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|Top: The Queen of Prince Rupert on her berth on a very wet July day in Prince Rupert.|
|The Queen of Prince Rupert’s passenger accommodation is spread over three decks – as built this consisted of the Dogwood Bar and Forward Lounge forward on the Promenade Deck, leading aft to the reception area whilst the remainder of the deck was occupied by cabins. On the Boat Deck above, the restaurant was forward, with the cafeteria aft. Further passenger cabins were found aft on the Bridge Deck, as well as on the Lower Deck beneath the vehicle garage. Today, modifications undertaken throughout her career mean that on the Boat Deck the forward facilities have been combined to create one single recliner lounge, whilst aft of the reception area, cabins have been removed to create two midships seating lounges, one of which serves as a TV lounge. Unfortunately, the windows in these areas have been plated in, resulting in an unappealing space, particularly inappropriate on routes famed for the scenery! According to the crew, this decision was based purely on the prohibitive cost of replacing the glass in the windows. Cabins remain right aft, but since the Queen of the North disaster, these have been given over to crew, who have vacated all accommodation beneath the car deck. On the Boat Deck, the original restaurant forward is now the cafeteria, styled as the Coastal Café, whilst aft, the original cafeteria has had the servery facilities removed and the seating area has been partly sectioned off to create an expanded crew mess to port. The one-time passenger cabins beneath the vehicle deck are also out of use, leaving the 14 cabins on the Bridge Deck as the sole units available for passenger use.
As can be seen, therefore, the Queen of Prince Rupert is not ideal for the lengthy crossing she is now forced to serve. However, in unpredictable circumstances, BC Ferries are doing their best to minimise passenger discomfort – passenger numbers onboard are restricted to 275 as opposed to her capacity of nearer 500, and several token gestures have been introduced, including free blankets issued upon boarding, which passengers can keep, complimentary hot drinks at breakfast and free deserts at dinner. With the combination of the early start and the miserable weather which was prevailing, after departure many passengers elected to sleep wherever possible. Had the weather have been better, conditions would undoubtedly have been better onboard, but with everyone restricted inside, the Queen of Prince Rupert did feel cramped even with her limited capacity, and arguments soon broke out over ‘bagged’ seats, with the crew forced to intervene! Whilst as enthusiasts, we were enjoying the crossing, even for us, by early afternoon, things were beginning to drag. Fortunately, the hospitality of the friendly crew livened things up, as we secured a bridge visit, and then subsequently were invited to join the officers’ for dinner in the officers’ mess, prior to a comprehensive tour of the engine room and crew quarters. Eventually, after a long-day, the Queen of Prince Rupert arrived at Port Hardy just after Midnight, and we joined other foot passengers on the bus into town. [Text continues on next page]
|Click above for a Queen of Prince Rupert deckplan|
|CANADA, SUMMER 2006
Part Three continued: Queen of Prince Rupert
Prince Rupert - Port Hardy
Main text written by Richard Seville
Pictures © firstname.lastname@example.org except where stated
|Despite it’s location amidst endless spectacular scenery, Prince Rupert itself is a bland, rather depressing town, from the grid-like centre with its decaying sixties malls to the artificial and sanitised film-set that is Cow Bay, the village-esque area where the city’s cruise terminal is located. Nonetheless an excellent meal was taken in a local seafood restaurant, before an early night was had in preparation for a very early start the next day. The reason was a 05:30 departure to Port Hardy, on BC Ferries’ famed Inside Passage route. When we had booked our tickets way back in December 2005, our sailing was to have been operated by the beautiful Queen of the North. The dedicated Inside Passage ferry since 1980, the Queen of the North could complete the 274 nautical mile route in 15 hours, departing at the altogether more civilised time of 07:30 and arriving at 22:30. Of course, the tragic loss of this ship is well known and documented, as is BC Ferries’ failure to secure appropriate replacement tonnage for the 2006 season. As a result, the 1966-built Queen of Prince Rupert is operating an intense and hectic timetable, serving both her own route to the Queen Charlotte Islands, and the Inside Passage service. Unfortunately, although she was built for the Inside Passage route, her slower speed means that crossings are timetabled for 19 hours – hence the early start.
Undaunted, we arrived at the terminal at 04:30, and within minutes were walking onboard. The Queen of Prince Rupert is a clear design derivation from Thoresen’s celebrated original Vikings, and is instantly recognisable as such. Built in Victoria to inaugurate the route from Kelsey Bay to Prince Rupert, she was replaced by the Queen of the North in 1980 and sold to replace the Princess Marguerite II on the Seattle to Victoria route. Decidedly unpopular, public reaction soon prompted the operators to refit and re-instate the Princess Marguerite II and the unfortunate Queen of Prince Rupert was soon back in the BC Ferries’ fold. She was subsequently deployed on the Prince Rupert to Queen Charlotte Islands service, where she has spent her entire subsequent career to date.
|Above and below: Foot passengers board the Queen of Prince Rupert via her immaculately kept vehicle deck (above) before being directed up to the amidships lobby on the Promenade Deck (below).|
|Above and below: Just aft of the reception lobby are a couple of now windowless lounges, which stayed mostly empty (with the lights switched off!) during the course of the day, this largely accounting for the numbers of people packed into the other areas of the ship. These could have been fairly pleasant had the external views been retained, but all that is left of now is the outlines where the windows used to be.|
|Above and below: As on the original two Thoresen Vikings, the Queen of Prince Rupert originally had a cafeteria forward and restaurant aft on her Boat Deck. The main change now is that the restaurant (below) is in use as another seating lounge; the cafeteria (above) meanwhile has been fitted with rather uncomfortable metal seating, perhaps to act as an encouragement for diners not to linger for long after eating their meals. The pressure on this space was such that passengers were required to make reservations to secure a time for dinner.|
|Above: One of the original cabins on the bridge deck. With all the cabins beneath the vehicle deck (both crew and passenger) taken out of use since the loss of the Queen of the North, the passenger cabins aft on the Promenade Deck have been assumed for crew use. This has left the ship with a serious lack of berths and the purser's office maintained a long list of names should one become unexpectedly available.|
|Above: The forward area of outside deck on the Bridge Deck. The photographer is sheltered by the cover provided by the port-side bridge wing from the worst the elements can throw on a rather dismal day.|
|Above: Beneath the car deck, the crew have abandoned their old mess areas, as pictured, as well as the cabins in favour of expanded facilities on the upper decks.|
|Above and below: The Queen of Prince Rupert's bridge and the view astern from the wing.|