20 December 2014

Artemis in Piraeus, 10 November 2013

We again return to Greece a year ago for today's entry. Whenever I think of a ship named Artemis, the first thing that comes to mind is the former P&O cruise ship with that name, today sailing as the Artania. Today's ship is, however, a different - and arguably better-looking - ship with the same name, build in Greece in 1997.

Artemis

IMO 8966951
Name history: Georgios 2, Artemis
Built 1997, Salamis Shipyards, Greece
Tonnage 1 612 GT
Length 89,46 m
Width 14,00 m
Draught 3,50 m
1 250 passengers
85 cars
4 Alpha-B&W diesels, combined 5 678 kW
2 propellers
1 bow thruster
Speed 18 knots

The Artemis was built in 1997 at the Salamis Shipyards in, you guessed it, Salamis, Greece. Originally named Georgios 2, her original owners was Hydra Ferries, who used her on a service linking Piraeus and Spetses via Aigina, Methana, Poros and Hydra. In late 1999, Minoan Flying Dolphins took over several smaller Greek ferry operators, including Hydra Ferries. The overtaken operators came to be marketed as Saronikos Ferries, and as such the Georgios 2 also became a member of the Saronikos Ferries fleet.

A further merger came in January 2005, when Minoan Flying Dolphins, Saronikos Ferries and Hellas Ferries merged to form Hellenic Seaways. Subsequently the Georgios 2 was renamed Artemis, and repainted in Hellenic Seaways' attractive black-hulled livery. Precise information on the routes she sailed on hard to come by. She may have continued to sail on the Piraeus-Spetses service for the duration, but at some point during her career this seems to have been altered to Piraeus-Poros via Aegina, Agistri and Methana. Regardless of her precise route in Hellenic Seaways service, in 2009 she was chartered to ANEK Lines for services around the Cyclades for the summer season. In late 2012 she was laid up, but reactivated for the 2013 summer season, sailing on the Volos-Skiatos-Skopelos-Alonissos -line. After this she was again laid up, apparently as a reserve vessel, but reactivated very briefly in November 2013 for Piraeus-Aegina -service. I seem to have managed to photograph her during the few days she sailed on that service.

Information on the Artemis' current owner and operator are conflicting. Although several websites list her as having passed under the ownership of a reformed Saronic Ferries this year, a little internet sleuthing reveals that she remains in Hellec Seaways service, operating currently on the Cyclades.

The photographs below show the Artemis departing from Piraeus for Aegina on the afternoon on 10 November 2013, photographed from onboard the Rotterdam. Click on the images to see them in larger size.

Yes, there are craploads of ferries in Piraeus at any given time. Seen here in the background are Hellenic Seaways' Flyingcat 4 and Flyingcat 6, alongside their larger fleetmate Highspeed 5. Behind them is Blue Star Ferries' Blue Star Naxos (I think, it's hard to be certain from this distance), and in the foreground on the light the tug Alexander 5, coming to assist us (the Rotterdam) out of the harbour.
The same set of fast ferries as before, plus the Speedrunner III and Highspeed 4 on the left.
I'd really like to know who designed the Artemis' exterior; she is really quite pleasantly sleek - although a part of that comes from the very nice Hellenic Seaways livery, she doesn't look nearly as nice in older photos with a while hull.
More familiar background ferries: Knossos Palace, Olympic Champion and Lato.
Big and small Greek ferries.
Sailing towards the open sea. On the right edge of the image you can just see the funnel of the museum ship Hellas Liberty, which, as the name suggests, is a preserved World War 2 -era liberty ship.

Next time: Louis Aura.

09 December 2014

Olympic Champion & Lato in Piraeus, 10 November 2013

After the break caused by my visit to Japan and it's aftermath, we return to the advertised programming, with more images from Greece in Autumn 2013.

Olympic Champion

IMO number 9216028
Built 2000, Bruce Shipyard Landskrona, Sweden (hull)
Fosen Mekaniske Verksted Rissa, Norway (outfitting)
Tonnage 32 694 GT
Length 204,65 m
Width 26,12 m
Draught 6,75 m
1 850 passengers
808 cabin berths
654 cars
2 200 lane metres
4 Wärtsilä-NSD diesels, combined 50 400 kW
2 propellers
2 bow thrusters
Speed 27,5 knots

Lato

IMO number 7394759
Name history: Daisetsu, Varuna, Lato
Built 1975, Naikai Zosen Yards Setoda, Japan
Tonnage 15 404 GT
Length 188,40 m
Width 23,98 m
Draught 7,20 m
1 564 passengers
846 cabin berths
850 cars
1 200 lane metres
2 MAN-Mitsubishi diesels, combined 20 594 kW
2 propellers
Speed 21,5 knots

Today's ships are the ANEK pair Lato and Olympic Champion, two ships of very different ages and stories behind them.

