MSC Cruises has announced a novel plan to expand the capacity of its ships – stretching them.
The company is embarking on a EUR200 million (US$259m) four-ship refurbishment programme, which will include slicing the vessels in two, adding a new section in the middle, then sealing them back up.
The EUR50m upgrade of the company’s smallest ship, the 60,000 tonne MSC Armonia, has already started at the Fincantieri shipyard in Italy. Upon completion, the cruise ship will be 24 metres longer than before, adding an additional 193 cabins.
The engineering feat marks the start of the cruise line’s EUR200m ‘Renaissance’ project, which will extend and revamp all four of MSC Cruises’ Lirica-class ships – MSC Armonia, MSC Sinfonia, MSC Opera and MSC Lirica.
Each ship will take approximately nine weeks to lengthen and refit, with the new-look MSC Armonia sailing out of the shipyard on 17 November 2014. Sister ship MSC Sinfonia will then go in for the same surgery on 12 January 2015, with work starting on MSC Opera and MSC Lirica in May 2015 and August 2015 respectively. The whole Renaissance programme should be completed by November 2015.
The lengthening work involves each ship being cut in two just in front of the funnel and then separated so the new section can be inserted. The hull is then resealed.
MSC Armonia is currently 251 metres long and carries a maximum of 2,199 passengers. Once the new section is inserted it will be 275 metres long and be able to cater for 2,679 guests. The new section will increase the ship’s weight by approximately 5,000 tonnes.
In addition to the new cabins, each ship will be fitted with new facilities including a spray water park for children, more shopping outlets, refitted restaurants and public areas and new storage areas.
Check out the video below to see how it went today.