Cruise lines are always thinking about ways to enhance their ships to ensure that passengers have a great vacation experience; sometimes, they do that by stretching a ship.
Many cruise ships are built in blocks, with everything
carefully positioned so the blocks can be seamlessly connected when the ship is
assembled. This type of construction helps make it possible to separate
existing blocks in order to insert additional ones. So, stretching a
ship involves literally
cutting it in half, gently pulling
the sections apart, then inserting a new section before
putting everything back together.
It’s not easy – ship stretching is
a major feat of planning, design and engineering. But it’s not
rare; MSC Cruises, Norwegian Cruise Line, Royal Caribbean,
Silversea and Windstar are among the cruise operators that
have stretched one or more ships.
Cruise lines choose to stretch their ships for
a number of reasons. The most common may be that stretching a
ship increases capacity without the expense of building an
entirely new ship. For example, in 2005, Royal Caribbean
revitalized the Enchantment of the Seas by inserting a new,
73-foot section in the middle of the ship.
And, stretching does more than create space for
more staterooms. It also expands common spaces on the ship, including
those that are most important to today’s cruise passengers, such as spas and
fitness centers, alternative restaurants and innovative open-air spaces. For
example, Silversea’s stretching of the Silver Spirit added
34 new suites and a larger pool deck. When MSC Cruises
stretched its Lirica Class
vessels, each ship received new lounges and waterparks as
well as 194 more staterooms.
Stretching a ship to add capacity is also much
faster than building a new ship. While stretching or building a
ship requires teams of engineers to do incredibly detailed work,
stretching a ship usually takes just a few months; building a new
ship usually takes two years or more.
In addition to adding capacity and new features,
stretching a ship can provide an opportunity to upgrade systems
and technologies. When Windstar Cruises stretched its Star
Class vessels, it replaced older engines with more efficient and environmentally
Stretching a ship can even have aesthetic benefits, giving
a ship a longer, sleeker look. And when it’s all done, there are
no visible weld marks or other signs that a ship has been stretched.
To make your plans to set sail on a cruise ship –
stretched or not – talk with Anita, your professional travel advisor.
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