Name history: Isabella, Isabelle
Built 1989, Brodogradiliste Split, Yugoslavia
Tonnage 35 154 GT
Length 169,40 m
Width 27,60 m
Draught 6,40 m
2 480 passengers
2 166 berths
900 lane metres
4 Wärtsilä-Pielstick diesels, combined 23 760 kW
2 bow thrusters
Speed 21,5 knots
Since this is the first time the ship has been featured here under its current name, it's high time to also update her history. Note that most of the text here is copied from the first Isabella entry.
The Isabelle started life as the Isabella, the second of two ships ordered in the mid-80s by SF Line from the Brodogradiliste Split shipyard in the (then-)Yugoslavia. Her older sister Amorella was completed for the Turku-Stockholm service in 1988. Isabella was planned to follow in 1989 and she was to be placed on the Naantali-Kapellskär -route. However, the port authorities of Kapellskär were less than thrilled about the thought of expanding their harbour to accommodate the Isabella (and her envisioned running mate, RAB Slite's Athena). In the end Naantali did expand their harbour to accommodate the new ships, while Kapellskär did not. To make the best of the situation, SF Line decided to place the Isabella on a new service linking Naantali to Stockholm when she was delivered in June 1989.
Originally the Isabella was planned to be around the year on the Naantali-Stockholm service, but this proved unprofitable and instead she was moved to doing 25-hour cruises to nowhere from Helsinki for the 1989-1990 winter season. For the summers of 1990 and 1991 Isabella returned to Naantali, but the Naantali-Stockholm service was deemed a failure and from autumn 1991 she sailed exclusively on the 25-hour (later changed to 24-hour) cruise service from Helsinki. In spring 1992 she was rebuilt with the addition of an observation lounge on deck 11, converting the garage on deck 5 into cabins and on the exterior the addition of a red stripe running along the windows of deck 6. During the summers of 1993 and 1994 the Isabella made occasional cruises from Helsinki to Visby.
In the aftermath of the bankruptcy of Rederi AB Slite (the other partner of Viking Line) in 1993, the Isabella swapped routes with the Cinderella after the 1994 summer season, moving to the Helsinki-Stockholm service. During the 1996 summer season the Isabella's (and her running mate Mariella's) route was briefly extanded to Tallinn-Helsinki-Stockholm. This was not a success and the excercise was not repeated. When the Gabriella was acquired in 1997 she took over the Isabella's place on the Helsinki-Stockholm service. Isabella in turn moved to the Turku-Stockholm service (replacing the Rosella), pairing for the first time in her career with her sister ship Amorella.
Following the delivery of the new Viking Grace, the Isabella was laid up and placed for sale. Although Corsica Ferries were rumoured to be interested, no buyer emerged and Viking Line produced plans to reactivate the ship for the Helsinki-Tallinn line for the summer season, sailing as a running mate to the Viking XPRS. At this point Viking's main competitors Tallink did a little math and came to the conclusion that they would lose less money by buying the Isabella than they would if Viking could bring an extra ship in for the summer season. In April 2013 the ship was sold to Tallink; a few days before the sale was finalized, her name was amended to Isabelle and Tallink retained the name - as well as the ship's red-hulled livery.
In May 2013 the Isabelle entered service on Tallink's Stockholm-Riga route, replacing the Silja Festival. In August 2014 she became the sole ship on the Riga route when her running mate Romantika returned to the Stockholm-Tallinn route following the charter of the Silja Europa to Bridgemans Services. It will be interesting to see if the Isabelle will remain the sole ship on the Riga run for long - and what else the future has in store for her.
The photographs below show the Isabelle at Stockholm Frihamnen on the afternoon of 3 May 2015, photographed from onboard the Silja Symphony. Click on the images to see them in larger size.
|Can't help it, the near-Viking livery looks sloppy.|
|Red on Red: The Isabelle in port, with the Mariella outbound in the backgroud. Notice the new livery on the Mariella; weather permitting, I hope to share proper photos of her in the new colours soon.|
|To be fair, the Isabelle's livery has changed a bit from the Viking days: in addition to the all-white funnel, she has an added red stripe aft. Personally, I would have maybe invested in some white paint instead.|