Critical Thinking Assignment

CTA 1: Victoria Clipper service by Clipper Navigation Inc.

Victoria Clipper is a service offered by Clipper Navigation Inc. (Links to an external site.) Victoria Clippers are some of the world’s quickest catamarans; in fact, the Victoria Clipper IV’s turbojet service makes it the fastest passenger ferry in North America. The speed of the clipper ships during the 71-mile voyage between Victoria (the capital of Vancouver Island on the north-west coast of Canada) and Seattle is 25 to 45 knots (about 28 to 53 miles per hour), enabling them to complete the journey in two to three hours. These unique Clipper Ferries operate between Seattle, the San Juan Islands, Victoria and Vancouver. The service is renowned for not only its speed, but also its comfort, reliability, frequency and low cost. It makes perfect sense for holiday-makers who can leave the car behind in the gridlock that is sometimes Seattle, and island hop between the beautiful islands. It is also the favored route of many business travelers and commuters who either live on the many islands or travel between Vancouver City and Seattle. What better way might there be to arrive at work? Sitting on a ‘float plane’ in the comfort of the vast viewing areas (on the sundeck or inside) watching Orca whales and bald eagles circling the stunning vegetation of the many coves and islands. With towering trees and snow-capped Mount Rainier as a backdrop, as an attendant serves you in your seat. It is a unique travel experience. And all this for less than a rail commuter would pay to travel from the Home Counties to London.

Because so little of these aluminum alloy catamarans lies below the waterline, they are remarkably easy to handle and provide both a fast and smooth ride. These are also large ships. The latest Clipper IV carries 350 passengers and is 132 feet from stem to stern with a cruising range of 346 nautical miles. There are 12 ferries in the fleet and they sail four times a day between Seattle, Vancouver and Victoria. In addition there are departures twice a day from each of these cities that stop off at the various islands and other coastal towns.

Coordination of these services is vital. All the departures of Clippers ferries have to be closely coordinated with all the booking services and reservations for both pedestrian and car passengers. Many of the ferry sailing’s link up with local motor coach companies, small seaplane services, helijet flights and Amtrak Railways that will drive on and off and take passengers to destinations further afield such as Portland in Oregon, the Canadian Rockies and the Whistler Ski Resort.

Operations management is a key concern for Clipper Navigation. As their Vice-President for Operations, Tom Morris remarks:
The coordination and management of these interconnected operations is vital to us. But it is not just a matter of internal operations, the success of our services relies heavily upon our partners, both horizontal and vertical.

A home video about Victoria Clipper service (Links to an external site.)

(Apologies for providing a link to someone’s home video, but it does offers a succinct overview of the nature and range of services that Victoria Clipper provides during the journey between Victoria, Canada and Seattle, WA, USA. Obviously, the video is not professionally created/edited so please ignore personal commentary, music selection, and/or typos in captions and instead focus on video imagery.)

Write well-thought out answers to the questions (associated with Victoria Clipper service vignette) below:

  1. How would you describe the product and service combination supplied by Clipper Navigation?
  2. Their VP for Operations mentions the importance of horizontal and vertical partners. What products and services might these provide and what is the essential difference between the two categories?
  3. Think about the need for flexibility necessary for Clipper Navigation and is defined by its internal and external characteristics. What are the particular operational activities vital to ensure Clipper Navigation’s flexibility? Can these be improved?

Please follow the rubric below and write about 700-800 words.


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