Windermere Lake Cruises’ brand-new 300-seat passenger boat MV ‘Swift’ has today taken to the water for the first time. The vessel will now be fitted out before being handed over after Easter 2020 for crew training to commence.
The multi-million pound vessel is expected to be in service from the mid 2020 season, after this week becoming the largest craft to be ‘launched’ onto Windermere for more than 80 years.
The size of the vessel meant it was necessary to build smaller sections off-site first, before being transported to Lakeside for final assembly over the last six months. This morning (December 11), ‘Swift’ was carefully lowered onto the lake for the first time in the presence of special guests and members of the press who were able to witness the historic moment from The Lakeside Hotel & Spa, many of whom travelled to the launch site on a complimentary train thanks to the Lakeside & Haverthwaite Railway.
Like Windermere Lake Cruises’ existing flagship ‘steamers’ MV Swan and MV Teal, the new vessel boasts three decks but is slightly shorter in length to enable it to access smaller jetties to help support other businesses in the area.
Chairman of Windermere Lake Cruises, Bill Bewley says, “The new vessel has been designed to operate in all seasons, 364 days a year (every day except Christmas day), will increase the quality of the visitors’ experience thanks to 21st century quality, comfort, accessibility and will enhance the sustainable transport network in the central Lake District.
“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 make a multi-million pound investment in this new vessel.
“It’s not only an opportunity to ensure our highly-valued passengers continue to enjoy comfortable journeys with us but will also help visitors sustainably experience the full 10.5-mile length of Windermere, its surrounding countryside and attractions without having to rely on their cars.
“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 is also equipped with a number of features not-present on our existing fleet”.
The vessel has been built by Netherlands-based company, Damen, following the signing of the contract with the boat-builder at the end of March. Nearby residents and followers of Windermere Lake Cruises on social media have been kept up-to-date with MV Swift’s progress through a special blog, which you can see here.
Sales Manager from Damen, Mike Besijn adds “Damen Shipyards Group is incredibly proud to build a vessel in the UK for the first time in the company’s history. This project is a great example of how British and Dutch companies can work together. We are grateful for this opportunity and hope that this demonstrates our capabilities in order that we can support future ship building projects in the UK. Working with Windermere Lake Cruises and their team has been and continues to be a joy.”
Bill continued, “We would like to extend our gratitude to residents of the Lakeside area who have been very supportive of this fantastic project to help move the Lake District forward in yet another sustainable way.
“We are also 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 in 2020.”
Further announcements about when members of the public will be able to enjoy a cruise on MV Swift will be made by Windermere Lake Cruises in the coming months.