It is hoped ‘Nessie’ hunters from across the world will flock to the Highlands after Cruise Loch Ness hope to have increased the odds of spotting the monster by commissioning a cutting-edge £1.4 million catamaran, designed to optimise passengers’ view of the famous Loch Ness.
Family run business Cruise Loch Ness, which is located at Fort Augustus in the Highlands, has given the green light for Australian-based vessel designer Incat Crowther to commission the vessel.
Construction of the catamaran for Cruise Loch Ness, which achieved its prestigious 5-star award from the Scottish Tourist Board in September 2015, is now underway at Exeter Fabrication in England.
The specially-designed catamaran boasts superior features such as monster-sized windows on the main deck, to optimise ‘Nessie’ spotting opportunities. Meanwhile the upper deck will be open at the sides, but covered above, meaning passengers won’t be forced to come inside in bad weather. Toilets and a bar will feature on the main deck.
The vessel will be powered by a pair of Volvo D9 MH main engines. Producing 313kW per side, these powerful engines are capable of propelling the vessel to speeds over 20 knots, whilst being extremely fuel-efficient at the same time.
The cutting-edge catamaran will be able to carry a total of 220 passengers, almost doubling Cruise Loch Ness’s current largest vessel capacity, which can take a total of 120 passengers.
The catamaran will hit the waves of Loch Ness in April 2017.
The vessel was commissioned following a dramatic rise in consumer demand after the family-run company saw a 20 per cent increase in passenger numbers in 2015, compared with the previous year.
Funding for the catamaran has come in the form of a business loan from the Clydesdale Bank as well asprofits from the sale of an older vessel by Cruise Loch Ness.
Managing director Ronald Mackenzie said: “We’ve been experiencing year on year improved consumer trends, and 2015 was phenomenal for us. The Chinese market proved very lucrative in 2015 and we hope to see that continue.
“The idea of the catamaran has been floating about for a couple of years, but the time just feels right to take a leap. We felt if we didn’t do it now, we might have to turn away business in the future, and we certainly don’t want to do that.
“It’s a very exciting for all of the Cruise Loch Ness team. We have a great relationship with the Clydesdale Bank and could not have done it without that support.
“We did have a look around at the second hand boat market – but nothing was geared up to the ‘Nessie’ hunting standards that we want. This new catamaran is being custom-built to give tourists a unique experience whilst they are cruising the Loch.
“We hope the vessel will increase tourist numbers, and therefore increase visitors to the Highlands,which is great news for the economy as a whole.”