Dutch shipbuilding giant Damen Shipyards Group N.V. has cut the first steel for a 34-metre long Day Cruise Vessel for Windermere Lake Cruises, located in England’s Lake District National Park.
Damen and Windermere Lake Cruises have planned the vessel construction process in close consultation with local authorities and residents to minimise the impact on this protected and environmentally sensitive area, which is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Windermere Lake Cruises currently runs a fleet of sixteen lake cruising vessels: three traditional ‘steamers’ – each with a capacity of more than 350 passengers – as well as other traditional and modern launches.
The fleet operates all year round, taking passengers on tours, day trips and evening functions on the Lake District’s largest lake, Lake Windermere. The role of the company in the local economy cannot be overstated: more than 1.6 million passenger journeys are taken every year, making Windermere Lake Cruises one the most popular attractions in the UK.
To accommodate this consistent and extensive growth in visitor numbers, and enhance the sustainable transport offering on Windermere, Bill Bewley, Chairman Windermere Lake Cruises explains that the company felt that it was time to increase the size of the fleet. Assisted by James Fisher PLC, Windermere Lake Cruises first approached UK-based shipyards. “However, it soon became clear in the procurement process that the shipyard with the depth of experience to undertake this project, within the cost and timescale requirements, was Damen,” he adds.
The resulting design and construction contract with Damen detailed numerous specifications relating to the rather extraordinary inland location of Lake Windermere.
In terms of design, says Damen Jan van Ooijen, Design & Proposal Engineer Ferries, it was important that this new ‘one-of-a-kind’ vessel not only matches the looks of the existing fleet and heritage of this area, but also stands out as being a technologically modern lake cruising vessel. “This diesel-electric vessel – to be named Swift – will have four-star comfort seating capacity for 300 passengers,” he says. “It will be fully accessible by wheelchair and the top deck can be opened or closed, depending on what the weather decides.”