ROYAL SEALINK EXPRESS LTD. HOLDS THE SLINGSHOT
AS DAVID AND GOLIATH TAKE TO THE HIGH SEAS
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
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
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