15 February 2011

Viking Cinderella, 9 February 2011

Viking Cinderella

IMO 8719188
Built 1989, Wärtsilä Marine Turku, Finland
Tonnage 46 398 GT
Length 191,00 m
Width 29,00 m
Draught 6,74 m
2560 passengers
2500 berths
480 cars or 60 trucks (in cruise service parking space for 100 cars)
760 lanemeters
4 Sulzer diesels, combined 28 800 kW
2 propellers
2 bow thrusters
Speed 22 knots

Viking Cinderella has been something of a hidden gem regarding this blog thus far, as she's one of my all-time favourite Baltic Sea cruiseferries and yet she hasn't been featured here until now.

The Cinderella, as she was originally known, started life as something of a speculative venture. The Finnish Wärtsilä Marine shipyard that had built most of the ferries for Finland-Sweden services during the early 1980s had lost the bid for building SF Line's newbuildings Amorella and Isabella to the Yugoslavian Brodosplit shipyard, in part due to the fact they refused to give SF Line an equal treatment with the Silja Line owners Effoa and Johnson Line who repeatedly got better terms for their newbuilds as the owners of Viking Line.

Things changed when the US-based Admiral Cruises (in which, interestingly, Effoa and Johnson Line were minority shareholders) cancelled their order for a cruise ship with Wärtsilä in 1986. Having a free slot in their schedule for a ship to be completed in 1989, Wärtsilä now contacted SF Line, probing their interest for the construction of a new cruiseferry based on the design of the Mariella, completed in 1985. SF Line were interested, but the building slot offered meant the ship had to be designed in about one third of the time usually given to the design process. Despite this the resulting ship was and is extremely successful in terms of design of it's passenger spaces. However, according to rumours there were design mistakes made regarding her cargo-carrying facilities and supposedly her car deck cannot be fully loaded without endangering safety. I cannot comment on the factuality of these claims.

As was common with all newbuildings ordered by SF Line, the company demanded special securities in the build contract for the Cinderella. Instead of the usual arrangement where the ownership of a ship passes from the shipyard to the shipping company only upon completion, SF Line would take ownership of the ship as she was completed. The contract for building the Cinderella was signed in 1987 and construction begun the following year.

In October 1989, when the Cinderella was nearing completion, Wärtsilä Marine went bankrupt. After short but intense negotiations the special clauses demanded by SF Line for the build contract were deemed to be valid and the Cinderella was removed from the bankrupt's estate and formally delivered to SF Line, technically making her the last ship every to be delivered by Wärtsilä Marine. Finalising the ship's outfitting continued for another week and in November 1989 the Cinderella finally entered service on Viking Line's Helsinki-Stockholm service.

Originally SF Line had planned to place the Cinderella on Helsinki-Stockholm service in place of the Mariella which would have moved to a new, more freight-oriented Helsinki-Norrköping service. However, in the end the Cinderella was placed a third ship on the Helsinki-Stockholm route with three weeksly return sailings departing 1,5 hours later than the normal ships and a 25 hour cruise from Helsinki to Tallinn roads on Sundays. The short cruises proved very popular and subsequently they were also made on Fridays and Saturdays.

In 1993, following the bankruptcy of the other Viking Line partner Rederi AB Slite (for details see this entry on Silja Europa), the Cinderella was placed on the regular Helsinki-Stockholm service, running parallel to the Mariella in place of the Olympia lost in the bankruptcy. At the end of the 1994 summer season the Cinderella swapped places with the Isabella, moving back to the 24-hour cruise service from Helsinki. For the summer seasons 1995 and 1996 she moved to the Turku-Mariehamn-Stockholm service in place of the Rosella to increase capacity during the high season. The Rosella in turn moved on the shorter summer service from Naantali to Kapellskär. This summer juggling was discontinued when Viking purchased the Gabriella in 1997 and from thereone the Cinderella stayed around the year on the cruise service from Helsinki, now shortened to just 20 hours and with an actual call at Tallinn added.

During the next millennium the Cinderella made occasional cruises from Helsinki to Riga as well. However, the accession of Estonia into the EU in 2004 and the resulting loss of tax-free sales on the Helsinki-Tallinn route made Viking decide to change the Cinderella's route. At the end of the 2003 summer season she was withdrawn from service, rebuilt in Naantali to be better suiter for the Swedish cruise market, repainted with a white hull, re-registered in Sweden and renamed Viking Cinderella (the name change was dictated by nescessity as a Cinderella already existed in the Swedish registry. A large portion of Viking Line's marketing material continue referring to her as simply "Cinderella", though this is not consistent). Later in 2003 the Viking Cinderella entered service on the Stockholm-Mariehamn 22-hour cruise route, replacing the Rosella that in turn moved to the Helsinki-Tallinn route.

Since 2003 the Viking Cinderella has remained on the Stockholm-Mariehamn cruise service, with occasionally summer cruises to Tallinn and Riga. In autumn 2011 she will return to the Turku-Stockholm service as a temporary replacement during the Amorella's docking.

The photographs below show the Viking Cinderella arriving in Stockholm on 9 February 2011. Click on the image(s) to view full size.

The wintertime afternoon sunlight creates an interesting effect on the water.

The Viking Cinderella is unsymmetrical on the exterior, on the starboard side there's a five-deck high panoramic window on the middle of the superstructure. For some reason not even a fake version of the same was made on the port side.

Notice that the large hull text reads plain Cinderella and not the full name. While the all-white livery is very chic, in my opinion (and that of many others) the ship looked better and less box-like in the traditional red-hulled Viking colours.

Cathing the sun. Unfortunately the sun was so low that in all other pictures of the ship I took from the rear direction large portions of her are in the shade.

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