The Lato was built in 1975 for Taiheiyo Enkai Zosen as the Daisetsu, and placed on a service linking Nagoya to Tomokamei via Sendai. Already in 1980 she was lengthened by 12,5 metres. In 1985 she was sold to the Higashi Nihon Ferry, who renamed her Varuna. Two years later she was sold again, but now a bit further away to Anonymos Naftiliaki Eteria Kritis (ANEK) in Greece. She was renamed Lato and subjected to a two-year-long rebuilding. She re-emerged from the refit in 1989, sailing with ANEK on the Patras-Igoumenitsa-Corfu-Ancona route. After the delivery of new second-hand tonnage from Japan in 1997, the Lato moved to the Piraeus-Chania service, on which she appears to have remained to this day, apart from short charters to Algerie Ferries in 2007 and to an unknown operator in the Adriatic in 2012.

The Olympic Champion is quite a different story from the Lato. She was built in 2000 by Fosen in Norway (with the hull subcontracted to Bruce's yeard in Landskrona, Sweden). Originally to be named Kriti III, she was the first-ever newbuilding delivered to ANEK. The name Olympic Champion was presumably chosen in honour of the 2000 Olympic Games held in Athens - although I'm surprised the Olympic Committee didn't object (especially as they apparently did with the sister ship, which was originally to be named Kriti IV, then changed to Olympic Spirit, but finally delivered as the Hellenic Spirit). The Olympic Champion was placed on the Patras-Igoumenitsa-Ancona -service on delivery, but also sailed on the Piraeus-Chania line. In 2011 the ship, alongside her sister, made two evacuation voyages to Libya. Soon after the Olympic Champion was moved to the Piraeus-Heraklion route, where she remains to this day.

The photographs below show the Olympic Champion and Lato at the port of Piraeus on the afternoon of 10 November 2013. Photographed from onboard the Rotterdam. Click on the images to see them in larger size.

A teensy bit of difference in design of the two ships...
More of the cityscape and mountains to complement the ships.
Next time: Artemis.

12 November 2014

Highspeed 4 & Speedrunner III in Piraeus, 10 November 2013

To make up for the pause in updates, here's a two-ship combo.

Highspeed 4

IMO 9141871
Built 2000, Austal Fremantle, Australia
Tonnage 4 156 GT
Length 92,60 m
Width 24,00 m
Draught 3,90 m
1 050 passengers
188 cars or 150 cars and 4 buses
4 Caterpillar diesels, combined 28 800 kW
4 KaMeWa waterjets
Speed 42 knots

Speedrunner III

IMO 9141871
Name history: SuperSeaCat Three, Speedrunner III
Built 1999, Fincantieri Riva Trigoso, Italy
Tonnage 4 697 GT
Length 100,00 m
Width 17,10 m
Draught 2,70 m
800 passengers
175 cars, 2 buses
4 Rouston diesels, combined 27 500 kW
4 KaMeWa waterjets
2 bow thrusters
Speed 38 knots

The history of the Speedrunner III has previously been covered in this entry on the SuperSeaCat Three.

The Highspeed 4 differs from the Speedrunner III by the virtue of being a catamaran rather than a fast monohull. An AutoExpress 92-type ship from Austal, she was delivered in July 2000 to Minoan Flying Dolphins as the company's third newbuilding. The previous two newbuilt ships, Highspeed 2 and Highpeed 3, were also built by Austal, but they were of the smaller AutoExpress 72 type. One she reached Europe, the Highspeed 4 was placed on the Piraeus-Paros-Naxos service, where she remains to this day.

However, even though the ship's name and route remain unchanged to this day, her owners and livery have changed several times. Already in August 2001, Minoan Flying Dolphins changed their name to Hellas Flying Dolphins. The ship reciece the hull markings of the new owners, but by 2003 at latest the company decided to apply an advertisement livery for their ships. Thus the formerly white-hulled Highspeed 4 now got a red hull, with large Vodaphone logos, and the owner's name redelegated to small type.

In 2005, Hellas Flying Dolphins, Hellas Ferries and Saronikos Ferries merged to form Hellenic Seaways. Thus the Highspeed 4's owners changed again, but her livery was kept largely unchanged. In 2013 the advertiser changed from Vodaphone to Cosmote, and thus the Highspeed 4's hull colour changed from Vodaphone's red to Cosmote's aggressive lime green.

