It’s not often these days that a British shipyard gets involved in work on a cruise ship – the glory days of Swan Hunter, John Brown, and Harland & Wolff are long gone.
But today it was announced that Swansea Dry Dock has won a £20 million deal to refit Saga Cruises’ new ship, converting the Astoria into Saga Pearl II, and providing 300 jobs during the three-month contract.
The ship has been in the Welsh port since arriving from Gibraltar some weeks ago. Saga bought the 18,500-ton vessel at auction to replace the Saga Rose, which is currently sailing the Mediterranean on her farewell voyage before being retired.
The work on Saga Pearl II will include the addition of cabin balconies and the installation of a library and cinema. Behind the scenes a new galley will be installed to cater for the upgraded restaurants, and there will also be a new sports deck with a short tennis court.
The ship’s hull will be cleaned and repainted with a new slippery coating to reduce fuel consumption and improve the vessel’s carbon footprint.
Welsh firm Harris Pye is being used for the main engineering work and Saga is planning to place a number of other major contracts with UK-based contractors.
Saga Group’s chairman, Andrew Goodsell, said: “The multi-million pound refit will ensure that Saga Pearl II is splendid throughout. With 446 passengers she will have an intimate atmosphere and the quality of service our passengers have come to expect.
“I am delighted that we are able to support a British yard, and that in doing so we will help with the regeneration of the Swansea docks.”
The work is expected to be completed in time for sea trials in February, and Saga Pearl II is scheduled to leave on her inaugural voyage on March 15.
Only one thing worries me. It’s Wales, it’s a ship – hope there are no leeks. Sorry, couldn’t resist it. I’ll go now.