The venerable Bay of Fundy ferry Princess of Acadia was sailing her final miles as the last days of July slipped away. Her much-anticipated replacement – the newly rechristened Fundy Rose – was undergoing a final and thorough round of sea trials to make sure everything was in readiness for her first revenue trip, which at long last took place on the morning of July 28.
The Fundy Rose – while not a brand-new ship – is some 30 years younger than the aging Princess. Purchased last year by the federal government for $44.6 million, the 124-metre ferry spent the winter in Halifax undergoing a main engine overhaul, extensive interior refurbishment, and upgrades to hydraulic and control systems before being turned over to operator Bay Ferries Limited in early July.
Bay Ferries vice-president Danny Bartlett noted that it had originally been hoped that the new vessel would have entered service in the spring. But with her delayed debut taking place in the peak tourism season, the company considered it prudent to take extra time to do everything possible to ensure a smooth and seamless transition – free from mechanical or other issues that could rain on the inaugural parade.
The Fundy Rose was formally introduced to communities on both sides of the bay before she began transporting passengers and vehicles. Transport Minister Lisa Raitt was on hand for ceremonies and open house events in Saint John and Digby on July 15.
Mr. Bartlett says the new ship offers considerably more in the way of amenities than her predecessor – and visitors taking the tour during the preview events appeared to be suitably impressed. Equipped with bow thruster and stabilizer fins, she’ll be also better equipped to deal with adverse weather.
The one shortcoming is a smaller capacity for tractor-trailers than the Princess – 16 units versus 22. But Bay Ferries plans to offset this by taking advantage of the new vessel’s faster cruising speed to schedule additional crossings in periods of high demand.