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Starlite Princess

102ft x 30ft x 6.5ft Paddlewheel Passenger Vessel

Starlite Princess

From the press release when the vessel was launched around 1987:

The 400 passenger, United States Coast Guard certified, sternwheeler M/V STARLITE PRINCESS was recently launched and delivered by Patti Shipyard, Pensacola, Florida. The 85’ X 30’ vessel was designed by DeJong & Lebet, Inc., and is the sixth passenger vessel delivered in 1986, by the Jacksonville, Florida, Naval Architecture firm with a total passenger capacity for six vessels of 2950. The STARLITE PRINCESS is scheduled to begin Dinner-Cruise service out of Clearwater, Florida/Tampa Bay Area in early December.

A trip on the STARLITE PRINCESS is a step back in time to the days of Mark Twain, when paddle wheelers dominated American waterways. The interior of the vessel features antique-design wallpaper, brass light fixtures, chandeliers, and ceiling fans. Wood trim work in the deckhouses, and dome shaped windows add to the interior to create a nostalgic atmosphere reminiscent of the late nineteenth century.

The STARLITE PRINCESS is powered by a pair of Cummins NTA-855 diesel engines, each driving 140 kW generators on one end and a pair of Rexroth hydraulic pumps through a Funk pump drive on the other end. The hydraulic pumps drive 16 foot diameter port and starboard paddlewheels through Hagg]unds Viking Series hydraulic motors.

The most noteworthy feature of the hydraulic drive system is that it allows the operator the option of running the vessel on one engine with the other engine shut down, providing half speed to both paddlewheels, while still providing full electrical power of 140 kW. When full speed is desired, both engines are on-line, providing maximum paddlewheel RPM’s. The hydraulic drive system components were furnished by Custom Hydraulics of Gretna, Louisiana, who also furnished the hydraulic steering system and air controls.

The main engines are mounted on Korfund vibration isolators, and feature a wet exhaust through the side of the hull, with Verna—Lift fiberglass mufflers, furnished by Vernatone. These features combined with significant amounts of engine room insulation, were designed into the vessel by DeJong & Lebet, Inc. in order to minimize the noise level in the deckhouse dining areas.

The STARLITE PRINCESS carries a United States Coast Guard stability letter for 400 passengers on partially protected waters/Lakes, Bays and Sounds. She can seat 230 passengers for dinner in Main and Balcony Deck, and Second Deck lounges, all fully heated and air conditioned. The lounges also feature two dance floors, a raised bandstand, and large cut-out in the Second Deck over the Main Deck dance floor. This cut—out can be closed off to allow separate functions to run concurrently, while maintaining full access to the rest of the vessel.

The STARLITE PRINCESS has a full service commercial galley located below the Balcony Deck, including a 6 X 6 walk-in refrigerator. A 6 X 8’ walk-in freezer is located in the storeroom just forward of the galley. The refrigerator, freezer, a 600 lb. ice machine and the Main Deck air conditioners are all keel—cooled with Johnson spiral tube coolers mounted to the hull side.

Another novel feature of the STARLITE PRINCESS are the two forward and one aft mooring spuds. These spuds consist of a pipe inside another pipe, with the spud (inner pipe) suspended from a winch on top of the well (outer pipe). The spuds are used where docking facilities are inadequate or non-existent. When the spuds are lowered and dig into the bottom, the vessel essentially becomes its own floating dock, and can then lower its boarding ramp, or "stage", to allow passengers to board from the shore. Any beach, seawall, levee, bulkhead, small dock, etc. becomes accessible to the STARLITE PRINCESS, providing enough water depth for the hull is available.

Principal Characteristics of the STARLITE PRINCESS are as follows:

  • Length: (hull)   84’—O"

  • (with paddlewheel)  102—0"

  • (with stage)  128—6"

  • Beam:  30’-O"

  • Depth (amidships): 6'-6"

  • Draft (loaded): 4'-4"

  • Passengers: 400

  • Fuel Oil: 2,600 gallons

  • Potable Water:  2,200 gallons

  • Sewage:  1,300 gallons

  • Speed:  7½ knots

Principal Suppliers for the STARLITE PRINCESS are as follows:

Designer: DeJong & Lebet, Inc.

Builder:  Patti Shipyard, Inc.

Engines:  Cummins — Alabama

Hydraulics and Steering: Custom Hydraulics

Hydraulic Pumps: Rexroth

Pump Drive: Funk Manufacturers

Hydraulic Motors: Hagglunds

Keel Coolers: Johnson Rubber

Main Deck Windows: Pacific Marine Industries

Refrigeration: Serveco, Pensacola

HVAC: Serveco, Pensacola

Toilets: Mi crophor

Bilge Pump: MP/Flomax

Fire Pump: Crown

Sewage Pump: Scot Marine

HVAC and Refrigeration Pumps:

Water Pressure System: Myers

Spud Winches:  Beebe Brothers

Doors:  Dean Steel

Mufflers:  Verna tone


  1. The vessel also features a main deck lounge which does not have the forest of vertical stanchions found on all other dinner cruise vessels. DeJong & Lebet, Inc. designed special extra strong overhead beams to carry the above deck loads without stanchions, creating a wide—open, uncluttered space.

  2. A great deal of credit for the innovative design features of this vessel goes to the Owner, Phil Henderson1 Jr, of Anderson Bay Cruises. Mr. Henderson worked very closely with DeJong & Lebet, Inc. to incorporate his ideas for a truly unique dinner cruise vessel into the design.

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