Cruise Lines Could Face Major Drydock Challenge Following Hurricane Damage

Grand Bahama Shipyard

The cruise industry could be looking at a monumental impact to their operations following Hurricane Dorian if the Grand Bahama Shipyard’s capacity is taken offline or further limited following an April incident.

The go-to-yard for drydocks and refurbishments in the cruise industry is partly owned by both Carnival Corporation and Royal Caribbean Cruises.

It is ideally located in the Bahamas, meaning little out-of-service transit time on the way to or from various deployment regions, including the Caribbean in the winter.

The yard is regularly used by cruise vessels from almost all cruise lines for mandatory class drydocking and refurbishment work.

There are few alternatives for big vessels in the region. Shipyards in Newport News, Virginia, and Mobile, Alabama, both have facilities that can handle larger vessels but are generally used for naval purposes and are known to be well booked ahead of time.

Deytens, located in South Carolina, has also played host to the expedition and luxury ships and mid-sized vessels over the years.

Costs at U.S.-based facilities are also higher, and there are challenges in bringing in skilled labour and large amounts of the hotel and marine supplies from foreign countries that are needed for large scale refurbishments, which often see spending of up to $3 million per day in supplies and labour.

With reported widespread damage in Freeport, operations to the yard could be impacted. Housing both permanent and temporary workers could prove challenging unless accommodation vessels are brought in.

Another expensive option could be the Boka Vanguard, a semi-submersible heavy transport vessel operated by Netherlands-based Boskalis, which helped provide a platform for emergency repairs to the Carnival Vista earlier this year.

In Curacao, Damen Shipyards offers a drydock option and has plenty of cruise experience.

Cruise lines could also choose to wet-dock their vessels at industrial piers just about anywhere. The upside being the vessel would be empty and available for hotel refit. Crane access could be limited making logistics of getting supplies off and on the ship challenging.

However, classification societies require ships to come out of the water at regular intervals for inspection.

The most likely option, however, is the regular drydock facilities in Europe. The question is whether they have available space when needed, and the impact of moving ships that were scheduled to drydock in the Bahamas to Europe, mixing up some itineraries and deployment.

Cancelling a scheduled drydocking for the third or fourth quarter of 2019 or early 2020 and replacing it with a normal sailing would also pose challenges with a short booking window.

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Oasis of the Seas was hit by a crane in a dry dock near Freeport in the Bahamas

A construction crane crashed into the Oasis of the Seas cruise ship while it was in dry dock near Freeport in the Bahamas

A crane has collapsed onto one of the biggest cruise ships in the world leaving eight people injured.

The Oasis of the Seas was in dock in the Caribbean when the crane crashed into the £1billion vessel causing the huge 228,225-tonne liner to list.

A construction crane came down and smashed into the stern of the boat, which has a capacity of 6,300 people, into the area its AquaTheatre is located.

The four-deck luxury liner which is the fourth largest in the world was in dry dock near Freeport in the Bahamas when the accident happened on Monday at around 1.45pm local time.

A video of the aftermath was posted on YouTube and has been viewed more than 6,000 times.

One dock worker could be heard in the footage saying: ‘I was right there on the dock. I just missed by the grace of God. Big accident.’

The only crew were on board the liner at the time and no guests were present.

All the eight injured people are thought to be dockyard workers, but none are thought to be in a life-threatening condition.

A spokesman for Royal Caribbean which owns the liner said: ‘We are responding to a construction site incident at the Great Bahamas Shipyard, where Oasis of the Seas is currently in dry dock.

‘We are accounting for the whereabouts of all site personnel. We are aware of damage to the dock structure and to construction cranes. We are assessing damage to the ship.’

The ship, which had been based at Port Canaveral, Florida, was undergoing routine maintenance on Grand Bahama Island, Royal Caribbean officials said.

Nearly 500 people were struck down with norovirus on board the Oasis of the Seas in January and the huge cruise ship had to change course and head to its home port at Port Canaveral in Florida.

When the ship launched in 2008 she was the largest cruise ship in the world.

MSC Cruises to homeport ‘enlarged’ ship in Southampton

MSC Cruises is to lengthen and refurbish one of its ships and homeport it in Southampton for the summer season in 2021.

The ship, which has not been named, will go into drydock and re-emerge as “a super-enhanced version” of itself.

It will be the first time MSC has based one of its ships in the UK for a full season.

Speaking exclusively to Travel Weekly, Antonio Paradiso, managing director for UK & Ireland, said: “This is not just a refitting. It will be a perfect blend of an old prototype ship and a new one.

“The larger ship will sail northern Europe itineraries to the Baltic capitals, Norwegian Fjords, North Cape and some southbound destinations.”

He also said: “It was the first time we have made a 100% commitment to the UK market.”

Paradiso revealed the ship would partner with “exciting British brands” and be “adapted” to meet the needs of the UK market.

“We learnt a lot from MSC Magnifica, bringing on British food, kettles and tea bags,” he added. “It has satisfaction scores of 7.5 out of 10 which is great for a first operation out of the UK.

“2021 gives us an opportunity to further improve those scores.”

Paradiso said plans were still being finalised and he would confirm the ship, deployment and details in “two to three months’ time”.