In May 2015, the French-based river cruise line CroisiEurope unveiled an innovative new paddlewheel vessel which is the first hotel ship to sail on the Loire River.
The 96-passenger Loire Princesse, named in Nantes, incorporates dual engine ‘paddlewheel’ technology enabling it to continue sailing when normal methods of propulsion would not be effective in the river’s notoriously shallow waters.
Founded by the Schmitter family in 1976, the line was one of the early pioneers of the river cruise booking business, and the dual commemoration brings the number of ships in the fleet to 43.
Speaking to an audience of 300, Lucas Schmitter, grand-nephew of founder Gerard Schmitter, said: “The Loire Princess is a landmark in shipbuilding and we are very proud that is 100 percent French as it was made in France, is French-owned and opened on a French river.”
Until now, no ships with overnight cabins have operated on France’s longest river due to periods of low water. The 295-foot ‘Loire Princesses’ features 48 outside cabins, spread over two decks, a restaurant that can accommodate all passengers for single-service dining, a lounge with a central dance floor and sun deck.
The vessel will operate six- and eight-day round-trip cruises from Nantes visiting destinations such as Saint-Nazaire — where the ship was built — the chateaux of the Loire Valley and wine-growing regions.
A second paddlewheel ship is currently being built for CroisiEurope at the Saint-Nazaire shipyard. The 80-passenger Elbe Princess will be launched this year (2016) and offer itineraries between Berlin and Prague on the Elbe and Moldau rivers.
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