For today's entry, we will be looking at a something of an unusual ship for this blog: the Isosaari, a local ferry connecting central Helsinki to the outlying island Isosaari. I've been sitting on these photos for some time, and the reason why I was inspired to post them today is the fact that the miniature Isosaari is slated to become a cruise ship this year – it will make one two-night cruise from Helsinki to Turku via Jussarö and Örö, and another one with reverse itininerary in early May. Both cruises will be all inclusive, even! So let's take a brief look at the history of one of the smallest premium cruise ships out there!
Name history: Sveio, Aspö, Isosaari
Built 1967, Ankerløkken Værft Florø, Norway
Tonnage 506 GT
Length 44,18 m
Width 9,94 m
Draugth 3,30 m
40 passenger berths
2 Wichmann diesels, combined 661 kW
1 bow thruster
Speed 11,5 knots
The Isosaari was originally built in 1967 by the Ankerløkken Værft in Florø, Norway as the Norwegian local ferry Sveio for Hardanger Sunnhordlandske Dampskibsselskab. As built, the ship had a drive-through car deck for 30 cars and a passenger capacity of 350.
After lengthy service in Norway, it was sold in 1995 to Suomen Saaristolaivat in Turku, Finland and, despite being 28 years old, rebuilt at Pansion Korjaustelakka in Turku, with new passenger areas built into most of the former car deck. At the same time, the superstructure was made lower to keep the gross tonnage below 500 (as ships of under 500 gt can follow different crweing rules than bigger ships) Renamed Aspö, the ship then started service in the Turku Archipelago, linking to the outlying island of Utö.
In this role the ship remained until spring 2018, when it was sold to Suomen Saaristokuljetus in Helsinki, who had a dual role in mind for the ship: it both links Kauppatori in central Helsinki to the island of Isosaari, and functions as a hotel ship in Isosaari during the summers, and as a hotel ship and restaurant in central Helsinki during the winters. In March 2019, Suomen Saaristokuljetus made known that the ship would offer the two all-inclusive Helsinki-Jussarö-Örö-Turku cruises mentioned above, as a test for the potential demand for further such cruises in the future.
The photos below show the Isosaari on the afternoon and evening of 23 June 2018 in the Kustaanmiekka strait, in the first two photos outbound from Kauppatori towards Isosaari and in the second two sailing in the opposite direction. As per normal practica, click on the images to see them in larger size.
|Apparently, the ship has a pretty attractive 1960s style interior. I wouldn't know, I haven't sailed on it yet.|
|In 2019, the Isosaari will also connect to Vallisaari, the island seen in the background here.|
|An hour later, the ship is in the same spot but bound in the other direction.|
Edited 2019-03-09 20.47 with additional information about the ship's 1995 refit, courtesy of Miran Hamidulla.