White Fleet of Modern TimesCruising on pleasure boats goes back a long way on the large lakes of Central Europe. There has been a so-called White Fleet in Switzerland for more than 175 years. But the Lake Lucerne Navigation Company (SGV) always moves with the times. The latest generation of passenger boats has the countenance of a superyacht and is designed by the Bremenhaven company, judel/vrolijk & co – design GmbH from the DEUTSCHE YACHTEN, Superyacht Germany working group. Following on from the trailblazer “MS Saphir”, the SGV now has its flagship under construction.
The 63.50-metre-long jewel has the working name of “MS 2017” and should be launched to the public on 4th May of next year. It is currently being fitted out in the Lucerne shipyard owned by Shiptec AG, part of the SGV Group. The smaller 50-metre, sister boat, “Saphir”, also designed by judel/vrolijk, had already attracted a large amount of interest at its launch in 2012 and, since then, delights up to 300 passengers on the mountain lake at the foot of the Alps.
In contrast, on the large “MS 2017”, up to 1000 passengers will be able enjoy themselves on the generous decks, measuring a total of 1400 m2. And that means much more than just the panoramic view of the wonderful lakeshore of the Rigi mountain area in central Switzerland. On board, the enjoyment even extends to below the water, as the Jules-Vernes-style Nautilus room has two rows of windows on each side - one above water and one below. A spiral staircase leads from the bow saloon to the underwater world.
No less spectacular is the Compass lounge and bar on the top sun deck. There is a revolving platform there, which can be turned so that it always faces north irrespective of the direction of travel, for example. But all sorts of turning profiles can be programmed into it. On the fourth deck out of five, a foot tub is set in the floor of a small water terrace at the stern. This is constantly fed with fresh seawater from a small waterfall so that everyone can use it for health and spa-type treatments.
The lockable interior gallery has a glass dome - the gallery eye - and also takes the form of a platform which can be raised or lowered between the two main decks. This individualises the atmosphere according to each booking. In this way it can be used for business events and private groups as well as day trips for individual passengers. As on the SBB Swiss state railway, you can choose between first and second class. One example of the difference between the classes is the use of full-grain leather instead of upholstery on the same type of chair among the 400 banquet-style seats in the four restaurant areas, two on each deck.
This new concept of designing a tourist pleasure boat as a superyacht for the general public has already resulted in a noticeable increase in passenger numbers with the “MS Saphir”. “It’s not by chance that the elegantly flowing, curved lines resemble those of a megayacht’s design”, explains Jan Kuhnert, the designer responsible for this latest creation. “Seemingly floating structures epitomise the lightness without abandoning reference to the existing fleet on Lake Lucerne.”
“The collaboration with the constructors and boat builders at Shiptec AG is extremely close and productive”, says Torsten Conradi, managing director of judel/vrolijk & Co. As the head of the company, he also places emphasis on the synergies in the DEUTSCHE YACHTEN, Superyacht Germany working group: for example the very light and durable Duflex panels for the sun deck come from vdl Composites, owned by member M. und H. von der Linden from Wesel.
This is a component of the type of construction used on new boats fitted with a diesel-electric drive system (hybrid), and which are designed to be highly energy-efficient. The “MS 2017” will have two 405 kW diesel engines and two 180 kW electric motors. The hull shape has been tank-tested in order to keep consumption as low as possible. With a beam of 13.50 metres, the gross weight is only about 400 tons.
The commercial division, which currently has four more innovative day-trip excursion boats on its order books, is another jewel in the Bremerhaven-based designer’s crown. judel/vrolijk & co became renowned on the worldwide stage mainly due to its winning racing yachts. It stands for the fast lines of former Admiral’s Cup boats as well as current racers in the IRC and one-design classes, as well as numerous megayacht cruisers.