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.
Unlike the scheduled cruise ship refurbishments, major refits may include even a cruise ship lengthening, like in the case of Royal Caribbean ship Enchantment of the Seas lengthened in 2005 (see the photo below). The Enchantment ship lengthening cost ~ US$55 million, it was a process of cutting the ship in two and inserting a whole new 73 ft (22 m) 3,500 tons midsection, pre-built at the Aker Finnyards. The month-long dry-dock at the Keppel Verolme shipyards (Rotterdam, The Netherlands) resulted in adding 151 brand new cabins, a 50% bigger Pool Deck area, a new kids area, a teen center, several new bars and lounges, an expanded main dining room, a new specialty restaurant. This “refurbishment cost” record was recently beaten by the CCL line and the US$155 million Carnival Destiny refit 2013 producing a brand new ship named Carnival Sunshine!
The average cost of building a cruise ship is around US $450 for mid-sized vessels and up to $800 million for bigger cruise ships. These prices, along with the current economy status force many cruise lines to hold off from building new ships – the biggest expense of all. As a rule, all new cruise ships on order/currently under construction are by contracts signed years ago when the dollar had a good rate.
Cruise ship building prices are high enough to not meet the return requirement. Even the mighty Carnival Corporation (the largest cruise company in the world) puts its ship building plans on hold. Royal Caribbean is one of the few companies continuing to place orders for new ships – and not any ships, but the ever largest, the most innovative, the most expensive in the world. Still, most passenger ship lines are trying to keep their current fleet fresh and good looking. Two of the best examples are Holland America with its $450 million SOE program for ship renovations, and Carnival investing over $250 million to fully refit and refurbish 8 of its oldest vessels.
The Carnival Sunshine will embark on its first cruise from New Orleans on Monday afternoon, sailing to Cozumel and Grand Cayman on a six-day cruise.
Carnival Cruise Lines said the 3,006-passenger Sunshine is the largest Carnival ship to be based in New Orleans. The Sunshine will sail from New Orleans year-round.
Earlier this year, the Sunshine emerged from a $155 million makeover that transformed the former Carnival Destiny. The ship was lengthened and 151 staterooms were added. It also received dining and entertainment upgrades under the Carnival Fun Ship 2.0 program.