Stadt Luzern alongside at Fluelen on Lake Lucerne at 2pm on Sunday 21st October, 2018 her last day in service before being withdrawn for a major rebuild which is expected to take around two years and cost 12.5 million Swiss francs. This will not be the first time that she has been rebuilt. Originating from the German yard of the Gebruder Sachsenberg in 1928, Stadt Luzern had major rebuilds during 1953-54, when she was converted to oil firing, and then during each of the winters 1985-89 demonstrating a rule known well to all who run historic ships: that whatsoever you do to them to repair and renew them, you have to do it again twenty five-thirty years later and again and again if you want to keep them going in perpetuity.
It was also the last day as a paddle steamer captain for her master Capt Kuno Stein who will have retired before the Stadt Luzern is returned to service. Capt Stein joined the Lake Lucerne company in October 1974 as a Kontrolleur/Matrose. In 1978 he obtained his first certificate to sail as skipper of the smaller vessels in the fleet and gradually worked his way up to become a paddle steamer captain by 1990 at the age of thirty six. For many years he was much associated with the PS Schiller and since 2008 has been master of the Lucerne flagship Stadt Luzern.
Capt Stein has also travelled extensively on paddle steamers elsewhere in his spare time including on both the Kingswear Castle and Waverley in the UK. In the autumns when paddle steamer captains have a quieter schedule I have often bumped into him unexpectedly sailing as a passenger on other paddle steamers in other locations including at Dresden, Lake Geneva and so on. On this last trip of the Stadt Luzern, very many of the passengers which included a number of other paddle steamer captains from around Europe, had come specially to pay their respects to Kuno and to wish him well for the future.
Stadt Luzern should be back in service in 2021. Unfortunately paddle steamer captains cannot be rebuilt in the same way and Capt Stein will by then have retired. However I hope and expect that he will nonetheless be an honoured guest on Stadt Luzern’s first trip when she emerges from the shipyard shiny and fresh for the next thirty years.