Post by Retrovision on Dec 19, 2007 22:22:00 GMT -8
Our new 'I' Class vessel, the M.V. Island Sky is nearing completion and the exterior is very much intact. Today Scott, Karl and myself, with an appearance later by Coastal Skier, made a trip to Lonsdale Quay. We were pleasantly surprised to find the soon to be latest addition to our fleet, the 'Intermediate' Class Island Sky in drydock at Vancouver shipyards, presumably there for hull painting. Both lighting and weather worked out ideally for this time of year, especially considering the traffic, etc., conditions that we were faced with. The Queen of New Westminster, undergoing a major life-extending upgrade, can be seen in the dry dock behind.
Nice pictures. Looks like they still have to weld the "walls" on that extend from the superstructure to the ends of the ship. I see one was being installed when you took the photos. This will probably make her look a bit better:) It also looks like they'll extend out quite far compared to the Capilano and Cumberland.
I couldn't because it was during School hours. Plus that half of the day was scheduled for my two harder subjects for this term. So unfortunately, unless something shows up, we'll have to wait until she starts service.
This open house was poorly planned anyways. I mean who has the time to go to an Open House...at Saltery Bay (27 Kilometres out of Town)...on a Friday...from 1 to 3. Are they trying to target people that are either out of school, unemployed, live outside of town, or are retired? Or did they not want a big turnout? Well, the Mating Slugs Strike Again!
If I had planned this open house, it would've been on a Saturday at Westview Terminal. The turnout would've been better.
Well I had a professional day from school so I could have gone...but I opted for the more convenient and cheaper option of hitting the golf course today. Indeed BC ferries has flubbed again, two hours for an open ship in an out the way terminal .
Companies everywhere are ecnomizing these days; cutting out frills, office Christmas parties and the like. There would have been an expense in getting the boat up to Powell River and putting on an open house there, and since Powell River people are soon going to be riding the boat on a regular basis, what really is the point?
This isn't one of BC Ferries' glamour purchases, and they've never shown any particular interest in publicizing the vessel. They're doing an open house, but I doubt they're too concerned about a few enthusiasts who can't get there.
Post by Northern Exploration on Feb 14, 2009 15:15:17 GMT -8
I echo the comments about cutbacks perhaps influencing how far BC Ferries puts on the dog and pony show for the I Sky. They are laying off some staff so spending money to do extra duty in various ports is probably not a good thing to be doing right now.
I hope they still show off the NorEx simply because she spends much of her life so far out of the view of the bulk of people in the lower mainland, the expense of the show and tell would probably be a good idea to foster renewed interest in the route. As well reminding tourism officials etc. of how nice the new ferry will be would be a good thing to do leading up to the busy time (hopefully) around the Olympics.
I sit on a committee for a national body that has conferences and a very large convention. The decision has been made to chop the registration fees this year anticipating a fall off in registrations. At least this year the convention is being held in Toronto where a larger percentage of the attendees are from. If the banks, major marketers and ad agencies cut back then this is often the first place to see the cuts.
Queen of Prince Rupert at Bear Cove - Thankyou for your years of service
They better not use cost cutting as an excuse for not doing an accessible open house for the Northern Expedition. After the cost of building the ship, the cost of an open house should be an insignificant little mark in the ledger column. So if they really thought they could save anything in not doing an open house, the cost of printing notices and reminders about canceling the open house and sending out press releases to the same effect would probably cost more than simply hosting an open house anyway.
Wow the Queen's picture isn't stuffed in a corner or on top of a phone. Looks like the Island Sky will be a fair replacement for two vessels that weren't particularly well suited for the route, although since it's all most of us remember we rationalized as being required to have such over-appointed vessels on the short crossing.
I look forward to a trip to see this latest BC build. Hopefully her service life is as long as her construction period.
Interesting that they had the I-Sore sitting in the main berth at Saltery Bay, while the Chilliwack was using the old Black Ball auxiliary berth. It would be interesting to see that berth in use sometime, but it's probably not as likely to occur now, if the route has a dedicated vessel so there won't be ships swapping places so often anymore.
I'm wondering what you mean by over-appointed... apart from the full cafeteria, all the Queen of Tsawwassen had was lounge chairs. Same for the Chilliwack, and it's cafeteria didn't offer as much fair as the Tsawwassen, but it did feature the reclining chairs in one lounge. Now the Island Sky has a fancy new coastalized interior, with those nice big reclining chairs, glass paneled stairs and a fancy glassed in little snack bar, how would you assume that that is less well appointed than the previous ships on the run? Add to that the absolute modernity of a brand new ship filled with the latest in lifesaving and operating equipment, and it seems like this one is far better appointed than the previous ones, so we don't have rationalize all that much. In fact, if anything, we were rationalizing the placement of aging, outdated vessels being on the run up until now.
