Watching a shipyard and its workers cut a ship in half, then easily “slide” a new 49-foot, multi-deck block into the gap in its mid-section, is a marvel to behold -- an incredibly precise feat of maritime engineering.
Travel Agent was on site at Fincantieri’s shipyard in Palermo, Sicily, on Saturday, March 10, as maritime executives, cruise line officials, media, trade partners and VIP guests, viewed the action to cut Silversea Cruises’ 39,009-grt Silver Spirit in half.
Silver Spirit is being lengthened from 642 feet to 691 feet. By the time the project is completed, that translates into 846 tons of steel, 360,892 feet of cabling, and 26,247 feet of piping.
A last vertical cut was made slicing the luxury vessel’s 10-deck superstructure apart, and even before guests left the event pavilion, the ship’s forward section was moving forward, creating a noticeable growing gap.
By Sunday, March 11, that gap had extended to some 50 feet. Then, invited guests returned to the shipyard to watch the second phase of the stretch.
The new pre-built block – housing public spaces, cabins and part of the swimming pool area – was moved alongside the ship, then turned in position and moved into the gap. The whole process was incredibly smooth and a marvel to witness.
Now workers are busy reattaching/reinstalling all those cables, plumbing and fittings. And as the ship sails from the drydock and back into service on May 8, it also will have new public spaces, more suites and a more spacious interior area.
Clear Sailing in the Palermo Event
Mother Nature cooperated for the “stretch” events, with gorgeous skies and temperatures in the 60s and 70s. On Saturday, guests were welcomed to Palermo by Leoluca Orlando, mayor of Palermo. Barbara Muckermann, chief marketing officer, Silversea Cruises, presided over the event for Silversea’s executive team.
Mark Conroy, Silversea’s president for North America, and Peter Shanks (from the U.K.) and other Silversea executives from across the globe also were on site to discuss the “stretch” with invited guests and trade partners.
"Witnessing these breathtaking phases of the Silver Spirit lengthening project has filled us with pride and excitement,” said Muckermann. “This ambitious project will amplify the onboard features that matter most to our guests.”
She said the line is taking its flagship, Silver Muse – delivered by Fincantieri in April last year – as the point of inspiration for a fleetwide renovation program. “The lengthening and refurbishment of Silver Spirit will replicate the modern elegance of our latest vessel to make for a more luxurious traveling experience,” said Muckermann.
“We are eager to share the new and improved layout of our cherished ship with our valued guests.”
More than 1,000 workers are involved in this project. That includes more than 500 skilled workers who will spend approximately 450,000 hours on it.
The guest capacity will increase by roughly 12 percent, resulting in an overall dining capacity increase of 15 percent and a 20 percent increase in outdoor seating (from a capacity of 200 to 266).
A new eight-restaurant configuration will replace the existing culinary infrastructure. Dining concepts to be added include Atlantide, Indochine, Silver Note and Spaccanapoli. Those will complement the pre-existing Seishin, La Dame, La Terrazza and The Grill.
Outside, the pool area on the sky deck will increase in length from 98 feet to 148 feet to offer additional space for relaxing under the sun. A new aerobics area will also be created up top.
Inside, the Zagara Spa concept will be installed, as will a new free weights room which will complement the upgraded fitness center. The Arts Café and Dolce Vita – two new, sophisticated public spaces – will improve the onboard entertainment options.
All suites will be refurbished to ensure the Silversea level of quality is maintained. The lengthening will create 26 additional Veranda Suites, six additional Silver Suites, and two additional Panorama Suites.
Prior to Silver Spirit’s arrival in Palermo, the ship docked in Chania, Crete, where Silversea made a charitable donation of used furniture to a number of the island’s worthy causes. As a destination visited by Silversea’s cruises and as an island in need, Chania was identified as a deserving recipient of the donation.
In total, 11 containers were filled with 4,652 items from the ship – including sofas, chairs, curtains, computers, and more. The donated articles will be given to hospitals, nursing homes, schools and other institutions across Crete. Silversea said the donation, which impacted many lives, will strengthen relations between the cruise company and the island’s authorities.
Departing the shipyard on May 6, 2018, Silver Spirit will recommence service with a seven-day cruise between Civitavecchia (Rome) and Barcelona. Fares start at $5,600 per person with special savings available for those booking before March 31.
Agents can discover more about the refurbished Silver Spirit at https://www.silversea.com/ships/silver-spirit.html.