05 January 2019

Wasa Express interiors, 13 March 2014

Happy belated new year to all Kships readers! There was a bit of a hiatus over christmas and new year, as you probably noticed – in addition to being "regularly busy" with the festivities, there were also other issues of a personal nature that kept me from the regular update schedule. But now we're back and hopefully will be back to the weekly updates.

Today, we will look at an older photo set that, for some reason, I neglected to post when it was brand new: interiors of the Wasaline Vaasa-Umeå ferry Wasa Express from my & Bruce Peter's trip onboard her back in 2014.

Wasa Express

IMO 8000226
Name history: Travemünde, Travemünde Link, Sally Star, Thjelvar, Color Traveller, Thjelvar, Rostock, Thjelvar, Betancuria, Wasa Express
Built 1981, Wärtsilä Helsinki, Finland
Tonnage 17 046 GT
Length 141,00 m
Width 22,81 m
Draugth 4,95 m
Ice class 1A
915 passengers
316 passenger berths
450 cars
1 150 lanemeters
4 Wärtsilä diesels, combined 14 866 kW
2 propellers
1 bow thruster
Speed 19,5 knots

For those interested, the history of the Wasa Express was covered in a previous entry, which also includes my (so far only) exterior shots of her.

Before making judgements on the Wasa Express based on this entry, please remember that the photos are from 2014 and many of the interior spaces have since been refurbished. Wasaline are, of course, planning a replacement for 2021 delivery – I guess I will need to do another trip to Vaasa before then and document the Wasa Express again. Not an unpleasant prospect, as the service and food onboard were some of the best I have encountered on any ship, even if part of the ship were, at least at the time, in need of some TLC.

Decks 9-11 – all passenger spaces onboard the Wasa Express are found on decks 7 and 8. Above are the bridge (on deck 10), crew spaces and open decks accessible to passengers.

Sunset at Holmsund (Umeå's outer harbour) as seen from deck 9 of the Wasa Express.
Deck 8 – back in 2014, this deck had the bar forward, passenger cabins amidships, and kennels, conference rooms and the children's playroom aft. Since then, the aft areas have been reorganised so that there is now a sitting lounge and an extra-cost business lounge there in addition to the kennels and conference rooms.

The bar occupies the entire width of the ship forward. Since 2014, this had been rebuilt with the bar counter moved away from the view-blocking central location and is now just behind the photographer's back in this view. The chairs have also been swapped for new ones.
Midships there are a total of 60 cabins.
The kennel as it was back then. The chairs have since been swapped for new ones. Unfortunately, the rest of the aft area were closed (and I didn't want to intrude on the kid's playroom), so I can offer you no other shots of this part of the ship.
Deck 7 – here were (and still are) the cafeteria, à la carte restaurant, shop and the information booth. New additions since 2014 are the children's playroom (moved down here from deck 8) and buffet restaurant, which replaced the (at least on my trip unused) second cafeteria aft.

The cafeteria had a wonderfully eclectic collection of chairs from the ship's career back then. Perhaps fortunately, they have since been replaced with new ones and are now all of a uniform design.
The Vitfågelskär à la carte restaurant served some of the absolutely best, locally-inspired cuisine I have ever eaten onboard any ship (and yes, this includes your luxury cruise ships like the Crystal Symphony). The sea buckthorn panna cotta was to die for – and I don't even normally like panna cotta.
Midships, a starboard arcade connects the forward and aft restaurants. The glass doors on the right led to the small onboard shop, but this has since been replaced by the kid's playroom and a new, larger shop has been added aft. As was typical for Wärtsilä-designed ferries at the time, the galley occupies the same space port, serving restaurants both forward and aft of it.
The aft stair lobby, which also serves as the entrance foyer.
The (unused) aft cafeteria has since then been completely transformed into a buffet restaurant – which, my friends tell me – serves excellent food. The new shop is again behind the photographer's back here.
Decks 3-6 – the ship has two double-height car decks, allowing it to carry a pretty impressive number of lane metres considering what a small ship we're talking about.

