The Port of Montreal last week announced that Hydro Quebec would raise two power lines above the St. Lawrence River, a move that will allow larger ships to reach Montreal.
Following a request by the Montreal Port Authority, Hydro Quebec will tighten power cables next year at Trois-Rivières and Boucherville, providing a clearance of 170 feet under the wires for vessels sailing to Montreal.
The power lines were lower in height than the Laviolette Bridge in Trois-Rivières, the lowest insurmountable obstacle on the St. Lawrence River for vessels sailing to Montreal. The bridge has just over 170 feet of clearance under its structure.
Celebrity Solstice in Ft. Lauderdale.
Celebrity Solstice is being equipped with a new telescoping mast so that she can call at Vancouver in 2014 instead of Nanaimo
By comparison, the Lions’ Gate Bridge in Vancouver has a clearance of 200 feet and as built Celebrity Cruises’ Solstice class ships could not sail into that port. However, Celebrity Solstice is being equipped with a new telescoping mast so that she can call at Vancouver in 2014 instead of Nanaimo, where she called this year.
Cutting back on mast height is not something new, however. Back in April 1952, Canadian Pacific’s 30,030-ton Empress of Scotland, which had previously been the Transpacific liner Empress of Japan, sailing out of Vancouver, had her masts cut back by 44 feet in order to reach Montreal.
This had to be done in order to extend her own service beyond Quebec to so that all three Canadian Pacific’s North Atlantic liners turned at Montreal.
Canadian Pacific’s 30,030-ton Empress of Scotland sailing out of Vancouver had her masts cut back by 44 feet in order to reach Montreal
Even in Montreal, however, the air draught of the Jacques Cartier Bridge, at 162 feet, meant that P&O’s original 41,915-ton Oriana had to berth downstream from it when she made her one and only call to Montreal in 1980, and other ships might have to do the same, while Montreal’s cruise terminals are located above the bridge.
Of Holland America’s two St Lawrence ships, Maasdam regularly turns at Montreal while Veendam now turns at Quebec. But as Montreal has by far the better airline connections, Holland America has been in negotiation with Porter Airlines about non-stop service between Boston and Quebec to connect with Veendam turnarounds. Meanwhile, there was a time in May 2011 when Maasdam could not reach Montreal because of high water, meaning that on one cruise she had to turn instead at Quebec while the line coached all of her passengers the 150 miles to and from Montreal. Had there been more air draught available she could have proceeded to Montreal.
Oasis of The Seas
Elsewhere, RMS Queen Mary 2 had to be built to a profile that allowed her to slip under the Verrazano Narrows Bridge at New York, where clearance is 228 feet at mean high water she has an even tighter squeeze at San Francisco, however, where the Golden Gate Bridge has a clearance of just 220 feet.
With an air draught of 236 feet, Oasis and Allure of the Seas would need to use their telescoping funnels to allow them get into either port. This they did first when they cleared Denmark’s Great Belt Bridge, opened in 1998, which and has an air draught of 213 feet, on their way from their Finnish builders to Fort Lauderdale.
In 1989, after Princess Cruises entered the trade the original 46,087-ton Sky Princess became the largest passenger ship to call at Montreal. Since then, Princess ships have continued to get bigger and now usually turn at Quebec because they have been too tall to reach Montreal. In 1991, Crystal entered the trade and its 48,621-ton Crystal Harmony became the largest cruise ship to reach Montreal.
The largest ships to have reached Montreal so far are Aida Cruises 2,050-berth 69,203-ton AidaLuna, which visited in 2011, and her sister AidaBella, which called there this October. The largest container ship to call at Montreal so far is the 4860 TEU 50,963-ton MSC Carouge, a ship that also carries a few passengers, in 2011.
Star Princess in San Francisco
Raising the power lines above the St Lawrence River will allow larger cruise ships, including those in the 3,000- to 4,000-passenger range, to reach Montreal beginning in 2014. But it may still be borderline with some ships.
Royal Caribbean International, for instance, had to turn its Brilliance of the Seas at Quebec instead of Montreal in 2002 because of a lack of clearance above Quebec.
But even with the higher clearances some modification along the lines of Celebrity Solstice’s telescoping masts may be needed as the Brilliance class have an air draught of about 172 feet, still a couple of feet higher than the new St Lawrence River clearance.