The photographs below show the Highspeed 4 and Speedrunner III in the port of the Piraeus on 10 November 2013, photographed from onboard HAL's Rotterdam. Click on the images to see them in larger size.

Speedrunner III on the left, with Highspeed 4 on the right. Behind the Highspeed 4 you can just see the Highspeed 6, while on the right edge of the image are the Flyingcat 4 and the bow of the Blue Star Naxos.
Athens skyline and the Speedrunner III.
Next time: Olympic Champion & Lato

30 October 2014

Silja Symphony & Silja Serenade in Helsinki, 15 October 2014

Silja Symphony

IMO 8803769
Built 1991, Kvaerner Masa-Yards Turku New Shipyard, Finland
Tonnage 58 377 GT
Length 203,03 m
Width 31,93 m
Draught 7,12 m
Ice class 1A Super
2 852 passengers
3 001 berths
410 cars
1 600 lane metres
4 Wärtsilä-Vasa diesels, combined 32 580 kW
2 propellers
2 bow thrusters
1 stern thruster
Speed 21 knots

Silja Serenade

IMO 8715259
Built 1990, Masa-Yards Turku New Shipyard, Finland
Tonnage 58 376 GT
Length 203,03 m
Width 31,93 m
Draught 7,12 m
Ice class 1A Super
2 852 passengers
3 001 berths
410 cars
1 600 lane metres
4 Wärtsilä-Vasa diesels, combined 32 580 kW
2 propellers
2 bow thrusters
1 stern thruster
Speed 21 knots

The Silja Symphony returned from a long drydocking at Naantali on 15 October. During the refit she was given a new livery, with the new-style smiling seal in the funnel, while her interiors were given a similar overhaul as the Silja Serenade, but more extensive, with a redecorated promenade, a sushi bar and a new, larger children's playroom, in addition to the new shops and restaurants already introduced onboard the older sister.

The ship's arrival in Helsinki also meant that it was possible - for the third time in history, to my knowledge - to photograph the two sisters in port at the same time. And the first time this was possible with the new livery, obviously. The overcast weather was far from ideal... although still better than the previous time they were together in Helsinki, when there was thick fog that made it impossible for both ships to be visible at the same time.

The seal sisters: smiley (right) and serious (left). Alas, treating this for publication was so much work I couldn't be arsed to retouch any of the other images showing both ships.
After the Serenade departed, the Symphony shifted to the normal quay at Olympiaterminaali.
Since I was out with my tripod, I hund around long enough to take some dusk lighting photos.
Next time: Highspeed 4.

23 October 2014

Adamantios Korais in Piraeus, 10 November 2013

Today, we are taking a trip back in time to November 2013 and the Eastern Mediterranean cruise I did with my lovely wife onboard HAL's Rotterdam. As the cruise begun and ended at Piraeus, Greece, there were loads and loads of interesting ships - mostly ferries - to photograph. So this is the first of them.

Adamantios Korais

IMO number 8613607
Name history: Visva, Kuyshu, Adamantios Korais
Built 1987, Naikai Shipbuilders Setoda, Japan
Tonnage 6 307 GT
Length 100,15 m
Width 17,21 m
Draught 4,50 m
1 100 passengers
180 cars
350 lane metres
2 Daihatsu diesels, combined 5 885 kW
2 propellers
2 bow thruster
Speed 18,6 knots

The Adamantios Korais - named after a Greek humanist and writer, who is credites as having laid the foundations for modern Greek literature and language - is a nifty little ferry serving on routes connecting Piraeus to various islands in the Aegean archipelago. Like many other Greek ferries, her roots are in Japan: she was built in 1987 for Higashi Nihon Ferry as the Visva, serving on the Aomori (Honshu)-Hakodate (Hokkaido) route. (From a Finnish point of view the original name was very unfortunate - Visva literally translates as "pus").

In 1999 the ship passed to Kyu-Shi Ferry as the Kyushu, serving on a route connecting Yawatahama (Shikoku)-Usuki (Kyushu). (I'm presuming everyone remembers the rough geography of Japan's four main islands). In August 2008 the ship was sold to Anonimos Naftiliaki Metaforiki Eteria Zakynthoy S.A. (ANMEZ), a Greek shipping company trading under tha name Zante Ferries. The Kyushu was renamed Adamantios Korais and sailed to Greece, where she was given and extensive refit that left her essentially unrecognisable from the earlier incarnation. Following the refit the Adamantios Korais was placed on the Pireus-Paros-Naxos-Ios-Santorini -route, where she remains to this day.