Last Edit: Feb 16, 2009 18:22:20 GMT -8 by Mill Bay
It's smaller, doesn't have covered car decks, presumably will require about 1/2 to 2/3 the crew of the Tsawwassen, we'll see about that one, and will have a limit menu. The Chilliwack obviously has a limited menu too, but for a different, and less forgivable reason.
This route used to be the domain of the vending machine
The Chilliwack obviously has a limited menu too, but for a different, and less forgivable reason.
What do you think is this reason? I don't know why she doesn't have a full kitchen unless it is that BCF just doesn't want one on board. This time of the year they only serve for the first 15-20 minutes of the voyage anyways. And I agree the route doesn't really need one. Powell river is pretty close to the terminal so if your going south eat before you get on the ship and if going north eat when you get off.
Think before you drink, because once you have had a few drinks, we know you don’t think that well. - Barry Penner, Attorney General, British Columbia -
For those who are morally opposed to long posts then here is my one liner:
"The Island Sky is okay."
Before I post this short tour, and a complete review of the vessel I should comment on a few general things. To me, the most important thing a ferry needs to be able to do is provide safety. If TC is happy, then I am happy. Secondly, the vessel needs to be functional to the route - as in not allowing frequent delays or overloads. Third, I expect a certain level of comfort given the relatively high fares we pay to BCFS. Lastly, it's a bonus is everything looks nice too
So I left this morning on the 720am Rte 3 sailing from Horseshoe Bay to Langdale. It was with the Queen of Coquitlam and was uneventful, although I was very surprised how busy it was, probably 90% and we left some over heights behind.
Right on the money at 8 we arrived and I headed to Earls Cove. I have a temperature reader in my car and I noticed it was getting colder and colder the further I went. It was about -5C when I arrived at the terminal. I wasn't dressed for the weather. Luckily I had some sweaters and a toque in the car.
At the terminal itself there was nothing to tell of the new vessel, other than a picture I am fairly sure has been there for months of the Island Sky under construction in North Vancouver.
Having arrived about an hour early I got some studying done for a midterm I have in 9 hours and 18 minutes.
A few minutes early the Island Sky rounded the bend towardsa Earls Cove and was looking pretty good - she's certainly not the sharpest vessel in the fleet but she seemed to fit her new surroundings. It was odd to see a new sight there, though!
Much like we have seen with the Coastal Class vessels there is definitely a learning curve going on right now, and the approach to the terminal was very cautious. Sh had made up about 7 minutes from her on time departure, but lost nearly all of it while docking.
I hurried along when it was time for the footies to get on. The ferry when arriving had a fair load of vehicles and a few foot passengers. In total I think 5 of us got on. People had certainly noticed it was a new vessel. I wasn't sure they would - although it is radically different than the Chilliwack it is also a pile of boxes so I thought it may lead some astray.
I took a quick spin around the vessel to get a feel for it, and headed outside to watch the boarding procedure and to hear the ship's whistle. It sounds identical to the Capilano class. There was a post somewhere else expressing a concern loading may be difficult - there appeared to be no problem today. We left with a fare laod, although did not need the gallery decks.
The mini-pickle forks are all open for viewing. There is one elongated pickle fork which is not open to the public. Too bad, it would offer some great views for photography!
Now, for a quick tour of the vessel. Sorry some of them are blurry
The builder's plaques look nice and new - although seem slightly misleading. I almost thought they might have been remade, but I don't really know how they define "built."
The photograph of the Queen is also near the pay telephones, but in the open so not as shameful as what has been done on the Coastal vessels.
Smart design rules this vessel, no surprise. The deck layout has been done very well, I was quite impressed. The license is for 450 passengers, and there are 420 seats on the lounge deck (4). That's one of the best ratios in the entire fleet.
In my opinion, the best part of the shop is the Coastal Cafe Express/Gift Shop. I don't believe many of us knew it would look like this - and the vessel layout was somewhat misleading when it came out. The large space is actually half gift shop, and Cafe as I said - but the layout is really well thought out. In the "funny things they forgot to put in" file is newspapers. They're hoping to get them next week!
