MSC Cruises has relaunched MSC Armonia after cutting the ship in half as part of its ‘Renaissance Programme’, adding a nearly 80ft section to the middle of the ship in a ‘stretching’ procedure.

The 58,625t Armonia‘s makeover was performed at the Fincantieri shipyard in Palermo, Italy, reports Cruise Critic. Other ships in the class to undergo the stretching process will be MSC Opera, MSC Sinfonia, and MSC Lirica.

The stretching process and subsequent refurbishment of the ships will add 193 passenger cabins and 59 crew cabins as well as new balcony cabins, new public spaces and several new facilities for children.

All four Mistral-class vessels are more than ten years old and the stretching will add capacity for several hundred additional passengers and crew.

The €200 million Renaissance Programme is the first step in a €5 billion fleet enlargement plan, which includes four new ships in two classes, to be delivered by STX France and Fincantieri, in Italy, between 2017 and 2019, with options for three more by 2022.

Armonia entered dry dock on 31 August. The cutting of the ship began on 2 September, and 10 September saw the two halves of the ship separated by about 100ft to allow the new section of ship to be manoeuvred into place. Armonia returned to service on 18 November – after 11 weeks in dry dock – and its first cruise will be a one-off inaugural Mediterranean cruise from Genoa to the Canary Islands.