While the ship does actually have a bow visor and side gate that would allow drive-through operation, for reasons unknown to me Wasaline use the bow ramps in both ports. The traffic cones are here because the gangway in Vaasa was broken and we had to embark and disembark via the upper car deck.
Kships, as always, will return.

14 December 2018

Roald Amundsen under construction, 13 December 2018

Yesterday, I had the chance to visit the Kleven shipyard in Ulsteinvik, Norway (as a representative of Cruise Business Review) and see Hurtigruten's new expedition ships Roald Amundsen and Fridtjof Nansen under construction. I have written a bit about the event and ships for Cruise Business' website here, and a more detailed article will follow for the magazine's next issue. Here on my blog, however, I thought I would share some pictures from the visit to Kleven, and take a look at what the Roald Amundsen looks like inside now and what it will look like when delivered.

As per the usual, all photos are mine – except, this time around, the artist's impressions from Hurtigruten, which are clearly marked. As usual, you can see the images in larger size by clicking on them.
The world's most environmentally friendly expedition vessel in the outfitting quay.

Roald Amundsen

IMO 9813072
Built 2019, Kleven Ulsteinvik, Norway
Tonnage 20 889 GT
Length 140,00 m
Width 23,60 m
Draft 5,30 m
Ice class PC6
530 passengers
530 berths
4 Rolls-Royce Bergen diesels, combined 14 400 kW
2 Azipull azimuthing propellers
2 bow thrusters
Speed 15 knots

Fridtjof Nansen

IMO TBA
Built 2020, Kleven Ulsteinvik, Norway
Tonnage 20 889 GT
Length 140,00 m
Width 23,60 m
Draft 5,30 m
Ice class PC6 
530 passengers
530 berths
4 Rolls-Royce Bergen diesels, combined 14 400 kW
2 Azipull azimuthing propellers
2 bow thrusters
Speed 15 knot

So, what was it like at Kleven? We had a chance to photograph the ships under construction (above and more below), were treated to several presentations from not only the people from Hurtigruten but also the Kleven shipyard and Rolls-Royce (who designed the ship), plus a lovely lunch of authentic food to be served onboard the ships. And, last but certainly not least, we had a chance to go onboard the Roald Amundsen in its incomplete guise, which is always an intensely interesting experience.

Presentations (and lunch) were the yard's welding hall, which also had this nice model of the Roald Amundsen on display.
Roald Amundsen under wraps in the lingering sunrise.
The Fridtjof Nansen is still in a more incomplete state – but fortunately (for photos) not under wraps.
Impressive ships up close, despite their modest dimensions.
Work at the yard didn't stop just because we were there – post-lunch the welding robots were in action (I believe building blocks for a ship under construction at the nearby Ulstein Verft shipyard), attracting the attention of many photographers.

Next, it was time for our tour of the ship. Obviously, with delivery still half a year away, most of the Roald Amundsen's interiors are still far from finished – which, of course, made the visit all the more interesting!

The forward battery room.
The first stop on our tour was of the most innovative parts about the ship – the battery room of the hybrid diesel-electric power plant. The batteries are charged from the ship's own engines, and then their output is used in "peak-shaving mode", aka allowing the engines always to operate at optimal output and getting extra power from the batteries as needed. Although to a layman like me it sounds counter-intuitive, this is expected to decrease emissions from the ship by at least 14 percent.

As you can see, the battery room is relatively empty. This, we were explained, is a concious strategy – as battery technology is currently developing at a high speed, Hurtigruten decided the sensible thing is to get additional batteries one technology has developed further, rather than get top-range batteries now and then discover in a few years they are outdated in terms of storage capacity. Considering how much resources the production of batteries takes up, this certainly lines up with Hurtigruten's sustainability efforts.

The forward engine room, with two Rolls-Royce Vergen diesels. As demanded by regulations, there is a second, separate engine room with two additional main engines.
The main dining room Aune, as it appeared yesterday...
...and as it will be in six month's time. Image courtesy of Hurtigruten.
In the passenger areas, the layout of the ship follows the model of existing 1990s/2000s generation Hurtigruten vessels surprisingly closely. Aft on the main deck is the main restaurant, Aune (named after Tinus Aune, who supplied food to make Norwergian polar expeditions).

