28 July 2015

Disney Magic in Helsinki, 17 June 2015

Disney Magic

IMO 9126807
Built 1998, Fincantieri Venice, Italy
Tonnage 83 338 GT
Length 294,00 m
Width 32,25 m
Draft 7,90 m
3 325 passengers
5 Sulzer-Grandi Motori-Fincantieri diesels, combined 57 663 kW
2 propellers
3 bow thrusters
2 stern thrusters
Speed 21,5 knots

The Disney Magic has been featured in this blog before. There was very little to say about the ship's history back then, and the same trend continues today. She was built in 1998 as the very first ship of The Walt Disney Company's own cruise line (Disney had previously collaborated with other cruise lines), and continues in service for that company today. Comparisons between the photos of the ship in this entry and those from five years ago are interesting, however, as the ship underwent a major refit in 2013, including the addition of a large ducktail sponson.

The photos below show the Disney Magic departing from Helsinki Länsisatama on the afternoon of 17 June 2015, photographed from Vattuniemi. As per the usual, you can see the images in larger size by clicking on them.

The dark hull colour constrasts beautifully with the little sailing boats.
The black-sailed boat on the other hand was not quite as pictoresque. But I hope to see it again when white-hulled cruise ships visit.
I realise this is blasphemous, but I think the duck tail actually improves the ship's looks.
Trees and ships.
Next time: Viking Star

17 July 2015

Minerva in Helsinki, 15 June 2015


IMO 9144196
Name history: Okean, Minerva, Saga Pearl, Explorer II, Alexander von Humboldt, Minerva
Built 1996, Okean Shipyard Nikolajev, Soviet Union (hull); T. Mariotti Genoa, Italy (conversion to cruise ship)
Tonnage 12 892 GT
Length 133,55 m
Width 20,30 m
Draught 4,50 m
Ice class 1B
350 passengers
350 berths
2 MAN-B&W diesels, combined 6 920 kW
2 propellers
1 bow thruster
Speed 16 knots

Another ship that has not previously appeared in this blog. Unlike the ships featured in the previous two entries, the Minerva has been around for some time, but I haven't gotten around to photographing her before now.

The Minerva is a ship with a thoroughly fascinating origin. She was laid down in the Soviet Union as the research vessel Okean (other sources claim she was to be a spy ship, but considering her size I find the research vessel explanation more plausible). Her keel was laid in 1989, but in the death throes of the Soviet Union all work ceased in 1990. The ship lay abandoned for several years, until in 1994 she was purchased by V-Ships for conversion in an expedition cruise ship for Swan Hellenic, to replace the converted Irish Sea ferry Orpheus that Swan Hellenic had chartered from Epirotiki Lines.

The half-complete Okean was towed to the T. Mariotti shipyard in Genoa and re-emerged as the Minerva in 1996, entering service for Swan Hellenic on worldwide itineraries. She sailed for Swan Hellenic until 2003, when she was replaced by the larger R-class Minerva II (today P&O Cruises' Adonia). After she was withdrawn from Swan Hellenic service, the Minerva was chartered to Saga Cruises as the Saga Pearl. In 2005 she passed on a dual charter to Abercrombie & Kent and Phoenix Reisen, spending the (northern hemisphere) winters in Antarctica for Abercrombie & Kent as the Explorer II and the summers in Europe as the Alexander von Humboldt for Phoenix Reisen.

In 2008 the ship reverted to the name Minerva and started service with the re-established Swan Hellenic. The Swan Hellenic brand had been run down by its then-owners Carnival Corporation & PLC in early 2007, but soon afterwards Lord Sterling (the former chairman of P&O) purchased the rights to the name. Subsequently he teamed up with All Leisure Group (the owners of Voyages of Discovery) to restart Swan Hellenic using the original Minerva.

In 2012 the Minerva received a large-scale refit, with additional cabins with balconies and an observation lounge added on her top decks. She remains in service with Swan Hellenic at the time of writing.

The photographs below show the Minerva passing though the Kustaanmiekka strait shortly after departing Helsinki Eteläsatama on the afternoon of 15 June 2015. Photographed from Kustaanmiekka. As per the usual, click on the images to see them in larger size.

The bridge is very low (especially after the addition of one more deck in 2012) but somehow it works. It shouldn't, but it does.
The vantage point for photography wasn't perahps the best chosen, as the dark blue hull does camouflage quite well into the dark blue sea.
I quite fancy the Swan Hellenic funnel colours. A dark funnel with a white symbol is so much more effective than a white with a dark symbol.
In the strait - which isn't quite as wide as it seems from this photo.
In the open sea side of the strait.
Next time: Disney Magic

10 July 2015

Le Soléal in Helsinki, 12 June 2015

Le Soléal

IMO 9641675
Built 2013, Fincantieri Ancona, Italy
Tonnage 10 992 GT
Length 142,00 m
Width 18,00 m
Draught 4,70 m
Ice class 1C
264 passengers
264 berths
Diesels, combined 6 400 kW
2 propellers
1 bow thruster
Speed 16 knots

Le Soléal is the third unit in Compagnie du Ponant's (or simply Ponant's, as the company changed their name since the ship was delivered) attractive Le Boréal -class. She was delivered in June 2013 from Fincantieri's Ancona shipyard and entered service in July 2013. Soon afterwards, the ship became the first French-registered ship ever to have navigated through the Northwest Passage. Apart from that, there is very little to say about the history of the ship. She is after all only two years old.

Le Soléal is easy distinguish from her older sister by her different livery, with a lighter shade of grey used on the hull than in the older sisters. The superstructure stripes and funnels have been painted with the darker shade used on Le Boréal and L'Austral, however, which does compromise the ships' good looks somewhat. The original livery, as seen on the older sisters, is beautifully coordinated, but putting in an additional shade simply does not work; where the Le Boréal and L'Austral look stylish, the Le Soléal looks cheap.

Criticism aside, let us get on to the photographs. Unsurprisingly, these show the Le Soléal passing through the Kustaanmiekka Strait in the afternoon of 12 June 2015, shortly after departing Helsinki Eteläsatama (South Harbour). Photographed from Kustaanmiekka. As per the usual, click on the images to see them in larger size.

The sea was somehow very dark on this particular day, creating quite dramatic images.
I agree that the hull colour in the older sisters sometimes looked a bit too dark, but this one looks far too light. Maybe the best answer would have been to use a slightly lighter shade than in the first sisters, and use that on both the hull and the superstructure stripes?
All the criticism doesn't change the fact that the ships are superbly designed.
Notice the French flag - although the ship is actually registered at Mata Utu on one of France's Pacific Islands; I strongly suspect it's cheaper to register a ship there than in mainland France.
Next time: Minerva.