Fincantieri stretches first of four MSC Cruises ships

SEPTEMBER 10, 2014 — Fincantieri's Palermo, Sicily, shipyard today inserted a new 24 m midbody into the first of four MSC Cruises ships that are being extended as part of the cruise line's €200 million Renaissance Program.

The MSC Armonia, MSC Sinfonia, MSC Opera and MSC Lirica will all not only be extended but get an array of upgrades to help them meet the expectations of today’s cruise travelers.

The four ships were built between 2003 and 2005 at the STX France shipyard in Saint-Nazaire, France. They are currently 251 m long, with a tonnage of 60,000 gt and carry 2,069 passengers and crew. After the Renaissance Program conversions, each will be 275 m long, have a tonnage of 65,000 gt and carry 2,680 passengers and crew, gaining an additional 193 passenger cabins and 59 crew cabins.

Today's procedure at the Palermo shipyard, saw the 14,000 tonnes separated bow of MSC Armonia slowly advanced 30 metres away from her stern on rails to allow the new 2,200 tonnes prebuilt midship section to be inserted.

A lot of careful preparation set the stage for today's separation. The ship entered dry dock in Palermo on August 31, but before that  the new midship section had been prefabricated and had been floated into the shipyard and towed into the dry dock area on August28.

Steel-cutting operations started on September 2 when Fincantieri engineers marked the cutting line to enable accurate grit blasting of the area. On September 3. the ship’s electrical systems were deactivated. Cutting operations finished on September 8.

After the Renaissance Programe, MSC Armonia’s environmental impact will be significantly reduced. She will receive a new hull treatment to minimize drag and lower water resistance, considerably reducing fuel consumption. In addition, LED technology in all public spaces on the ship will mean less energy is consumed on board.

A Variable Speed Drive Inverter will also be installed – an energy-saving system that reduces the ship’s electricity consumption by adjusting it in line with operational conditions.

Finally, a new design of propeller blade will maximize efficiency and lower fuel consumption even further.

“MSC Cruises wanted to implement such a highly demanding programme for a long time, but we wanted to ensure that we would choose the best partner in the shipbuilding industry, to not only enhance the ships’ features but also to bring technical, safety and environmental upgrades to the ships," Emilio La Scala, General Manager MSC Cruises Technical Department said today. "Fincantieri has the proven expertise and experience in this type of operation, which was essential to satisfy our high standards, and have been long-standing partners for various maintenance and refitting operations on our fleet.”

When it reenters service November 17, the ship will have additional amenities that include new areas for the Baby Club built in partnership with Chicco; a new Mini Club, Young Club, Junior Club and Teen Club. The buffet will be open 20 hours a day and, says MSC Cruises "exciting features will be available for an even better food experience." The ship will also feature a new lounge area and an extended restaurant.

An additional library will be fitted, the MSC Aurea Spa will be enhanced, and a completely new spray park will be added, with an exhilarating pathway of water features and water cannons.

The ship will resume service with a one-off inaugural Mediterranean cruise from Genoa to the Canary Islands.

The Renaissance program is set to will follow the schedule below:

MSC Armonia: August 31 to November 17, 2014
MSC Sinfonia: January 12 to March 16, 2015
MSC Opera: May 2 to July 4, 2015
MSC Lirica:  August 31 to November 9, 2015

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