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PADDLE STEAMERS IN PASSENGER SERVICE : Side-wheel paddlers
The steamers (and motor paddlers), where they sail, who operates them and who supports them : links to detailed information, photos and official websites

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Above: Waverley at Ilfracombe, Devon on 7th June 2009 by kind courtesy of Kenny Whyte

Waverley, in the UK, is the world's last sea-going paddle steamer and the only one now offering coastal cruises. All other European paddlers now only operate on large rivers or on lakes with the exceptions of Freya which operates in northern Germany generally keeping to the Kiel Canal and Elbe estuaries, the UK's Kingswear Castle, which itself keeps to estuarine waters, and the UK's very small paddler Monarch, which are the only other "salt-water" paddlers. Some paddle steamers are retained in their original fleets, others are now owned and operated by preservation groups. In a number of cases, enthusiasts have restored decommissioned paddle steamers and subcontracted operation back to their original owners. Freya is remarkable in having been bought by a commercial operator many years after she was restored by an enthusiast and operated as part of their fleet.


Click here for genuine stern-wheel (Mississippi-style) paddle steamers which are listed separately


PADDLE STEAMERS


Please note : ships may be out of operation either because it is out of season, the ships are undergoing repair or might be out of service for longer lasting restoration work. Please check with the ship operators for the current status


United Kingdom
Waverley
Kingswear Castle
Monarch
Switzerland
Uri
Unterwalden
Schiller
Gallia
Stadt Luzern
Montreux
La Suisse
Savoie
Simplon
Rhone

Blumlisalp
Lotschberg
Stadt Zurich
Stadt Rapperswil
Neuchatel
Germany
Stadt Wehlen
Diesbar
Meissen
Krippen
Pillnitz
Kurort Rathen
Pirna
Dresden
Leipzig

Kaiser Wilhelm
Weserstolz
Freya
Austria
Gisela
Schonbrunn
Hohentwiel
Italy
Concordia
Patria
Piemonte
Netherlands
De Majesteit
Czech Republic
Vysehrad
Vltava
Sirius
Romania
Tudor Vladimirescu
Borcea
Norway
Skibladner
Denmark
Skibladner
Sweden
Erik Nordevall II

Although manyDanube paddle steamers (including Schonbrunn) were fitted with limited overnight accommodation, Russian river ships have traditionally had considerable cabin accommodation and were originally used for passenger (and some freight) transport over long distances in remoter parts of northern Russia and Siberia. Although generaly no longer on these runs they still provide for longer cruises rather than day excursions

Russia
N V Gogol
Krasnoyarsk


Other Countries (non-European) : Click on the country for more information :

United States of America

Canada

Australia
New Zealand
Egypt
Bangladesh
Burma
North Korea


MOTOR PADDLE VESSELS (CONVERTED FROM STEAM)

Goethe St Goar 2000.jpg


These vessels have been converted from steamers, usually as an economy measure undertaken when the original boiler was requiring replacement. The dates of conversion are shown in the column "MPV". The Year column shows the date of original construction.
The uproar which accompanied the decision of the Rhine's KD company to convert Goethe (seen at St Goar in 2000, above) to diesel operation after the 2008 season raised the question as to whether such ships have any real value. In Goethe's case she had only recently been "modernised" and although a fine ship, had very little of historical value left in her. Many enthusiasts declared that the converted Goethe would turn the Rhein into a type of Disneyland and vowed not to sail on the ship (or any other KD vessel) again.
Some of the earlier conversions were understandable : nostalgia for steam was still not a factor and it would have been a matter of scrapping the ship outright if the new technology had not been fitted. At least in these cases, the historical fabric of the ships remained. The Dutch vessel, Kapitein Kok, had diesels fitted to an old and almost derelict vessel - in reality, the only way the historical ship would have found a new life.


Switzerland
Vevey
Italie
Helvetie (out of service long term)
Germany
Goethe
Ludwig Fessler
Austria
Kaiser Franz Josef I
Italy
G Zanardelli
Italia
Netherlands
Kapitein Anna
Bulgaria
Radetzky
Ukraine
Bogdan Khmelnitskiy

MOTOR PADDLE VESSELS (BUILT AS MOTOR SHIPS)


