone take a perfectly good cruise ship and cut it in half?

To make it even better, that’s why.

PHOTO: The Silver Spirit, part of Silversea Cruises, was lengthened by cutting it in half and adding another section.Courtesy Silversea Cruises
The Silver Spirit, part of Silversea Cruises, was lengthened by cutting it in half and adding another section.

Silversea Cruises shared with “Good Morning America” video of the dry-docked Silver Spirit being taken apart at the midsection to add a prebuilt 49-foot segment to the ship. When work is completed in early May, the ship will be 691.3 feet long.

PHOTO: The Silver Spirit ship being cut in half.Courtesy Silversea Cruises
The Silver Spirit ship being cut in half.

The company called the lengthening of cruise ships a “trend” in small ship luxury cruising. The multi-million dollar project to refresh the Silver Spirit is less expensive than building an entirely new ship.

On May 6, the refurbished Silver Spirit will recommence service with a 7-day cruise between Civitavecchia, Italy, and Barcelona.