The photographs below show the Adamantios Korais in the harbour of Piraeus on the afternoon of 10 November 2013. Photographed from onboard the Rotterdam. Click on the images to see them in larger size.

To be honest, Athens did not make my list of favourite cities during the visit. Still, the ferries were rather interesting - and I like the combination of the high-rise building and the ferry here.
And I have to say that Zante Ferries' orange livery does speak to me on a personal level. Although I'm puzzled why the vlack window stripe doesn't continue all the way around the forward part.
Some hours after the previous photographs were taken, our departure allowed for somewhat different point of view.
Next time: Highspeed 4 or, if have time to work on them, Silja Serenade & Silja Symphony together in Helsinki.

14 October 2014

Star in Helsinki, 12 October 2013

Star

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

Still not much to say about the Star. The photos below show her departing from Helsinki West Harbour in the afternoon of 12 October 2013. Photographed from Vattuniemi. Click on the images to see them in larger size.

I especially like the way the yellow leaves stand out from the other trees on Pihlajasaari in the background.
The composition works particularly well here, methinks.
Sisä-Hattu, seen from a somewhat different point of view than the usual.
Next time: Adamantios Korais

09 October 2014

Silja Europa in Helsinki, 12 October 2013

Silja Europa

IMO 8919805
Name history: Europa, Silja Europa
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

Ah, the Silja Europa. It's been a while since the ship was featured in this blog. And during that time, she has been chartered out to Bridgemans Services as an accommodation vessel. So in addition to the new (old) photos, it's time to update 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 ship remained in Tallink service without incident until July 2014, when her owners took the shipping world by surprise when they made public the agreement to charter the Silja Europa to Bridgemans Services as an accommodation vessel to Australia for 14 months (with a possible extension to 48 months), starting from August. Thus, the Silja Europa sailed to Naantali for conversion to an accommodation ship. At the same time the ship was repainted with Bridgemans logos on the hull. After the refit the ship left the Baltic Sea on a lengthy transition to northern Australia. She is currently in transit, having last been spotted at Colombo, Sri Lanka.

The photographs below show the Silja Europa in more traditional surroundings, arriving in Helsinki West Harbour on the afternoon of 12 October 2013, photographed from Vattuniemi. Click on the images to see them in larger size.

Sisä-Hattu, my usual haunt for West Harbour photography, in the foreground. It was a bit too cold to wade there this time around.
Rocks and Europa.
This is an excellent image, even if I may say so myself.
It's not just the trees that change colour in the autumn.
This one would (once again) make for a pretty magazine cover. Anyone got need for one?
Brich trees, always photogenic.
Next time: Star (probably).

05 October 2014

Silja Symphony in Helsinki, 11 October 2013

Silja Symphony

IMO 8803769
Built 1991, Kvaerner Masa-Yards Turku New Shipyard, Finland
Tonnage 58 377 GT
Length 203,03 m
Width 31,93 m
Draught 7,12 m
Ice class 1A Super
2 852 passengers
3 001 berths
410 cars
1 600 lane metres
4 Wärtsilä-Vasa diesels, combined 32 580 kW
2 propellers
2 bow thrusters
1 stern thruster
Speed 21 knots

Since were in autumn, it's a good time to look though the autumnal photos from last year, that for some reason or another were not put up here at the time. Even though the Silja Symphony was recently featured here, here's some more. The photos below show the ship passing through the Kustaanmiekka strait shortly after departing Helsinki on the afternoon of 11 October 2013. Click on the images to see them in larger size.

Quite heavy editing was involved in order to bring out the vibrant autumn shades of the foliage... but I think the end result speaks for itself.
Alas, I should have been out a few days earlier for these, to get the ship photographed without the shadows on the hull.
This shot really looks like the way crisp autumn air feels.

