Cruise ship holidays are growing in popularity. What’s not to like? Breakfast buffets. All-you-can-eat pizza and burgers around the clock. Restaurant dinners. Drinks. Great sea views. As the appetite for cruise holidays intensifies, the cruise companies are lengthening their pre-existing liners.

Instead of building new ships they are slicing the existing ones in half and inserting new middle sections. This feat of engineering has become standard practice for profit-turning cruise ship companies. MSC Cruises lengthened four of their fleet back in 2014-2015 in one of the biggest operations of its kind.

And Silversea has just performed its first cruise ship stretching operation this year. The Silver Spirit has been split in half in readiness for a 15-metre addition. The operation will be completed by May 5th 2018 – taking a total of 450,000 hours to complete – and 12% growth. Once the ship has been completed it will embark on a 7-day journey between Rome and Barcelona.

New builds cost many hundreds of millions whereas MSC Cruises’ latest lengthening operation only cost the company US$227 million. It is far cheaper to lengthen ships than build new ones.

One of the challenges for engineers is to meticulously fit and maneuver the new section into the designated space; to ensure it aligns perfectly with the other halves. Once the new section is welded into place it is painted to blend in with the older sections. The Silver Spirit’s renovation includes a complete overhaul of the interior (the old furniture is being donated to charity). The new additions, in essence, become indistinguishable and the ships are sent back out to sea.

The companies rely on this added capacity to facilitate an increase in the number of passengers, and thus create more profit.

The lengthening of ships for profit is a modern exercise, but it is an old practice. In the past ships were lengthened to allow for more engine room; the first such operation occurred as early as 1871.



Works Cited

“Cruise Industry: Why Do Cruise Lines Cut Their Ships in Half? -.” - The First Online Cruise Magazine for the Middle East and South Africa., 29 Nov. 2017, cruisearabiaonline.com/2014/09/22/cruise-industry-why-do-cruise-lines-cut-their-ships-in-half/.

Mclaughlin, Kylie. “Silversea Cruise Ship Silver Spirit Cut in Half in Lengthening Project.” Stuff, www.stuff.co.nz/travel/cruising/102243159/silversea-cruise-ship-silver-spirit-cut-in-half-in-lengthening-project.

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