26 August 2011

Spirit of Adventure in Helsinki, 28 June 2011

Spirit of Adventure

IMO 7904889
Former names: Berlin, Princess Mahsuri, Orange Melody
Built 1980, HDW Kiel, West Germany
Tonnage 9 570 GT
Length 139,30 m
Width 17,51 m
Draugth 4,98 m
352 passengers
352 berths
2 MaK diesels, combined 7 060 kW
2 propellers
1 bow thruster
Speed 18,3 knots

As the name implifies, the Spirit of Adventure is an expedition cruise ship and the sole ship of the Spirit of Adventure cruise line. At a tad under 10 000 GT she is very small cruise ship by today's standards. She was even smaller when built, as she underwent a crop and stretch operation in 1986. But perhaps we ought to start at the beginning.

The Berlin, as the ship was originally known, was ordered in 1979 by a consortium of owners. The main figure behind ordering the ship was Peter Deilmann, but he only had a minotiry share in the ship. Deilmann had previously operated coastal ships from West Germany to Denmark and East Germany. In 1979 Deilmann decided to enter the cruise business. In addition to the share in the Berlin, Deilmann acquired a second-hand cruise ship, the Regina Maris.

It appears that the Berlin, when delivered in 1980, did not join the Regina Maris in Deilmann's cruise line but was instead chartered to Neckermann Seereisen. In 1982 the Berlin was chartered to Blue Funnel Cruises and renamed Princess Mahsuri (the next year the Regina Maris was sold and Peter Deilmann was briefly without a cruise ship). In 1985 the Princess Mahsuri returned from her charter and begun cruising for Peter Deilmann for the first time, reverting to her original name Berlin. In late 1986 she was lenghtened by 17 metres at Werft Nobiskrug in Rendsburg, West Germany.

The Berlin spent twenty years in Peter Deilmann service, being joined in 1998 by the new Deutschland. During her time with Deilmann she was also one of the ships featured in Das Traumschiff, the German version of The Love Boat. In 2005 the Berlin was sold to Saga Shipping, but she did not enter service with Saga Cruises. Instead, she was chartered to the Russian cruise operator Metropolis Tur for a year as the Orange Melody.

Saga Cruises had until this point concentrated on a somewhat exclusive market, as only people aged 50 and over were allowed onboard their ship. However, when in 2006 Carnival Corporation made public their intention to close down their Swan Hellenic expedition cruising brand, Saga Cruises saw a market opening for their latest acquisition. A new cruise line named Spirit of Adventure was founded and the Orange Melody, when returned from the Metropolis Tur charter in 2006, was renamed Spirit of Adventure. Unlike Saga Cruises, Spirit of Adventure Cruises adopted a more conventional age limit of 21. Apparently the Spirit of Adventure venture was a success, and in 2009 the Spirit of Adventure was reported to soon be replaced by Saga Cruises' next acquisition, Transocean Tours' Astoria, that was to become the Quest for Adventure.

However, the bankruptcy of the Astoria's owner Club Cruise put a spanner in the works. Saga eventually acquired the Astoria, but several months later than intended and in the interim it had been decided to use her as a replacement for the Saga Rose (that had to be withdrawn due to SOLAS 2010). The Astoria therefore became the Saga Pearl II and the Spirit of Adventure continued sailing for Spirit of Adventure Cruises. However, in May 2012 when the new Saga Sapphire is delivered, the Saga Pearl II will transfer to Spirit of Adventure Cruises as the Quest for Adventure, as planned in 2009. At the same time the Spirit of Adventure will be withdrawn and the Spirit of Adventure cruise line will be turned into a sub-brand of Saga Cruises, adopting the same age limit as the parent company.

It is not yet known (at least to me) what will become of the neat little Spirit of Adventure after the end of her last scheduled cruise in Port Kelang, Malaysia in mid-March. I can't help thinking she would make an excellent ship for Kristina Cruises... had the said company not just spent a small fortune in acquiring and refitting the Kristina Katarina.

The photographs below show the Spirit of Adventure in and departing from Helsinki on 28 June 2011. Photographed from one of the ferries to Suomenlinna (either Suokki or Tor) and from Kustaanmiekka. Click on the individual images to see in larger size.

At the Kanavaterminaali quay on Kustaanmiekka. This quay was previously used by Nordic Jet Line until they closed down their service in 2008. It had originally been converted for passenger use in the 1970s for Viking Line, but they later relocated to the nearby Katajanokka terminal.
Spirit of Adventure, the Helsinki edition. On the left the Helsinki Cathedral and closer to the camera the Market Square.
A little while later on Kruunuvuorenselkä, bound for the Kustaanmiekka strait.
Douglas Ward described the ship as "somewhat angular", but I don't really see the angularity here.
I don't know what to say about this one, really. I rather like the background cloud formations in this pic, they give a nice atmosphere to what is already a quite good pic.
Nicely terraced aft superstructure. I admit the overall design lacks any specially notable features, but that is not always a bad thing.
Heading out to the open sea, while the bros having an outdoors party look on.
Information sources:
Berlitz Complete Guide to Cruising and Cruise Ships, 2008 edition
Fakta om Fartyg
Simplon Postcards
Spirit of Adventure Cruises

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