The vibrant cruise ship refurbishment market is reflected in an all-time high in refit work for Bolidt Synthetic Products & Systems, with the record including completion of five major ship projects so far this year. Bookings for a further seven large ship jobs are part of a workload that the company says includes ‘dozens’ of forthcoming projects planned for well into 2019.
In 2018, Bolidt has been a key participant in refurbishment and upgrade projects involving NCL’s Norwegian Sun and Norwegian Star; the RCCL vessels Mariner and Independence of the Seas; and the Azamara Club Cruises ship Azamara Pursuit. Refurbishment bookings for drydocking later this year and in the first half of 2019 include Norwegian Jewel, Celebrity Summit and Celebrity Millennium; Navigator, Oasis of the Seas and Voyager of the Seas; and Carnival Triumph.
The scale of the flooring and deck system upgrades within these projects is extensive. As Jacco van Overbeek, Bolidt Director, Maritime Division, observes: “These refits are significant and all-encompassing, and you will find us working on all decks, from 0 to 14 and above, and on a wide range of spaces onboard, including galleys, balconies, water park areas, running tracks and general public spaces, among others. The bulk of the work has required us to supply our industry-leading Bolideck® Future Teak and Bolideck® Select Soft systems, but we have also delivered other innovative solutions from our portfolio for these refits.”
One of the most significant projects for Bolidt this year involved a major overhaul of Azamara Pursuit, which took place at Belfast’s Harland & Wolff shipyard. Northern Ireland-based company, MJM Group, was awarded a turnkey project for the four-month long refit, and Bolidt was contracted directly by MJM to carry out the necessary decking upgrade work. Van Overbeek says: “We have known MJM for many years, participating alongside them on a lot of projects, but this was a new way of working through a single turnkey contractor, and it went well. The result was very positive, and we are extremely proud of the upgrades undertaken on Azamara Pursuit in partnership with MJM.”
One of the key challenges for Bolidt in managing its increased cruise refit business, which now accounts for around 40% of its activity in the cruise shipping market, is the volume of work that has to be compressed into an increasingly short drydocking stay. “Sometimes we have more than 15,000m2 of material to install in less than a month,” says van Overbeek. “We have risen to this challenge by increasing our pool of specialist installers and by ‘growing our own’ and promoting employees with the aptitude and a willingness to learn about the practical side of the cruise refit market.”
The company has further responded to the need to boost productivity to deliver projects within tight schedules by developing prefabrication techniques. Van Overbeek says: “This has helped in areas where the complexity of installation in liquid form is simply too great for us to pursue traditional pouring methods. Instead, we have developed innovative, practical applications for resin decking compounds, wherever accessibility for traditional materials, such as teak and tiles, has become prohibitive. In some cases there are no viable options other than the customised solutions that Bolidt has developed, which puts us in a strong competitive position.”
Bolidt is also upbeat about cruise refit prospects. “We have seen an acceleration of planned projects at Carnival and we expect other brands will start following suit,” says van Overbeek. “The products we offer have withstood the test of time and continue to be preferred by shipowners based on durability and aesthetics.”