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 friendly engines.
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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