A luxury cruise ship has undergone an unusual $93 million operation in a Sicily shipyard to make it 15m longer.
Boutique cruise line Silversea, which operates in Australia during summer, started work to stretch the Silver Spirit from 195.8m to 210.7m over the weekend by adding a new piece of midsection, the New Zealand Herald reports.
The intricate procedure at Fincantieri Shipyard will increase the 36,000 tonne vessel's overall capacity by 12 per cent to 608 guests and 412 crew.
Overall dining capacity will be increased by 15 per cent and there will be an increase in outdoor seating from 200 to 266. It will also have a new eight restaurant configuration and outside the pool area on the sky deck will increase in length from 30 to 45m, with a bigger spa area.
More than 500 workers will spend approximately 450,000 hours on the ambitious project, which is set to be finished on May 5.
About 846 tonnes of steel, 110,000m of cabling, and 8000m of piping will be used.
"A rarely performed feat of maritime architecture, this type of lengthening has never before been employed for the extension of a luxury cruise ship,'' a Silversea statement said.
Silversea chief marketing officer Barbara Muckermann said the project was "ambitious''.
The all-suite ship entered service in 2009 and the lengthening was inspired by its flagship, the Silver Muse - which will cruise from Australia early next year.
The Silver Muse was delivered by Fincantieri in April last year and is the largest of Silversea's ships at 40,700 gross tonnes.
Silversea is known for cruises which lay on the luxury with butlers and fine dining. A recently launched 140-day world cruise had suites that reportedly ranged from between $81,000 and $317,000 per person.
Before Silver Spirit's arrival in Palermo, Sicily, the ship docked in Chania, Crete, where used furniture was unloaded and given to charity.
In total, 11 containers were filled with 4652 items from the ship - including sofas, chairs, curtains and computers.
The donated articles will be put to use for social welfare purposes in hospitals, nursing homes, schools and other institutions across the island.
Silver Muse will reach Australian waters next January, with calls at Sydney, Melbourne and Burnie, and then on to New Zealand.
A 16-day Silver Muse cruise from Bali to Sydney, starting in December, costs $12,330 per person.
The luxury end of the cruise sector is growing strongly, matching the mass market attracted to megaships up to four times larger.
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