28 September 2014

Delphin in Helsinki, 16 September 2014

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).


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


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.