29 April 2013

Finlandia in Helsinki, 2 April 2013


IMO 9214379
Name history: Moby Freedom, Freedom, Finlandia
Built 2001 Daewoo Shipbuilding & Heavy Machinery Okpo, South Korea
Tonnage 36 093 GT
Length 175 m
Width 27,60 m
Draught 7 m
2080 passengers
1190 berth
665 cars
1950 lane metres
4 Wärtsilä diesels, combined 50 400 kW
2 propellers
2 bow thrusters
Speed 27 knots

For a history of the Finlandia, see the first entry on her.

The photographs below show the Finlandia arriving in Helsinki West Harbour in the evening of 2 April 2013, photographed from Sisä-Hattu. Click on the images to see them in larger size.

Photogenic ice feat. the Finlandia.
This photo shows why, contraty to the popular belief, the diagonal line separating the blue and white on the side of the ship is pure genious: it continues directly from the angle of the funnel. When viewed directly from the side (alas, I didn't include any photos like that) they line up perfectly.
Passing the competition; the Finlandia's current timetable is planned to perfectly match the arrival/depoarture times of the Star/Superstar, as the three have to temporarily use the same quay.
About to turn in order to reverse into quay.
This is a photo that needs to be retaken during the summer; setting sun and photogenic foreground rocks.
The Photogenic Tree makes a cameo appearance.
Next time: Well, this shall be a surprise to all of us.

24 April 2013

Princess Maria in Helsinki, 2 April 2013

Princess Maria

IMO 7911533
Name history: Finlandia, Queen of Scandinavia, Princess Maria
Built 1981 Wärtsilä Turku, Finland
Tonnage 34 093 GT
Length 168,05 m
Width 29 m
Draught 6,72 m
Ice class 1 A Super
1638 passengers
395 cars
4 Wärtsilä-Pielstick diesels, combined 22 948 kW
2 controllable pitch propellers
2 bow thrusters
1 sterns thruster
Speed 21,2 knots

Continuing the adventures of this photos and spring snow, we come to the Princess Maria. For the ship's history, please refer to this previous entry.

The photographs below show the Princess Maria departing from Helsinki West Harbour on the evening of 2 April 2013. Photographed from Sisä-Hattu. Click on the images to see them in larger size.

A bulky ship but yet somehow I really like the way she looks. Maybe it's because I've always had a liking for big girls. :P
If you look closely, you can see the outline of Silja Line's seal above the world "Line" on the side.
Outbound with snow, part 1...
...and part 2.
Next time: Finlandia.

20 April 2013

Silja Europa in Helsinki, 2 April 2013

Silja Europa

IMO 8919805
Built 1993, Meyer Werft, Germany
Tonnage 59 912 GT
Length 201,78 m
Width 32,60 m
Draught 6,80 m
Ice class 1 A Super
3 123 passengers
3 696 berths
350 cars
932 lane metres
4 MAN diesels, combined 31 800 kW
2 propellers
2 bow thrusters
1 stern thruster
Speed 22 knots

It's time for the second set of images of the Silja Europa as a Tallink ship. I think now is also a good time to put up an updated version of the ship's history.

Silja Europa was originally ordered by Rederi AB Slite, one of the owners of Viking Line, in 1989. The Europa, as she was to be known (in keeping with Slite's tradition of taking their names from Greek and Roman mythologies), was to be the jewel in the company's crown, outdoing both SF Line's (the other Viking Line partner) Cinderella and Silja Line's still-under-construction Silja Serenade and Silja Symphony. In terms of basic design the Europa is an enlarged version of the Athena and Kalypso, built in 1989 and 1990 respectively (they in turn were based on the Mariella of 1985 and her sister Olympia of 1986).

While the Europa was under construction at Meyer Werft, a disaster stroke the Finnish shipyard Wärtsilä that was building both Slite's Kalypso and Silja's Serenade and Symphony. Wärtsilä's shipbuilding division went bankrupt and in the ensuing reorganisation the prices of the still under construction newbuildings rose radically, leaving both Slite and Silja Line in heavy debt.

