"Boutique" Cruise Vessel Keeps French Cruisers Nicely Coiffed

Wednesday, January 05, 2000
A "boutique" luxury cruise catamaran - set to meander the islands of the French Caribbean - has been delivered by Australian ship and boat builder Austal Ships. The vessel, built for discerning French owner Rivages Crossieres, is dubbed Rivage St. Martin and embodies many of the advanced technical and aesthetic design features, which define the latest advances in passenger vessel construction and outfitting. Measuring 197 x 49 x 6.9 ft. (60 x 15 x 2.1 m), Rivage St. Martin is powered by a pair of MTU 12V 2000 M70 engines, which drive two fixed pitch propellers through ZF BW 256 gearboxes to a speed of 14.5 knots. While the vessel features a host of advanced design and equipment features, it is its positioning - between a cruise ship and a luxury charter yacht - which make it such a unique offering. The so-called "boutique" cruise market offers many of the benefits of the luxury charter yacht, such as exclusivity, but at a price much closer to that of the traditional cruise ship. To promote the feeling of exclusivity, Austal believes that the concept works best with up to about 100 passengers. "In some cases, the boutique cruiser is a seasoned cruiser, 15 to 25 cruises already undertaken, middle aged or beyond, and is very discerning," said Chris Norman, Austal's sales director. Rivage St. Martin comfortably cares for 80 passengers, and is unique further in that it is built entirely from aluminum. The on-board domestic systems are designed to cope with the high demand of providing services to all passengers at the same time, and have back up systems to ensure that passenger comfort is never disrupted. Rivage St. Martin is a catamaran-type vessel, which with its wide beam should provide its customers and crew with excellent stability and sea keeping. The twin hulls are also designed to provide a very "sea kindly" motion, due to the semi-swath hull shape. Cruising at 14.5 knots, it is intended that cruising will take place at night only, for about three hours at a time, so that passengers will awake each morning in a new port. Operating from a base in St. Martin, the vessel's shallow draft (6.9 ft. [2.1 m]) is well suited to its area of operation, effectively allowing it to anchor close to the shore in an area such as a lagoon protected by a reef, as opposed to berthing in a busy port. This adds to the feeling of seclusion, while offering direct access to water sports as well. Rapid transport to and from shore is handled via three large fast rigid inflatable tenders. The 80 guests are accommodated in 34 cabins spread over three decks. The vessel will operate with a crew of 20 (8 officers/12 hotel and catering). The bridge is equipped with three main consoles and two desk units located on the aft bulkhead. Main electronics include two Furuno radars, a steering system incorporating Gyro and Autopilot (C-Plath), Navtex GMDSS and Leica DGPS Navigator, EPIRB, Satcom Mini-M satellite telephone system and Aeronautical VHF system.

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