Prince of Whales Whale Watching says it is ordering a second $3.5-million catamaran due to a successful season.
The first custom-built 78-foot (21 metres) vessel was introduced earlier this year. Employees say the vessel was designed to be environmentally-friendly and state-of-the-art.
“She [the vessel] has no external propellers or drives that could harm any type of wildlife and her narrow twin hulls and shallow draught allow us to safety transit shallow reefs in the Salish Sea and bring our guests closer to all of what nature has to show us,” Prince of Whales Fleet Capt. Ian Kyle said in the statement.
The second vessel is slated to be completed in spring 2019, and there is a possible option for a third vessel to launch in 2020 depending on how successful the next seasons are.
The Salish Sea Dream, the current catamaran, had been running routes between Victoria, the Butchart Gardens and Vancouver since its introduction to the fleet. It is currently stationed in Vancouver and will return soon to Victoria for winter tours.
The first vessel was built in Port Angeles in Washington state. ABD Enterprises of North Vancouver has been contracted to build the second ship.
Once the second vessel is introduced, it will be stationed in Vancouver and the other in Victoria.
It’s 95-passenger capacity is equivalent to around eight Zodiacs.
“If you look at the overall carbon footprint per passenger this vessel, holding 95 people with the more efficient slender hulls and ultra-jet propulsion system on it, is a much more efficient vessel than the previous ‘ocean magic’ vessels we are using,” said Ben Duthie, operations, human resources and marketing for Prince of Whales.
It was less than a year ago when a Prince of Whales vessel struck a humpback whale and sent two passengers to hospital in an older boat. The company stressed that it is currently following the new 200-metre distance requirement early that will be mandatory by spring 2018.
Duthie says the company is happy to be abiding by those guidelines and is glad the new vessels will allow ongoing clear visibility.
“The new platform being higher-up in the water will allow us to keep our respectful distance while maintaining the viewing experience that was previously given to customers from being closer, the higher up you get the better focal view.” said Duthie.