The Covid-19 pandemic has put most 2020 ship delivery dates into question, but Silversea Cruises’ ship being purpose-built for the Galapagos Islands, the Silver Origin, will launch in late August, only about one month late.
Silversea credits Dutch shipyard De Hoop’s ingenuity to keep working on the ship during a national lockdown. De Hoop had to implement rigid safety procedures and reduce its workforce.
The small yard, located in an isolated area of Lobith in the Netherlands, retained about 200 employees when the country shut down in March, many that stayed in an on-site residential barge. De Hoop implemented daily temperature checks, enhanced cleaning procedures and strict social distancing measures, said Silversea. Some contractors were unable to reach the yard and some supplies couldn’t be delivered.
The pandemic was not the only obstacle. Shallow waters on the Waal River in November and December delayed the Origin’s float-out. Heavy rains in January and February pushed water levels too high for the ship to pass beneath the 12 bridges en route to the sea. It was not until March 26 that it was safe to sail to Rotterdam, where the Origin recently passed sea trials.
“We are so grateful to the professionals at the De Hoop shipyard,” said Silversea CEO Roberto Martinoli. “In the face of such adversity, their efforts were extraordinary and represent the resilience of European industry.”
The finishing touches are now being applied ahead of the ship’s delivery in the coming weeks, Silversea said. The only missing pieces, Sliversea said, are furniture from Italy, China and the U.S. and artwork from the U.K.
The ship will head for the Galapagos Islands after delivery. Once there, it will remain in quarantine for two weeks before being flagged in Ecuador.
Silversea previously canceled cruises from July 15 through Aug. 22.
Silversea Cruises Ecuador vice president and general manager Fernando Delgado said that although Ecuador’s ports and airports are currently closed, he is confident they will be operating by mid-June.