14 March 2016

Silja Europa interiors, 14 March 2016

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 (as of 2013, may have been changed)
350 cars
932 lane metres
4 MAN diesels, combined 31 800 kW
2 propellers
2 bow thrusters
1 stern thruster
Speed 22 knots

The Silja Europa returned to commercial service on the Helsinki-Tallinn route yesterday, with the first departure from Helsinki being today in the morning. There was also a cruise for the press arranged for today, and I was able to participate thanks to Cruise Business Review. For once, this blog is right on the pulse of things, as these are literally brand new photos.

For those interested, this previous entry includes an essentially up-to-date history of the ship. It might also be of interest to compare the new interior shots below with these older photos of the ship from the Silja era (come to think of it, there's also a second batch of Silja-era photos that have not been featured here [yet] but some of which were used in Silja Line from De Samseglande to Tallink). Now, onwards to the photos!

The confusion with names from the ship's previous stint on the Helsinki-Tallinn route continues: the ship sails under the Tallink brand, and in Finland she's marketed simply as the 'Europa'. However, all onboard signage, announcements etc. refer to the ship as the Silja Europa (which, of course, remains the ship's official name, which is naturally the one I use in this blog).
Deck 13: The topmost deck only has outer decks and a VIP conference room (only accessible through the main conference suite on deck 12).

For the trip to Australia the decks were painted white to keep the ship cooler in tropical climates; this has been retained for the moment. Interestingly, the new plastic deck covering on lower decks is gray, instead of the original green.
The Kapellskär VIP conference room. Supposedly the table alone cost more than a single-family house back in the day.
Deck 12: Is divided between the conference suite, a sauna and pool complex, as well as beauty salon and spa services (the latter are, I believe, in former conference rooms).

Central lobby of the conference suite. The conference rooms remain essentially in original appearance, with no notable updates carried out in the most recent refit.
The auditorium in the conference rooms. As the Silja Europa has a large theatre on lower decks that can also be used as an auditorium (photos of this below), the auditorium in the conference suite is relatively small.
When she entered service, the Silja Europa was decorated with artworks featuring ships of Silja Line's former owners (and predecessors to today's Tallink Silja Oy), Effoa and Johnson Line. These two paintings of Johnson Line ships remain in the conference suite.
The bar area outside the sauna and pool area is also unchanged, at least as far as I remember its previous appearance.
The pool area - naturally it's indoors on a ship designed for around-the-year service on the Baltic Sea.
Decks 9-11 are dedicated solely to cabins (plus the navigation bridge on deck 10).

Deck 8 is the upper public rooms deck, with the buffet at the bow, followed by the still-under-construction Tavolata Italian restaurant, the main à la carte restaurant Maxim, Corner Bar, Joe's Place pub, a Casino, the Ocean Club night club and Windjammer bar at the stern.

The main buffet restaurant is another space that remains largely unchanged from the ship's previous incarnation, apart from the new signage you see above the service counters.
Tavolata is still under construction, with 'facade' of the space decorated with an image of the Tavolata restaurant from either the Silja Serenade or Silja Symphony.
Inside Tavolata, there was still a lot of work to be done. If I remember correctly, it should be complete by 28th of March.
The current look of the Corner Bar dates from the Silja era. Originally this space was a waiter-service restaurant (if I remember correctly, in the original Viking Line plans this space was to be named Taurus, but Silja moved Taurus to an adjacent space and this became the Bon Vivant fine dining restaurant - alas, I seem to have misplaced my Viking Line brochure for the ship so I cannot verify the information).
Maxim à la carte is a wonderful piece of shipboard archeology: apart from the upholstery, the space retains its original appearance. And actually, after 23 years it still looks quite current. Notice another old ship painting behind the columns, this time featuring the Finska Ångfartygs Aktiebolaget (Finland Steamship Company) steamer Ilmatar of 1929. The facing wall has two other FÅA oldies, the Oberon of 1925 and the Ariadne of 1914.
This cabinet adjacent to Maxim was originally named Drottningholm and it was an exact copy of a room in the Drottningholm Castle in Sweden. When the Silja Europa moved to the Helsinki-Tallinn route in 2013, the space was redecorated to become a Russian speciality restaurant (albeit the old Gustavian style furniture was retained). Today, the space has reverted to a part of the main Maxim restaurant.
Joe's Place Pub has been at least partially redone, as there used to be a smoking room on the aft end of the room (the far wall in this photo).
The Ocean Palace night club was given a well-deserved update, doing away with the (frankly horrible) original 1990s decor. I really fancy the new carpets here.
This doesn't really describe the space that well as a photo, but it's a nice atmospheric shot so why not?
A view from the entrance to Windjammer Bar, facing forward towards the Ocean Club. I didn't include any photos of Windjammer here, as it was virtually unaltered from my 2010 visit to the ship.
Deck 7 has plenty of more public rooms, with the current configuration giving well over half of the deck over to shops of various kinds. From the bow, the spaces are the Fast Line cafeteria, Seaside Café, Perfume & Fashion, Gifts, Electronic, and Kids & Toys shops (the last three are all along a single arcade and are really a single store from the customer's point of view), Lotteland children's playroom, the main supermarket (named Tax Free Superstore, despite the fact there are no tax-free sales on the Helsinki-Tallinn line), and a discotheque right aft - this was still being rebuilt.

The servery areas of the Fast Lane cafeteria. These are completely altered since ship was last on the Baltic.
Fast Lane seating areas. Sami Koski of Valkeat Laivat noted that while everything else in the space has been redecorated, with nicely matching hue of lime, grey and white, the carpet remains the old one from the days when this space was still the Food Market - and it clashes horribly with the new decor.
Perfumes & Fashion are a slightly strange shop, with common signage on the outside but separate signages on the inside - seems a bit superfluous, we all surely can tell clothes apart from perfume bottles?
The Fashion shop section. Back in 1993, this area housed what was billed as "the World's first floating McDonald's" (it wasn't) and a children's playroom.
Entrance to the Tax Free Superstore - where all items sold include Estonian tax.
While it's a Tallink ship, there were only Silja Line merchandise for sale onboard - including this selection of seal plushies. I bought one with a blue sailor's cap.
Sweets, alongside booze, form the main merchandise onboard Baltic Sea ferries, at least as far as ships in the Finland-Sweden-Estonia triangle are concerned.
Deck 6 is primarily another cabin deck (remember that in original configuration, the ship had over 3 700 cabin berths, to the best of my knowledge still a record on a ferry), but with Theatre Europa aft. The theatre was originally envisioned as the ship's pièce de résistance, allowing the ship to be the first ferry to introduce cruise ship -style nightly shows. In practice is has been underutilised for the ship's entire career; it's quite telling that while this was my seventh time onboard, I saw the theatre for the first time in person - and even now only because we specifically asked for the press tour to include a sojourn to the theatre.

The bar at the entrace looks pretty much identical to the design scethes from the ship's pre-publicity brochure.
There are plans to bring the theatre back into use. As it well deserves, it's a fine space.
Deck 5 is given entirely over to cabins.

Decks 3 and 4 have crew cabins (I presume) on the sides, with a car deck in the middle. As the ship has been designed with central funnel uptakes and elevator shafts, this arrangement means the car deck is unusually constricted for a ship of this size.

Due to a problem with grangways, we had to board the ship through the aft car ramp. There wasn't much cargo on this crossing, as you can see (although to be fair, we didn't see what was on the starboard side, there might have been several cars hiding there).
Deck 2 has economy cabins forward, with machinery spaces aft. Deck 1 below is, naturally, entirely non-passenger spaces.

Kships will return.

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