The Coastal Cafe Express features a full line of beverages that would be found on a major vessel, soup of the day, Chilli, Hot Dogs, BC Ferries sandwiches (looks better than Bread Garden), salads, cheese, and a few other random bits. What is new is the self preparing meals. I was wondering why there were microwaves all over the ship
Here are the new meals:
And the hot food item thingy:
For the good of humanity I tried one of the new meal selections; for $6 I got Mac and Cheese and after 3 minutes and 15 seconds my delightful lunch was ready and I dug in. Overall flavour is okay, certainly a decrease from the previous hot food service, but for the quantity the price was alright. This is on my list of try every item once, and then never again.
When moving around the vessels the isles are very wide, and you feel like there is a lot of space (because there is). Stairwells are also well sized and will allow for fast traffic flow, a big improvement over the Capilano class.
Decorative glass is used for the stairwell the is midship in the forward lounge. It looks quite sharp.
Lounges provide nice spacing between seating, and are seperated in a logical manner. I don't think, even with large groups, the sound in the vessel, from humans at least, should be overwhelming.
Forward views are okay - the windows are sort of small.
Bike racks are provided on the car deck, as is a supervisor from BC Ferries for the dogs.
Arriving at the Powell River end of things the Island Sky meets her new fleetmate, the Queen of Chilliwack.
Somewhere I wouldn't put myself.... We are docking, and the Queen of Chilliwack is fired up and ready to go (but isn't actually going anywhere, but they'd have no way of knowing that!)
THE BEST PART OF THE TRIP??? The scenery. Route 7 is the best in the Southern system for scenery, in my opinion.
The Island Sky, as I said already, is okay. There are a few major issues with the vessel, but there are also some major successes.
- Seating arrangement is well laid out, with lots of seats and lots of space. It's a very comfortable vessel insofar as that is concerned. - The small size makes all the amenities close to one another, but they are spaced so that none interfere with anything else (eg bathrooms away from seating, phone away from gift shop). - Generally the size seems to be right for the routes' average traffic. - She is slightly faster than the two vessels being replaced. Crew members seemed optimistic that once docking is down pat there will be few delays. Loading was also very easy for the main car deck. More about the Gallery decks in "The Bad." - The outside deck space is super - great photo locations and you can really take in the amazing view. - The food service concept is probably very appropriate for this route. Time will tell. My lazy side wishes someone was making the food for me, but the IS also runs with a smaller crew than either of the previous primary vessels (same crew as the Cap @ 12). - Gift shop is well done and has all the items that seem appropriate for this type of route, other than Newspapers. They should get those ASAP. - The windows are the ends of the vessel are tinted. This won't be great with cloudy days perhaps, but was nice for today's blaring sun. Windows on the sides are not tinted.
- Fit and finish is not to the standard we have recently received from FSG. There is areas of material overlap, small bubbling in the carpet, and worst of all the ceiling tiles rattle non-stop throughout the voyage. Several people commented on it. It is irritating, and really bad in the food service seating area. I left immediately after eating my mac and cheese to avoid it. I;m not even saying this is an oversensitive ferry fan. Some other fit and finish issues: Some deck signage is not properly secured (#2 end), bike rack plate doesn't fully contact the deck, sandpaper like material on the gallery decks is already coming off quickly, and the doors on the elevator are being scraped and polished as they're slightly ill fit. - There is a fair amount of vibration throughout the vessel as well. Although people on this forum who have never, or once, ridden the Coastal class criticized their non-existant vibration it really is noticeable on the IS - about the same as the Coqu or Cow in Mode 2. - At the number 2, when it's the stern, and running full ahead there is a LOUD jack hammer sound. LOUD.
Except for the noise issue on the passenger deck none of these issues are really that big a deal, unless you're trying to sleep in your car at the number 2 end when headed for Powell River.
Driving up the Gallery Decks also seems like something which will take a fair amount of skill for some, the lane gets quite narrow.
As for the "first day" itself there was nothing special. Only two "suits" and only one was wearing a suit. None of the big shots were there. No signage, balloons, happiness, or anything else that may be expected. Tucked in the corner of the Coastal Cafe Express is a brochure with some actually quite technical data on the ship. It's the same basic format as the one used for the Coastals, but with such a smaller deck areas I guess they needed to fill space.
None of the crew seemed overly excited, but they weren't unhappy either. Keep in mind I don't know them, this is just an outside observation. Just seemed like another day, nothing like the Coastals first few days in service. Three members made comments about the vessel going to Bowen pretty quick.
All in all though the Island Sky should do fine on Route 7, and is a reasonably good vessel.