02 October 2014

Silja Symphony in Helsinki, 7 October 2013

Silja Symphony

IMO 8803769
Built 1991, Kvaerner Masa-Yards Turku New Shipyard, Finland
Tonnage 58 377 GT
Length 203,03 m
Width 31,93 m
Draught 7,12 m
Ice class 1A Super
2 852 passengers
3 001 berths
410 cars
1 600 lane metres
4 Wärtsilä-Vasa diesels, combined 32 580 kW
2 propellers
2 bow thrusters
1 stern thruster
Speed 21 knots

At the time of writing the Silja Symphony is in the Turku Ship Repair Yard in Naantali, Finland, undergoing a refit where her interiors will be given a similar refit to what the Silja Serenade recieved in the spring (it seems I haven't bothered putting up images of her refit interiors here. Err... oops). The Silja Symphony will also recieve the new-style Silja Line hull and funnel logos - but with a twist. Originally, the new Silja Line logo featured a heavily simplified seal, that according to the general concensus appeared rather serious (whereas the older design was percieved as "smiling"). The good folks at Tallink Grupp turned this to victory when a smiling variant of the new-style seal was produced for marketing coinciding with the refit of the Silja Serenade. Now, the smiling seal has become the official version, and the Silja Symphony is the first ship to be painted with that version.

The photos below, meanwhile, still show the Silja Symphony with the original (and, I have to say as my own opinion, still the best-looking) Silja Line funnel symbol and hull markings. On this particular occasion, the Silja Symphony skipped one Helsinki-Stockholm return trip for a repair day in Helsinki. This would have meant a chance to photograph both of the sisters in Helsinki simultanuously - had the actual day when they were here together not been so incredibly foggy. But, I was also out the previous evening, lured by the chance of taking night-time photos of the ship in an unusual location.

So, the photograph below shows the Silja Symphony in Helsinki on the evening of 7 October 2013, unusually berthed at Katajanokka. Click on the image to see it in larger size.

I really don't know what to say about this one. A fine photo, even if I may say so myself.

28 September 2014

Delphin in Helsinki, 16 September 2013

Today, we will again be looking at the past for a moment. Last Autumn to be precise, and my latest - possibly my last - photos of one my favourite ships: Passat Kreutzfahrten's Delphin. (Unusually, I didn't get to photograph her at all this year).

Delphin

IMO 7347536
Name history: Belorussiya, Kazakhstan II, Delphin
Built 1975, Wärtsilä Turku, Finland
Tonnage 16 214 GT
Length 156,27 m
Width 21,90 m
Draugth 6,20 m
556 passengers
2 Pielstick-Wärtsilä diesels, combined 13 240 kW
2 propellers
1 bow thruster
Speed 21 knots

It seems that the Delphin is another ship that does not have an up-to-date single history entry, here is an updated history of the ship (mostly copied from previous entries):

The Delphin is amember of the once-vast Soviet passenger fleet. She was built in 1975 at Wärtsilä's Turku shipyard in Finland as the Belorussiya. She was first ship in a series of five identical ferries built for for Soviet Union's black Sea Shipping Company. To my best knowledge, the Belorussiya was the largest ferry in the world at the time of her completion. Standards of the accommodations and public spaces on the Belorussiya and her sisters were high, comparable with the most opulent cruiseferries built for western companies around the time. Their vehicle decks on the other hand were found to be too small for the demands of the Soviet's Black Sea ferry trade. Due to this the Belorussiya and her sisters were used for occasional cruising from early on, and in the 1980s the entire class was converted into cruise ships.

The Belorussiya was converted for cruising in 1986 at Lloyd Werft in Bremerhaven, West Germany. After this she was chartered to CTC Cruises for cruising out of Australia and European ports. Following the fall of the Soviet Union the Belorussiya passed under the Ukrainian flag (retaining Odessa as her port of registry). In late 1992, following the end of her charter to CTC, the Belorussiya capsized while being drydocked in Singapore. After this incident she sailed to Lloyd Werft, where she was heavily rebuilt. Following the rebuilding the ship was renamed Kazakhstan II and chartered to the Germany-based Delphin Seereisen in late 1993. In 1995 she was tranferred under Cypriot flag and in 1996 Delphin Seereisen bought the ship outright and renamed her Delphin.

In 2007, after Delphin Seereisen had acquired a new ship in the form of the Delphin Voyager, the Delphin was chartered to the associated Hansa Kreuzfahrten. Despite the change of operator the Delphin retained her previous name and livery even in service with Hansa Kreuzfahrten. Delphin Seereisen went bankrupt in late 2010, and the Delphin was laid up for about a year. This could have signalled the end of her long career, but the popular ship found another respite in December 2011, when she was sold to Passat Kreuzfahrten, a new German-market cruise line owned by the Indian businessman Pradeep Agrawal.

Subsequently the Delphin sailed from Venice, where it had been laid up, to the Viktor Lenac Shipyard in Rijeka (Croatia) where the ship's interiors were refurbished. Her exterior livery was kept almost entirely unchanged, except for the painting of Passat Kreuzfahrten's logos under the ship's nameplate in the superstructure, in the same place where Hansa Kreuzfahrten's logos were previously located. The funnel symbol remains that of the now-defunct Dephin Seereisen (confused yet?). In April 2012 the Delphin entered service with Passat Kreuzfahrten.

