Fincantieri’s Palermo shipyard is carrying out the world’s first luxury cruise ship lengthening. Lengthening is not unheard of for merchant vessels, but it has never before been attempted for a vessel of this type as far as is known.
On March 10, workers cut the 36,000 tonne Silver Spirit in half with torches and began the process of pulling her bow and stern in opposite directions. Once they had enough space, they used self-propelled modular transporters to move a new, prefabricated 50-foot section into place. Reconnecting the hull, fitting out wiring and piping and installing interior fittings will take workers about 450,000 man-hours to complete. The project should be completed by May 5.
The process will add two new restaraunts, 34 more suites, 3,500 tonnes displacement, 50 feet of length, 11,000 square feet of additional deck space and 12 percent more passenger capacity. While the lengthening is under way, Silver Spirit will also undergo a general interior refit, and all suites will be refurbished.
The lengthening is a novel approach to adding vessel capacity as shipyard availability shrinks. With demand soaring, many cruise shipbuilders are booked into the early 2020’s, and expedition/luxury lines are increasingly ordering new-builds at yards that used to specialize in offshore vessels or yachts.