Cruise & Ferry repair analysis

Sep 5, 2023 | Featured Article, SeaFirst

Cruiseship repairs at Palumbo, ferry repairs at Remontowa, cruise and ferry upgrades for SMS, a cruiseship SCR retrofit for PrimeServ and a hybrid upgrade for a New York passenger ferry.

  MSC Seaview is a Seaside-class cruiseship owned and operated by MSC Cruises. Built by Italian shipbuilder Fincantieri in Monfalcone and delivered in June 2018, it is the sistership to the class-leading MSC Seaside. The luxury vessel is one of the largest cruiseships in the world, with a capacity of over 5,000 passengers. However, like any other vessel, MSC Seaview requires periodic maintenance and repair to keep it running in optimal condition.

It is for this reason that the MSC Seaview was a visitor to Palumbo Shipyards’ largest dock in Malta during March/April. The 73,000t displacement, 28-deck vessel underwent scheduled drydocking maintenance and repair works which were carried out over a 30 day period. The work involved various infrastructure demands and services and a team of over 300 skilled workers.

The main scope of the repair work was to open shell access and prepare the heavy lift equipment to allow the removal of a complete alternator, with both stator and rotor, which weighed in at some 60t. The work required the opening up of various bulkheads and skidding out the complete alternator, eventually lifting and transporting it using the yard’s multi-wheeled 200t heavy-lifter. Repairs were carried out in the workshop and the alternator was then transported back on board. Another task involved the replacement of one of the ship’s thruster motors. 

MSC Seaview at Palumbo Shipyards’ largest dock in Malta

MSC Seaview at Palumbo Shipyards’ largest dock in Malta

A major part of the work was the upgrading the ship’s cosmetics, which required treating and repainting the entire hull. Any damage was repaired to make sure that the vessel’s high standards were restored.

Other recent visitors to Palumbo Malta yard included Le Jacques Cartier and Le Champlain, operated by regular clients Ponant. The luxury cruise vessels underwent standard maintenance work including drydocking, painting and regular work for a planned intermediate survey.

Le Champlain at Palumbo's Malta Shipyard

Le Champlain at Palumbo’s Malta Shipyard

Viktor Lenac shipyard


Palumbo’s Viktor Lenac shipyard in the port of Rijeka recently had the California Star, ex Eurocargo Sicilia, operated by Baja Ferries from Mexico, as a visitor. It underwent a major refit job, including an accommodation upgrade. The main work was the installation of a new 70 x 18m deckhouse located on the upper deck aft. The new deckhouse is equipped with 24 passenger cabins, galley, restaurant, bar, public toilets, reception, office, and a seating area for 224 passengers. On the top of the deckhouse is an open bar. Seven new cabins were added in the existing vessel to accommodate even more passengers.

The area under the new accommodation was protected with A60 insulation and two A60 doors were installed on the entrance to the ship’s gangway. Two new davits and lifeboats for 150 people were also installed, together with additional liferaft davits.

The new deckhouse is equipped with an independent HVAC system, a new grey and black water system with new sewage treatment unit, new freshwater system, new sprinkler system, electrical distribution, lighting, LAN and TV network. The existing alarm and monitoring system was upgraded with new sensors.

The complete vessel was also repainted to the owner’s design. The project lasted seven months and was delivered on time and to the owner’s full satisfaction.

California Star, ex Eurocargo Sicilia at Palumbo’s Viktor Lenac shipyard

California Star, ex Eurocargo Sicilia at Palumbo’s Viktor Lenac shipyard

Ferry repair at Remontowa

In addition to the numerous ferry repair works carried out earlier in the year (see March issue p36-38), Remontowa recently had the ferry Kronprins Frederik, owned by Scandlines, arrive at the yard. During the refurbishment, a full overhaul of the port side propeller shaft was carried out and the seals were replaced.

Steelwork was also replaced in both the ballast and void tanks, along with plating in the dry tanks on both sides of the vessel. All the davits were checked, which required load tests, and smaller repairs were carried out in many areas of the ship.

The shipowner also ordered repairs to the funnel. New exhaust pipes were installed in the exhaust gas boiler and the deck inside the funnel was reinforced.

