Silversea Cruises says it is preparing to take delivery of new ship Silver Origin, “following a great display of resilience, determination and fine European craftsmanship from Dutch shipyard De Hoop.” Despite of the global lockdown as a result of the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic, De Hoop implemented rigid safety procedures, reduced its workforce and “devised ingenious ways to overcome posed challenges,” including a world-first during the ship’s sea trial.
On March 15—four days after coronavirus was declared as a global pandemic—the Netherlands implemented a national lockdown. Relatively isolated in Lobith, De Hoop shipyard offered its approximately 250 employees the option to cease working. While many were forced to return to their families or to their country of origin before borders closed, approximately 200 employees opted to continue. Many employees were accommodated in an on-site residential facility, Barge Rossini, which had a reduced capacity from 200 to 100 for safety purposes.
In addition to the rigorous protocol imposed by the Dutch health authority, RIVM, De Hoop’s professionals were protected by sanitary procedures developed by the shipyard itself: They underwent daily temperature checks; enhanced cleaning procedures were established in the living quarters, the crew mess and throughout Silver Origin; and strict social distancing measures were implemented, including a five-foot separation rule and a one-way system throughout the ship.
As a result, contact circles were reduced, meetings were cancelled and fewer people were allowed in each area of the ship. Video calls replaced face-to-face conversations. Necessary supplies were cut off: Carpeting, loose furniture and the onboard art collection were delayed in arriving, while the closure of Italy disrupted the installation of the ship’s windows and galley. The lockdown threatened the project’s progress.
Good to know: None of the employees reportedly caught the virus.
After months of delay due to shallow or unusually high water levels, Silver Origin and Barge Rossini were able to make safe passage to Rotterdam on March 26. This left just four weeks between arrival in Rotterdam and the sea trial. Held April 27–29 off the coast of Goeree-Overflakkee, Silver Origin’s sea trials were a success, Silversea says, offering the captain the chance to put the ship through its paces and enabling the shipyard to demonstrate proper operation of the machinery systems.
Necessitated by the travel ban, which prevented sub-contractors from reaching the ship, Silver Origin’s sea trials included a historic world-first: During the dynamic positioning acceptance test—which tests the ship’s ability to remain within 10 centimeters of a fixed point without dropping anchor—the ship’s dynamic positioning system was remotely tuned and calibrated by a third party in St. Petersburg, Russia—over 1,100 miles away.
The finishing touches are now being applied to Silver Origin, ahead of the ship’s delivery in the coming weeks. And the De Hoop team is still finding ways to progress, in spite of the challenging circumstances. Currently docked in Pernis in the Netherlands, Silver Origin will set sail for the Galapagos Islands after being delivered to Silversea Cruises.
A spokesperson for Silversea tells Luxury Travel Advisor that the cruise line expects to welcome guests on Silver Origin by the end of August, “but the exact date is still unclear.” He adds, regarding Silver Moon, “Given that the Fincantieri shipyard in Ancona was closed for an extended period of time, we foresee a delay in the delivery of Silver Moon. As of now, the exact delivery date remains undefined.”
This article originally appeared on www.travelagentcentral.com.