MSC Opera in dry dock

How MSC Cruises Stretches Four of its Ships in Three Easy Steps

In the world of cosmetic surgery, the goal is often about to make the patient as slim and as slender as possible. A nip here and a tuck there.

In the world of cruise ships, the opposite is true. Major cosmetic surgery is all about adding extra length, and occasionally additional height.

MSC Cruises is lengthening all four of its Lirica-class ships (MSC Lirica, MSC Armonia, MSC Sinfonia and MSC Opera) in a bid to add more capacity, more features and help the line to compete better with the bigger vessels that ply the Mediterranean waters. The €200 million Renaissance program will take two years to complete.

So how do you stretch a cruise ship in three easy steps?

1. Cut the ship in half

The process begins with meticulous planning. Cutting a ship in half isn't as easy as it sounds.

Services (plumbing and electrics are two essentials) criss-cross the ship, connecting all the cabins to the hubs at the base of the vessel. Inadvertently severing these could be catastrophic.

The construction work begins in earnest with a very precise cut right through the middle of the ship. In the video below, MSC Armonia can be seen undergoing the chop.

2. Wheel in a prefabricated section

The new piece of the superstructure is constructed off-site to speed up the process.


It is significantly more cost effective to pre-build this off-site before the ship enters dry-dock. The alternative scenario would be to take the ship out of service while construction takes place in situ.

MSC Armonia benefits from a new 24-metre piece of the superstructure.

3. Seal it up

Ships need to be watertight for obvious reasons. Adding a new section introduces two open sections (one at each end) that need to attach to the original parts of the ship.

Welders diligently fuse the parts together to create a watertight seal. Inside, the services are connected back together, incorporating the new services preinstalled in the new section of the superstructure.

A lick of paint completes the job. It is so seamless that most customers will never notice that the ship has received such intense surgery.

What is MSC's Renaissance program?

MSC Armonia benefits from the following post-surgery:

  • 193 new cabins, including 94 balcony cabins. Refurbished cabins have new carpets and upholstery, new duvets and bed runners, and new LED TVs.
  • A new La Pergola restaurant exclusively for Aurea experience and balcony cabin guests.
  • The Bar del Duomo is an aperitif and wine bar.
  • The Red Bar is an alchemy fusion concept where you will find creative recipes like Jelly and Molecular Cocktails.
  • The White Lion is an authentic English pub.
  • The Coffee Bar serves hot and frozen coffee delights.
  • The Gelateria serves ice cream.
  • The Vitamin Bar serves fresh fruit smoothies and cocktails made to order.
  • A new Youth Centre with separate clubs for the Baby (0-3), Mini (3-6), Juniors (7-11), Young (12-14) and Teens (15-17) age groups.
  • New dedicated areas and activities for 12 to 14- and 15 to 17-year-olds, including a NAMCO virtual arcade.
  • The addition of Wii, PlayStation and Xbox consoles for guests aged 7 to 17.
  • Two new LEGO areas, one for three- to six-year-olds and another for seven- to 11 year-olds.
  • A new baby club for children aged up to three years old in partnership with Chicco.
  • A new Outdoor Water Spray Parks for kids features lots of interactive water jets, musical fountains, and slides.
  • Two new Aurea Spa massage rooms, one for individuals and another for couples to enjoy a selection of treatments.
  • Top 13 Solarium, an adults-only sun deck at the top front of the vessel.
  • An elegant new music lounge.

Even with this new section fitted, the mid-sized Lirica-class cruise ships retain their intimacy not found on larger vessels.

Have you sailed on MSC Lirica, MSC Armonia, MSC Sinfonia or MSC Opera since the installation of the new extensions? Did you spot the new sections? Leave a comment below.

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