The Kronprins Frederik at Remontowa

The Kronprins Frederik at Remontowa

Stena Nordica and Robin Hood

In April this year, Remontowa completed the conversion of the ferry Stena Nordica. The vessel has been fitted with additional superstructure erected above deck five to enhance the passenger experience through more space, additional catering facilities and numerous other amenities.

Among other things, a restaurant, an open bar and an additional lounge were arranged with comfortable seats and tables for watching TV and using personal electronic devices.

To ensure safe navigation after the additional superstructure was installed, Remontowa stabilised the ferry, fitting it with a special steel structure mounted to the hull.

As part of the conversion, the passenger lifts at both the bow and stern were replaced and the public spaces were refreshed. Carrying out the work mentioned above involved modifying many of the ferry’s systems.

The main reason for TT-Line’s ferry Robin Hood’s stay at Remontowa was to retrofit it with an exhaust gas desulphurisation system. Remontowa installed four scrubbers – two in each funnel. Waste heat recovery systems were also installed, which entailed adding four more boilers and a large amount of piping.

A scrubber room was also specially constructed to house all the equipment required to operate the scrubber and WHR system pumps and the turbines that recover heat from the steam and transform it into electricity.

The ferry was also fitted with new sea chests and another diesel fuel homogenisation system. A major job involved the stern ramp, which required the hinges and all the pins to be machined.  


Outstanding start for SMS

“The SMS Group has enjoyed an outstanding quarter in the cruise and ferry sector, focusing on the provision of marine refurbishment and interior outfit,” explains Dan Lockyer, Head of Marine Refurbishment. Transatlantic works have been completed for a key legacy customer, Holland America Line, onboard the cruiseship Zaandam. The company also completed a major interior upgrade for the Isle of Man Steam Packet Co onboard Manannan – their Incat fast ferry.  “This is our largest job to date in the fast ferry sector; the upgrade of passenger spaces, lounges, serveries and galleys suits us perfectly,” says Lockyer. “What makes us particularly proud of this seven-figure contract is that we undertook the works whilst simultaneously working for three other customers – two cruise lines and the Royal Navy.”

Simultaneous working is now the accepted norm for SMS. “We’ve the scale, breadth and experience within the team, and perhaps more importantly, positive customer feedback has been widely received,” Lockyer says.  In addition to the aforementioned works, SMS has completed turnaround work in Southampton for numerous cruise operators, a major project in Cadiz, and undertaken significant works in Rosyth.  “2022/2023 has been the outfit team’s strongest year to date,” says Locker.

The SMS marine refurbishment and interior outfit team

The SMS marine refurbishment and interior outfit team


PrimeServ SCR retrofit


MAN Energy Solutions’ after-sales division, MAN PrimeServ, has completed a retrofit aboard the Ambience, a vessel belonging to Ambassador Cruise lines, managed by Bernhard Schulte Cruise Services. The scope of the project covered the installation of SCR (Selective Catalytic Reduction) systems, while two of the ship’s four MAN 8L58/64 engines had their NA57/T turbochargers replaced with modern MAN TCA 66 units.

The order came about when the Ambience was taken over by Ambassador with the intention of offering cruises in the key Norwegian Heritage Fjord market with its exacting Tier III emission standards.

Olaf Gunia, Head of PrimeServ Hamburg, said: “This retrofit really establishes Ambassador’s green credentials within the cruise segment, and the SCR solution is performing well with a NOx removal rate of 93%. Increasingly, we are receiving similar requests from cruise and ferry operations that wish to become sustainable without the need for mandated industry legislation.”

Bernd Siebert, Head of Retrofits & Upgrades, MAN PrimeServ, said: “This entire project proved challenging owing to – among other factors – the long cold lay-up of the ship due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the tight timeframe for completion. Happily, our work on the Ambience has optimised the interaction between the newly-installed SCR system, turbochargers and engines and the vessel is now Tier III-compatible and fit for service in one of the globe’s most pristine, natural environments.”

MAN PrimeServ, has completed a retrofit aboard the Ambience

MAN PrimeServ, has completed a retrofit aboard the Ambience

SCR technical considerations

MAN Energy Solutions claims that its SCR system is the greenest solution available on the market with the highest operational readiness and safety. The SCR will be available from just 15% engine load, enabling clean operation, also during slow-sailing in the fjords as well as close to port and populated areas.

