A bottle is broken, a ship is launched, a star is born
On the morning of Saturday, June 9, a newly constructed polar expedition cruise vessel slid down the timber-and-steel slipway of a sprawling Croatian shipyard, plunging into the pale blue waters of the rocky Adriatic coast. The launch of this vessel, one of 28 new expedition ships currently on order, might have seemed commonplace, even insignificant, to the world at large. But for us, it was anything but another day at the office. This event marked the first time our new build, m/v Hondius, the world’s first-registered Polar Class 6 vessel and the only ship we’ve designed from the ground up, became acquainted with the sea. It was one fine day and a moment we’d been waiting months, indeed years, to enjoy.
The heart of Hondius: why we’re so excited
As a PC6 vessel, Hondius is no ordinary expedition cruise ship — if such a phrase even makes sense. When she rolls into full operation next summer, she’ll be one of the most advanced civilian vessels on the polar seas, outfitted with all the latest, greatest, and greenest nautical technology. Not only that, her modestly sized 174-passenger build will fully uphold the cherished Oceanwide tradition of flexible, small-scale cruises while at the same time including a host of interactive workshops, presentations, and performances we’ve not yet offered on any other vessel. This means that, though our guests will continue to enjoy access to locations the larger ships can’t visit, they’ll also be able to partake in many of the perks traditionally offered only by the bigger (but far less nimble) cruise vessels.
Life after the launch
For us here at Oceanwide, Hondius represents more than the mere continuation of our small-scale polar expedition spirit. It also shows our passengers what else we’re capable of offering. “We’re thrilled with how she looks,” says Oceanwide COO Mark van der Hulst, who along with majority shareholder and owner Wijnand van Gessel, was present for the launch at Brodosplit shipyard. “We can’t wait to get her out for sea trials.” These sea trials, which go pretty much how they sound, test the durability and operational performance of the ship before it can take on consumer passengers. The tough and technically advanced build of Hondius, however, leaves little doubt that she will exceed these trials, ensuring her safety and speed throughout the most rugged Arctic trip or Antarctic voyage. Hondius will be complete as of May 2, 2019, which to us (and the many passengers just as excited as we are) seems like a very long time from now. Even so, we have no doubt it will be well worth the wait.