Fast forward to January 1993. During the month the Swedish krona was devaluated by 25%, leaving Slite 200 million SEK short of the price of the Europa just two months before the ship was to be delivered. The situation was further compicated by the fact that the main funder of Slite, Nordbanken, was also the main funder of Silja Line. While Slite was better off financially of the two, the bank stood to lose more if Silja failed (as it was perhaps likely to do at the time). Regardless of what the actual reasons were, Nordbanken refused to grant Slite an additional loan to secure the Europa. During the same month Silja Line signed an agreement with the shipyard to charter the Europa on completion of the ship. Slite's assests meanwhile were evaluated by Nordbanken as being much less valuable than they were. The result was that Slite was forced to declare bankruptcy and their remaining assets (Olympia, Athena and Kalypso) were sold for trading outside the Baltic. The money from selling the ships easily covered the debts of RAB Slite. With large parts of Viking Line's fleet missing, Silja Line established itself as the dominant shipping company on the North Baltic and managed to somewhat improve it's financial position.

Returning to the Europa, she has been christened Silja Europa on 5 March 1993 and entered service on Silja Line's Helsinki-Stockholm route on 14 March 1993. She had been planned for that exact route, and placing her on the service allowed Silja to cash in on the large-scale marketing Viking Line had already carried out for the ship. In 1994 the Silja Europa was the second ship to arrive on the scene of the Estonia disaster and the ship was appointed head of the rescue operation.

In practice Silja Line found the Silja Europa to be ill-suited as a running mate to the Silja Symphony. More importantly the Silja Serenade—which the Silja Europa had replaced on the Helsinki-Stockholm service—was found to be highly ill-suited for the Turku-Stockholm service she had been transferred to. Resultingly from January 1995 the Silja Europa moved to the Turku-Stockholm service, with the Silja Serenade returning to the Helsinki-Stockholm route.

Originally the Silja Europa had a partially white funnel, with the seal painted on on blue. This was for a time the distinctive feature of the company's ships sailing from Helsinki (the ships sailing from other ports has blue funnels with the seal painted on white). During a docking in 2000 the Silja Europa's funnel was painted blue with a white seal. In 2002 there the Swedish Stena Line were reportedly interested in chartering the Silja Europa to replace their Stena Saga (reportedly the staff of the Stena Saga even visited the Silja Europa to get to know her). Resultingly Silja Line's then-owner Sea Containers purchased 42% of the ship from Meyer Werft, which together with the previously Silja-owned 17% gave them a majority ownership and blocked the transfer to Stena. In 2004 Sea Containers purchased the remaining shares of the ship. In 2006, prior to Silja Line being sold to Tallink, the ownership of the ship was passed to Silja Line.

The Silja Europa had for a long time suffered from engine problems, which are particularly problematic on the intensive Turku-Stockholm route. Compounded with the arrival of Viking Line's new Viking Grace on the Turku-Stockholm line in January 2013, Tallink swapped the Silja Europa with the Helsinki-Tallinn 22-hour cruise ship Baltic Princess in January-February 2013. The Silja Europa was transferred under the Estonian flag and marketed as a Tallink ship (although retaining her Silja-prefixed name). She entered service on the Helsinki-Tallinn route on 23 January 2013.

The photographs below show the Silja Europa departing Helsinki West Harbour on the afternoon of 2 April 2013, photographed from Sisä-Hattu. Click on the images to see them in larger size.

