The most difficult cruise lines in the world

Editor’s Note – Kikiki Mahina a new CNN travel series featuring some of the most exciting topics in the travel world. In April, we set the class for the different worlds of cruise ships. If you’re looking for travel promotion or insider information, Ticket Monthly will take you there.

(CNN) – Navigating a large ship is not a task under the conditions, but some routes, such as the Suez Canal, narrow the Suez Canal – which was blocked by a shipwreck last year. past – or Alaska’s windward, glacier -line waterways, it’s a serious challenge. .
Andy Winbow, a navigator who has led ships around the world, told CNN Travel that the roads are often marked by “bad conditions, no room to navigate due to natural disasters and without a lack of navigational aids. “

These things apply to every ship, but many cruise ships can be affected because of their size.

“The higher the ship, the more wind there is,” David Pembridge said. Pembridge was a cruise captain who worked for ten years on ships operated by P&O Cruises and Princess Cruises.

When tall ships are hit by the wind, they can slip – a term used to describe a ship being blown to the side. To avoid this, the ship had to be steered in a corner.

This process is even more difficult when traveling on a waterway such as the Suez Canal or the Panama Canal. In these narrow ditches the vessels are to avoid being struck on the sides of the ditch.

“If they run fast, it will be a means of tossing the clothes, and dragging the sand from the sides to the center of the ditch, which is not good for reducing the depth, and therefore shallow.” explained Pembridge.

The cruise ship sails the Panama Canal on April 23, 2022.

The cruise ship sails the Panama Canal on April 23, 2022.

LUIS ACOSTA / AFP / AFP and Getty Images

While the Suez Canal and the Panama Canal are some connecting features, there are some major differences between the Egyptian canal and the South American canal.

Where the Panama Canal is largely bordered by forest and vegetation, the Suez is surrounded by a wide desert, which means it can be poorly seen by sand dunes.

And while Suez is 120 miles straight, the Panama Canal is 50 miles of “wind in and out of the islands,” according to Pembridge, with this topography adding a different twist to the landscape. compete.

“It’s kind of another challenge, but it takes a lot of thinking to get there,” Pembridge explained.

Ships sailing on the Panama Canal must go through three different locks. In recent years the locks have been expanded to accommodate larger ships, but when Pembridge is constantly on the road, his ship will be separated from the sides of the lock. only two feet.

In Panama, mechanical locomotives also help pull cruise ships on lockers, while in the narrow parts of the Suez Canal, tow trucks help pull large ships.

“It’s a very long day for the team on the ship, because you start and you don’t stop until the next end,” Pembridge said of the trip on both routes.

The responsibility of the driver

The cruisers were aided in the Suez Canal by skilled sailors, known as pilots.

The cruisers were aided in the Suez Canal by skilled sailors, known as pilots.

Soeren Stache / image-contract / dpa / AP

All ships sailing in Suez and Panama are assisted by local fishermen.

These sailors, called ocean pilots, boarded the ship at the head of the stream and worked with the sailors to keep it safe.

The Suez Canal and the Panama Canal are “required navigation areas” – that is, pilots don’t choose, they are required by law.

Pembridge believes the working relationship between pilots and captains is not going smoothly.

“That’s one of the benefits, and one of the obstacles, at times, has to do with the level of skill and the personal qualities involved,” he said.

“The pilot is required by law to specify the purpose and speed of the vessel. But at the same time, the pilot still has the responsibility for the safe navigation of the vessel and cannot be overturned by the vessel. drive. “

In some places, the driver’s job is not serious, and this is not a legal requirement. But on difficult ports and waterways – like Suez and Panama, or the waterways around Alaska, they have a role to play.

Captain John Herring was a captain on a research ship before he became a navigator in eastern Alaska.

Herring tells CNN Travel there are two main reasons why planes are needed on ships in some places.

“First, we provide in -house insight into the dangers of the road, sea and tide, weather, knowledge of marine life, and more,” he explains.

“Second, independence from the ship, we take the decision to make sure it is not subject to the economic challenges of the ship’s project.

Southeastern Alaska is a mandatory destination, partly because of its ability to navigate strong winds and currents, and partly because of its marine ecosystem.

