Travelling Australia - Journal 2012
June 2012 - PS Murray Princess Description
Murray Princess
PS Murray Princess heading upstream in the Murray River near Mannum. She normally cruises at 6 knots (approximately 12 kilometres per hour).
Murray Princess is a 1,500 GRT (gross registered tonnes) stern paddle-wheeler built in 1986 at Goolwa at the mouth of the Murray River. She is 67 metres long with a 15 metres beam. Although officially described as a paddle-steamer ('PS') she does not use steam propulsion and there appears to be no clear reason for her to be called a paddle-steamer.
Paddlewheel Stern of the Murray Princess. The paddle-wheel is driven by hydraulic pumps on the hubs; two of the three rudders can be seen just protruding from the water. The tall glass windows forward of the paddle-wheel are in the Paddlewheel Lounge where passengers can sit and watch the paddle-wheel going around. The noise of the paddle-wheel is also obvious in the lounge.

from astern Murray Princess from astern. The paddle-wheel is nearly as wide as the vessel; it was higher when first built but the size caused some difficulty and diameter was reduced.

Propulsion is by twin diesels with hydraulic drive to the stern paddle-wheel. She draws 1.2 metres and has a flat bottom with triple rudders; one on either side of the paddle-wheel and a central rudder forward of the paddle-wheel under the passenger lounge. Directional stability is limited because of the flat bottom so the helm is continually moving to adjust the course. Bow and stern thrusters (each driven by a V8 engine) can move the vessel sideways when required or are available when precise manoeuvering is required such as entering and leaving locks. Electrical generators operate independently of the propulsion so power is available when the ship is alongside.

Accommodation is in twin cabins (with single bunks), there is a handful of staterooms with double beds. All cabins have ensuites. Television is not available onboard because of reception difficulty along the river. Mobile telephone coverage is limited with many black holes and passengers are reminded that mobile phones continually searching for stations make heavier demand on their batteries and need more frequent recharging. The vessel accommodates up to 120 passengers with 22 to 28 crew. Most cabins have external access onto walkways along the sides of the ship; passengers are immediately aware of cold weather. This arrangements makes scenery watching very easy; cabin occupants only have to step outside their cabins to have a full view of the river on their side of the vessel.
Murray Princess
PS Murray Princess moored at Blanchetown. The spotlights at the upper extremities are already shining. The black pointing ends on the upper deck (the Sun Deck) are the ornamental funnels folded down so the vessel will fit under the Sturt Highway bridge at Blanchetown.
From ahead Murray Princess moored with gangway rigged so passengers can go ashore.

Cabins have drawers, a wardrobe, mirrors, and two bunks with storage space underneath. They do not have table, desk or chair; the Paddlewheel Lounge at the stern is more than adequate for relaxing, reading, knitting or working on crosswords. Cabins have several electrical outlets for computers, mobile phones, shavers or hair dryers. Beds have electric blankets for the cold weather. Heaters, fans or air conditioners are not fitted in cabins which are warmed or cooled via a ducted system. In our experience the cabin warming certainly worked; cooling was not needed. Independent air conditioners serve the Paddlewheel Lounge for heating and cooling.

The main deck (known as Randell Deck) is the formal entry deck with access onto the vessel; the paddle-wheel is at this level at the stern and the line-handling deck is forward on this deck. The shore gangway is run out from the forward part when alongside. Most cabins on Randell are set above deck level with access steps to stop water entering cabins in rough weather. The Paddlewheel passenger lounge extends across this deck with extensive glass windows looking out to the stern and sides; this is the passenger area with 24-hour tea/coffee/hot drink making and many easy chairs and tables. Below Randell deck and entirely internal is Chaffey Deck with some (nine) internal cabins, spa, sauna, laundry and souvenir shop.

Above Randell deck is Cadell Deck which is mainly accommodation cabins with the wheelhouse forward and the upper section of the Paddlewheel Lounge aft - this upper section of the passenger lounge can be reached via two spiral staircases from the main lounge on the deck below. Sturt Deck, above Chaffey, is occupied by the kitchen, Sturt Dining Room and the Bar forward on that deck. Dining Room and Bar have fully glazed windows allowing passengers to watch the scenery while dining and drinking. All meals are taken in the Sturt Dining Room which is also used for presentations during the cruise. Breakfast is self-serve with fruit, cereal, toast and/or hot dishes (sausages, bacon, eggs, hash browns). Most other meals are table service, set menu, usually with two choices. A few meals are buffet.

On the top of the superstructure is the Sun Deck, wide open to the wind, sun and sky. Gymnasium equipment is set up on this deck under an awning. Viewing the passing river is best from this vantage point but the cold wind is also most strongly felt there.

A five-person lift connects main decks but not the Sun Deck; this hydraulic lift is different to ordinary building lifts. Stairs between decks are fairly steep; those up to the Sun Deck are steeper with shallow treads.

Murray Princess is effectively restricted to the Murray River. The downstream limit to her movement is the height of bridges at Murray Bridge which are too low for her to pass under easily. On her delivery voyage from Goolwa part of the superstructure was removed so she could fit under these bridges; we can conclude that she could pass under these bridges with sufficient need and preparation but the upstream limit is more definite. The upstream limit is Lock 11 at Mildura; this lock is 61.5 metres long and too short for Murray Princess (67 metres long) which goes to Renmark for slipping and major maintenance work. Lock length outside South Australia is a major limitation which appears to be insurmountable in practice.

Paddlewheel Lounge Paddlewheel Lounge at the stern of the ship is the passenger relaxation area. Extensive glass walls allow the passing scenery to be viewed in comfort.

Deck passage Cabin doors open onto the side passageways. Passengers can see the river scenery as soon as they step outside their cabins but rapidly opening a door may cause injury to another passenger passing the cabin.

Wheelhouse Wheelhouse at the forward end of Cadell Deck. Bow and stern thrusters are controlled from auxiliary control panels on the side of the vessel opposite the wheelhouse doors.