Leaving the West Harbour behind, some snow and rocks of Sisä-Hattu in the foreground.
A more "documentary" photo of the ship in her current white-hulled incarnation for a change.
Silja Europa with The Photogenic Tree.
More of The Photogenic Tree and some nice reflections of the low sun in the SE's superstructure.
Passing Pihlajasaari in a slightly panoramic shot for a change.
Open sea and shore ice.
Next time: Princess Maria

15 April 2013

Star in Helsinki, 2 April 2013


IMO 9364722
Built 2007, Aker Finnyards Helsinki, Finland
Tonnage 36 250 GT
Length 186,00 m
Width 27,70 m
Draugth 6,50 m
Ice class 1A
1 900 passengers
520 berths
450 cars
1 981 lanemeters
4 MaK diesels, combined 48 000 kW
2 propellers
2 bow thrusters
1 stern thruster
Speed 27,7 knots

It seems that whenever I went to the West Harbour to get photos of ferries in ice, the Tallink Shuttle present was always the Star. Not that I'm complaining about having so many good photos of the ship, mind you. The ones below show the Star arriving at and departing from Helsinki West Harbour in the evening of 2 April 2013. Photographed from Sisä-Hattu. Click on the images to see them in larger size.

Not the usual point of view: the shallow channel between Lauttasaari and Sisä-Hattu was still frozen over, so it was possible to actually take photographs standing on the channel. This photo and the one below are taken from such a vantage point.
I thought the person standing next to rock might have been a fellow ship-buff, but he turned out to be a fisherman.
Star backing into quay, framed by the photogenic tree(tm).
An hour later, the departing Star is beautifully illuminated by the setting sun.
Next time: the spring snow series continues with the Silja Europa.

11 April 2013

Mariella in Helsinki, 15 March 2013


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

The grand old lady of the Baltic Sea. This year marks not only her 28th anniversary in the Viking Line fleet, but also the 28th year she has been in service between Helsinki and Stockholm. No other Baltic Sea ferry can boast a comparable record - and it can be said with a 99% certainty that the Mariella will continue to serve on the route for at least two more years and hence be the first Baltic ferry to break the 30-year mark.

The photos below show the Mariella departing from Helsinki in the evening of 15 March 2013. Winter lingered long this year, which meant that for once it was possible to take photos of the Helsinki-Stockholms ferries in the ice. Usually the times when there's enough light in the evening and when there's still ice do not mingle. Photos taken, as per the usual, from Kustaanmiekka.

Click on the images to see them in larger size.

The challenge here were the shadows; with the sun so low, the various structures of Suomenlinna cast extremely long shadows. As did the Mariella herself; I won't be lying if I say her shadow saw several hundred metres long.
This photo really requires no caption, does it?
Past the strait and into the still partially icy Baltic Sea.
Next time: More wintery fun with the Star.

07 April 2013

Bencomo Express in Santa Cruz de Tenerife, 19 January 2007

After three weeks, we are now arriving at the end of the archive visit for my 2007 Canaries cruise. If I was going on this same trip now, I would probably study the local ferry timetables beforehand to see if there was anything interesting in port at the same time with us... but back in the day I was a lot less organised when it came to ship photography. (Though to be fair, that was not nescessarily a bad thing).

Bencomo Express

IMO 9206712
Name history: Benchijigua Express, Bentayga Express, Bencomo Express
Built 1999, InCat Tasmania Hobart, Australia
Tonnage 6 344 GT
Length 95,47 m
Width 26,60 m
Draugth 4,01 m
859 passengers
271 cars
330 lane metres
4 Caterpillar diesels, combined 28 320 kW
4 Lips waterjets
Service speed 38 knots
Maximum speed 48 knots

The ship currently known as the Bencomo Express was originally one of three identical wave-piercing ordered by Lineas Fred. Olsen (later rebranded as Fred. Olsen Express), a Fred. Olsen subsidiary operating around the Canary Isles. Hitherto Lineas Fred. Olsen had primarily operated using conventional ferries - usually second-hand units from northern Europe - but in the late 1990s the company started a move towards operating exclusively with fast craft.

The three first-generation Fred. Olsen Express ships were delivered in 1999-2000 as the Bonanza Express, the Benchijigua Express and the Benchijigua Express. And no, that is not a typo - two of the ships really entered service with the same name. The ship we are talking about now is the middle one, which was delivered in the beginning of October 1999 as the Benchijigua Express. She arrived at the Canary Isles during the same month and for some reason she was renamed Bentayga Express before entering service. The name Benchijigua Express passed to the third sister in the series, that was delivered in January 2000.