“Alaska’s coastal waters are blessed with an abundance of marine mammals,” Herring said. “Whale watching is a favorite pastime for riders, but they have to be constantly on the bridge to avoid close encounters.”

Likewise, the sight of icebergs and glaciers may have been an important part of the Alaska cruise ship, but these icebergs can be detrimental to ships.

“That ice is hard and can damage the hull or propellers,” Herring explains, adding that strong winds and currents make it more difficult to navigate ice waters.

In recent years, technology has made it easier to navigate routes that ships cannot access.

But Herring believes satellites will continue to add to the age of satellite technology.

“A local pilot can safely take the ship to port without GPS,” he said.

Water depth and local topography

Chile’s fjords and rivers, including the Murray Channel in southern Chile, pictured here, can pose problems for ships.

Chile’s fjords and rivers, including the Murray Channel in southern Chile, pictured here, can pose problems for ships.

Wolfgang Kaehler / LightRocket / Photo Credit

Ships sailing around Alaska had to contend with deep water conditions. In shallow rivers, ships had to move slowly to avoid creating a low -lying area under the ship that could hold the ship under the sea.

“Ships can ‘squat’ if they’re moving fast and so there’s not enough space under the tile,” explains ship owner Andy Winbow.

The trails around the Norwegian fjords and the Chilean fjords and rivers also drive the shallow waters at times.

Other cruise lines are facing problems because their topography is constantly changing.

Pembridge gives an example of the Amazon River, parts of which sometimes travel on South American cruise ships.

“The bottom of the Amazon is always moving and so on in the nautical map showing an island, and when you get there the island isn’t there, it moves somewhere else,” he explained. “He relied a lot on the navigators – the local navigators were people who knew the river and knew how to move.”

City ports can be a problem.

Pembridge serves the Dutch ports of Amsterdam and Rotterdam and the German ports of Hamburg, and Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam.

To hit any of these cities, the cruisers had to go a narrow route first, and how easy that was depends largely on the weather.

Planning and unexpected moments

Pembridge took this photo of a lock of the Panama Canal while aboard the MV Aurora cruise ship P&O Cruises.

Pembridge took this photo of a lock of the Panama Canal while aboard the MV Aurora cruise ship P&O Cruises.

David Pembridge

A solid travel plan is essential for a slow ride. Pembridge explained that sailing arrangements would be made by the young captain and then approved by the captain. Planners should always keep in mind perceived problems – such as wind, waterway width, sea and land.

“If you’re in the open ocean, it’s a simple statement – that’s the course we’re going to take, that’s the speed we’re going to do. Start spreading the news, the rivers , and the consequences of the timing of something, ”Pembridge said.

“Then when you get into really solid waters – that’s what [Suez and Panama] canals – and then the tube is stronger. “

The threat of piracy is one thing to consider, although Pembridge says it is less common than ever before.

He remembers sailing ships sailing on the Arden River with speed of the side, turning off the lights at night and setting up sailing drills.

Captain David Pembridge, who retired in 2020, was photographed near Chile's Cape Horn.

Captain David Pembridge, who retired in 2020, was photographed near Chile’s Cape Horn.

David Pembridge

The atmosphere is considered when planning a trip, but not all the preparations in the world can fully comprehend the unexpected.

Pembridge remembers being the captain of a ship that sailed from the Falkland Islands to South America. The wind was forecast to be strong, but as night fell, the wind was worse than expected.

Throughout the night, Pembridge and his team walked slowly on the waves to try and avoid the effects of the wind. When the dawn came, they saw how much work they had done.

“They were very large waves. And the front of the ship was burying itself and coming up again, it was very safe, but it was not pleasant.”

When the sky cleared, the ship turned about 30 miles off the road. The ports had to be reorganized and the voyage reorganized.

But Pembridge points out that while ships face unforeseen challenges, ships and crews are prepared for emergencies.

“The current cruise ships are well prepared to deal with any problems that may arise,” Pembridge said.

Top photo: A cruise ship sailing in front of Margerie Glacier in Glacier Bay, Alaska. Photo credit: Tim Rue / Bloomberg via Getty Images

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