02 August 2010

Ocean Countess, 5 July 2010

Ocean Countess

IMO 7358561
Built 1976, Burmeister & Wain Copenhagen, Denmark (hull), Navali Mechaniche Affini La Spezia, Italy (outfitting)
Tonnage 17 593 GT
Length 163,56 m
Width 22,80 m
Draught 6,40 m
959 passengers
4 B&W diesels, combined 15 447 kW
2 propellers
1 bow thruster
Speed 21,5 knots

Ocean Countess is a ship with a long and interesting history. Her hull was built in 1975 by the Burmeister & Wain shipyard in Copenhagen, but outfitting her interior was carried out at Navali Mechaniche Affini in La Spezia and was not completed until 1976. Cunard Countess, as she was known back then, was the first in a duo of ships built by Cunard for Caribbean cruising (her sister was the Cunard Princess, originally to be named Cunard Conquest). The sisters were notably more informal in their atmosphere than Cunard's previous ships - and in keeping with the company policy established with QE2, they originally carried plain white funnels. Rumour has it that Hugh Hefner of Playboy fame participated in the interior design, wanting the ship to be like "a floating Playboy mansion".

In 1982-83 the Cunard Countess was used as a troopship in the Falklands War (her fleetmate QE2 and P&O's Canberra usually get all the glory for this, but the Countess was there too). Around this same time she was painted with Cunard's traditional black/ref funnel colours. In 1993-1994 the Cunard Countess briefly served under the joint Cunard-EffJohn venture Cunard Crown Cruises. Cunard Crown was not a success, and in 1996 the Cunard Countess was sold. She passed on to Awani Cruises as Awani Dream II for cruises around the Indonesian islands. Awani soon ran into financial difficulties, and in 1998 the Awani Dream II was sold to Royal Olympic Cruises and she was renamed Olympic Countess. In 2002 after the Olympic Committee took offense in Royal Olympic's naming scheme, the ship's name was amended to Olympia Countess and the company name correspondingly to Royal Olympia Cruises.

Royal Olympia Cruises failed in 2004 and the Olympia Countess was sold to Maximus Navigation (who to the knowledge of the author remain her owners to this day) and remained Ocean Countess for service with Monarch Classic Cruises. In 2005-2006 she was chartered to the Germany-based Holiday Kreuzfahrten as the Lili Marleen. Following Holiday's bankruptcy the ship was laid up, until chartered to Louis Cruise Lines in spring 2007 as a temporary replacement for the sunken Sea Diamond under the name Ruby. In late 2007 the ship returned to Monarch Classic Cruises and her previous name Ocean Countess. She remained with Monarch Classic until 2009 when she was chartered to the Spain-based Quail Cruises. In 2010 the ship was in turn chartered to her current operator, the UK-based Cruise & Maritime Voyages, retaining the name Ocean Countess.

Photographs below are of the Ocean Coutness on Kruunuvuorenselkä, briefly after departing helsinki South Harbour on 5 July 2010. Click on the image(s) to view full size.

Ocean Countess peeking from behind the former fotress island Lonna.
Turning towards the Kustaanmiekka strait....
...and entering the Kustaanmiekka strait.

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