Sparking torch in hand, Windstar Cruises President John Delaney made the final cut to the hull of the Star Breeze at Fincantieri shipyard in Palermo today as Windstar’s lengthening project gets into full swing.
The months-long drydock will add room for 100 more guests, but also a host of further upgrades: two new restaurants, a new pool, a new spa, and countless technical advancements, including complete engine replacements when the ship debuts early next year.
After the cut, Fincantieri crews were balancing the 4,000 ton fore section on 12 skid plates.
Once the load is perfectly balanced the section will be moved about 50 centimetres and then rechecked. Overnight it will be moved forward to make room for the new 25.6-meter-long mid-section, Delaney said.
Delaney praised the shipyard for its expertise as well as its speed. Crews were working in three shifts around the clock to meet the massive scope of work.
“It was really darn impressive to see how much they’d done,” he said. “I actually walked under the ship today and I have to tell you it was a little creepy.”
Windstar’s $250 million Star Plus Initiative will see the Seattle-based company lengthen its three Star-class ships, placing a new midsection in each of them.
“Innovation, innovation and innovation describe our strategy going forward,” Luigi Matarazzo, executive vice president of the Merchant Ships Business Unit at Fincantieri told Cruise Industry News. “In order to consolidate our leadership position in design and construction of passenger ships, we will continue to create new innovative cruise ship prototypes that are characterized by challenging architectural and structural solutions, reduced environmental impact and increased safety and comfort for passengers.
“Our ship of the future is a new large cruise ship platform designed to minimize the environmental impact, maximize energy efficiency and raise safety levels.
“The powerplant will be fueled by LNG, integrating catalytic reduction systems and new energy recovery and storage systems,” Matarazzo continued. “Studies of hydrodynamics and fluid dynamics, numerical and experimental, will be applied to different fields, from propulsion efficiency to optimization of exhaust gas trajectories. Energy efficiencies will also be pursued through the redesign of the main systems. The concept exists only on paper so far, but I am sure she will soon be a game-changer.”
A key role is played by CETENA, Fincantieri’s research centre, which is leading research and development efforts in new technologies and specializing in the development of proprietary “smart” software for improved safety and optimized ship management, Matarazzo explained.
“Cruise operators and shipbuilders have to be at the forefront of environmentally friendly solutions for shipping,” he added. “There is no silver bullet, but significant results can be achieved through consistent and coordinated efforts.
“For optimization of the primary energy sources, we offer a wide set of solutions, ranging from advanced treatment of emissions to the use of dual-fuel/LNG based power generation to the application of hybrid solutions based on batteries. In the near future, we can also see fuel cells, which we are actively studying.”
Eco-friendliness and sustainability is the mantra for each design and manufacturing phase, according to Matarazzo. “We have been able to achieve remarkable results by carefully optimizing each individual plant and system and thus significantly improving the environmental footprint of our vessels over the past several years.
“But the human factor also needs to be considered,” he added. “We are also focused on helping the crew optimize their management of vessels and deal with the increasing complexity of systems. Thus, we are developing smart software, able to assist and guide the crew in safety and energy management.”
Fincantieri has also expanded its capabilities and resources through acquisitions like Insis, which is an information technology and electronics solution provider for the defence and civil sectors and is working with such groups as Cdp, Eni and Terna in research and development.
“On top of that,” said Matarazzo, “we have made a commitment to sustainability, having published our 2018-2022 plan, which covers all our activities and is a decisive step to consolidate our culture of corporate social responsibility.”