Lord of the Highlands has been enlarged and redesigned for its new purpose
Naval design and architecture firm Oliver Design has completed its conversion of cruise ship Lord of the Highlands, after it was obliged to take ownership of the vessel during the Covid-19 pandemic.
The vessel was originally designed to transport up to 700 passengers on an eight-mile route between the Turkish port of Çesme and the Greek island of Chios. A British shipowner commissioned Oliver Design to fully redesign the ship for sailing through the lochs of Scotland and to the Orkney Islands, which involved reducing the vessel’s capacity to 54 passengers and 20 crew.
However, after 16 months of working on the ship at the Port of Vigo in Spain, Oliver Design was obliged to take ownership of the ship after the shipowner pulled out of the deal and refused to take delivery of the vessel. The firm was then forced to look for a new buyer, negotiating with a number of shipowners before agreeing to sell to Hebridean Island Cruises based in Skipton, UK.
During the renovation project, Oliver Design extended Lord of the Highlands, adding three metres to its length and one to its beam. Extra ballast has also been inserted into the keel to provide greater stability and compensate for the addition of an extra deck. Propulsion systems have been replaced with two new main 250-kilowatt generators and automated switch boards, while navigation equipment and life-saving gear has also been replaced. The ship has also been fitted with a wastewater treatment plant and an oil/water separator to prevent discharges of marine oil, and automatic sliding doors have been installed in the sealed compartments in the hull.
The interior has been converted from two large lounges into 22 cabins, a lounge bar and a restaurant. Crew quarters, a galley and a ship’s store have also been added, while the ship’s bridge has been adapted for its new purpose. Lord of the Highlands is now a four-deck ship, with each of the upper three passenger decks named after elements appearing in the spy novel The 39 Steps by John Buchan.
The design of the cabins was inspired by traditional luxury train carriages, so they feature hardwood overlays, upholstery in classic patterns and matching furniture, lighting features and accessories. All cabins have an en suite bathroom, individual climate control systems, thermal insulation and soundproofing, as well as a phone and TV. In order to comply with the International Maritime Organization’s requirements for the use of fireproof materials, the different areas have been sectioned off by sandwich panels with mineral wool insulation.
Oliver Design invested around 10,500 hours' work in outfitting Lord of the Highlands, with up to 20 companies working simultaneously on the ship at peak periods. A group of specialist firms largely based around Vigo carried out the conversion work. These included Insenaval, which took charge of technical engineering; Talleres Gestido, which was responsible for the steel work; Astilleros Armada, which provided docking space for the ship, as well as completing metal plating and painting and overhauling rudders, shafts and propellers; Solem, which fitted new electrical elements; Protecnavi, which fitted sanitary and fire protection pipes and climate control ducts; Carpinautic, which manufactured and installed the interior furniture; and Bureau Veritas, which reviewed the drawings and performed the site inspection.
Lord of the Highlands has now set sail from Vigo for its new homeport of Inverness in Scotland, UK.
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