Primary considerations in repair yard choice for Carnival are location, quality and expertise, says David Varty, director of projects and planning, technical operations, Carnival UK. “Cost and experience with cruise vessels are also vital, depending upon the specific refit works being planned. Essential in the cruise business is maintaining the itinerary, so critical to any refit is managing to the minimum time out of service,” says Varty, who is responsible for carrying out the company’s drydockings and refurbishments. “Overruns are the last thing either owner or yard wants, so the yard has to be able to accommodate changes during the refit period that can occur, but still maintain final deadline.”
It is a benefit to all if the owners and yard have a continuing professional relationship, adds Varty, as this helps to build efficiencies and confidence in requirements from both parties. “The location of the yard is also a key feature in ensuring the minimum time out of service for the vessel and the ability to utilise as much time as possible in a drydock for the key underwater works that are being carried out.” Carnival also looks to yards to provide a skilled workforce, often made up of own staff and extensive use of specialist and external support labour and resources. “Teamwork is the key to any successful project and refits are no exception, so owners and yard labour will meet both onboard vessel to view the works, in the yard to discuss planning, logistics and costs, and at the owner’s offices to further review all works in detail to prevent the unexpected from causing any form of delay or problems during the docking period,” says Varty. “A recent example of major pre-planning and team work with a yard was the fabrication and installation of ducktail to the P&O Oriana during an intense 35 days out of service in Dec 2011.”
Kevin Douglas, vice president, technical projects, newbuild, Royal Caribbean International, says Royal Caribbean is moving to what he refers to as a “three-yard strategy” to refit about 10 or 11 ships per season. “The yards we work with see opportunities to grow,” explains Douglas. “This includes places like Singapore, where we have carried out a major amount of work in a short period of time. Grand Bahamas Shipyard in Freeport is providing a higher service than before and we have docked three Celebrity ships (all of the same class) there. This helps develop close collaboration with the yard. We are also building close relationships with companies like Rolls Royce and ABB.”
In Freeport, Douglas says the company spent US$36 million on each of the first two ships during a three-week repair period. Work included conversion of the conference area and the addition of 60 new cabins. “Our usual spend during a refit is about US$1million per day, but most of our engine work is done in service,” says Douglas. “Between last November and May this year, we docked about 15 ships, mostly on five-year cycles. It’s important to reduce risk and stress. Vital factors that we look for in a yard include speed of turnaround, size of work force, easy geographical access, specialist skills, price and development of a long-term relationship.”
John Gunner, senior vice president, technical for Princess Cruises, says good crane access and capability is a key element to any refit project involving hull and machinery repair activity. Underwater machinery must also be able to be serviced whilst project equipment is delivered, waste is offloaded and containers manoeuvred around the yard. “A competent workforce and project management capability is vital,” says Gunner. “The yard must be capable of carrying out machine shop work plus steel fit up and welding to required classification standards, and must be able to respond to any eventuality, such as emerging work scope, whilst completing in scope work as contracted.”
Comprehensive workshop facilities are also crucial for Princess. “Thrusters, steering gear and other machinery requires overhaul whilst the ship is dry, and the work must be completed in a timely manner and to a quality which will enable continued operation to the next dry dock.”
A fundamental element of any contract is the price. Princess is very focused on achieving a fair cost for the work, notes Gunner. “Ability to bring in contract labour for projects is crucial. We must be able to carry out owner contracted work with the ship in the repair yard and ensure that the yard management are aware of and in agreement with this requirement.”
The relationship with the yard before and during a challenging drydock is precisely managed, says Gunner. “We have a comprehensive contract with detailed provisions dealing with work scope, change order management and many other considerations. Meetings are held daily with the yard and contractors, during which the project status is discussed and agreed. The float out and redelivery dates are fundamentally important so any timeline slippage is corrected by application of more resource or contracted scope adjustment.”
Next year will see Princess carry out refits onboard Coral and Island Princess, during which hotel areas will be revitalised and additional engines fitted for in port and at sea usage. “This will enable us to better match the required power to the generating capacity, thereby improving efficiency and environmental performance. We will also install a new RO plant for water production,” says Gunner.
Costa Cruises recently completely refurbished, updated and restyled its 53,000 gt cruise ship, Costa Romantica, which previously carried 1,697 passengers but now has capacity for 1,800. Costa invested €90 million in the project, which was carried out in Genoa by the San Giorgio del Porto shipyard between October 2011 and spring 2012. During this time the Romantica was completely renovated and is now virtually a new ship. The extensive makeover included the construction of new areas and the introduction of services that represent a major evolution in the Costa product. The objective is to offer a renewed cruise experience.
A sophisticated atmosphere has been created throughout the vessel, starting with a contemporary, particularly elegant and refined interior design created by the Swedish design company Tillberg Design, which has worked on prestigious cruise ships over the last 40 years, and Syntax, a London-based company that specialises in hotels and prestigious wellness centres.
The new areas on the ship include a wine bar, a coffee bar, a show lounge bar with dance floor, a cabaret, and a night-club. During the refurbishing and restyling, which was carried out while the vessel was in drydock in Genoa, two new half-decks were added as well as 111 new cabins. In addition, 120 cabins and suites had private balconies added. The number of cabins was increased from 678 to 789 and the vessel’s displacement was increased from 53,000 to 56,000 gross tons.
As the above examples show, given the benefits achievable through refurbishment projects, it seems highly likely that the big cruise lines will find ever more ingenious ways to improve the guest experience without needing new ships over the next few years. Yards that are ready for the demand have much to gain from the ongoing trend.
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