MIAMI, May 31, 2005 – Shipbuilding technology has come a long way since Royal Caribbean International lengthened its last ship 25 years ago. Royal Caribbean’s third ship to be extended, Enchantment of the Seas, lies in dry dock this month, where workmen are laboring round-the-clock to add a 22.2-meter (73-foot) midsection and other major innovations. What once took three months now takes one, and assembly is on dry land.
Royal Caribbean teamed with two European shipyards to stretch the eight-year-old Enchantment of the Seas. Aker Finnyards of Finland, which built the original ship, was given overall responsibility for designing, building and installing the mid-body section. Aker asked Keppel Verolme of Rotterdam, The Netherlands, to split the ship in two, insert the midsection, and reassemble the parts. When again whole, Enchantment of the Seas will return to sea for sea trials and soon afterwards will resume service on July 7, 2005.
“This partnership has been outstanding,” said Royal Caribbean Chairman and CEO Richard Fain. “The final product exemplifies not only the very best in shipbuilding, but the very best in what cruisers have come to expect of a Royal Caribbean cruise vacation.”
“Aker Finnyards is proud to present this project as one more achievement during the 35-year cooperation with Royal Caribbean, including 14 delivered cruise vessel newbuildings and three lengthenings,” said Aker Finnyards President Yrjö Julin.
Planning among the three teams began more than a year ago. Construction started on the mid-body last September, and the finished mid-body sailed the Baltic and North seas by barge 2,300 kilometers (1,430 miles) to Rotterdam earlier this month. Meanwhile, Enchantment of the Seas arrived May 15 at the Keppel Verolme yard and entered dry dock, where the mid-body was waiting. The size of the dry-dock bay, one of the largest in the world, allowed the ship and mid-body to sit side-by-side, and allowed for use of an advanced and faster lengthening process.
Splitting the ship in two took workers six days to cut through more than 600 meters (1,969 linear feet) of steel with gas and oxygen torches and circular saws. Once they were severed, sections were moved into place with skids and hydraulic jacks, which were guided by a laser alignment system. The 10,265-metric-ton (11,315-ton) bow section slid first. The 2,666-metric-ton (2,939-ton) mid-body was then moved into alignment and pushed back toward the ship’s aft section. The bow section was then moved back into place.
Twenty-five years ago, when Royal Caribbean stretched Nordic Prince, the yard had to fill the dry dock with water; float the aft section of the ship out of the bay, the midsection into the dock, and the aft section back into the bay; and then drain the dry dock and reconnect the ship.
Today, workmen are welding Enchantment of the Seas back together, a painstaking, two-week job that also involves reattaching nearly 1,300 individual cables, pipes and ducts to each end of the new mid-body.
“The scope of this project presented a great challenge for Keppel Verolme and our partner ALE Lastra, which required drawing on our in-house shipbuilding knowledge to optimize the cutting, skidding and insertion process,” said Keppel Verolme Managing Director Harold W.M. Linssen. “Making maximum use of our facilities to offer the highest level of service in both quality and safety is our ambition, and we are proud to provide innovative solutions for our marine clients.”
Additional Space For New Amenities, Activities
The lengthened ship will have 151 new staterooms and a number of new venues and amenities, including soaring suspension bridges on Deck 10, a vitality course with four fitness stops, an interactive water fountain play area and the first bungee trampolines at sea.
Several of Royal Caribbean’s signature features also are being added, borrowing from the line’s latest ships, including Boleros Latin lounge, Chops Grille steakhouse specialty restaurant and Latte’tudes coffee and ice cream shop, offering Seattle’s Best Coffee® and Ben & Jerry’s®.
Enchantment of the Seas will sail a series of New England/Canada sailings from Cape Liberty Cruise Port in Bayonne, N.J., Philadelphia and Boston when she reenters service in July. She returns to Fort Lauderdale in October to resume four- and five-night Caribbean itineraries.