Cruise ships, even so-called “small ones”, are vast beasts. They rise stories high, stretch the length of playing fields and huge quantities of steel go into making them. Slicing them in half, separating them and inserting a whole new mid section seems like a preposterous and bizarre thing to do. However, that is exactly what MSC Cruises are doing to four of their smaller vessels: Armonia, Sinfonia, Opera and Lirica.
Why would they do this? The logistics and finances of shipbuilding, running them profitably and the changing demands of cruisers, especially new to cruise, are the drivers. It costs hundreds of millions of dollars and lots of time to build a new ship – and making a return on them takes years. Many of the costs of operating a ship are fixed, and so the more passengers you can carry on the ship the more financially advantageous it is for the company. Especially for a line like MSC, who are a good value line trying to offer competitive and attractive fares to families.
So by taking their existing ships and extending them, they can modernise and add in features that today’s cruisers want (like balcony cabins, better and bigger kid’s clubs, more dining options, more pools and bigger deck areas). And they could do it faster and cheaper than building new ships by adapting those that still have life in them.
Although it sounds financially sound and straight-forward, it is a magnificent engineering task. Not only did they have to slice the ship apart, but design and fit a section that seamlessly integrates with the old layout to provide a logical and obvious flow and layout. Below are a series of images that illustrate the remarkable engineering feat on the first ship to be converted, the MSC Armonia, in what MSC Cruises calls their “Renaissance Program”. They created what they also call ” The Ship That Suits You”.
I am going to be sailing for the first few days of the inaugural voyage after it left dry dock that departs from Genoa on Wednesday 19 November. Follow my review, video and podcast about the ship and the experience on my dedicated MSC Armonia page, Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.
Watch a video of the process:
You can follow all of my articles, videos, photographs and audio podcasts on my MSC Armonia page