22 October 2010

Isabella, 6 October 2010


IMO 8700723
Built 1989, Brodogradiliste Split, Yugoslavia
Tonnage 35 154 GT
Length 169,40 m
Width 27,60 m
Draught 6,40 m
2 480 passengers
2 166 berths
364 cars
900 lane metres
4 Wärtsilä-Pielstick diesels, combined 23 760 kW
2 propellers
2 bow thrusters
Speed 21,5 knots

Isabella was the second of two ships ordered in the mid-80s by SF Line from the Brodogradiliste Split shipyard in the (then-)Yugoslavia. Her older sister Amorella was completed for the Turku-Stockholm service in 1988. Isabella was planned to follow in 1989 and she was to be placed on the Naantali-Kapellskär -route. However, the port authorities of Kapellskär were less than thrilled about the thought of expanding their harbour to accommodate the Isabella (and her envisioned running mate, RAB Slite's Athena). In the end Naantali did expand their harbour to accommodate the new ships, while Kapellskär did not. To make the best of the situation, SF Line decided to place the Isabella on a new service linking Naantali to Stockholm when she was delivered in June 1989.

Originally the Isabella was planned to be around the year on the naantali-Stockholm service, but this proved unprofitable and instead she was moved to doing 25-hour cruises to nowhere from Helsinki for the 1989-1990 winter season. For the summers of 1990 and 1991 Isabella returned to Naantali, but by this time the Naantali-Stockholm service was deemed a failure and from autumn 1991 she sailed exclusively on the 25-hour (later changed to 24-hour) cruise service from Helsinki. In spring 1992 she was rebuilt with the addition of an observation lounge on deck 11, converting the garage on deck 5 into cabins and on the exterior, the addition of a red stripe running along the windows of deck 6. During the summers of 1993 and 1994 the Isabella made occasional cruises from Helsinki to Visby.

In the aftermath of the bankruptcy of Rederi AB Slite, the other partner of Viking Line, in 1993 the Isabella swapped routes with the Cinderella after the 1994 summer season, moving to the Helsinki-Stockholm service. During the 1996 summer season the Isabella's (and her running mate Mariella's) route was briefly extanded to Tallinn-Helsinki-Stockholm. This was not a success and the excercise was not repeated. When the Gabriella was acquired in 1997 she took over the Isabella's place on the Helsinki-Stockholm service. Isabella in turn moved to the Turku-Stockholm service (replacing the Rosella), pairing for the first time in her career with her sister ship Amorella.

The Isabella remains in the Turku-Stockholm service at the time of writing. However, Viking Line have publically stated they plan to replace the Isabella and Amorella with a pair of newbuilt ships that could possibly be as large as 60 000 GT. Should these newbuildings be realised, Viking Line are reportedly planning to move the Isabella back to the 24-hour cruise service from Helsinki to Tallinn following the delivery of the new ships.

Isabella preparing to load cars for the evening departure from Turku on 6 October 2010. Click on the image to view full size.

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