Clipper introduces larger, faster vessel to Victoria-Seattle route

Passengers traveling to Seattle via catamaran can expect a smoother trip now that Victoria Clipper has upgraded its service.

The route will be serviced by Clipper V, a 579-seat catamaran that had been working in the North Sea between Hamburg and Heligoland in Germany, as part of the fleet owned by Clipper Vacation’s parent company, FRS.

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The catamaran has a galley that can serve hot food, a gift shop, duty-free service and three classes of seating, including comfort class with a private cabin area where snacks are offered.

“It’s the first time we’ve been able to have a class system, so we have a comfort class which is our version of business class,” says CEO David Gudgel.

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In addition to larger, leather seating, the $20-seating upgrade will provide spectacular views, he says. “The view from the forward portion of the upper deck is just phenomenal.”

The 52-metre vessel is the fastest in Clipper’s fleet, traveling up to 36 knots. It is 12 metres longer and 2.5 metres wider than the original Clipper I. It also has a motion-dampening system that will allow it to operate in weather that would otherwise have forced cancellation of sailings.

“It’s a much more stable platform and it has technology to give it a better ride,” says Gudgel. “The wave-piercing hull design has two large bulbous bows from each of the hulls and a motion dampening system that is a gyroscopically driven wing under each one of the hulls that will help us provide a more stable ride.”

The faster top speed means Clipper V will be able to maintain schedules more easily, says Gudgel.

Clipper V was originally brought in by the Seattle-based company for the launch of a new service between Victoria’s Inner Harbour and Vancouver’s Coal Harbour.

But late last year the company announced it had cancelled plans for that passenger service due to “unexpected operational costs” in Vancouver.

The 330-seat Clipper I kicked off Victoria-to-Seattle service 31 years ago and is considered a key driver in the region’s tourism industry.

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