Windermere Lake Cruises has signed a contract to make a multi-million pound investment in a brand-new 300-seat boat to add to its famous existing fleet.
MV ‘Swift’ is expected to be in service from the mid 2020 season, making it the largest craft to be ‘launched’ onto Windermere for more than 80 years.
The new vessel has been designed to operate in all seasons, 364 days a year and will increase the quality of the visitors’ experience thanks to 21st century quality, comfort and accessibility. Like Windermere Lake Cruises’ existing flagship ‘steamers’ MV Swan and MV Teal, the new vessel will boast three decks but will be slightly shorter in length to enable it to access smaller jetties to help support other businesses in the area.
The first cutting of the steel took place on 9 April 2019, with construction expected to be complete in approximately 17 months.
Chairman of Windermere Lake Cruises, Bill Bewley says; “We are ranked by Visit England as one of the top 10 ‘paid for’ visitor attractions in the country and we are always striving to improve the visitor experience, hence the decision to invest in a new vessel.
“It’s not only an opportunity to ensure our passengers continue to enjoy comfortable journeys with us but will also help visitors experience the full 10.5-mile length of the lake, its surrounding countryside and attractions. Without having to rely on their cars to accomplish that, it forms an important part of the sustainable transport network.
“We also wanted to make other existing stop-off points along the lake more accessible to our passengers. ‘Swift’ has therefore been designed to easily access piers such as private jetties at hotels including Low Wood Bay Resort & Spa, which until now have been unable to accommodate our larger vessels. As well as being fully accessible and designed to operate all year round, MV Swift will also be equipped with a number of features not present on our existing fleet.”
The vessel is being built by Netherlands-based company, Damen, following the signing of the contract with the boat-builder at the end of March.
Damen Sales Manager Arjen van Elk, says, “Damen Shipyards Group is very pleased to be building this new vessel for Windermere Lake Cruises. We are proud of the trust they have placed in us to build for them a unique boat that reflects the heritage of the company while providing customers with the comfort and safety of the modern sailing experience. We are very much looking forward to carrying out the construction on location in the beautiful Lake District National Park. We are experienced in such projects; with the Damen Technical Cooperation we build our vessels, not only in our own shipyards, but at locations all over the world.”
Bill Bewley added: “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. In its 92-year history, Damen has grown from a boat-building business operated by two brothers from a shed by the family home, to a company which builds around 180 vessels every year, with 12,000 employees. We’re very excited to be working with them.”
The size of the vessel means it is necessary to build it in smaller sections off-site before being transported to Lakeside for final assembly.
Bill continued, “This significant investment is being made at a time of economic uncertainty, however following the designation of the Lake District National Park as a World Heritage Site, we believe that the Lake District’s visitor economy has a bright future.
“We are pleased to report that the arrival of the new vessel will create additional employment opportunities for both permanent and seasonal staff and we look forward to welcoming passengers onboard.”
Earlier this month, Windermere Lake Cruises published its summer timetable, covering sailings by its existing fleet between now and 31 October 2019.