|Approaching Vitznau on Swiss National Day (1st August 2011)|
The Lake Lucerne paddle steamer Unterwalden returned to service in May this year after an overhaul lasting over 30 months and costing more than 10 million Swiss francs (£8 million).
Unterwalden was built by the renowned Swiss company Escher Wyss and entered service on 18th May 1902. Since then she has had 4 general overhauls, including a period from 1978 to 1985 when she was out of service. Substantial rebuilding in 1961 allowed her to sail under the then new Acheregg motorway bridge. Her appearance after that overhaul was less in keeping with her original build and this recent overhaul has ensured that she looks more like she appeared in 1902 while incorporating the latest technology. The masts, funnel and wheelhouse can still be lowered to allow her to reach Alpnachstad, she is the only paddler able to do this. The outside steering stand and tent structure on the upper foredeck have been remodelled and the Stubli has been created once again under the wheelhouse. The restoration of the First Class saloon is of the highest standard complete with hand-painted ceiling decorations.
This year during the peak season Unterwalden is on the 1045 departure from Lucerne to Alpnachstad, she is then on the 1400 Lucerne to Kussnacht and also the 1545 Lucerne to Stansstad. This gives her a slightly different roster from that which she operated prior to her recent overhaul. She is also being used on the sunset cruises (the 1912 to Vitznau) on a Tuesday and Wednesday through July and August. Previously these cruises had been operated by Uri during the peak season. It is thought from next year the daily sunset cruise will be operated by a paddle steamer everyday in the peak season. I can certainly recommend any sailing on Lake Lucerne by a paddler but dining in the First Class saloon aboard Unterwalden while experiencing a sunset is a memory which will last a lifetime.
The following pictures should give some idea of the standard of the work which has been carried out on Unterwalden and her current appearance. Reference can be made to the blog given on this site dated 29th December 2010.
|One of the orginal boiler plates|
(Note the wood carving and ceiling)