Unfortunately the new venture was not an unqualified success. There were several rumours of the ship being chartered out during the off-season, but none of these came to fruitition. At the end of the 2014 summer season in early September, Passat Kreutzfahrten applied for restructuring and the Delphin was laid up in Bremerhaven. Currently the ship is underway to Rijeka in Croatia, presumably for further layup.

The photographs below show the Delphin, once again, passing through the Kustaanmiekka strait after departing Helsinki South Harbour. The time was in the afternoon of 16 September 2013 and the photos were, as usual, taken from Kustaanmiekka itself. Click on the images to see them in larger size.

The red leaves on the foreground are rather seasonal, don't you agree?
Heavile edited? These photos? I deny all accusations!
Suomenlinna doesn't attract that much people during the autumn... but at least there's one solitary onlooker.

24 September 2014

Birka Stockholm in Mariehamn, 20 August 2014

Birka Stockholm

IMO 9273727
Name history: Birka Paradise, Birka Stockholm
Built 2004, Aker Finnyards Rauma, Finland
Tonnage 34 728 GT
Length 177,00 m
Width 28,00 m
Draugth 6,50 m
1 800 passengers
4 Wärtsilä diesels, combined 23 400 kW
2 propellers
2 bow thrusters
1 stern thruster
Speed 21 knots

Since the Birka Stockholm's history thus far has been covered in two separate entries, I decided it would be prudent to compile the ship's complete history to date in a single entry here.

The Birka Paradise, as the ship was originally known, was the second-ever newbuilding delivered to the Åland islands -based Birka Cruises (previously known under the names Ålandslinjen and Birka Line). She was delivered in November 2004, joining the company's previous newbuilding Birka Princess in service (in the early 1990s Birka had in fact had newbuilding under construction, due to be named Birka Queen, but the bankruptcy of Wärtsilä Marine raised the ship's price so much Birka declined to continue with her construction. In the end the ship was completed for Majesty Cruise Line as the Royal Majesty. Today she sails for Thomson Cruises as the Thomson Majesty).

In service, the Birka Paradise replaced the Birka Princess on the company's main service, 24-hour cruises from Stockholm to Mariehamn. The Birka Princess was transferred to making two-night cruises from Stockholm to Turku, Helsinki and Tallinn. These were not popular and in early 2006 the Birka Princess was withdrawn from service, forcing Birka Cruises once again to revert to one-ship operations (the Birka Princess was sold to Louis Cruises and sunk in 2007 as the Sea Diamond). Due to the withdrawal of the Birka Princess, the Birka Paradise begun making longer cruises out of Stockholm during the summer season.

In June 2009 the Birka Paradise was re-registered, with Stockholm replacing her original home port Mariehamn. This was due to EU legislation disallowing the sales of snus within the Union and onboard ships registered there - except in Sweden, where it continued to be allowed for cultural reasons. As snus sales contribute a sizeable portion of of Birka Cruises' income (this holds true to most companies operating between Sweden and Finland), Birka decided the best option would be simply to re-register their ship. This makes additional sense when you remember that the company markets itself exclusively to Swedish passengers.

In January 2013 Birka Cruises decided to rebrand the ship and their whole product, shifting away from their previous emulation of Caribbean cruise ships and emphasising more their localness and Swedish roots (even if the company is in fact Ålandian). They originally wanted to name the ship simply Birka, as passengers refer to her as that anyway, but as a ship named Birka already existed in the Swedish registry, Birka Cruises had to think of an alternative solution. This was found in incorporating the ship's port of registry into it's name and marketing her simply as Birka. (Although I do wonder, if you're going to market the ship with a different name from the registered one anyway, why just not keep the name Birka Paradise?). Coinciding with the name change, the ship's livery was also altered. The original blue, yellow and red livery, drawing from the flag of Åland, was replaced by a blue & yellow livery drawing from the flag of Sweden.

The photographs below show the Birka Stockholm departing Mariehamn for Stockholm on the morning of 20 August 2014. Click on the images to see them in larger size.

The Birka Stockholm did do a rather nice job avoiding me in good weather. Here the rainclouds make for a nicely impressive background, however.
Birka and pines. As was the case through-out our tour de Åland, the clounds cleared away for the day.
The Swedish flag in prominence.
Notice the unusual way the ship's port of the registry has been rendered on her stern.

