Canadian-Built Cruise Ship Pearl Mist Is Finally Delivered

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The new Marshall Islands-registered cruise ship Pearl Mist has finally been accepted by her owners, Pearl Seas Cruises, Pearl Mist cruise ship - Pearl Seas Cruisesafter four years of legal disputes between Pearl Seas, a sister company of American Cruise Lines, and her Canadian builders, Irving Shipbuilding Inc of Halifax.

A second order at Irving for a slightly larger vessel was cancelled in the process.

One important feature of the new ship is that all her cabins come equipped with a private balcony. Passenger space ratio for this new coastal cruiser works out at 24 gross tons per passenger. Her crew will number 65, with American officers supervising an International crew.

The Pearl Mist is the first cruise ship to have been built in Canada since the 5,825-ton Prince George of 1948.

The Prince George cruised from Vancouver to Alaska for more than a quarter of a century for Canadian National, before passing to a series of different owners. She last operated cruises in 1981 and 1982 and then served as a floating hotel for Expo ’86 in Vancouver in 1986. After a fire hit her while laid up on the British Columbia coast in 1995, she was finally lost while being towed to an Asian shipbreaking yard in 1996.

Only three other overnight cruise ships have been built in Canada since the Prince George. These were the 1,477-ton 100-berth Norgoma of 1950, now a museum ship at Sault Ste Marie, Ontario; the 1,486-ton 130-berth Lake Winnipeg cruise ship Lord Selkirk II of 1969, shortly due to be broken up at Winnipeg; and the 463-ton 60-berth Canadian Empress of 1981, still in operation in her 33rd season on the St Lawrence and Ottawa Rivers.

The Pearl Mist is now undergoing final outfitting at American Cruise Line’s own shipbuilding facility, Chesapeake Shipbuilding at Salisbury, Maryland.

Although completed in April 2009, Pearl Seas refused to accept delivery and the ship has been the subject of legal disputes for almost four years while laid up at Irving Shipbuilding’s facility at Shelburne, Nova Scotia.

Ironically, this ship’s idle period started at the beginning of her career rather than at the end of it, as was the case with the Prince George. While no resolution to this dispute was found, Pearl Seas has now cancelled five cruise seasons in all, from 2009 through to 2013.

As originally intended, the new ship will operate 7-, 10- and 11-night cruises in the Great Lakes and St Lawrence Seaway and on the East Coast. Her inaugural cruise, departing June 28, 2014, is an 11-night sailing from Baltimore to Halifax, her birthplace.

It seems unlikely that more cruise ships will be built here, however, especially as the Canadian dollar has strengthened by more than 11% since 2009, when this ship was completed.

Pearl Seas plan seventeen cruises for 2014, beginning in June and ending in November, with itineraries including the Atlantic Coast between Baltimore and Halifax, the Canadian Maritime provinces between Halifax and Quebec, the St Lawrence Seaway and Thousand Islands between Quebec and Toronto, the Great Lakes and Georgian Bay between Toronto and Chicago and the Southeast United States between Baltimore and Nassau.