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It's official: Fincantieri bags Saga Sapphire refurb

Saga Sapphire will sail in new livery March 2012
Fincantieri secured the multimillion-euro refit and refurbishment of Bleu de France, acquired by Saga Shipping last year and to be renamed Saga Sapphire.

As reported here earlier this week, transformation of the 37,301gt Bleu de France will be conducted by Fincantieri's Palermo yard with work starting next month.

The project entails refurbishing all public areas and spaces, the addition of a significant number of new passenger cabins, a complete makeover of the existing cabins and a new balcony deck.

Other jobs will include overhauling and repair work on main machinery and equipment along with some steel and pipe replacement.

The ship will be drydocked for a period of the refit when underwater work on the hull such as painting and tail shaft, rudder and propeller maintenance will be undertaken.

On completion of the project, expected in February, the ship will be renamed Saga Sapphire and will sail on her inaugural cruise from Southampton to the Mediterranean on March 26.

Commenting on the contract, Saga Cruises ceo Robin Shaw said the refit will ensure that Saga Sapphire is 'magnificent throughout, adding a theme of elegant and eclectic nostalgia to our classic cruising experience. Saga Sapphire will be the largest Saga ship to date, but will retain the intimate atmosphere and the quality of service that our passengers have come to expect. We are extremely pleased to have secured Fincantieri's expertise and resources and are looking forward to working together.'

Giorgio Rizzo, Fincantieri svp ship repair & conversion, added: 'We are looking forward to working closely with the Saga team to ensure a successful outcome.'

In addition to the project announced today, Fincantieri confirmed the Palermo shipyard has secured five major cruise repair and conversion projects over the next few months. On October 4, Seatrade Insider reported that brokers suggested the work is on three Costa Crociere ships and two vessels for MSC Cruises.