The first of four MSC Cruises ships to undergo the Renaissance Programme of enhancements was today physically extended by 24 metres.

The remarkable feat of engineering, which took place at the Fincantieri shipyard, in Palermo, Sicily, saw the 14,000-ton bow of MSC Armonia slowly advanced 30 metres away from her stern on rails to allow a new 2,200-ton prebuilt midship section to be inserted.

The procedure marked a key milestone in the €200 million Renaissance Programme, which will enlarge and enhance MSC Armonia, MSC Sinfonia, MSC Opera and MSC Lirica, giving them all an array of new improvements and amenities that are perfectly suited to today’s cruise traveller.

Much careful preparation was required ahead of today’s separation to ensure the ship would be absolutely ready. Steel-cutting operations started on 2 September when Fincantieri’s world-class engineers marked the cutting line to enable accurate grit blasting of the area. On 3 September the ship’s electrical systems were deactivated. The cutting operations finished on 8 September, ahead of the event on 10 September.

After the Renaissance Programme, MSC Armonia’s environmental impact will be significantly reduced. She will receive a new hull treatment to minimize drag and lower water resistance, considerably reducing fuel consumption. In addition, LED technology in all public spaces on the ship will mean less energy is consumed on board.

A Variable Speed Drive Inverter will also be installed – an energy-saving system that markedly reduces the ship’s electricity consumption by adjusting it in line with operational conditions. Finally, a new design of propeller blade is being studied by MSC Cruises’ blade manufacturer to maximize efficiency and lower fuel consumption even further.

Emilio La Scala, General Manager MSC Cruises Technical Department, said: “MSC Cruises wanted to implement such a highly demanding programme for a long time, but we wanted to ensure that we would choose the best partner in the shipbuilding industry, to not only enhance the ships’ features but also to bring technical, safety and environmental upgrades to the ships. Fincantieri has the proven expertise and experience in this type of operation, which was essential to satisfy our high standards, and have been long-standing partners for various maintenance and refitting operations on our fleet.”

MSC Cruises’ Renaissance programme will add a total of 193 new cabins to MSC Armonia.

Furthermore, when launched on 17 November, the ship will boast new areas for the Baby Club built in partnership with Chicco; a new Mini Club, Young Club, Junior Club and Teen Club. The buffet will be open 20 hours a day and exciting features will be available for an even better food experience. She will also feature a new lounge area and an extended restaurant.

An additional library will be fitted, the MSC Aurea Spa will be enriched, and a completely new spray park will be added, with an exhilarating pathway of water features and water cannons.

The ship entered drydock on August 31 and will remain on site for 11 weeks, until resuming service on Nov. 17 with a one-off inaugural Mediterranean cruise from Genoa to the Canary Islands.