Why CroisiEurope’s Newest Ship Is Worth The Trip

CroisiEurope's Elbe Princesse, docked near Potsdam, Germany on April 15, 2016. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

CroisiEurope’s Elbe Princesse, docked near Potsdam, Germany on April 15, 2016. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

CroisiEuropes brand-new Elbe Princesse rumbled to life for the first time during our short preview cruise today, as we sailed down the River Havel from Berlin to Potsdam. It’s a short journey of approximately 30 kilometres, but just long enough for us to enjoy some scenic cruising and see how the ship handles when she’s in motion.

Paddlewheels and Pump Jets

One of Elbe Princesse's two paddlewheels by day... Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

One of Elbe Princesse’s two paddlewheels by day… Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

...and by night. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

…and by night. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

By now, you probably know that Elbe Princesse is the second CroisiEurope vessel to feature paddlewheel propulsion, following in the footsteps of the line’s Loire Princesse, which debuted in April of 2015 on the Loire River. But, like me, you may not have known that the ship doesn’t necessarily have to fire up the paddlewheels to get moving.

Elbe Princesse is also equipped with a propulsion system called pump jets, which are pretty much exactly as they sound: jets powered by sea water sucked in through an intake, then expelled rapidly through the other end. This system allows the ship to move with more precision than the paddlewheels allow (though, when fired up, the wheels really get things moving along).

At night, colored lighting mounted to the inside of the wheel well cycles through a variety of vibrant colors. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

At night, colored lighting mounted to the inside of the wheel well cycles through a variety of vibrant colors. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

The ship has been well-designed, placing accommodations all the way forward and the ship’s public rooms directly over the engines. This was a good decision on two fronts: when in motion, there is some engine noise and vibration bleed-through that is noticeable in the ship’s Lounge and Dining Room, but nothing that would cause undue discomfort. When the paddles are in motion, there’s also a rather pleasant bounce to the stern as the paddlewheels bite into the water and drive the ship forward.

Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

At full speed, the ship vibrates and bounces more than traditional river cruise ships. Glasses and flowers rock gently back and forth on tables. It’s novel rather than irritating, but it’s something you should be prepared for.

A New Baby In 11 Months

You'd never know by stepping onboard that Elbe Princesse took just 11 months to construct. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

You’d never know by stepping onboard that Elbe Princesse took just 11 months to construct. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

CroisiEurope planned and built Elbe Princesse in just 11 months, drawing on the company’s experiences on the Loire with the trendsetting Loire Princesse. How quickly the ship came together is remarkable: the design phase commenced just one year ago, in April 2015. The first steel was cut in June of last year, and the ship’s two construction blocks were moved into drydock in October.

Float-out was done in November, and by January of this year, the ship’s two giant paddlewheels were installed. Sea trials were conducted in February, and the final fitting-out work was completed shortly thereafter. It took five days to transfer the ship from the Loire Estuary to its home in Berlin; a process that only took place this month.

A Family Cruise Experience

CroisiEurope's friendly crews make guests of all nationalities feel at home. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

CroisiEurope’s friendly crews make guests of all nationalities feel at home. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

Click here to continue reading!

Our Voyage Report from onboard CroisiEurope’s Elbe Princesse will continue with our guide to A Day in Berlin. Be sure to follow along with our adventures on Twitter @deckchairblog.

 

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