Just over two years since the announcement of the signing of a contract for a brand-new 300-seat boat to add to its famous existing fleet, MV ‘Swift’ has been formally handed over to Winander Leisure Limited by Damen Shipyards Gorinchem BV. The new vessel is to be operated by Windermere Lake Cruises Limited.
The construction of the new vessel was completed this summer, followed by successful lake trials earlier this month. MV ‘Swift’ becomes the largest new craft to sail on England’s longest lake for more than 80 years and has been designed with accessibility and comfort in-mind, complete with heated windows, electric doors and windows, toilets, USB and electrical sockets.
Chairman of Windermere Lake Cruises, Bill Bewley says, “MV Swift is the perfect way to welcome our visitors to Windermere and the wider Lake District. Designed to operate in all seasons, our fantastic new vessel, built by Damen Group, will enhance the quality of our visitors’ experience thanks to 21st century quality, comfort and accessibility.
“It is true that while completion of the vessel came at a time of significant economic uncertainty due to the Coronavirus pandemic, the designation of the Lake District National Park as a World Heritage Site means we are confident that the Lake District’s visitor economy has a bright long term future and we believe that the MV Swift will have an important role to play in the area’s economic recovery.”
In the last month, the five Windermere Lake Cruises Masters who will skipper the MV ‘Swift’ have been receiving intensive training under a training package arranged through Damen Group. Due to the vessel having ‘state of the art’ propulsion and steering systems, which give her such superb handling characteristics, training was delivered by a Captain with years of experience of these type of vessels.
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 her to access smaller jetties around Windermere to help support other businesses in the area.
Managing Director of Windermere Lake Cruises, Nigel Wilkinson, says, “This has been a very significant investment for our company, with the project taking a little over three years from conception to delivery. It is a credit to Damen Group that they have been able to deliver this vessels notwithstanding the fact that the fitout and completion of the vessel has had to take place during the Covid-19 pandemic we have faced since the start of the year.
“It’s a testament to all involved that we have reached this milestone and we would like to record our appreciation to all those who have played their part in the construction and delivery of this superb vessel. Particular thanks are due to the team at Damen Group, who designed and built the vessel, to James Fisher and Sons plc for their technical input and supervision and to our colleagues at Winander Leisure Limited and Windermere Lake Cruises Limited who have been involved in the project. We would also like to thank our neighbours at Lakeside who have been so supportive during the site assembly of the vessel. We’re all tremendously excited to offer this fantastic new addition to our fleet and are confident that the MV ‘Swift’ will be incredibly popular with passengers, as the best way to experience of England’s longest lake, for many years to come.”
The vessel has been handed over by Damen Shipyards Gorinchem BV to Winander Leisure Limited following the completion of a thorough inspection and survey by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency and the granting of the boat’s Passenger Certificate. The vessel will be crewed and operated by Windermere Lake Cruises Limited.
Mike Besijn from Damen Group, says, “I am very happy to be delivering this special vessel. Working together on this with Windermere Lake Cruises, we have made the project into a success. This is a very unique way of building a vessel, requiring a lot of flexibility and we could not have done it without the support of our customer. Their operational experience has been priceless to us throughout the construction process. I would particularly like to thank managing director Nigel Wilkinson and operations director John Woodburn for the excellent cooperation. It’s been a pleasure to work with them.”
It is hoped that the MV ‘Swift’ will start operating scheduled passenger services during the forthcoming October 2020 half term period.