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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
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
: Click on the country
for more information :
United States of America
These vessels have been converted from steamers,
usually as an economy measure undertaken when the original boiler was requiring
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.
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.
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) :
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
STERN-WHEEL PADDLE STEAMERS
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