Harland & Wolff is surging back onto the cruise ship repair scene as the ship repair facility is hosting a trio of Viking ships, the Sky, Sun and Sea, in Belfast
Since acquiring Harland and Wolff in December 2019, the new Harland & Wolff team has been quick to realize their strategic ambitions to enter the cruise sector, according to a statement from the shipyard.
Strict protocols were put in place to ensure compliance with all public health guidelines, some of which will be maintained for the foreseeable future as a precautionary measure. While undertaking dockings during the COVID-19 lockdown and with OEM’s unable to travel the yard, teams have made extensive use of video conferencing, enabling OEMs to be virtually involved during maintenance activities onboard the vessels, according to the shipyard.
The yard said the cruise Industry is under financial strain during the pause in operations and has worked with its financial partners to put in place several extended credit term schemes, allowing owners to fully capitalize on periods where vessels are out of service and have works undertaken during this out-of-service period.
Viking Sky and Viking Sea docking in Belfast.
In addition, yard executives said they not only want to target drydock and repair projects but return to building ships, most likely starting with small expedition-type vessels.
John Wood Group CEO of Harland & Wolff said: “We are delighted to welcome Viking Sky, Sun and Sea to our facilities in Belfast, this is the first time we have had three cruise vessels docked in Harland & Wolff for many decades. Harland & Wolff was once a market leader in this sector and this is a title we are keen to hold again. On the doorstep of the Mediterranean, the UK is in a prime location for refits, conversions and revitalizations. With our vast facilities set in 85 acres, we can handle several large cruise ships concurrently, as demonstrated by the arrival of three vessels from Viking for minor repairs and upgrade works. With two of the largest docks in Europe and the only yard in the UK that can accept the majority of the works cruise ships demand, we look forward to increasing our presence within the cruise sector as we move forward.
“In order to future-proof our yard we are currently scenario-planning to ensure we can welcome all future cruise vessels as they continue the trend of increasing in size,” Wood said .”The cruise sector will be a key cornerstone of our business going forward. With 70% of shipyards closed during the global pandemic, we are now seeing the implications of this as we start to emerge from the crisis, we have witnessed a substantial increase in inquires from the cruise sector with numerous live inquires at this time. It is possible that owners will face delays as they try to get vessels back into service as the industry ramps up again, global availability of drydocks essential to returning vessels into service where they have slipped out of class will be fully occupied not just with cruise vessels but overall sectors that have had dockings cancelled”