Saga Cruises has returned to Gibdock for repair and maintenance work on one of the ‘grand old ladies’ of the cruise industry, the 24,492-ton, 670-passenger capacity Saga Ruby.

Delivered by Swan Hunter in 1972 to Norwegian American Line as Vistafjord, the ship is the last cruise vessel built on the Tyne. Having previously docked Spirit of Adventure in 2011 for the same owner, the 13-day renewal Saga Ruby drydocking project required flexibility on the part of the yard, which was called upon to adapt its original repair plan to take account of additional works.

The original project demanded an extensive scope of work in a demanding time frame.
Emerging work included repairs to items of hull damage, a wing tank, boiler supports, bulkheads in the tailshaft tunnel and sewage tanks. Six engine room coolers also had to be removed, cleaned and reinstalled and a new alternator fitted.

John Taylor, Gibdock Operations Director, saod: “We had to change the whole repair plan, and time constraints were a significant issue. The ship had to leave on January 26th no matter what and we had to make sure all the additional repairs were finished by then. One of the challenges, as is often the case with cruise ships, was getting access to the damaged areas. For example, some cabins had to be cleared, pipes removed and water supplies shut down. The process was managed safely and efficiently, minimising any delays and disruption.”

Two new sewage treatment units were fitted during Saga Ruby’s drydocking. This required cutting a 2.4m x 2m access window in the side shell, and once again an extensive internal area had to be cleared and pipes disconnected. Despite the additional work, Saga Ruby left the yard’s No. 1 dock on schedule on January 25th. Mr Taylor reports: “All repairs were finished in accordance with the owner’s schedule. We showed what we could do under pressure.”

Peter Wright, Saga Cruises Head of Commercial added: “The yard rose to the occasion and delivered what we asked for, and more. We have used Gibdock before and they have always done a good job. The location was perfect for this particular project as well.”

Alongside Saga, established cruise customers at Gibdock include Pullmantur, Louis Cruises and Thomson Cruises. Gibdock Managing Director Richard Beards noted: “Cruise shipping is vitally important to Gibraltar PLC. Gibdock’s full service repair and maintenance facility is just a short distance from the cruise terminal, offering owners an unrivalled opportunity to undertake repairs either in drydock or alongside to the highest standards and within their pre-planned schedules, avoiding both operational deviation and redelivery delays.”

Gibraltar is one of the busiest cruise ports in the Mediterranean region, with 179 cruise ships calling during 2013 (up from 173 in 2012), carrying over 285,000 passengers.  Based on current commitments, 181 cruise ship calls are expected in 2014.