Fredheim restaurent under construction...
...and as it will be. The windows especially look like they're going to be amazing (with all due respect to the decor, of course). Image courtesy of Hurtigruten.
With the new ships, Hurtigruten offers their passengers three different dining options for the first time. One of the two new restaurants is Fredheim, a casual eatery serving international cuisine (the name comes from a famous hunting lodge on Svalbard, a place visited by people world-wide). A third dining venue, which we alas did not see, is the extra-cost fine dining restaurant Lindstrøm, named after the cook who travelled with Amundsen both through the Northwest Passage and to the South Pole.
The science center did not look that impressive when we were there...
...but it not only looks to be impressive, it is also going to be innovative as heck. Image courtesy of Hurtigruten.
The Amundsen Science Center is found on the forward part of the main deck (where the existing Hurtigruten ships of the 90s/00s generation have their conference suites). This is by far the most exciting place onboard if you ask me; as an "edutainment" venue, it showcases the nature of the destinations the ship sails to and allows passengers to connect to the places they will visit already before they arrive. While a portion of the center is suitable to the traditional lectures, the space will be so much more than that, being akin to a science center or museum of science aimed at the general population on dry land, albeit of course smaller.

Forward of the science center is an enclosed observation deck.
Two cabins were already (almost) completely outfitted; here is a family cabin which should have a double bed, plus the convertible sofa you see in the foreground...
...and here is a standard balcony cabin for two.
The cabins will step up the standard for Hurtigruten ships: all will be outside cabins, with circa 50 having their own private balcony. Even the smallest cabins are a generous 23 square metres in size. Surprisingly – at least to me – the cabins are not made from prefabricated modules, but assembled in situ... which seems somewhat anarchonistic for shipbuilding of this day and age. (And without intending to brag, I am something of an expert in shipbuilding these days).

On the traditional top-deck location there is an observation lounge...
...which will look much better when it's actually outfitted. Image courtesy of Hurtigruten.
Again mirroring the layouts of the previous generation of Hurtigruten vessels, there is an observation lounge on the top deck, above the bridge. Personally, I am ever so slightly disappointed that the lounge is a single-level space and not a two-level space like those onboard the Trollfjord and Midnatsol – but that doesn't change the fact it's going to be a really impressive space.

The Roald Amundsen is going to enter service in May 2019, and I really hope I will have a chance to go onboard again to see the ship as it is meant to be. But for now, special thanks to Hurtigruten for the chance to see the ships as they are now, and to Cruise Business Review for letting me be the one who goes to visit Kleven.

Edited 15.12.2018: Additional information for the ships' technical details.

10 December 2018

Book review: Ferries of Scandinavia by Matthew Punter

Matthew Punter: Ferries of Scandinavia, the Baltic Sea and the Nordic countries. Ferry Publications: Ramsey 2018. 144 pages.

For a change, I'm featuring a book here that I haven't written anything for – instead, Matthew Punter's Ferries of Scandinavia features numerous photos that I have taken. Most of them will of course be familiar from this blog, but certainly it's different seeing them printed in a book. (Although, full disclosure, I did proofread the manuscript and offer some feedback).

Unlike some of the other books in Ferry Publications' Ferries of... series, Ferries of Scandinavia is not a pure photo book, but a lavishly illustrated overview of the ferry scene of Scandinavia, the Baltic Sea, Faroe Islands and Iceland. The book is divided into six segments: Northern Baltic, Southern Baltic, Kattegat & Skagerrak, Danish Domestic, Norwegian Domestic and Iceland & the Faroe Islands.

As an overview, the book is a very welcome addition, as no such volume previously existed. Personally, I especially enjoyed the last three chapters, as the domestic services of Denmark, Norway, Iceland and the Faroes are not something I would have detailed knowledge of. For all regions covered, there is also a short look into the local ferry history, as well as a more general history of the overall Scandinavian ferry development in the beginning of the book. These, unfortunately, have several small errors in them, such as wrong delivery years for ships or wrong routes. Nothing major, but it is somewhat irritating these have not been fixed. Whether such small errors are a dealbreaker is, of course, entirely up to each individual reader.

