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It’s not every day you get to see a cruise ship cut in half. And although it’s not an uncommon practice in the cruise industry, cutting a vessel in two is still a rare enough experience that it induces gasps of awe.
At least, that was the atmosphere at Silversea Cruises’ ship-cutting ceremony in Palermo, Sicily, in early March at the Fincantieri shipyard. Journalists, dignitaries, Silversea executives and employees and representatives of the shipyard watched with kid-like excitement as Silver Spirit was cut in two so that a prebuilt, 49-foot segment could be inserted, lengthening the ship to 691.3 feet.
The process of extending a ship by cutting it can be significantly cheaper than building a new vessel from scratch. While that may be so, however, the total cost of Silversea’s project is upward of $70 million, according to Barbara Muckermann, chief marketing officer of the line.
The lengthening of Spirit — which originally launched in 2009 — is the first of its kind for a luxury vessel. The inserted segment will house six Silver Suites, 26 Veranda Suites and two Panorama Suites, increasing the total number of cabins from 270 to 304. It will expand the ship’s capacity by about 12 percent and result in an overall dining capacity growth of 15 percent, in addition to a 20 percent increase in outdoor seating.
“Witnessing these breathtaking phases of the Spirit lengthening project has filled us with pride and excitement,” Muckermann said. “This ambitious project will amplify the onboard features that matter most to our guests. We are taking our flagship, Silver Muse — which was delivered by Fincantieri in April last year — as the point of inspiration for a fleetwide renovation program; the lengthening and refurbishment of Spirit will replicate the modern elegance of our latest vessel to make for a more luxurious traveling experience.”
The grandiose project is set to conclude May 5, whereupon more than 500 workers will have spent some 450,000 hours completing Spirit’s overhaul. On May 6, the newly elongated ship — which will accommodate 608 passengers, up from 540 — will recommence service with a seven-day cruise between Rome and Barcelona, Spain.
During the shipyard event in Sicily, Silversea executives discussed how the additional space will further improve the luxury experience that the line is known for.
“Luxury means options,” said Christian Sauleau, executive vice president of fleet operations for Silversea, adding that the increased capacity will not only allow guests more physical space, but also provide more dining choices, as a new eight-restaurant configuration will replace the existing culinary infrastructure.
In addition to the pre-existing Seishin, La Dame, La Terrazza and The Grill, guests can enjoy new dining concepts that include Atlantide, a bar and grill open for breakfast, lunch and dinner; Indochine, an open-seating Asian fusion restaurant; Silver Note, a reservation-required dinner venue; and Spaccanapoli, an open-seating evening pizzeria.
Along with the additional accommodations and culinary expansions, the pool area on the sky deck will increase from 98 to 148 feet; a new outdoor aerobics area will be created; the Zagara Spa concept will be installed; a new free-weights room will upgrade the fitness center; and two new public spaces — The Arts Cafe and Dolce Vita — will expand the onboard entertainment options. Lastly, all suites will be refurbished, inspired by the decor onboard Muse.
“We are eager to share the new and improved layout of our cherished ship with our valued guests,” Muckermann said.