How do you modernize and add room to an old cruise ship? By sawing through the middle, adding a new module, and sealing it all back together. While it sounds almost impossible, this has already been done successfully on three cruise ships over the last four years.
The first ship to undergo a successful 'surgery' was 'The Enchantment of the Seas', which belongs to cruise company, Royal Caribbean.
In 2005, the company wanted to add more capacity to its existing fleet and upgrade 'The Enchantment of the Seas', built in 1997, with additional modern amenities. Instead of commissioning a new cruise boat, which would have cost over $500 million USD and taken at least two years to construct, the company decided to extend the 'The Enchantment of the Seas' - This way they could upgrade the ship and add more capacity at a cost of only $30million USD, a fraction of the cost of a new one.
Accordingly, the ship was dry docked at the Keppel Verolme shipyard in Amsterdam, Holland. Construction crews then took on the arduous task of cutting the ship into half, using blowtorches and circular saws. After six long days, it was finally done.
They then proceeded to install a pre-made 12-deck high, 3,000-ton midsection, using hydraulic jacks and 18-wheel lorries to lift it into the middle. Using laser technology to ensure the section was properly installed, the workers then re-connected all the 1,300 pipes, ducts and cables, that had also been cut into two. Six weeks later and voila - The newly furbished ship was ready with 151 additional cabins, new suspension bridges over the pool, a new health spa, a bigger shopping area and a new 108-seater restaurant.
The successful completion of this project has spurred other cruise ship owners to do the same. Fred Olsen, a Norwegian cruise company, recently used this technique to upgrade and add capacity to two of its ships. Last year, The Balmoral was extended to accommodate 400 more people, and refurbished with an extra auditorium for live shows, a library, a huge card room, a brand new upper-deck swimming pool as well as an art gallery. Currently in the 'surgical' dock is 'The Braemer'. Once completed, it will have room for an additional 250 passengers, a British Pub, a new restaurant, a new swimming pool and an observatory deck.
Who would have thought that you could cut through a boat, add to it, and put it all together to function as one piece again! - Simply amazing!