The photos range from great (these include ones from the likes of Kim Viktor, Søren Lund Hviid and, of course, yours truly, so there are bound to be great ones) to decent. While the standard is towards the great photos, some of the choices did make me wonder if the photo used in the book was really the best one available – although this may also be a matter of personal preference.

Despite the occasional piece of criticism, overall Ferries of Scandinavia is a very good book that nicely fills a gap in ferry literature and is certainly worth the price of admission. Ferries of Scandinavia is available from well-stocked bookshops – but for those of us living in countries that no longer have such luxuries (like Finland), I recommend getting yours from the Ferry Publications website (which, for some reason, shows the book with a different – and arguably superior – cover).

Kships will return later this week with, I hope, some very interesting pictures of certain under-construction cruise ships.

02 December 2018

Trollfjord in Ålesund, 2 October 2017

Since I will be heading back to the lovely Norwegian town of Ålesund soon (unfortunately only passing through en-route elsewhere), I thought this week would be a fine time to post some previously unreleased ship photos taken there.

Trollfjord

IMO 9233258
Built 2002, Bruce Shipyard Landskrona, Sweden (hull) / Fosen Mek. Verksted Rissa, Norway (outfitting)
Tonnage 16 140 GT
Length 135,75 m
Width 21,50 m
Draft 4,90 m
822 passengers
636 berths
35 cars
2 Wärtsilä diesels, combined 8 280 kW
2 Aquamaster azimuthing propellers
3 bow thrusters
Speed 18 knots

The Trollfjord was the second of Hurtigruten's so-called "Millennium ships" (albeit the first in the series, the Finnmarken delivered earlier in the same, was of a completely different design). It was ordered in June 2000 by the Troms Fylkes Dampskibsselskap (TFDS) from the Fosen shipyard in Rissa, Norway, although the hull construction was subcontracted to the Bruce Shipyard in Sweden. The ship's exterior, quite different from the previous newbuildings in the Hurtigruten fleet, was by Falkum-Hansen Design, who also designed the interiors and the general arrangement plan. The Trollfjord was delivered May 2002, delayed by some six weeks. After the first summer season, the ship returned to its builders for the installation of a third bow thruster unit.

In 2006 the Trollfjord lost its original attractive TFDS funnel colours (a broad white stripe flanked by two anrrow red ones on a black background) when TFDS and the other Hurtigruten partner Ofotens og Vesteraalens Dampskibsselskap merged to form Hurtigruten ASA. This did not have an effect on the ship's operations, of course. As is perhaps inevitable on such a hectic schedule, the ship has experienced the occasional accident, such as minor groundings and collisions, but none have been severe. At the time of writing, the ship remains in the Norwegian coastal service, but when Hurtigruten loses a part of the state-subvented service to the newcomer Havila Kystruten in 2021 the Trollfjord is, to my understand, one of the ships slated to ne moved to be a full-time cruise ship.

The photos below show the Trollfjord moored at Ålesund during the post-midnight call in the port on the route southbound from Kirkenes to Bergen on 2 October 2017. As per the usual, click on the images to see them in larger size.

I did take some photos of the ship at sea, too, but the lighting conditions were such that none of them turned out too good. It would be interesting to try something similar around midsummer...
Contemporary Norwegian architecture, ship and buildings all.
A bit more unusual view, but one I very much like.


As always, Kships will return.

27 November 2018

The new Silja Serenade interiors, 27 November 2018

Earlier today, I had the chance to attend the press showing of the Silja Serenade, showcasing her most recent interior refit. So, let's get down to business

Silja Serenade

IMO 8715259
Built 1990, Masa-Yards Turku New Shipyard, Finland
Tonnage 58 376 GT
Length 203,03 m
Width 31,93 m
Draught 7,12 m
Ice class 1A Super
2 852 passengers
3 001 berths
410 cars
1 600 lane metres
4 Wärtsilä-Vasa diesels, combined 32 580 kW
2 propellers
2 bow thrusters
1 stern thruster
Speed 21 knots

Once again, the new interiors of the various public space are the work of the Finnish interior design firm Aprocos, who have pretty much become Tallink's designers of choice. Interestingly enough, Aprocos' founder and CEO Heikki Mattila had already worked on the original interiors of these ships.

