New Marine Atlantic ferry Atlantic Vision christened

Vision enhancement

Published on December 12, 2008

With white table cloths, granite floors, four times as many cabins as the other ferries and a hot tub, Capt, Stan Peet says the province's new passenger ferry is sure to impress.

Marine Atlantic's new ferry was officially re-named the Atlantic Vision Thursday.

"You get that real cruise ship feel as you walk around because it's very well-appointed and it's very visually attractive. That was certainly our first impression with the vessel when we first walked on board," Peet said while he conducted a tour of the ship.

With white table cloths, granite floors, four times as many cabins as the other ferries and a hot tub, Capt, Stan Peet says the province's new passenger ferry is sure to impress.

Marine Atlantic's new ferry was officially re-named the Atlantic Vision Thursday.

"You get that real cruise ship feel as you walk around because it's very well-appointed and it's very visually attractive. That was certainly our first impression with the vessel when we first walked on board," Peet said while he conducted a tour of the ship.

The Atlantic Vision recently pulled into port after a transatlantic crossing from its previous operations as a ferry between Estonia, Finland and Germany.

The vessel was built in 2002 in Germany, and has been chartered by Marine Atlantic until 2013. At 203 metres the Atlantic Vision is slightly longer than Marine Atlantic's Joseph and Clara Smallwood and the Caribou, and will be able to operate in the same weather conditions.

Lt.-Gov. John Crosbie's wife, Jane, attended the naming ceremony and with, Danielle Locke, the winner of Marine Atlantic's name the vessel contest, officially named the vessel and released the bottle of champagne to smash on the ferry's side.

"It's not every day we get to do this, to enhance our fleet and increase our capacity, so this is certainly a proud occasion for everyone at this corporation," said Wayne Follett, president and CEO of Marine Atlantic.

The Atlantic Vision has the capacity to take 531 passenger cars on four vehicle decks, and can take a maximum of 1,054 people, including crew.

Sr. Chief Steward Lloyd Ford says they have beds for 662 passengers, so they hope to offer sleeping accommodations on the day as well as night voyages from Port aux Basques during operations in 2009.

"I think we've got enough cabins for everyone. I don't think there'll be a night travelling where you won't get a place to sleep," Ford says.

Deluxe cabins on the top level of the ferry are like small hotel rooms with a double bed, window and desk. Marine Atlantic is looking for a private business to operate the spa that is also on the top level, equipped with a massage table, men and women's sauna and a hot tub.

The hot tub is in a large blue-tiled open area with windows to port and starboard and a large domed skylight directly above the pool. Peet says the spa is truly the "jewel in the crown" of the vessel.

On the passenger deck there is a marble reception desk, granite floors, and public Internet access in a tourism kiosk that will be available during crossings.

The main lounge area is in the fore of the ship, with large wrap-around, red plaid sofas that do not have arm rests between the seats.

Wide windows in the lounge look out over the bow, allowing passengers to watch as the ship approaches its destination.

"If you're leaving Nova Scotia at four o'clock at the night and you're coming towards Port aux Basques and we get a lovely sunny day coming in, you can see the table mountains of Newfoundland. It'll be a real treat for the passengers," Ford says.

Passengers can eat at an all-hours canteen, an all-you-can-eat buffet with white table cloths or in a formal dining setting with full table service.

"We're changing direction, and it's the right direction as far as I'm concerned. Little things like a white table cloth and a napkin, it's the right way to go for our department," Ford says.

Peet says he's not worried about the wine glasses during the often-stormy crossing to Nova Scotia after how the vessel took hurricane-force winds during the Atlantic crossing.

"We were estimating some of the seas to be 12 to 15 metres in height, in the 40-foot range, and it was quite extreme, and the vessel handled it very well," he says.

Commercial vehicle traffic makes up a large portion of Marine Atlantic's business and so the vessel has a separate trucker's lounge, and truckers' cabins with private televisions.

nbell@thetelegram.com

nbell@thetelegram.com