23 September 2011

Mariella in Helsinki, 6 July 2011


IMO 8320573
Built 1985, Wärtsilä Turku New Shipyard, Finland
Tonnage 37 860 GT
Length 175,70 m
Width 28,40 m
Draugth 6,78 m
Ice class 1A Super
2 500 passengers
2 500 berths
400 cars
4 Wärtsilä diesels, combined 23 008 kW
2 propellers
2 bow thrusters
Speed 22 knots

Ah, the Mariella. To be honest it's difficult to get excited about this ship. She's just two years younger than I am and for as long as I can remember she has been plying the Helsinki-Stockholm route. Other ships come and go (she has had five different running mates on the route to date - six if you count the Amorella that has occasionally done short stints on the route). The layout of the Mariella has proven to be an extremely practical design; the generation of Viking Line ships that followed her in the late 1980s and early 1990s (Amorella, Isabella, Cinderella, Athena, Kalypso and Silja Europa) were all further developments of the Mariella's design. In the 2000s Tallink's cruiseferries Romantika, Victoria I, Galaxy, Baltic Princess and Baltic Queen also show clear influence of the Mariella in their interior layouts.

Yet, despite all that, the Mariella herself is... after a dozen or more trips on her there's nothing interesting about visiting her anymore. Even the quite extensive changes made to her interiors during the recent years can't turn her into a different, exciting ship. Her interior design is crowded and for a discerning passenger of the 21st century there aren't enough entertainment options onboard. I've done great cruises onboard her but it really is time to bring something new to the Helsinki-Stockholm line.

The photographs below show the Mariella departing Helsinki on 6 July 2011, photographed from Kustaanmiekka. Click on the individual images to see in larger size.

It's coming right at us!
Phew, it just missed us. According to Viking Line's 50 anniversary book (which is also available in English), of the two shipyards SF Line negotiated with for the final building contract of the ship, Valmet's proposal was better-looking, but Wärtsilä's was technically superior and hence Wärtsilä was chosen. It would be interesting to see how Valmet's design differed.
Another tidbit from the same book is that SF Line originally wanted to order from Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, but could not get a go-ahead from the Bank of Finland (who had to approve all transactions from Finland to abroad at the time).
Judging by the direction of the ship she sailed through the Porkkala shipping lane, not through the open-sea route. In the bankground on the right is the Harmaja lighthouse and in the distance the Silja Symphony.

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