Image Marine’s has delivered of a 128 ft. (39 m) aluminium catamaran for operation in the coastal waters of the Maldives.
The Island Explorer will add an exciting new dimension to the Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts group
’s award winning property in the Maldives. Designed as a mini ‘floating hotel’, the vessel provides comfortable accommodation for up to 22 passengers, and in essence adds a brand new, all waterfront wing to the existing Four Seasons Resort Maldives Kuda
Image Marine’s Sales Manager, Mark Stothard
, said the concept has numerous benefits for resort and hotel operations in similar island and coastal regions.
“By placing a quality live-aboard vessel offshore, hotel and resort operators can extend their operations with relative ease compared to extending their land-based operation,” Mr Stothard said.
“The floating option avoids the substantial costs and details associated with purchasing land, obtaining development permits and constructing buildings, particularly in remote and environmentally sensitive areas. In some cases, land availability could preclude any further development ashore so a live-aboard vessel be the only practical means of expanding the business,” Stothard explained.
“What’s more, live-aboards are an extremely popular vacation option in their own right, so the hotel owner is also providing guests with a very attractive alternative to the more conventional resort experience.”
This latest delivery is a worthy addition to Image’s live-aboard reference list, which includes the award-winning 34 metre monohull True North and the 31 metre catamaran Aqua Cat, which have proved to be tremendously popular with the diving fraternity.
Like the earlier vessels, Island Explorer was purpose-designed and built at Image Marine’s facility in Henderson, Western Australia
. The catamaran combines generous deck area and carrying capacity with good seakeeping qualities further enhanced by a Seastate Motion Control System consisting of foils forward on each hull.
The efficient hulls allow a loaded speed of 17 knots to be achieved with two MTU
12V 2000 diesels driving 5-bladed propellers. Each machinery space also
houses a Perkins generating set. The vessel’s three Citor watermakers have a combined daily output of 20,000 litres.
Each hull contains three and four berth crew cabins separated by common toilet/shower compartments. Storage areas are located forward, with the one to starboard housing the sewage treatment plant. The hydraulics ‘Smartpac’ serving the Motion Control System and the anchor winch is fitted on the port side.
Located immediately forward of the port engine room is the vessel’s laundry which is fitted with two washing machines and a two stack dryer. The crew mess in the starboard hull has an L-shaped dinette, sink, microwave oven, ice maker, two freezers, fridge and hot water dispenser in addition to generous cupboard space.
Similarly efficient use of space is a feature of the main deck, where there are 10 passenger cabins. These incorporate all the features one expects to find in a modern hotel room ashore, including an en-suite complete with shower, toilet and hand basin. Each cabin can sleep two passengers in comfort, with the flexibility of twin or double berth configuration. Full height lockers are also included in each cabin, which are sufficiently spacious to also allow a sofa, desk, minibar and entertainment centre to be fitted. Large windows add to the sense of light and space, allowing guests to feel at one with the magnificent environment that surrounds them.
The best cabin of all, however, is the owner’s suite. This dominates the forward part of the upper deck and is graced with panoramic views over the bow. The owner’s private ensuite includes toilet, hand basin, shower and a separate bath.
The aft section of the upper deck cabin is an open plan dining and lounge area, served by a galley that is to the standard of a state-of-the-art commercial kitchen. It is complete with stainless steel bench tops, custom-built refrigerator and freezer, dishwasher, oven/grill, and four-burner stove. Dry stores and a cool room are incorporated thus ensuring that the chef has everything he needs at hand.
The latest Image live-aboard is also comprehensively equipped to allow passengers to enjoy the Maldives’ magnificent underwater attractions. Divers access the water via stairs down to generous swim platforms on each transom, and can wash away the salt post-dive using hot and cold showers serving each platform.
There is ample dive bottle storage and diver seating aft on the main deck and two Bauer high pressure compressors are fitted for air production. Both have integral filling stations and are plumbed to dual storage cylinders. One is plumbed to a low pressure compressor via a Nitrox membrane. A seawater heat exchanger is installed after the low pressure compressor.
Island Explorer carries
four rigid inflatable tenders. Storage for the two 5.5 metre RIBs is provided forward of each swim platform, while the 4.0 metre vessels are carried on the upper deck. Palfinger marine cranes located on the aft corners of the main deck make tender launching and retrieval simple and efficient.
The air conditioning plant that keeps the interior comfortable is located on the top deck, where there is a pair of two-berth crew cabins and the captain’s cabin, again all with en-suite bathrooms. The dedicated communications room aft of the bridge incorporates a video/photo lab, while the bridge itself is fitted with a range of modern electronics, chart table and three helm seats facing a well-planned console. The bridge also includes a guest lounge, allowing passengers to enjoy panoramic views.