The SeaWalk is a motorized, floating pier that saw its first primetime action Saturday when Cunard’s 2,068-passenger Queen Elizabeth anchored in Skjokden, Norway.
The 720-foot-long, 15-foot wide mobile dock looks like a piece from an industrial erector set, its three segments unlatched and unfolded into flamboyant “Z.”
Equipped with 2 x 250 HP azimuth thrusters, it took just 12 minutes from the time QE was moored until passengers could shuffle into an idyllic town abutting Norway’s tallest mountain and deepest fjord.
“Why should the ship be moored to the pier when the pier can be moored to the ship,” wrote Ole Heggheim, one of the company’s partners, in an e-mail to Cruise Critic. Heggheim explained that the collapsible dock can offload more than 4,000 passengers in an hour from an 1,100-foot-long ship. Comfortable operation is possible in even 3 to 6 foot swells, he said.
Skjolden’s SeaWalk is the first of its species, though Heggheim and company hope other tender ports will see the value. (You can have your very own for less than half the cost of a dock, he added.) So who’s next?
Trade secrets at this point, said Heggheim, but “any port that uses tendering operation could benefit from the SeaWalk.” Tops on our list: Grand Cayman. The popular Caribbean port is one of the biggest cruise pier holdouts, so when rough seas limit tender operations, thousands can be marooned just offshore.
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