Star Breeze Lengthening Underway in Palermo for Windstar

Star Breeze

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.

Ship Cut

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.

John Delaney, president, Windstar Cruises

“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.

The curious art of ‘stretching’ a cruise ship

Things didn’t go entirely to plan when Jane Archer watched the “stretching” – the pulling apart and inserting a new section – of MSC Armonia in Palermo

Video of MSC Armonia being cut in half

Over the past five days Italian shipyard workers in Palermo, Sicily, have been preparing to insert a new pre-built section of ship into an exisitng MSC cruise ship, Armonia. They have spent the past week cutting the 60,000gt vessel in half ahead of its “stretching”. The ship is cut just in front of the funnel (slightly behind the mid-way point) and then separated so the new section can be inserted. The hull is then resealed.

When completed, the ship will be 24 metres longer than before and have an additional 193 cabins.

During a visit to the yard yesterday a group of us stood in the blazing September sunshine to watch the next stage – the ship being pulled apart and a new section angled into place. The stretch should have started at 9am, but by 10am we were informed of a problem with the 22 “skid shoes” that would pull the ship’s front section forward.

Extra piece of the ship being rolled into dry dock at Palermo, Italy (photo: MSC Cruises)

The “shoes” were made by Fagioli, the Italian company responsible for uprighting the Costa Concordia last year (an operation known as parbuckling), and use a system of hydraulics to lift and pull the 14,000-ton forward section 23.7 metres along tracks at the bottom of the yard’s dry dock.

“It’s a bit like watching the ancient Egyptians using modern technology,” commented one onlooker who had flown in from Canada to see the skid shoes in action (they are to be used for moving parts of an off-shore platform his company is building in South Korea).

Suddenly there was movement. It was slow, inches at a time, with regular stops for safety checks. At the same time, the 2,200-ton new section, which was at the back of the dry dock, began to move into position.

The section was built at the shipyard, took three-and-a-half months to complete and in good maritime tradition was blessed by a madrina, or godmother. If all goes according to plan welding into place will begin on September 25 ahead of the interior refit.

The extension will not only making Armonia bigger (the additional cabins will take passenger count from 1,566 to 1,952) and add 90 balcony cabins, it will also create space for a water park, a crèche, teenager clubs and a new library. Fire safety and fuel consumption will also be improved.

These are cutting-edge technologies,” Emilio La Scala, general manager of MSC’s technical department, told me, I assume with no pun intended. “We need to upgrade these ships to stay competitive.”

MSC Armonia was cut in two and a new section inserted (photo: MSC Cruises)

Armonia’s three sister ships, Sinfonia, Opera and Lirica will all be stretched at the Palermo yard over the next 12 months. In all, the work will cost €200/£159 million – a tidy sum but significantly less than the cost of building a new ship (Royal Caribbean International’s Quantum of the Seas is costing $1 billion). Each ship will take approximately nine weeks to lengthen and refit, with the new-look MSC Armonia sailing out of the shipyard on November 17.

Back at the yard progress was slow. With just a metre gap between front and back our group was called to a press conference. We returned two hours later to find that nothing had happened. The skid shoes did not malfunction; we were told, but balance technicalities took longer than expected.

“The workers are at lunch,” project manager Georgio Pollina said. “We will continue while it is light and finish tomorrow.”

As most of the media was flying out that evening, I suspect that was news for the cruise line, too.

MSC Cruises: MSC Armonia extension of in full swing

Extension of the MSC Armonia has begun: The MSC Armonia gets on the Fincantieri shipyard in Palermo a new 24-meter mid-section used.

Yesterday in Palermo, the extension of the MSC Armonia has begun, which is the first of four ships of the Lirica Class as part of the modernization program “Renaissance” rebuilt by MSC Cruises.

Photo: MSC Cruises

Photo: MSC Cruises

On the Fincantieri shipyard of the 14,000-ton bow was separated and 30 meters on rails from the rear. In the space between the walls, the new, 24-meter and 2,200-ton center section is used.

The separation is a milestone in the 200 million-euro Renaissance program of MSC Cruises. As part of this project enlarged and renewed the shipping company, MSC Armonia, MSC Sinfonia, MSC Opera and MSC Lirica and equipping the ships with additional comfort offers from to perfectly respond to the needs of today’s cruise passengers.

Comprehensive and precise preparatory work was needed to prepare the separation of the ship perfectly: The steel cutting work had already started on September 2, with the highlight of the cut line. On September 3, the electrical systems of the MSC Armonia were shut down. On September 8, ended the cutting work before started on 10 SeptemberThe separation.

By converting the MSC Armonia and their environmental impacts are significantly reduced. A special treatment of the hull surface minimizes water resistance and saves considerable amount of fuel one. In addition, is used in the future in all common areas LED technology, which brings a much lower energy consumption.

In addition, a drive with a frequency converter for variable speed control is installed on the MSC Armonia, an energy-saving system that significantly reduces the power consumption of the vessel by flexible adaptation to different operating conditions. Furthermore, MSC can try out a new propeller blade design that will improve energy efficiency even further and thereby reduce fuel consumption also with its propellers suppliers.

Emilio La Scala, Director of the Technical Division of MSC Cruises, explained during the occasion of the ship separation taking place in Palermo press conference: “MSC Cruises have long been planning a modernization program of this magnitude. But we did not start before we had chosen the best partner in the shipbuilding industry. Because we want our ships not only larger, but also provide them with high standards in terms of technology, safety and sustainability. Fincantieri has the know-how and the experience to carry out a so extensive project which will meet our requirements in every respect.The long partnership with Fincantieri has already proven itself in various maintenance and conversion projects in our ships. “

As part of construction work, the MSC Armonia receives 193 additional cabins. In addition, other areas of the ship will be refurbished to enhance the comfort and entertainment and services available on board.

The new ship, for example, to offer a new baby club, which was designed and created jointly with the partner Chicco. There will also be a new kids’ club, a young club, junior club and a teen club. Food lovers can enjoy the rich specialties offer in the buffet restaurant 20 hours a day. As part of modernization also a new lounge area and an extended restaurant area be established.

The MSC Armonia is also equipped with a library and the Aurea Spa is ready with new offers on. As a special highlight of the modernized vessel loads a new water park with water features on deck for a swim.

The MSC Armonia, which has been available since August 31 in dry dock Fincantieri shipyard in Palermo and will remain a total of 11 weeks there, stands on November 19, 2014 from Genoa to its second maiden voyage to the Canary Islands in the lake.