29 April 2011

Princess Anastasia, 29 April 2011

Yesterday was the beginning of this summer's cruise season in Helsinki, with Hurtigruten's Fram once again as the year's first visitor. Unfortunately I missed the season opener this time around, as I was at the University at my thesis seminar all day. However, today saw the arrival of this summer's second "cruise guest", St. Peter Line's cruiseferry Princess Anastasia, that is making two four-night cruises from St. Petersburg this spring. So let us look a little at the history os that ship before getting to the pictures of her first visit to Helsinki under that name.

Princess Anastasia

IMO 8414582
Built 1986, Wärtsilä Turku New Shipyard, Finland
Tonnage 37 583 GT
Length 176,82 m
Width 28,40 m
Draught 6,71 m
Ice class 1A Super
2 500 passengers
2 447 berths
580 cars
1 115 lane metres
4 Wärtsilä diesels, combined 22 988 kW
2 propellers
2 bow thrusters
Speed 22 knots

The Princess Anastasia was originally built as the Olympia for Rederi AB Slite for use on Viking Line's Helsinki-Stockholm service. Somewhat unusually Rederi AB Slite had purchased the plans of their fellow Viking Line member SF Line's Helsinki-Stockholm newbuilding Mariella instead of opting for a design of their own. The Olympia was delivered in April 1986 and replaced Rederi Ab Sally's Viking Saga on the Helsinki-Stockholm route (the Viking Saga survives today in drastically rebuilt form as Louis Cruise Lines' Cristal). The Mariella and Olympia served alongside on the capital cities service for seven years. Rederi AB Slite was going to take delivery of a new ship, Europa, in 1993, which was to replace the Olympia.

Rederi AB Slite planned on selling the Olympia to Euroway, a company operating between Malmö and Lübeck (which coincidentally was funded by the same Swedish bank as RAB Slite). This came to nothing and instead the Olympia was chartered to P&O Ferries in April 1993. However, just days later Rederi AB Slite was declared bankrupt (see this entry on Silja Europa for details on the bankruptcy). In May 1993 the ship was renamed Pride of Bilbao and placed on P&O Ferries' Portsmouth-Bilbao and Portmouth-Cherbourg services. Later during the year the ship was sold to Irish Ferries, who continued chartering her to P&O.

Pride of Bilbao remained on the Portsmouth-Bilbao -route until 2010, when P&O Ferries closed the service down. In September 2010 she was laid up at Falmouth and subsequently her name was shortened to Bilbao. In December of the same year she was then taken over by St. Peter Line on a sale/charter agreement. St. Peter Line are chartered her from Irish Ferries, but each payment contributes to SPL taking ownership of the ship and in 2016 she will be owned by St. Peter Line. Between January and March 2011 the ship was rebuilt at Klaipeda and renamed Princess Anastasia (though the name on her hull is in fact SPL Princess Anastasia). During the layup she had been repainted with an all-blue hull, but during the refit it was changed back to P&O-style half-blue half-white, but with SPL hull markings (making her livery completely dissimilar to that of her fleetmate Princess Maria).

At the end of March 2011 the Princess Anastasia entered service on St. Peter Line's St. Petersburg-Stockholm and St. Petersburg-Stockholm-Tallinn-St. Petersburg -routes. In late April/early May she also made two St. Petersburg-Helsinki-Stockholm-Tallinn-St. Petersburg cruises.

The photographs below show the Princess Anastasia departing Helsinki on 29 April 2011, her first visit to the city under that name. She was in port at the same time as her sister Mariella, but sadly I could not find a suitable location from which to take good photographs showing both sisters. The photographs below were taken, as per the usual, from Kustaanmiekka.

Click on the individual images to view larger size.

Who would have thought, 18 years ago, that the ex-Olympia would one day return to the Baltic, calling at Helsinki and sailing regularly to Stockholm?
It's interesting how much bulkier the more white-heavy livery makes the Princess Anastasia compared to the Mariella. I was oping the Anastasia would recieve a livery similar to that of the Princess Maria (which IMO would have looked very good) but SPL clearly decided otherwise.
Interestingly, the Olympia was built one meter longer than the Mariella, apparently to give her the title of the biggest ship on the Baltic. However, due to structural differences the Olympia was (and Princess Anastasia is) in fact smaller than her sister in terms of gross tonnage (volume).
Tricks of the light make the ground look exotically red in this pic. In reality it was brown, as grass hasn't really started growing yet after the long, cold winter.
Notice that the ship has an aft radar on the port side. This seems to be a P&O-era addition, and the Mariella doesn't have one.
Onwards through Kustaanmiekka to Stockholm, just like old times. Except this time around the ship was filled with russian tourists, definately something that wasn't around back in the 80s or early 90s.


  1. Nice shots, Kalle !

  2. Thank you. I forgot to mention in the text that these were also the first pics taken with my new 18-200 mm Tamron lens, which has the huge advantage that I no longer have to switch lenses all the time when photographing at Suomenlinna.