MAY 2, 2016 — In response to interest from clients in the fast-growing expedition cruise market, Damen Shipyards has teamed up with Douglas, Isle of Man, headquartered Expedition Voyage Consultants Ltd. to develop a specialist Damen cruise ship, with capacity for around 100 passengers.
The ship will combine Expedition Voyage Consultants' operational experience with Damen's shipbuilding knowhow.
"This expedition ship will be a significant advance in the market, making it possible for expedition companies to deliver their customers the best expedition experience," says Henk Grunstra, Damen Product Director. "This ship will be able to offer innovative and exciting itineraries with a higher level of safety, economy and comfort. Capable of visiting virtually any destination, the design will offer cruise lines the option of including activities such as helicopter operations and submersible diving alongside traditional small boat landings and watersports. Innovative design features for smooth operations and an immersive guest experience will be incorporated from the experience of Expedition Voyage Consultants."
The expedition cruise sector, which has seen unprecedented expansion into remote destinations.
"Expedition cruising requires small, comfortable and highly capable vessels that customers can be confident in, no matter if they are cruising Polynesia or the Northwest Passage," says Mr. Grunstra. "With the existing tonnage aging and environmental regulations tightening, it is important that operators have vessels they can rely on well into the future."
This partnership follows a successful cooperation with Expedition Voyage Consultants' sister company, EYOS Expeditions, which resulted in Damen developing the world's first Polar Code compliant expedition yacht – the SeaXplorer.
Ben Lyons, Chief Executive Officer of Expedition Voyage Consultants Ltd. and EYOS Expeditions says: "This vessel will be capable of taking expedition cruise passengers beyond the usual range in terms of both geography and experience. The vessel's high ice capability and endurance make her globally capable, and she will be equally at home in the tropics or polar waters. She is designed to be a multi-functional platform equipped with all of the tools an operator might need."
Expedition Voyage Consultants Ltd. says its team has a collective 100+ years of experience in the expedition cruise business. During that time, the team has sailed aboard a wide range of commercial expedition vessels ranging from icebreakers to luxury cruise ships.
"An expedition vessel should be able to reach remote destinations safely and deliver a super experience in often challenging conditions. Because the ship's design effects the experience of the guests, whether that be how quickly they can reach shore or how safely operations can be run in all types of weather, capability matters," says Mr. Lyons. "We'll take our collective experience, gained from a wide variety of vessels, and apply the best features we've seen to this design. Combining that operational knowledge with Damen's expertise will create a highly functional and reliable vessel purpose built for expedition cruising, and it is very exciting to be able to incorporate these operational elements into the design from the first line."
Mr. Grunstra adds, "This partnership brings two industry leaders together; Damen has unparalleled experience from building over 5,500 vessels, including complex vessels such as passenger ships, offshore patrol vessels, sail training vessels and superyachts. EVC has decades of expedition knowledge operating voyages from the polar regions to the remotest tropical islands. Combining this will create an exceptional product."
The final design will be unveiled in the fall.