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    Royal Sealink
    A non-traditional release with plenty of attitude.




VANCOUVER, B.C., March 10, 1993 - The first company to successfully provide an alternate ferry service linking Vancouver to Victoria to Nanaimo, Royal Sealink, is blowing out the candle on its first birthday cake and making the simple wish for a fair shake. The fledgling operation overcame mishaps, bad weather, and false accusations to emerge as David in a market populated with Goliaths.

Public perception would have you believe every Royal Sealink catamaran that leaves the dock either hits another boat or gets stalled in Active Pass. Or that there are never enough motion sickness bags to go around. If that were the case, the hundreds of thousands of passengers who rode with Royal Sealink are either thrill seekers or gluttons for punishment.

The reality is this: 700,000 tourists, business people, commuters, and leisure travelers rode in comfort and style - and at twice the speed of larger ferries - for a total of 5,600 trips, none of which required waiting in line at remote terminals. With 70 daily commuters on the Nanaimo Express, that city has suddenly become a viable suburb of Vancouver. Royal Sealink Express Ltd. ran at 90% capacity during the summer months and caters to business and leisure travelers throughout the year.

Granted it wasn't all smooth sailing. The first week, to be honest, was a nightmare. A collision in Active Pass was Royal Sealink's responsibility and they accepted that. The captains - who average 20 years experience - are fully trained to safely navigate in zero-visibility conditions. Some passengers suffered from motion sickness on the initial runs. As a result, Royal Sealink chose not to sail in unusually rough weather; this lead to an average of one cancellation per month.

Other than that rocky start, the year went smoothly, with only one technical difficulty which left a catamaran inactive in Active Pass for three hours. Passenger safety was never compromised. Royal Sealink ensured that everyone was comfortable and could make contact to those waiting in Vancouver.

In January, Royal Sealink was wrongly blamed for causing the Vancouver SeaBus to collide with the pier at Canada Place. B.C. Transit quickly apologized to Royal Sealink, accepting full responsibility for the accident.

Harald Ronning, Senior Vice President and General Manager of Royal Sealink Express Ltd., says the year has been a good one for his company, but only those who traveled with them seem to know that.

"This first year our objective was to establish Royal Sealink as a reliable and comfortable alternative to traveling to the island," explains Ronning. "Now that we've done that, our second year will build on the enthusiastic response from our passengers. Our experience has been that once people ride Sealink, they come back again and again. And they tell their friends."

Royal Sealink Express Ltd. has a growing market to draw on. An estimated 20 million person trips are made between Vancouver and the island each year. Their three catamarans provide a level of service and luxury unique to the routes serviced by boat and by air.

The catamarans are the most technically advanced in the world and are built by Kvaerner Fjellstrand of Norway, parent company of Royal Sealink Express Ltd. The vessels are capable of crossing the Pacific Ocean and can go from zero to 70km/h in 40 seconds.

Capacity for the Royal Vancouver and the Royal Victoria is 302 passengers; the Orca Spirit on the Nanaimo Express run seats 296. The trip between Vancouver and Victoria takes 2.5 hours; the Nanaimo run exactly half that. Amenities on all three ships include cellular telephones, fax machines, movie and stereo service, a variety of quality contemporary foods, and children's play areas.

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