Pride of Canterbury

The Pride of Canterbury was built in 1991 as the European Pathway, the second of four sisterships, originally as a dedicated freight ship for the Dover to Zeebrugge freight service. The original order with the shipyard was for four identical ferries to be named: European Seaway, European Highway, European Pathway and European Causeway. However as ever in the ever changing ferry world during construction of the European Causeway the design was amended and the ship was launched as the full passenger ship Pride of Burgundy.

Throughout the ships career the Pride of Canterbury (ex. European Pathway) has only ever worked on routes out of Dover, in fact the ship has only ever operated on two routes. The Dover to Zeebrugge route in the original freight design as the European Pathway from 1991 to 2003 and since then on the Dover to Calais route as the Pride of Canterbury in full passenger design. In 2003 when the Zeebrugge route closed the ships were sent back to the builders to take up the option that was designed into the ship during construction, this option essentially gutted the superstructure that was present and then substantially added to the superstructure all the way to the rear of the ship. Very little of the passenger decks remain the same as when she was built and it is very easy to forget that the ship is a sister to the European Seaway and Pride of Burgundy.

This project for the conversion was named 'Project Darwin' and turned two twelve-year-old freighters into bright and modern passenger vessels. The ship emerged from the shipyard resplendent in a new livery, as a freight ship the hull was dark blue up to the top of the freight decks, whereas as a passenger ship the dark blue stopped halfway, now carrying the name of Pride of Canterbury. Upon entering passenger service the ship took up the roster of the ageing P&OSL Canterbury, which was then retired from the fleet and sold to Baltic interests. The ship is the third to carry the name Pride of Canterbury.

The Pride of Canterbury's career has been relatively uneventful, however on the 31st January 2008 whilst the ship was sheltering off Deal in Kent during a violent storm. The ship struck an underwater object that caused millions of pounds worth of damage and resulting in the ship needing a new propeller shaft and propeller, this object was later identified as the wreck of the SS Mahratta which sank in 1939. Whilst the damage to the ship was to prove expensive, no damage was caused that required immediate action and the ship was able to sail to Dover unaided but did require help berthing due to the loss of one of her two propellers.

After an initial inspection and repairs in Falmouth the ship did return to limited service, the parts required were not an "off the shelf" option so had to be made to order, however operating only on one propeller the ship did have restrictions placed upon it and was forbidden from operating in rough weather so was frequently stood down from service. In the end once the routes refit season was finished it was decided the best course of action was to stand the ship down until repaired so the ship ended up being out of service for over six months whilst the new parts were constructed and transported the shipyard in Dunkerque.

The Pride of Canterbury once again hit the headlines in 2014 when at 08:00 on the 29th September on approach to the Port of Calais after a routine sailing from Dover the ship suffered an engine room fire which resulted in a loss of power and black smoke pouring from the ship. No injuries occurred and the ship berthed safely in Calais, the fire being extinguished by the on-board fire suppression systems. Essentially a text-book operation for everyone involved and showed the professionalism of the ships crew. The Pride of Canterbury was then taken to Dunkerque for repairs, due to the nature of the fire the ship had to be taken "dead ship", i.e. was towed. At the time the Pride of Burgundy was operating on limited crew and limited sailings due to the level of demand, the ship was brought back up to full crew compliment and began operating the Pride of Canterbury's timetable to ensure the passenger service remained on track. The Pride of Burgundy had been operating mainly as a freight only ship at the time.