By Clare Nicholls

When Prestige Cruise Holdings, parent of Regent Seven Seas, contracted with Seaspan for the drydocking of Seven Seas Navigator, Seaspan’s Vancouver Drydock (VDC) discovered the repairs and its logistics would be challenging. The cruiseship had a damaged keel which would require significant repair work. It had been over a decade since the last cruiseship docked at VDC and the impending arrival created an air of excitement and anticipation in the yard mixed with just a little tension. It was important the project go well, as it could open the door to more cruise ship business in the future

“We planned this docking for a year and a half before the ship finally arrived,” said Vancouver Drydock’ project manager, Tony Tinto. “We couldn’t put blocks in the way of the keel; we modified the standard docking plan quite extensively.” The yard consulted its internal naval architects as well as outside naval architect firm Foreship, to decide where to place the blocks in the dock to allow access to the steelwork.

The last time the 30,000 dwt luxury vessel was docked was November 2009 at Lloyd Werft in Bremerhaven, Germany. Mr Tinto commented, “The previous drydocking had shown that the keel was damaged and we were aware that 280 tonnes of pig iron ballast needed to be removed.” Pig iron is created by smelting iron ore with a high carbon fuel.

“We had to cut away all the damaged steel and remove all the pig iron,” said Mr Tinto. “It was a challenge to ensure it was done safely; we could not just cut holes and let the pig iron fall to the ground. We spent a lot of time working on the repair strategy. For each section there were a lot of individual holes to be cut, allowing the removal of some pig iron before we started the next section.” Just the removal itself took four days during the two-week drydock from 12 to 29 May. “We worked in three shifts so that we were going at it continuously,” Mr Tinto said. Tony Matergio, Vice-President and General Manager of Seaspan’s Lower Maindland Shipyards, added, “It was a short duration docking – definitely a tremendously complex thing to manage.”

Overall, about 61 linear metres of keel was replaced. “Getting the right steel was a big issue as well,” Mr Tinto said. “It required high tensile steel which met Det Norske Veritas’ DH standards. Once we put new frames on it, we had to put the 280 tonnes of ballast back, so we used perma-ballast, a slurry mixture of iron ore and steel pellets.”

The 490-passenger vessel also had repairs performed to the rudders which involved steel repairs, gouging and re-welding. Sea inlet and overboard discharge valves were serviced too; VDC removed, cleaned and refitted approximately 120 valves. “The sheer volume of valves was a challenge,” commented Mr. Matergio. The valve servicing was part of class requirements of Det Norske Veritas.

Also part of the class survey, Seven Seas Navigator had a full stabiliser overhaul, consisting of its removal, disassembly, inspection, reassembly and testing. In addition, the bow thruster was serviced. VDC also cleaned eleven grey and black water tanks.

The hull was pressure-washed to remove fouling and was given a new coat of Jotun anti-fouling agent. Even the boot top (waterline line) was painted. Additionally, anchors and chains were checked and painted.

Interior technical work was carried out by Prestige’s own sub-contractors, Celtic Pacific. Tasks undertaken included adding a new reverse osmosis water filtration plant, a new CCTV system and a new propulsion automation system.

In the passenger areas, the galley was expanded to support a new Italian dining outlet, Sette Mari at La Veranda, which now offers both buffet and a la carte service. La Veranda was previously the ship’s breakfast and lunch buffet venue. Including the owner’s subcontractors, there were approximately 1,000 workers in the yard for the docking.

A project of this was size was a large undertaking and was successfully completed through the use of a bonded warehouse, as well as availability of a 15 tonne and an 85 tonne crane to move equipment and material on and off the vessel constantly for the entire duration of the project.  Fifty-eight containers of materials arrived at the yard to be handled and lifted onboard.The logistics part of this project received the highest marks from the owner and its logistics arm.

This was the first docking for Seven Seas Navigator at VDC. “The ship is currently operating an itinerary from Seattle to Alaska, so Regent Seven Seas was looking for drydocks in the area,” said Mr. Matergio. “Our company does a fair amount of cruiseship work and we have three shipyards on the West Coast of North America. This particular ship fitted into the North Vancouver schedule better than it did for our Victoria yard.

“We’re definitely looking at continuing our relationship with Prestige Cruise Holdings. You could describe it as a newer relationship for us, as this owner has not had many of its ships on this coast in the last few years. The owner was extremely pleased and there is some talk of future dockings, I think it just depends on how much work Prestige plans on doing on this coast.”

Following interior upgrades to sisterships Seven Seas Mariner and Seven Seas Voyager, this project completed Regent Seven Seas’ ‘Signature’ initiative. Renovations included new carpeting, curtains and balcony furniture as well as iPads in penthouse and higher suite categories. All balconies were outfitted with new teak as well.

The eight Grand suites and Master suites were completely redecorated, comprising built-in cabinets and custom-crafted furnishings including new headboards and bedding. All Navigator suites were also upgraded with new carpeting, wall coverings, dining tables and outdoor furniture.

Prime 7, the ship’s American-style steakhouse, has also been enlarged to accommodate 70 passengers and features a new contemporary sculpture at its entrance. The Galileo Lounge was also renewed and redecorated.

On Deck 12, passengers will find updated saunas at the Canyon Ranch SpaClub, while the teak-covered pool area on Deck 10 has renewed surfaces. The Seven Seas Show Lounge was also refurbished.

Clare Nicholls is Ferry Editor for Passenger Ship Technology, published by Riviera Maritime Media Ltd. This article is being reproduced with permission of Riviera Maritime Media Ltd.