Starlight and the Seaview Lounge on Decks 7 and 8

The former Atlantis Palace show lounge and casino complex, forward on decks 7 and 8, which previously survived nearly in original condition, has been finally given a thorough refit, which included new staircases, replacing three old bars with two new ones, and an increased number of seats especially in the forward viewing area (now called the Seaview Lounge, whereas it was previously just the Bow Bar). Unfortunately, during the press visit the Starlight complex was not entirely complete, most notably lacking the various plants that are an integral part of the final design.

The Seaview Lounge now has much more seating, thanks to the bar originally the left being demolished. The little bit of purple in the background is the new bar, which serves both the Seaview Lounge and the main Starlight complex.
The tiered seating is where the space retains most of its original appearance, but gone are for example the seashell-shaped lamps.
On the right here was originally another bar counter, but that too has been demolished to make way for more seating. The new bars are also more up-to-date in their design, as the sheer number of drinks served has radically increased in the past two decades and the originals were simply not designed for the number of things served today.
Aft and partially below of the twin-level showlounge area is Starlight's casino, which already had the final greenery in place. I very much look forward to sailing on the ship again and seeing the Starlight complex as it is meant to be.
As a part of the programme, we also had the pleasure of seeing the ship's new The Great Gatsby -themed show. I must say in all honesty that I'm not usually a big fan of onboard shows, be they on my local cruise ferries or on proper cruise ships. But Silja's Great Gatsby really made an impression on me. I would say it easily topped, for example, Norwegian Cruise Line's much-advertised Havana, which I saw when I sailed on the Norwegian Bliss earlier this year. Then again, the show did have a lot of stuff I enjoy, such as an art deco aesthetic, an electro swing soundtrack and handsome dancers.

The Great Gatsby.
Bon Vivant on Deck 7

Further aft along the Promenade, the Bon Vivant fine dining restaurant, wine bar and the adjacent wine shop have also been redecorated (and it was about time too).

I'm afraid the lighting here didn't quite agree with my camera, and the vibrant dark blue of the chairs and carpets ended up looking grey instead.

Grill House on Deck 7

Further aft, the popular El Capitan grill restaurant has given way to the Grill House, a similarly themed restaurant already found onboard many other Silja Line and Tallink ships. Gone is the 1990s fax mexicana and in is a more refined grill restaurant (though I must say that my favourite Grill House remains that onboard the Silja Europa – also designed by Aprocos).

I wasn't a fan of El Capitan, but here I could eat just for the decor.
I really show have cleared that plate away.
Coffee & Co on Deck 7

This space wasn't actually added in the most recent refit, but in the 2015 one (I think). As it has not featured here before I thought I would put it in anyway. This space used to be the children's playroom back in the day, but that was moved to larger premises down on Deck 5 (my son loves the place), so a new cafeteria could be inserted here.

This place is, alas, where the Serenade loses to her younger sister Silja Symphony, as that ship has a sushi restaurant – one of the best I've eaten in outside Japan – instead.
Sea Pub on Deck 7

Previously, the pub aft on the promenade was named Old Port Pub and in my books, it was one of the gloomiest, least pleasant spaces onboard. The new Sea Pub is much lighter, airier and generally more pleasant (but it must be said it isn't quite as good as its cousin onboard the Silja Symphony in my books, as on that ship it's even nicer and less publike).

This is a pub I might consider visiting. The old incarnation wasn't.
Stairwells, corridors and lobbies

All over the ship, the stairwells, lobbies and corridors have been given a new look, including new carpets, a new colour scheme and new artworks. And it was about time, as these were areas where the original look of the ship survived. And while it feels silly to put money on these things, as they don't really generate money, they are also some of the first places the passenger sees when coming onboard and will effect how they judge the entire ship.

This is just so much better than the old one. I kind of feel bad about the originals artworks in the staircases... but then again, they weren't particularly impressive, so I won't really miss them.
Special thanks to Heikki Mattila and Miko Mattila of Aprocos. Kships, as always, will return.