The last time I went on a shipyard visit was to see Seabourn’s final Odyssey-class ship, Seabourn Quest, in Genoa.
Quest was about a month or so from sea trials, so largely complete. There were wires hanging from ceilings and a lot of men banging, polishing and finishing off things, but it was very clear what the ship would look like inside.
Fast forward to a couple of weeks ago. I found myself with a hard hat on again, this time at Fincantieri’s shipyard just outside Venice, touring the under-construction Royal Princess.
Except this time the ship, which won’t launch until June 2013, was to all intents and purposes a giant construction site. Yes, it had been welded together and the superstructure was clear to see, and it had been floated out, but inside there was nothing to give you a sense of what it would look like complete.
The tour was fascinating, but you really had to use your imagination, aided only by “artists’ renderings” and the words –- and enthusiasm –- of Executive Vice President of Fleet Operations for Princess Cruises, Rai Caluori.
I must admit at first I did wonder what the point of the whole exercise was, especially as Princess has been drip-feeding some excellent videos of what the ship will be like for the past few months.
But then I realized as Jonathan Wilson, the VP of hotel operations, waxed lyrical about the “adjacency” and “flow” and overall vision he had for this ship, that what we were witnessing was the coming together of months and months of detailed discussions.
And to be fair, there was a lot to see: the vertiginous Sea Walk, the cabins (albeit not installed, but mock ups), the TV studio space, the pool deck, complete with space for the Jacuzzis and pool, and the adults-only Retreat.
It was only after the tour that the sheer scale of the operation hit me. As I was walking away from Royal Princess, I gazed up at the gleaming hull –- all 17 floors of it — and immediately understood.
I’m just glad that I was a part of it, and I hope that Cruise Critic, which has a long history of covering ship yard visits on vessels ranging from Independence of the Seas to Viking River Cruises Longships, can continue to share these early shipbuilding stages with you.
Want to know what else is on the drawing board? Don’t miss our guide to new Cruise ships.
If makeover are more your speed, check out our cruise ship refurbishments chart.
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