The arrival of Norwegian Cruise Lines latest mega cruise ship, the Norwegian Getaway was highlighted in the March issue of Sea Breezes. It is a further impressive cruise vessel produced by the equally impressive German shipbuilder Meyer Werft from their yard in Papenburg.
We all have to face responsibilities of varying magnitude in our life, however spare a thought for the Captain who was responsible for moving this luxurious and multimillion-dollar cruise ship from Papenburg, Germany, to the open sea in Eemshaven, Netherlands.
The approximately 24 hourlong conveyance had to be completed, mainly in reverse. The journey commenced through a narrow passage through the shipyard’s locks, with only 1.6 metres clearance separating the ship from the “bumpers” that were specially installed along the starboard side of the locks. This very tedious manoeuvre took approximately 1.5 hours at a maximum speed of only 0.2 knots. The precise navigation was led by a team of two located on the bridge, with one navigation officer in charge of overseeing the bow maneuvers and the other overseeing the movement of the stern. It was extremely important that not too much force was placed on the bumpers, which can only support a light touch by the ship, which measures 1,063 feet long and 130 feet wide; therefore, minimum speed and minimum pressure on the bumpers was essential. After passing through the locks, Norwegian Getaway continued along the river, stern first. Due to the strong propulsion in the aft section of the vessel, traveling stern first helps with maneuverability which is a key component when navigating the vessel through such narrow passages.
Before reaching her final destination in Eemshaven, heading toward the North Sea, Norwegian Getaway will pass through additional narrow passages including the locks in Papenburg, which allow only 1.5 metre clearance on either side; Weener Bridge in Weener; Jann-Berghaus Bridge in Leer; and Ems-Barrier in Gandersum.
Prior to the journey – termed a ‘Conveyance’– the preparations required were detailed and numerous, including the removal of power lines and railway tracks that normally pass over the river to allow the ship to traverse through. The journey was also precisely timed to take place at high tide to ensure ample depth beneath the hull, and when weather conditions are calm enough to avert the possibility of wind causing the ship to touch the ground. The route along the Ems River includes various locks and other tight squeezes, traveling on an aqueduct over an autobahn.