The new 25.6-metre mid-section for Star Breeze has been inserted and work is now underway to weld the ship back together at the Fincantieri Palermo shipyard after Windstar President John Delaney made the final cut that separated the two halves of the vessel.
After Star Breeze was fully cut in half, the bow and stern sections were moved apart on giant skid plates and the new mid-section was wheeled into place. It took all night to move the 4,000-ton bow forward one centimeter at a time.
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The work was delayed slightly as the load had to be balanced perfectly on 12 bright red skid plates, each outfitted with sensors that stopped the entire operation when there was a discrepancy in the load.
Once the bow was far enough forward, a single operator used a joystick to move the midsection block adjacent to the ship, pivot it 90 degrees, and slide it into place.
The operation commenced after Windstar Cruises President John Delaney made the final cut to the hull of Star Breeze.
“It was real darn impressive to see how much they’d done,” he said of the shipyard, according to Cruise Industry News. “I actually walked under the ship today and I have to tell you it was a little creepy.”
Star Breeze is mid-way through a months-long drydock that will add capacity for an additional 100 guests and a host of further upgrades, by cutting the ship in half, inserting a new mid-section, and welding it back together again.
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The process is called a ship lengthening, and is seen as a far more cost-effective way of extending a vessel’s revenue-generation ability without the huge outlay of a newbuild.
After the major refurbishment, Star Breeze will feature two new restaurants, a new pool, a new spa, and countless technical advancements, including complete engine replacements.
The same procedure is being done to all three of Windstar’s Star-class powered cruise ships in a US $250-million project called the Star Plus Initiative.
Star Breeze is the first of the trio to undergo the lengthening refit. She will sail from Barcelona to Lisbon on February 20th, 2020, and celebrate re-inaugural activities in North America at the Port of Miami on March 19th, 2020.
Star Legend will complete her refurbishment in late June, 2020 and debut in Barcelona on July 2nd, 2020, while the third and final ship Star Pride will leave the shipyard in the fall of 2020, with her first cruise sailing from Barcelona on November 20th, 2020.
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