14 September 2014

Eckerö in Eckerö, 18 August 2014

Eckerö

IMO 7633155
Name history: Jens Kofoed, Eckerö
Built 1979, Aalborg Værft Aalborg, Denmark
Tonnage 12 358 GT
Length 121,19 m
Width 24,50 m
Draught 5,25 m
Ice class 1B
1 630 passengers
481 berths
267 cars
515 lane metres
4 B&W Alpha diesels, combined 12 484 kW
2 propellers
2 bow thrusters
Speed 20,5 knots

For a history of the Eckerö, see the first entry on her. I'm mildly amused by the fact that before this summer, I had never even seen the ship in real life. Now I've photographed her twice and sailed on her once.

The photographs below show the Eckerö arriving in Eckerö Berghamn on the early afternoon of 18 August 2014. Whereas the previous batch of photos of the ship were taken from the harbour breakwater, these were taken from the shore north of the harbour, granting more dynamic views, even if the lighting was not 100% ideal. As usual, click on the images to see them in larger size.

It was supposed to rain during our entire tour of Åland, but the rain always skirted us by - as you can see from the clouds in the background.
A ship that shows that boxy, full-bodied design need not be unattractive.
The local granite in Åland has an unusually rich red colour. Which countrasts quite nicely with the colours of the ship here.
The seagull motif is a particularly successful piece of modern ship decor - even if, on the whole, the ship would benifit from having more colour on her.

10 September 2014

Super-Fast Baleares in Barcelona, 9 August 2014

Super-Fast Baleares

IMO 9399325
Built 2010, Navantia S.A. Astilleros San Fernando Puerto Real, Spain
Tonnage 30 998 GT
Length 209,43 m
Width 26,50 m
Draught 7,10 m
12 passengers
12 berths
3 500 lanemeters
4 MAN diesels, combined 43 600 kW
2 propellers
2 bow thrusters
Maximum speed 26 knots

As you know, I don't normally feature cargo ships in this blog, but I'm making an exception here for Trasmediterránea's Super-Fast Baleares.

The Super-Fast Baleares is Trasmediterránea's last newbuilt ship to date. She is the second of two roro cargo ships ordered by Acciona Trasmediterránea from the Navantia shipyard in Puerto Real in 2006. Initially Trasmediterránea had placed an order for two 160-metre ferries from Hijos de J. Barreas in Vigo, but the shipyard soon changed to Navantia and the size of the ships grew. Originally the order included options for two sister ships; a third ship was in fact ordered but cancelled later on.

The service speeds of the new ships had been optimized for the Spain-Canaries run, and on delivery the first ship, José-María Entrecanales, was placed on the long route from Barcelona to Gran Canaria via various ports in Spain and Morocco. After privatization, Trasmediterránea had named their cargo ships with a Super-Fast prefix (who this had not led to a legal conflict with Superfast Ferries I do not know); an exception was made with the José-María Entrecanales, which was named after the chairman of Acciona.

The second ship recieved the more traditional name Super-Fast Baleares, but despite the name placed on the Cadiz to Gran Canaria run. Sometime before 2014 she has been moved to services from Palma de Mallorca to Barcelona and Valencia. It is also possible that she has spent some time between her delivery and today laid up. An interesting detail is that today she carries no company names or logos on her hull.

The photographs below show the Super-Fast Baleares departing from Barcelona on the evening of 9 August 2014. Click on the images to see them in larger size.

Alas, the lighting was less than ideal here. Notice three ships from the recent blog entires in the background: Tenacia (left), Fortuny (behind the S-F Baleares' funnel) and Martín i Soler.
The tug Salvador Dali in the foreground.
No idea what's up with the soot in the funnel. It looks like there might have been a fire onboard, but if so why is there soor only on one side of the funnel?
And indeed, notice the fact that while the ship carries Trasmediterránea's livery, there are no company markings on the side.

04 September 2014

Cruise Barcelona in Barcelona, 9 August 2014

Cruise Barcelona

IMO 9351488
Built 2008, Fincantieri Castellammare di Stabia, Italy
Tonnage 54 919 GT
Length 225,00 m
Width 30,40 m
Draught 7,00 m
2 300 passengers
1 200 berths
215 cars
3 050 lanemeters
4 Wärtsilä diesels, combined 55 440 kW
2 propellers
2 bow thrusters
Maximum speed 27,5 knots

The Cruise Barcelona was the second unit to be completed in Grimaldi Lines' four-ship-strong Cruise series. She was preceeded by her running mate Cruise Roma and followed by the Cruise Europa and Cruise Olympia built for Minoan Lines' trans-Adriatic services.

