Work in progress as cruise ships are given a New Year transformation

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You can keep your New Year resolutions – they’ll be history in a week or two anyway. I’m more interested in New Year restorations, re-fits and refurbs, especially when I look around and see how many cruise ships are sitting in dry docks around the world, with construction workers crawling all over them.
Millions of pounds are being spent on upgrading the ships, and no detail is too small or too large – whether it’s installing flat-screen TVs in cabins, cutting holes in decks to construct an atrium, or as I saw recently on Royal Caribbean’s Splendour of the Seas, fitting out an existing atrium with facilities for an elaborate aerial ballet.
Splendour is now packed with passengers again, and you can see the transformation in this video.

I wrote yesterday about how good P&O’s Oriana is looking after her refit, and another British favourite, Queen Mary 2, came out of dry dock in December after a bit of a wash and brush up. I’ve got a feeling Cunard may be planning more significant work the next time she is on the stocks, but my lips are sealed . . . for now.
In Palermo, Sicily, work is well on the way towards the conversion of Saga’s latest ship, Saga Sapphire – and it’s already promising to be something special.
It’s on this vessel, originally built as Europa in 1982, and more recently sailing as Bleu de France, that decks are being sliced open to create the atrium., as you can see in this video.

Hotel director Horst Pint is the guide and narrator and he will soon be joined at the shipyard by Captain Alistair McLundie. They are overseeing a complete transformation of the ship, with new restaurants replacing the old casino, the removal of one of the two swimming pools, and cabin capacity being drastically reduced to give passengers more space to relax.
A collection of video updates is on show at Sapphire’s makeover blog, and the ship is due to arrive in Southampton in late March, ready for a maiden cruise to Cartagena, Palma, Valletta, Dubrovnik, Sibenik, Venice, Hvar, Corfu, Civitavecchia, Gibraltar and Lisbon.
Almost as big a makeover is taking place on Swan Hellenic’s Minerva. This 16-year-old ship is at the Lloyd-Weft yard in Bremen. Work includes the fitting of a whole new deck to accommodate an observation lounge, and the upgrading of all its 181 passenger cabins and bathrooms. The number of balcony cabins will increase from 12 to 44.
Shackleton’s Bar is being extended into a horseshoe shape, and a new walk-round teak Promenade Deck is being laid at the top of the ship, which was previously covered in astro-turf. The aft end of the Sun Deck is to be extended and the pool area gains a canopy and will be available for al fresco dining. The cinema will become the Livingstone Lounge, and a new internet room is being created to take the terminals out of the 5,000-volume library.
The ship is expected back in Portsmouth at the beginning of March.
No video to accompany this one, I’m afraid, but thanks to former passenger Victor Lunn-Rockliffe, I do have this exclusive view of the work in progress.

By | 2017-06-15T15:59:56+00:00 6 January 2012|Cruise News, Cruise Ships|1 Comment

About the Author:

John Honeywell is a travel writer specialising in cruise ships and cruise travel. Winner of CLIA UK's Contribution to Cruise award 2017.

One Comment

  1. Costa Marcos 8 January 2012 at 1:14 pm - Reply

    You’ve got to hand it to Royal Caribbean – they’ve created another unique attraction with a real WOW factor – the Centrum Vertical Theater. A refreshing change from the Vanilla offerings commonly seen.

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