The Bentayga Express entered service on Fred. Olsen Express' Santa Cruz de Tenerife-Agate route in October 1999. On the service she seems to have replaced Lineas Fred. Olsen's largest conventional ferry Bañaderos (ex-Viking Voyager, Pride of Cherbourg). In 2004 the Bentayga Express was renamed Bencomo Express. Apparently this was done to avoid confusion, as the Benchijigua Express had been renamed Bentago Express (in order to free the name Benchijigua Express to a new fast trimaran) and the names Bentago Express and Bentayga Express were thought to be too similar. This does seem a rather roudabout way of doing things; certainly it would have been simpler to rename the Benchijigua Express into Bencomo Express and leave the Bentayga Express as it was?

Apart from the somewhat confusing name changes, the Bencomo Express has had a rather uneventful career. At the time of writing, she still sails on the Santa Cruz de Tenerife-Agate route alongside her sister Bentago Express.

The photographs below show the Bencomo Express arriving at Santa Cruz de Tenerife in the evening of 19 January 2007. Photographed from onboard the Thomson Destiny. Click on the images to see them in larger size.

I really rather like the look of the Fred. Olsen Express ships. The dark window stripes look very futuristic, while the yellow superstructure is instantly recognisable and at the same time respects Fred. Olsen traditions of painting not only the funnel but a large part of the superstructure yellow. although this one could do with painting over the extra logos on the hull.
And speaking of traditions, also notice the small Fred. Olsen Express flag logo painted in front of the ship's name in the bow. Lovely, lovely detail.
Next time we return to the most traditional of subjects: the Mariella.

04 April 2013

Volcan de Timanfaya at Arrecife, 18 January 2007, and Santa Cruz de Tenerife, 19 January 2007

Volcan de Timanfaya

IMO 9281334
Built 2005, Hijos de J. Barreras Vigo, Spain
Tonnage 17 343 GT
Length 142,40 m
Width 24,20 m
Draugth 5,70 m
1 000 passengers
206 berths
300 cars
1 350 lanemetres
2 Wärtsilä diesels, combined 16 800 kW
2 propellers
2 bow thruster
Service speed 23 knots

Volcan de Timanfaya is the second of two sisters built by the Hijos de J. Barreras shipyard in Vigo, Spain. The first sister, Volcan de Tamasite, was delivered in June 2004, with the Volcan de Timanfaya following in March 2005. Both ships were delivered as day ferries with no passenger cabins, but suitably for the warm climes they operate in there is a swimming pool on the aft decks.

The Volcan de Timanfaya entered service routes from Las Palmas to Porto Rosario and Arrecife in April 2005, but within the month she swapped to the Santa Cruz de la Tenerife-Arrecife -route (on which she is also photographed below). Early on, the Volcan de Timanfaya was rebuilt with additional cabins in place of some of her public rooms, resulting in addition of 206 berths in 56 cabins but a decrease of her passenger capacity from the original 1 466 to 1 000.

During the summer seasons of 2006 and 2007 the Volcan de Timanfaya made one weekly return trip from Las Palmas de Gran Canaria to Funchal, Madeira. Possibly the rebuilding described above was made for the purposes of this (presumably) overnight service. As of 2013 the ship remains in the Armas fleet.

The photographs below show the Volcan de Timanfaya departing Arrecife on 18 January 2007, and at Santa Cruz de Tenerife on the evening of 19 January 2007. All photos have been taken from onboard the Thomson Destiny. Click on the images to see them in larger size.

Departing Arrecife. While Armas' ships are very neat-looking things, the current almost-all-white livery is somewhat dull.
The swimming pool mentioned in the text is located aft of the funnel, under the canvas arches.
At quay in Santa Cruz de Tenerife in the evening. I'm not normally a fan of photos takes at quay, but since this is my only photo of the ship approximately head-on, I decided to go with it. Also notice the Armas 65 years logo on the hull that appears on the starboard side of the ship but not the port side.
Next time: Bencomo Express