The fully-modular SCR solution has also been fully integrated into the Ambience’s engine control set-up. With its closed-loop system and a weather station that uses environmental data, the NOx reduction rate is maximised and ammonia slip minimised to just 10ppm, which is comparable to that of a car. Low ammonia slip is not just good because ammonia is a greenhouse gas and affects the climate, but also because it reduces urea consumption, enabling the urea tank size to be minimised.



Ferry battery power upgrade

Corvus Energy has been selected by Alcatraz City Cruises to supply the battery system for the Hornblower Hybrid NY passenger ferry. 

Within the US, California is leading the nation in emissions reduction initiatives and within the marine sector, San Francisco-based Alcatraz City Cruises, a part of City Experiences, is a leader in green technology adoption.

Alcatraz City Cruises was the first to introduce hybrid-powered passenger ferry service in the US. Two vessels, the Alcatraz Flyer and the Alcatraz Clipper, currently offer transit to Alcatraz Island in the San Francisco Bay. Completing multiple rounds per day, the operation carries thousands of passengers daily and nearly 1.7M total annually, powered by electric propulsion. Both vessels use a Corvus Energy battery system. 

Following the success of Alcatraz City Cruises’ hybrid vessels, City Experiences introduced the first hybrid passenger ferry service on the East Coast and expanded its hybrid vessel programme to other US locations.

The Hornblower Hybrid NY, a vessel retrofit project requiring a 1,627KWh battery energy storage system (ESS), will be the third City Experiences vessel in California with a Corvus ESS onboard. Corvus Energy will deliver the system from its newly established US-based manufacturing facility in Bellingham, Washington. Delivery is expected by September 2023.

“We are very pleased to be chosen by Alcatraz City Cruises for the Hornblower Hybrid NY project,” says Ole Jacob Irgens, Corvus Energy Executive Vice President. “City Experiences were amongst the early adaptors in the United States – leading the way in US marine sector electrification, decarbonisation, and greenhouse gas reduction initiatives.”

Corvus Energy has been selected to supply the battery system for the Hornblower Hybrid NY passenger ferry

Corvus Energy has been selected to supply the battery system for the Hornblower Hybrid NY passenger ferry

Cruiseship safety facility

Survitec has cut the ribbon on a new customer service centre in Miami, Florida, doubling its operations to facilitate anticipated demand for its award-winning Advanced Evacuation System, Seahaven, which received full classification approval last year. 

The new 371m2 facility will also provide round-the-clock sales and service support to cruiseship operators, from one centralised location and with one point of contact.

“Investing in this new facility is very much in support of the industry’s post-pandemic recovery, but we are also preparing the site for the servicing of Seahaven,” said Survitec Chief Executive Officer Robert Kledal. “Based on increased enquiries, we need an advanced, state-of-the-art sales and servicing site to meet anticipated demand. This will be the primary US hub for servicing Seahaven, the world’s largest inflatable lifeboat.

“The immediate goal is to improve operational efficiencies for the cruiseship owner. By removing their reliance on internal resources and local suppliers, we eliminate their administrative burden, thus reducing the cost of compliance. This way, we improve operational efficiencies and reliability, optimising the way in which owners and operators protect their assets, passengers and crews.”

Seahaven is the world’s largest inflatable lifeboat

Seahaven is the world’s largest inflatable lifeboat

Expanding sector

Miami, the US cruise industry’s home port, is poised for an exceptionally strong season. The Port of Miami welcomed more than four million cruisers last year, with analysts predicting an increase this year as more new ships enter service. Thirteen new cruiseships are scheduled to join the world fleet this year, adding to the 20 launched last year and the 10 in 2021.

“Our new Miami cruise centre is now open and fully equipped to help operators and crews maintain and service all their vessels’ Marine Evacuation Systems (MES), liferafts, lifejackets and life-saving appliances,” says Kledal.

“The cruise sector is expanding with a significant number of newbuilds due to enter service for various brands. With this new facility, we are able to provide our customers with a single, dedicated cruise centre capable of managing all our cruise customers’ safety needs. It truly is a one-stop-shop.”