26 July 2011

Saga Pearl II in Helsinki, 11 June 2011

Saga Pearl II

IMO 8000214
Former names: Astor, Arkona, Astoria
Built 1981, Howaldtswerke-Deutsche Werft (HDW) Hamburg, West Germany
Tonnage 18 591 GT
Length 164,34 m
Width 22,89 m
Draugth 6,11 m
618 passengers
618 berths
4 MAN diesels, combined 9 400 kW
2 propellers
1 bow thruster
Speed 18 knots

For a full account on the history of the Saga Pearl II, see the previous entry on her. Since that entry was written, new information has become available regarding the future of the ship. In May 2012, when the new Saga Sapphire joins the Saga Cruises fleet, the Saga Pearl II will be transferred to Saga's sub-brand Spirit of Adventure Cruises. The Saga Pearl II will be renamed Quest for Adventure and she will replace Spirit of Adventure's current ship, the aptly-named Spirit of Adventure. Reportedly at the same time Spirit of Adventure Cruises will adapt the same age restrictions as Saga Cruises, in other words you have to be at least 50 years old to sail on the Quest for Adventure. Personally I'm very disappointed at this change, as I was hoping to sail on the Quest one day.

The photographs below show the Saga Pearl II in the Kustaanmiekka strait on 11 June 2011, shortly after departing Helsinki South Harbour. Click on the individual images to see larger size.

Not the most flattering view for the ship I think. Despite the fact she's quite nice-looking, here she manages to look like a low box.
I've often wondered if the same people were responsible for designing the Astor and the 1981 Europa (soon to be the Saga Pearl II's fleetmate Saga Sapphire) as there are several similarities in the ship's exterior design. Though admittedly the Astor/Pearl is notably smaller and sleeker.
Compared to the Silja Serenade and Gabriella that had just passed the same way, the Saga Pearl II must have seemed like a small and old ship to the people taking the sun on the ramparts.
The ship maybe looks better seen from the aft with the attractively tiered lido area.
You can't have too many panoramic shots. Ever.

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