The Cruise Barcelona was delivered in September 2008 and placed on a service from Civitavecchia to Barcelona, running parallel with the Cruise Roma (Civitavecchia is, of course, the port town of Rome). At some point since then an intermediate call at Porto Torres in Sardinia has been added to some (but not all) departures on the route.

The photographs below were taken in Barcelona on the evening of 9 August 2014. I was actually prepared to miss the Cruise Barcelona, as her scheduled arrival time was at 18.15, while I was going to be in port only after 19.00. As it happened, the Cruise Barcelona was delayed by over 2,5 hours, thus arriving perfectly for my schedules. Since my photo spot was chosen for ships arriving at the Baleria and Trasmediterránea terminals, the lighting was less than idea for the Cruise Barcelona. But still, these are better than nothing.

The container cranes make for a rather neat background, actually.
Not sure if I like the overall exterior design of the Cruise series... Even with the sleek forward part, it's still a box. Although a better-designed livery would help a lot with that.
The way they've wasted a lot of the forward views is a bummer.
I have to compliment Grimaldi for choosing a dark funnel colour, and not going the all-white way like so many other passenger ship operators do these days.
The angle of the aft superstructure just doesn't work with the other angles on this. And since the design is all about angles...
Next time: Super-Fast Baleares.

31 August 2014

Fortuny in Barcelona, 9 August 2014

Fortuny

IMO 9216585
Built 2001, Astilleros Españoles Puerto Real, Spain
Tonnage 28 275 GT
Length 172,60 m
Width 26,20 m
Draught 6,20 m
972 passengers
748 berths
350 cars
1 809 lanemeters
4 Wärtsilä diesels, combined 28 960 kW
2 propellers
2 bow thrusters
Maximum speed 23,5 knots

The Fortuny was one of two "superferries" delivered to Compañia Trasmediterránea in summer 2001, shortly before the state-owned firm was privatized. The Fortuny and her slightly-older sister Sorolla remain Trasmediterránea's largest vessels to date.

Unusually for a pair of modern sister ships, the Sorolla and Fortuny were built at the same time by different yards: the Sorolla at Hijos de J. Barreras and the Fortuny at Astilleros Españoles. The former was delivered in May 2001, with the Fortuny following just one month later. It seems that initially both ships were placed in traffic from Palma de Mallorca to Valencia and Barcelona. In autumn 2002 the Fortuny also briefly sailed from Cadiz to the Canary Isles, before returning to the Palma de Mallorca run.

In autumn 2005 the Fortuny was, alongside with the rest of the Trasmediterránea fleet, repainted in new colours. The previous livery with blue and green stripes on a white background was replaced with a somewhat less adventurous white-and-red colour scheme. At the same time the name of the company on the ship's sides was amended into Acciona Trasmediterránea, with the name of the main owners written in large latters and Trasmediterránea redelegated into small print.

In spring 2006 the Fortuny was used to open a new passenger ferry service for Trasmediterránea, when she begun sailing between Bilbao and Portsmouth. The new service was a resounding failure, as it was closed down already in January 2007. After this the Fortuny was used on the long Cadiz-Canaries run, but seems to have been moved back to the Baleric island services by 2010 at latest. Like all Trasmediterránea ships, the Fortuny recieved an amendment to her livery in 2013, when the order of the company names was reversed on her side: now Trasmediterránea is again written in large type, while Acciona is in a smaller font.

The photographs below show the Fortuny arriving in Barcelona on the evening of 9 August 2014. I apologise for the similar points-of-view as on the previous shots, unfortunately the place did not offer too much in the way of variance. Click on the images to see them in larger size.

The open bridge wings are a rather unusual feature on a ship built during the 21st century - though I understand they are undoubtedly more practical in the Med than on the Baltic.
To be honest, I don't think this is the most successful ferry exterior design... although the forward open decks seem to be very popular, at least.
In keeping with our theme of featuring the subject of the next entry in the background, you can just glimpse at the (severely delayed) Cruise Barcelona in the horizon on the left.
One thing that must be said for the bulky exterior is that it makes the ship appear much bigger than she really is. The Fortuny is only marginally larger than the Martín i Soler, though the latter looks much smaller to my eyes.
The social ferry.
Turning towards the quay, with the Barcelona World Trade Center in the background. Also notice the aforementioned Martín i Soler at quay behind the WTC.
Next time: Cruise Barcelona.