Fincantieri has signed a contract with Windstar Cruises (part of the Xanterra Travel Collection), owners and one of the main operators in the field of high-end small ship cruises, for an impressive extension and modernization project which will involve three cruise ships of the Windstar fleet, worth over 200 million euros, and which is expected to be partially financed through an export credit facility guaranteed by SACE, Italy’s export credit agency.
The project will involve the cruise ships “Star Breeze”, “Star Legend” and “Star Pride” and will be carried out entirely by the Fincantieri “Ship Repair and Conversion” at the shipyard in Palermo. The works will start in spring of 2019, with the construction of the first mid-body section, and are scheduled for completion by November 2020, with the delivery of the third and final unit. The work will require an average stop of about four months per ship at the shipyard.
The program, called the “Star Plus Initiative”, will involve three main activity areas: lengthening of the mid-body by approximately 26 meters; the total renewal of nearly all the propulsion machinery including main engines, replacement of electrical generators and automation systems and other equipment; and extensive modernization of public areas, passenger cabins and open decks.
For the lengthening, a new mid-body section will be inserted in each of the ships which will comprise of some 50 additional passenger suites, which represent 47% more than the current capacity, 19 additional cabins for staff and crew, two new restaurants and additional space to be used as sun deck -pool area. The existing propulsion engines, gearboxes and diesel generators will be replaced with the latest generation of new IMO Tier III compliant engines with SCR’s; new gearboxes, engine auxiliaries and a new main switchboard. The modernization will also involve Multiple internal and external areas, in particular the pool deck, the SPA which will also be completely rebuilt and extended, and the “Owner Suites”. Some common crew areas will also be upgraded.
The three ships involved in this program currently have a length of 134 meters, with a tonnage of approximately 10,000 tons and a capacity of 212 passengers. On completion of these projects each ship will have a length of approximately 160 meters, a tonnage of around 13,000 tons, and will have a capacity to accommodate 312 passengers.
Windstar President John Delaney commented: “We are thrilled to announce this multi-million Star Plus Initiative, a significant investment in the future of Windstar Cruises. This exciting initiative is our 180 degree from ordinary solution to add new capacity and major enhancements to the guest experience in a very time efficient manner. The initiative not only creates beautiful new suites and public spaces, but we will also take the opportunity to re-engine the ships with more fuel efficient and environmentally responsible propulsion system. This will be a true game-changer for Windstar and our small ship cruise experience”.
Giorgio Rizzo, Executive SVP of the Services Division of Fincantieri, commented: “We are very pleased to have successfully concluded this complex negotiation with a prestigious client such as Windstar. These three projects have an extraordinary value for both companies from several aspects. From a strategic point of view, it is a program with great impact in the cruise industry which consolidates the position of Fincantieri Services and the one of Palermo shipyard as market leaders in the sector of ship repair and conversion; this segment is of great interest to us and one which we are seeking to develop. Also from a commercial perspective, we are very proud to have a new prestigious client who relies on us for the strategic expansion and modernization of half of their fleet. Lastly, at a technological level, the execution of these contracts will require an extremely high level of engineering competence and project management which will be repeated three times in the space of one year and will demonstrate the full capability of our organization”.
Thanks to the considerable experience gained with major naval projects designed and carried out on behalf of leading ship-owners such as MSC Cruises, Silversea Cruises and Grimaldi Group, Fincantieri, through the “Ship Repair & Conversion” part of the Services Division and its shipyard in Palermo, has established itself as the reference point worldwide for this kind of highly sophisticated operation, consolidating Fincantieri’s leadership in the highly specialized naval transformation sector.