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Alaska Marine Pilots Concerned About Royal Princess’ Maneuverability in Alaska



The Southeast Alaska Pilots Association (SEAPA) is concerned with how well one mega-cruise ship will be able to maneuver the state this season.

Marine pilots from the association tested the limits of four mega-ships – the Norwegian Bliss and its sister ship, Royal Caribbean’s Ovation of the Seas and Princess Cruises’ Royal Princess – that will be visiting southeast Alaska through virtual reality.

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While the Ovation of the Seas will be the largest ship to ever visit Alaska, the marine pilots were far more concerned with Royal Princess.

“Overall the simulations (for the Royal Princess) produced serious challenges in wind and current conditions common to Southeast Alaska,” the pilots wrote in a report.

Apparently, the Royal Princess doesn’t do well at low speeds especially with its standard propulsion system which uses propellers and rudders. Azipod propulsion is used in the three other ships.

Keir Moorhead, an engineer who teaches at California State University Maritime Academy explained, “With an Azipod-style propulsion, the propeller is actually on a pod below the ship, and what you can do is rotate that pod.”

“At any given moment, you can rotate a propeller 360 degrees to give you thrust in any direction,” Moorhead said, indicating that it allows big ships to maneuver in tight spots at lower speeds.

The SEAPA suggests that Royal Princess doesn’t attempt to pass through the Tongass Narrow, which is only 220-meters-wide, at more than 15 knots of wind (though there is a 7-knot speed limit for this area). With little room to maneuver through this pass to get to Ketchikan port, the cruise ship could have some trouble.

In response, Princess Cruises’ vice president of fleet operations, Keith Taylor said, “While we appreciate SEAPA’s (Southeast Alaska Pilots Association) efforts to date, we believe the model they used to assess this ship requires further refinement. There are three Royal Class ships operating safely around the globe, in many challenging navigational areas.”

While it doesn’t appear that Princess Cruises is too concerned, hopefully, all goes well on Royal Princess’ first visit to southeast Alaska on May 13.

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European Waterways Barge Cruises Are Ideal for Family Vacations



European Waterways offers the perfect solution to socially distant family travel in Europe.

As the coronavirus pandemic begins to wane and countries begin to reopen their borders to international travelers, families are expected to look to travel to reconnect with one another, and European Waterways is ready for the surge, offering the ideal opportunity for families to explore on private, chartered river barges.

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Derek Banks, managing director of European Waterways, says that he is already observing increasing interest.

This isn’t surprising seeing as how these vessels offer ideal accommodations for families, with room for anywhere between six and 20 passengers. Guests can cruise Europe’s canals and smaller waterways as well as the less-populated countryside.

“Cruising with European Waterways has always been about taking ‘the path less traveled,’ so much of our outdoor activities already take our guests away from crowded tourist attractions to the more exclusive, less populated settings,” said Banks. “Until travel returns to normal, we are further committed to providing a safe and healthy onboard environment for our guests, with pre-cruise checks for all on-board and the implementation of more stringent cleaning procedures, among other policies.”

Social distancing will likely be the norm for a while in Europe and around the world, and these barges offer the chance to enjoy scenery while still remaining safe.

For the most part, meals are served on board by the master chef and cruises feature exclusive private tours of castles, aristocratic estates and vineyards, plus other excursions, tailored to avoid the crowds.

L’Art de Vivre is the ideal barge for a family vacation. The eight-passenger vessel once carried supplies during World War One. Now, the boat has been completely modernized and cruises the Canal du Nivernais in Burgundy, France.

Family-friendly excursions include a visit to the Caves of Arcy-sur-Cure, which features some of the oldest cave paintings in the world, a medieval castle under construction using traditional methods at the Chateau Guedelon; the age of the dinosaurs in Cardo Land; and the fun and wildly eclectic artwork on display at the Fabuloserie Art and Sculpture Museum.

Family charters can also incorporate activities such as tennis, ice-skating and mini-golf as well as kayaking, quad biking and horseback riding.

European Waterways’ Family Charters are available throughout France, the U.K., Ireland, Scotland and Italy.

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