VICTORIA – The Salish Sea Dream, Prince of Whales’ new $3.5 million environmentally-friendly custom-built catamaran has had such a successful inaugural season running unique whale watching day trips between Vancouver and Victoria and Victoria and Butchart Gardens, that the company has just placed an order for another state-of-the-art ship that will be even more environmentally friendly.
“It’s very stable, very reliable and it’s proved to be an amazing platform for tours so we’ve had rave reviews from our guests,” says Prince of Whales Whale Watching owner Alan McGillivray. “Business was up more than 30 per cent on these tours; we had many sold-out days and we saw whales every single day.”
McGillivray says the 2017 season was the best whale watching season they’ve ever had in terms of sightings, especially for humpbacks and transient killer whales.
“We had lots of humpback sightings and an abundance of other sightings as well,” McGillivray says. “They think there are about 300 transients between Mexico and Alaska and we believe we saw more than 100 unique transients this season, which is quite phenomenal.”
Protecting the environment is a top priority for Prince of Whales, B.C.’s biggest whale watching company and an industry leader in sustainability. The eco-friendly Salish Sea Dream is quieter and less likely to affect whale activity. Its sister ship will build on that technology with the latest generation of water jets, further reducing the ship’s noise profile.
“The number one cause of machine noise in the water is propeller cavitation — air bubbles forming as the propellers push through the ocean — but the catamaran has interior water propulsion jets, so there are no propellers,” McGillivray explains. “The redesigned Ultrajet impellers on the new ship have a very low cavitation level, thus keeping the sound profile to a minimum and also improving efficiency.”
The innovative design on the 78-foot Salish Sea Dream and her new sister ship also means there’s no machinery hanging below the hull, eliminating the risk of a marine mammal strike.
“She has no external propellers or drives that could harm any type of wildlife and her narrow twin hulls and shallow draught allow us to safety transit shallow reefs in the Salish Sea and bring our guests closer to all of what nature has to show us,” adds Prince of Whales Fleet Captain, Ian Kyle.
“It’s an ideal vessel for watching marine mammals of all kinds because she’s highly manoeuvrable, allowing us to safely view whales and she can even be manoeuvred so that she walks sideways while viewing — a feat few other vessels can manage.”
ABD Enterprises of North Vancouver has been contracted to build the second ship, which will launch in the spring of 2019 and be based in Victoria. There’s also an option for a third vessel to launch in 2020.
“We’re thrilled to be building this vessel in Canada,” McGillivray says. “We’re reinvesting in our business and doing everything we can to lower the environmental footprint and protect whales and the Salish Sea.”
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The Salish Sea Dream’s Ultimate Day Tour departs Vancouver each morning from April to October, taking guests on a whale watching tour to the B.C. Capital with sightseeing stops at Victoria’s iconic Inner Harbour and the world-famous Butchart Gardens (via shuttle) before a breathtaking sunset cruise back to Vancouver.
Combining two of Victoria’s ‘must do’ activities, The Salish Sea Dream also offers whale watching excursions each afternoon from the Inner Harbour to the Butchart Gardens as part of the ‘Whales and Gardens’ Package, which also includes entry into the gardens and summer fireworks.