By the time diesel power became widely available for excusion ships in the late 1920s, new ships around most of Europe were screw-driven. Only on the Clyde in the UK did the London & North Eastern Railway experiment with diesel electric drive for their paddler "Talisman" of 1935. Their attempt was not entirely successful, although on Switzerland's lake Geneva a number of paddlers received diesel drives with various methods of transferring power to the paddle shaft and several of these sail on today (see above).
The Austrian DDSG's Stadt Wien and Stadt Passau (now Grof Szechenyi), with geared diesel drives, were unusual and unique. The experiment with diesels and paddles was not repeated until Elias Lonnrot (1986) which replicated an older steamer but with a more economical propulsion system. Diesels were also chosen for the brand new "Herrsching" (2002, see photo taken in 2003, above) on Germany's Ammersee and when "Diessen" on the same lake was heavily rebuilt in 2006 she was re-engined with diesels rather than her old steam engines which had been removed in 1975.
MPV Stadt Wien and Grof Szechenyi have cabins for overnight accommodation but these ships are no longer used on original service pattern so these are not used in service. Stadt Wien is open for overnight accommodation at Tulln, Austria.

Austria
Stadt Wien
Hungary
Grof Szechenyi
MOTOR PADDLE VESSELS (MODERN VESSELS CONCEIVED IN "RETRO" STYLE)

Some have said that building modern paddle steamers in "retro" style is basically creating a pastiche with no real soul or legitimacy. This is surely true for many of the numerous sternwheelers built worldwide in recent years, but can it be also said of the Ammersee's "Herrsching"?  She is a fine paddler, modern yet with reference to traditional styling, but without steam engines does she have a heart and soul ? When it came to replacing the worn out paddler Diessen, the same operators decided not to scrap the ship but build a new one incorporating much of the old. In reality she is a new ship and reinstalling her original steam engines which are held in a museum was rejected on cost grounds.


Finland
Elias Lonnrot

France
Molly Brown
Inexplosible No 22

Hungary

Kisfaludy

Germany

Herrsching
Diessen
Concordia II
Poland
Gloria Mechanica

MOTOR CRUISE VESSELS WITH ACCOMMODATION

River cruising using luxury boats with passenger accommodation for on-board holidays, often up to two weeks in length, has become increasingly popular in Europe. Whilst Danube paddlers such as Stadt Passau and Stadt Wien were built primarily as transport ships, these are purely leisure holiday cruise boats and are familiar sights on the Rhine, Moselle and Danube in particular. A modern phenomenon, they have been built with the most modern propulsion systems and employed diesel engines. 

One ship is remarkable in that side paddle-wheel propulsion was chosen for this otherwise state-of the art vessel (her owners have also commissioned a similar vessel with stern-wheel propulsion for a different operating area to commence in the 2016 season) :

LOIRE PRINCESSE

A new ship was put into service in 2015 with sections being built by Mecasoud at St Nazaire (France) for use on the River Loire in France. The 90-metre long ship, designed by Stirling Design International (SDI) and assembled at the STX dry dock provides luxury twin berths for 96 passengers and very much follows the lines of modern European river boats - long and low, to pass under the large number of low bridges on European rivers. Remarkably, however, this ship, named Loire Princesse, has two side paddle wheels and all documentation and advertising for the vessel indicates that these will be the primary means of propulsion, powered by 2 x 500 HP diesel engines wkith direct drive to the wheels. The wheels are to be 4.5 metres in diameter. The designer's information regarding the choice of paddle wheels for the vessel was that they were the most suitable as the River Loire is very shallow in places  - and this technology gives the first opportunity to use a boat of this size on the river. The draught is reported to be only 80 cm (approx 3 feet). Manoevrability will be aided by waterjet thrusters fore and aft.

Loire Princesse is operated by the CroisiEurope company and is expected to sail as far upstream as Angers

Designers presentation :   http://www.stirlingdesign.fr/presses/press_release/stirling_design_croisieurope_2014_02_fr.pdf

During the opening 2015 season, Loire Princesse encountered a number of difficulties coping with the currents on the Loire and reportedly had to resort to being "pushed" by a small motor boat on occasion


MISCELLANEOUS SMALLER PADDLE VESSELS
including private "hobby" steamboats : see main website page for more


ABOARD PADDLE STEAMERS
All aboard queue.jpg
All Aboard
We take a detailed look around some of our paddle steamers, going on deck, looking into the deck houses, cafeteria and restaurant and, of course, the attraction specific to paddle steamers : the engines.
All Aboard - click here

STERN-WHEEL PADDLE STEAMERS



Paddlers with a large wheel at the back of the ship are typically associated with the USA and large shallow rivers such as the Mississippi and its tributaries. The design has been copied for use as tourist boats worldwide. 
A separate section of this database is dedicated to stern-wheeled paddle steamers........
More.

In view of the large number of modern motor powered excursion ships with stern wheels, whether for propulsion or primarily for show, this database is limited to ships built as genuine steamships and to steamers subsequently converted to diesel operation.

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