Royal Caribbean news

Aker Yards denies rumours of delays in Genesis cruise projects
Craig Eason, 19 February 2008 Lloyds List

BELEAGUERED Nordic shipbuilder Aker Yards has denied reports that its cruiseship projects are behind schedule, in particular the prestigious and lucrative Genesis vessels whose late delivery would trigger millions of euros in late payment fees, writes Craig Eason.

Royal Caribbean Cruises commissioned the two ships, agreeing to a record €900m ($1.32bn) for the first vessel to be delivered in late 2009.

The first blocks of the first 5,400 passenger vessel were laid at the yard in Turku last December, with work on the second ship beginning two weeks ago. The second vessel is contracted for delivery in 2010. Rumours of delays to the cruiseship projects, attributed to some of the company’s subcontractors, were reported by a Finnish newspaper.

But a spokeswoman for Aker Yards Finland told Lloyd’s List that it has not altered delivery dates: “We are not talking about delays to the Genesis project. We have a contract for delivery in autumn 2009 and we have not changed that.”

The cruise and ferry division is fitting out the Independence of the Seas, the third of the Freedom-class vessels for Royal Caribbean and the eighth for the company in recent years. The Independence of the Seas is expected to be handed over in a matter of weeks. Its sister ship, Freedom of the Seas, was the largest cruiseship ever built and was delivered two years ago.

Any slip in the deadlines for its prestigious cruise vessels would be embarrassing for the company, which strongly denied the Royal Caribbean Genesis contracts would suffer the same problems as its ferry orders.

Last December, Aker admitted that it was having difficulties meeting the contractual delivery dates for ferries being built in Finland, subjecting it to a number of late-delivery fines. It blamed poor performance from subcontractors and a lack of skilled workers for the delays.

Aker Yards Finland uses more than 600 subcontractors in the construction of its cruise vessels and ferries, which employ more than 2,000 people to work in the shipbuilder’s three Finnish yards — up to 50% of the workforce on any one vessel.

The company said that an ageing, unskilled work force has created problems for both it and its contractors and it has now started a recruitment and training programme, including employing skilled labour from overseas.

Check out Aker Yard’s blurb on Genesis. Also in the news, something we reported about, a couple of years ago here….

RCI ploughs $144m into fuel-efficient engines
Mike Hood, 18 February 2008 Lloyds List

THE technically and logistically challenging retrofit programme being undertaken by RCI to fit new fuel-efficient diesel generators to eight of its thirsty gas-turbine-powered cruiseships is well underway, writes Mike Hood.

The project, involving four RCCL Radiance-class vessels and four Celebrity-owned Millennium-class vessels, will cost the Miami-based cruise giant $144m, but is expected to save the company around $6m per ship per year in overall fuelcosts.

Feedback from the first two vessels to be retrofitted, Celebrity’s Celebrity Constellation and Celebrity Millennium, show that they are performing better than expected. The new engines are likely to save the company $7m per vessel per year in fuel costs, chief executive Dan Hanrahan said.

The retrofitting work on Celebrity Millennium and Celebrity Constellation was undertaken last year at the Sobrena yard in Brest, under the guidance of Finland’s Aker Yards Lifecycle Services.

Meanwhile, Freeport’s Grand Bahama Shipyard has secured the contract to retrofit three of the gas turbine-powered vessels, with RCCL’s 90,000 gt sisters Serenade of the Seas and Radiance of the Seas being worked on in February and March.

Grand Bahama Shipyard has also been busy of late with other cruise vessel refits, including Holland America Line’s Prinsendam, Regent Seven Seas’ Seven Seas Navigator and Carnival Cruise Line’s Carnival Imagination and Carnival Victory. A further 10 cruiseships are expected to refit at the Freeport yard during 2008.

Hamburg’s Blohm + Voss Shipyard completed the diesel-auxiliary retrofit of the 90,000 gt Jewel of the Seas last November and will carry out the same job aboard Brilliance of the Seas in April this year.

All eight RCI vessels are powered by a combined gas turbine and steam turbine integrated electric drive system, comprising twin General Electric LM 2500+ gas turbines, and will each receive a single 11.2 MW generator powered by a 16-cylinder Wärtsilä 38 diesel.

The new generators will operate on heavy fuel oil and meet the latest emissions controls.

Work on the remaining two vessels, Celebrity Infinity and Celebrity Summit, will be completed by the autumn of this year.

Read Wartsila’s press release about the project.

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