When the super-ships of this century set sail on their maiden voyages, everything appears utterly flawless. Yet while the finished product is nothing short of perfect, the vessels actually spent months, if not years on end in shipbuilding yards being primed to perfection. Germany’s Meyer Werft is without a doubt one of the biggest ship construction entities on the planet, catering to the fleet demands of industry giants such as Royal Caribbean, Celebrity, P&O, Norwegian Cruise Line and Holland America to name a few.
A history on the high seas
Headquartered in Papenburg on the banks of the river Ems, Meyer Werft was first founded back in 1795. What began as an independent enterprise crafting small wooden vessels is now one of the world’s biggest manufacturers of luxury passenger ships. Today, the shipyard is considered an integral location on the European Route of Industrial Heritage and attracts visitors from across the globe.
For six generations the Meyer family has owned and managed operations at the shipyard. In 1997 the yard merged with Rostock’s Neptun Werft to create Meyer Neptun Group.
Tourism for ship lovers
In fact, the yard has become such a popular tourist destination that it now offers a ‘Visiting the Ocean Giants’ experience where Papenpurg tourists can get a first-hand glimpse at how the world’s luxury cruise ships are constructed. Every year around 300,000 visitors flood through the gates, keen to learn more about the ins and outs of state-of-the-art shipbuilding. The centre features an array of fascinating attractions, including interactive exhibits, informational films, a fully equipped mock-up cabin and other great highlights. Want in? You’ll have to pre-register with the Papenburg Tourismus GmbH before sightseeing!
Building the giants of the sea
So where does all the shipbuilding take place? “Dockhalle 2″ is the yard’s shipbuilding hall and is hailed as the fifth biggest useable space in the world! Given the fact that it’s housed giants such as Anthem of the Seas this comes as no surprise.
In terms of engineering and logistics, building cruise liners is an incredibly complex process. Meyer Werft has been mastering the art for decades and is now considered an international expert in the field, securing contracts from leading lines across the globe. To date, it’s built 38 luxury liners for discerning clients across the globe. These include the Celebrity Silhouette, Disney Dream, Norwegian Escape, Quantum of the Seas, P&O’s Aurora, Holland America’s Westerdam and more.
Homeric, the yard’s first purpose built passenger ship made its grand debut in 1985, 200 years after the company first threw open its gates. Needless to say, the construction process has changed quite a bit since the 80s. Today engineers use cutting edge computer-aided technologies throughout the design, planning, construction and manufacturing processes.
Ships of all shapes and sizes
While Meyer Werft is famous for building ultra-luxurious cruise ships, it actually boasts expertise in an array of different areas. Over the years its yards have crafted over 700 different types of ships! These include ferries, research vessels, gas tankers, container ships, livestock carriers and more. Whatever the order, it’s likely that the team of ship building experts at Meyer Werft are ready to deliver. Of course, a multi-million pound budget is generally a key requirement.
Images sourced via Flickr Creative Commons. Credits: Matt 666, madle-fotowelt