The first of four MSC Cruises ships to undergo the Renaissance Programme of enhancements was on Wednesday physically extended by 24 metres under the watchful gaze of international journalists, MSC said.
The remarkable feat of engineering, which took place at the Fincantieri shipyard, in Palermo, Sicily, saw the 14,000 tonnes separated bow of MSC Armonia slowly advanced 30 metres away from her stern on rails to allow a new 2,200 tonnes prebuilt midship section to be inserted.
The procedure marked a key milestone in the €200 million Renaissance Programme, which will enlarge and enhance MSC Armonia, MSC Sinfonia, MSC Opera and MSC Lirica, giving them all an array of new improvements and amenities.
Steel-cutting operations started on 2 September when Fincantieri’s world-class engineers marked the cutting line to enable accurate grit blasting of the area.
On 3 September the ship’s electrical systems were deactivated. The cutting operations finished on 8 September, ahead of the event on 10 September.
After the Renaissance Programme, 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 markedly reduces the ship’s electricity consumption by adjusting it in line with operational conditions.
Finally, a new design of propeller blade is being studied by MSC Cruises’ blade manufacturer to maximize efficiency and lower fuel consumption even further.
Emilio La Scala, General Manager MSC Cruises Technical Department, told the gathered press: “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.
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.”
In addition, the ship will be refitted and many other parts of the ship will be renewed, upgrading the level of comfort, entertainments and services available on board. MSC Cruises’ Renaissance programme will add a total of 193 new cabins to MSC Armonia.
The ship entered drydock on 31 August and will remain onsite for 11 weeks, until resuming service on 17 November with a one-off inaugural Mediterranean cruise from Genoa to the Canary Islands.