Last year the dutch marine decking and flooring supplier, Bolidt, celebrated its 50th anniversary. One of the company’s key achievements during the last half-century is the consolidation of a market leading position within the the passenger shipping sector. “We are now working on a number of commercial and technical initiatives which will provide a solid platform for the next 50 years, in both the new vessel and the refit and refurbishment segments,” says Jacco van Overbeek, director of Bolidt’s maritime division.
In the past few years especially Bolidt has made significant inroads into the cruise ship newbuilding sector, picking up several notable contracts to equip high profile vessels entering service for some of the leading cruise shipping brands. During 2014 and 2015 alone the company will, for example, complete orders to fit out a series of new ships for Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL), Royal Caribbean International (RCI), Viking Ocean and TUI Cruises.
Bolidt has not simply focused on the cruise newbuilding sector though. It is also currently experiencing increasingly high levels of demand for its decking and flooring products as a result of the significant investments by the cruise shipping industry in refitting and refurbishing existing ships.
In recent weeks Bolidt has completed an extensive project for Pullmantur on the 268m long, 2,733 passenger capacity Sovereign, during a major refit in Spain. This involved upgrading decking areas in different parts of the vessel during a 12 day drydocking at Navantia’s Cadiz shipyard. Moreover Bolidt has received further contracts for cruise ship refits from Carnival, Holland America Line, Princess and RCI, among others.
One of Bolidt’s biggest current cruise ship refurbishment projects is for NCL. The company will play an important part in the upgrade of a series of four of the cruise operator’s vessels. Modernisation of the first of these, the 294m, 2,376-passenger Norwegian Jewel has already been completed, while sisterships Norwegian Gem, Norwegian Pearl and Norwegian Star will be upgraded in 2015.
The decking upgrades on the NCL ships are amongst the largest undertakings of this type that Bolidt has been involved with to date, and the scope of supply varies from vessel to vessel. For Norwegian Jewel, which was redelivered in autumn 2014, Bolidt has supplied Bolideck® Future Teak, Bolideck® Select Soft, and sanded and resurfaced 4,240m2 of decking in total. This project involved Bolidt technicians working in many different areas of the ship, including all of the Jewel’s stateroom balconies, the lifeboat deck, sports court, helideck, the jogging track and pool area. On Norwegian Gem, Bolidt will supply approximately 4,000 m2 of Bolideck® Select Soft and Bolideck® Future Teak, which will be used on the sun deck, jogging track, sports deck and pool deck areas.
For Norwegian Pearl and Norwegian Star, Bolidt will deliver Bolideck® Select Soft to each vessel. On Norwegian Pearl the focus will be on the sun deck, while for Norwegian Star Bolideck® Select Soft will be used on the basketball court and outer deck areas.
On a number of these NCL vessels all the balconies onboard will be upgraded using the new SmartBalcony® system. Developed by the Dutch company’s in-house R&D team, SmartBalcony® is a modular balcony decking system that can be changed out in a matter of minutes, in the event of a need for repair or refurbishment. Designed to be robust and easy to handle, SmartBalcony® allows either Bolidt’s own technicians or the ship’s crew to replace a balcony deck more quickly than using traditional approaches, thereby saving on valuable drydocking time.
As Van Overbeek points out: “The time available to replace the decking systems within balconies is limited during drydocking, or when the ship is in service. So NCL needed a solution which will enable it to renew the appearance of the balconies in the shortest possible time. Using SmartBalcony® is an ideal approach, as it is possible to change over a balcony decking system in around 15 minutes. The new decking system also makes an exceptional visual impact, thereby meeting another key requirement set out by NCL.”
A number of Bolidt’s recent cruise refit projects have specified Bolideck® Future Teak, underlining the growing popularity of this product amongst cruise ship operators looking for a ’deluxe’ look, while also pursuing environment-friendly practices. Bolideck® Future Teak is a durable, lightweight synthetic decking system with the ‘look’ and ‘feel’ of real teak, but with some significant advantages. As Van Overbeek explains, “Teak is more expensive as an initial investment, it is more costly to maintain and, as it is heavier, leads to higher fuel consumption costs. On top of this, using teak is more damaging to the environment.”
Bolideck® Future Teak will thus save operators money, while representing a greener solution. On top of that it will better protect steel structures underneath against rust. Bolidt believes in fact that the product is so effective in achieving its objectives that there will soon be no teak onboard the majority of cruise ships.
Bolidt’s recent run of success in the cruise ship upgrade and refurbishment sector is based on a long, proven track record in carrying out vessel maintenance, and the fact that it has focused on building up long term relationships with the leading cruise ship operators. “We cooperate with them over new developments, such as SmartBalcony®; and we listen to them about their future needs. This gives them confidence that we are always thinking on the same wave length,” says Van Overbeek.
For a number of companies, including NCL, Carnival, Holland America Line (HAL), Princess Cruises and RCI, Bolidt inspects client’s cruise ships on an annual basis. Following these inspections the company prepares a report which identifies which deck areas and balconies need to be repaired. In addition Bolidt provides various added value services, such as cleaning advice, recommending which materials and machines should be used for each product.
Van Overbeek says: “While cruise vessels are in drydock, Bolidt can take care of all of the ship’s deck refit requirements, taking a lot of pressure off the operator and shipyard. This can range from carrying out small repairs, to the sanding and resurfacing, or even the complete replacement of an entire deck.”
The commercial pressures on the cruise market are quite intense, and there is an ongoing need to keep costs down and maximise the availability of the valuable cruise ship assets. As a result, Bolidt has had to face specific challenges when carrying out refit work in this sector. Most cruise ships used to enter drydock every two years; now it is once every four or five years on average. “As ships are less often in drydock Bolidt is obliged to do more work in about the same time,” notes Van Overbeek. “However, we are flexible and have been able to adapt well to these changed circumstances.”
The company claims that newly installed Bolideck® systems will not require any major work for at least five years and often only after 6-8 years will some limited renewal be needed. Bolideck® Future Teak is one of the most durable products on the market and is in fact likely to extend life expectancy to two dry docking periods, or ten years, after which only a new top layer will be required to enhance the decks and restore them to their former condition.
As well as making sure its products have greater longevity, and a reduced maintenance requirement, Bolidt believes it has done much more to help cruise lines and drydocking yards meet the requirement for more work to be completed in a shorter time frame. “We are continuously looking for new methods, tools and systems to assist our customers meet this demand,” says Van Overbeek. “We have responded by using different mixing tools, making adjustments to onboard transportation methods, enhancing protection and vacuum systems and prefabricating more components. Combined, these initiatives have saved a lot of time and helped ensure that Bolidt products can be installed more quickly and easily, in line with the narrower drydock windows.”
Most of the cruise ship refit projects that Bolidt will take part in over the coming months will be carried out at shipyards in North America and the Caribbean. The company has had its own office in Miami for more than 14 years now which provides close support for these contracts as they progress to completion.
P.O. Box 131
3340 AC Hendrik-Ido-Ambacht
Bolidt Innovation Center
3341 LW The Netherlands
TEL +31 (0)78 684 54 44