On Saturday 11th April 2015 the Loire Princesse was on the second day of her maiden voyage along the River Loire. And before we go any further let’s get one thing straight. Loire Princesse is propelled by paddle wheels. She does have azimuth style thrusters at both ends capable of pushing the ship any way to enhance her manoeuvrability. But her main propulsion is by paddle wheels. I know that there are some modern vessels around here and there with decorative paddle wheels added amidships or to the stern to create an impression of being propelled by paddle wheels. Loire Princesse is different. She is propelled by paddle wheels. The paddle wheels are for real. And she was built with them because the River Loire is incredibly shallow, and in places too shallow, for a similarly sized vessel with propellers to operate.
This is the first time that a passenger vessel with cabin accommodation has ever cruised the Loire and she is able to do so because of her shallow draft and the fact that she is propelled by paddle wheels. Hurrah for the paddle wheel I say.
At 88.8m in length Loire Princesse is quite a big ship and a very big ship for this sort of river work. There are 48 cabins all with river views accommodating up to 96 guests. There is a crew of 19 housed in 9 crew cabins back aft.
There is a splendid restaurant which can accommodate all the guests at the same time, a large lounge bar with central dance floor and an open sun deck on top. Cruises often start at Nantes and call at many places along the way including Saint-Nazaire, Ancenis, Angers, the castles of the Loire, Saumur and Boucheremaine.
So there we are. A paddle steamer built very recently and to comply with all the very latest requirements for operation on Categorized Waters in Europe. Can I have one too please Daddy?
Kingswear Castle returned to service in 2023 after the first part of a major rebuild which is designed to set her up for the next 25 years running on the River Dart. The Paddle Steamer Kingswear Castle Trust is now fund raising for the second phase of the rebuild. You can read more about the rebuilds and how you can help if you can here.
This article was first published on 11th April 2021.