MSC Cruises’s Armonia is the first of four ships to undergo an extensive dry dock and expansion. // © 2014 MSC Cruises
Feature image (above): Armonia’s renovation is underway at the Fincantieri shipyard in Palermo, Sicily. // © 2014 MSC Cruises
It seems like only yesterday that the newly established MSC Cruises announced plans to launch the youngest and fastest growing fleet in the cruise industry. Now, the company has set in motion a $273 million Renaissance Program, which will add nearly 200 staterooms to each of the four Lirica-class vessels in the line’s fleet by the end of 2015.
Gianni Onorato, CEO of MSC, said the heavy investment would essentially produce new ships that will be more competitive in today’s market. MSC’s Lirica-class ships have been sailing for about a decade.
Armonia, the first vessel to participate in the program, entered an 11-week dry dock at the Fincantieri shipyard in Palermo, Sicily, at the end of August. Armonia’s 14,000-ton bow has been separated and moved 30 meters away from her stern to allow a new pre-built 24-meter section to be inserted midship. The new section will add 194 new passenger staterooms — 70 inside and 30 outside — along with 59 new crew cabins. The work will increase Armonia’s total passenger count from 2,069 to 2,680.
In addition, new areas have been developed for the children’s programs, from babies through teens, and new features have been added in the buffet, which will offer extended hours. A new lounge, an additional library and a new water park will be unveiled, and the spa is being upgraded.
The ship’s environmental impact is being reduced with new hull treatments to minimize drag and lower water resistance, which will also save fuel. A new energy saving system based on a variable speed inverter will also make Armonia more efficient.
Armonia is scheduled to resume service Nov. 17 with an inaugural Mediterranean cruise from Genoa to the Canary Islands. Sinfonia enters dry dock Jan. 12 to March 16, 2015; Opera will undergo the program May 2 to July 4, 2015; followed by Lirica, which will be in dry dock for the expansion and renovation Aug. 21 to Nov. 9.