solsticex.jpgVancouver is one of the world’s greatest cities, and the perfect gateway for cruises to Alaska. Just one thing – the 76-year-old Lions Gate bridge at the entrance to its harbour is preventing the newest and biggest ships from using the port.
That won’t be a problem next year for Celebrity Solstice (above). The 2,850-passenger vessel is to have a delicate operation to gently cut it down in size.
The communications mast high above its 19th deck will be made to telescopically retract so the ship can pass safely under the bridge, which has 200 ft clearance to the waters of Burrard Inlet.
Work is likely to be carried out later this summer while the ship is sailing from the US port of Seattle.
Solstice, which entered service in 2008, was the first of five ground-breaking modern luxury cruise ships built for Celebrity and culminating in last year’s launch of Reflection.
The ships each carry a full-time gardener to tend the real grass lawns between their twin funnels.
lions1.jpglions2.jpglions3.jpgThe passage under Lions Gate Bridge – built with money from the Guinness family and opened in 1937 by King George VI – can be a spectacular experience, as I discovered on board Diamond Princess.
Passengers line the upper decks to marvel as their ship appears to scrape beneath the bridge with inches to spare, while pedestrians watch from the walkways above.
Vancouver expects 236 cruise ships bringing 820 passengers this year, a 23 per cent increase on 2012. Disney Wonder, Norwegian Sun and HAL’s Amsterdam have returned to the Canadian city after using Seattle, 130 miles to the south.