The Silja Festival, a cruise ferry from the Baltic Sea, has arrived in Vancouver to undergo an "extreme makeover" in preparation for a voyage to Kitimat, B.C., where it will serve as a floating hotel to house about 600 construction workers.
Bridgemans Services, in partnership with the Haisla First Nation, recently leased the cruise ferry with the intention of providing floating accommodations for Rio Tinto Alcan's Kitimat modernization project.
Alcan is committing $3 billion to upgrade its aluminum smelter there.
"We have spent the last 40 days travelling from the Baltic Sea, through the Panama Canal and up the west coast," said Bridgemans president Brian Grange.
"We plan to use the next week to 10 days getting ready for the trip up to Kitimat.”
More than 150 workers will retrofit the ship at Seaspan's Vancouver dry dock over the next weeks at a cost of at least $4 million, according to Grange.
About $1 million in food supplies will then be loaded on board.
The 171-metre ship will be rebranded as the Delta Spirit Lodge and will house about 600 construction workers, which Bridgemans says will help relieve stress on the local economy caused by a shortage of rental accommodation in Kitimat,
The rental shortage has been pushing up prices for longtime residents.