26 April 2014

Serenissima in Helsinki, 31 July 2013


IMO 5142657
Previous names: Harald Jarl, Andrea
Built 1960, Trondhjems Mekaniske Verksted, Norway
Tonnage 2 632 GT
Length 87,41 m
Width 13,29 m
Draugth 4,62 m
110 passengers
B&W Akers diesel, 2 538 kW
1 propeller
1 bow thruster
Speed 18 knots

I was very excited to get a chance to photograph the Serenissima last summer. It's not every day that a (former) Hurtigruten ship of the earlier generations visits Helsinki. What made it even more exciting was the fact that the ship's arrival was not marked in the Port of Helsinki's list of future visiting cruise ships for some reason. On the day she visited, I opened the PoH wesbite to check the departure time of the Ocean Majesty, that was also in on that day, and saw the Serenissima on the map of ships in port. So despite the far from ideal weather, off I went. (The Ocean Majesty photos are so terrible that I shan't be posting those).

What's so interesting about the Serenissima, you may ask? Well, for starters, like so many other ship enthustiasts, I think Hurtigruten are utterly fascinating. The Serenissima was built back in 1960 in Norway as the Harald Jarl, one of the latter ships of Hurtigruten's post-World War II fleet rebuilding programme, which included a total of 14 ships of similar design that replaced the previous generations of ships. As built, the ship could carry a total of 652 passengers, with 55 first class and 170 second class berths. On delivery, she replace the last steamship in Hurtigruten service, the Sigurd Jarl of 1942.

In 1968, the Harald Jarl was used to re-initiate Hurtigruten's services to Svalbard, and from 1970 until 1979 she made a series of shopping cruises from Bergen and Trondheim to Lerwick and Aberdeen in addition to her liner service. In 1983, corresponding with the delivery of the next generation of Hurtigruten ships, the Harald Jarl's cabin accommodation was rebuilt. The division into two classes was now removed, and a number of cabins were rebuilt with en suite facilities for all cabins. Due to these changes, the ship's cabin capacity was reduced to 169.

In 2001, the Harald Jarl was withdrawn from Hurtigruten service and placed for sale. As an interesting detail, the priced asked of the ship was 10 million Norwegian kroner - but the onboard paintings, which was removed and re-installed on the new Trollfjord, were estimated to be worth 15 million NOK. In 2002 the ship was sold to Elegant Cruises for only 4,2 million NOK. The new owners had the ship radically rebuilt in Sweden. The former cargo holds were now built in, and the existing cabins ungraded to provide accommodation for a total of 110 cruise passengers. The public rooms were redecorated in Gustavian style. Renamed Andrea, the ship begun making cruises, mostly in the Mediterranean, but venturing as far as the Antractica, in 2003.

The Andrea was arrested at Split, Croatia in 2009 due to unpaid bills of Elegant Cruises, who went bankrupt not long afterwards. The ship languished in Split for a long time, as the price asked of her was relatively high due to the need to cover the bills incurred by her previous owners. Initially even attempts to sell her at an auction failed, until the Moscow-based Volga Dream Cruises took an interest in her. In 2012 Volga Dream purchased the ship, which was refurbished and brought up to the latest SOLAS standards in Split. In in 2013 she was renamed Serenissima and re-commenced cruising under charter to various operators, such as Noble Caledonia. Her owners are listed as Premier Cruises, but the website of her owners goes under the name of Serenissima Cruises.

As said, the Serenissima visited Helsinki for the first time under that name on 31 July 2013. The photographs below show her passing through the Kustaanmiekka strait shortly after departing Helsinki on that afternoon. Photographed from Kustaanmiekka. Click on the images to see them in larger size.

Yes, the weather wasn't ideal. But the ship's dark hull, combined with the high vantage point of the photographer and the low superstructure of the ship meant she doesn't camoufralge in the grey sky as would happen with a larger, all-white ship.
The added balcony cabins aft of the bridge work surprisingly well on the ship, although they do crowd the funnel a bit.
The long bow of the ship is explained by the fact that the cargo holds used to be located there. But it does manage to give the impression that the design is *ahem* compensating for something.
Aft view. The miniature flag of Saint Vincent and Grenadines, her country of registry, looks a bit silly it must be said.
The size of the ship means that even relatively small waves can give nice-lloking bow spray, such as the one seen here.
Onwards and outwards. Photographing such a small ship was strange, as she went out of range much faster than the ones I usually photograph here.
Next time: Discovery

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