27 June 2016

Mein Schiff 5, Megastar and Mein Schiff 6 at Meyer Turku, 20 June 2016

Triple ship galore!

Mein Schiff 5

IMO 9753193
Built 2016, Meyer Turku, Finland
Tonnage 99 526 GT
Length 293,20 m
Width 35,80 m
Draugth 8,05 m
2 534 passengers (lower beds)
4 Wärtsilä diesels, combined 28 00 kW
2 propellers
3 bow thrusters
Speed 21,7 knots

Mein Schiff 6

IMO 9753208
Built 2017, Meyer Turku, Finland
Tonnage 99 526 GT
Length 293,20 m
Width 35,80 m
Draugth 8,05 m
2 534 passengers (lower beds)
4 Wärtsilä diesels, combined 28 00 kW
2 propellers
3 bow thrusters
Speed 21,7 knots


IMO 9773064
Built 2017, Meyer Turku, Finland
Tonnage 49 000 GT
Length 212 m
2 800 passengers
4 Wärtsilä LNG/diesel hybrid engines
2 propellers
Speed 27 knots

On 20 June. when the Mein Schiff 5 was delivered, three ships in various stages on construction could be seen at the Meyer Turku shipyard: the complete Mein Schiff 5 for TUI Cruises, Megastar for Tallink almost ready for float-out, and the Mein Schiff 6 for TUI Cruises in early stages of assembly.

The Megastar will be named and floated out Friday this week, with the naming ceremony to be carried out by Finland's former president Tarja Halonen; I will be in Turku to witness the ceremony, so look forward to more photos later this week. The ship will be delivered early next year, if all goes well. The Mein Schiff 6, on the other hand, is slated for a spring 2016 delivery.

As per the usual, click on the individual images to see them in larger size.

From left to right Mein Schiff 6, Megastar and Mein Schiff 5.
A solo shot of the Mein Schiff 5. The general opinion seems to be that the ship looks awful, but I think she's quite alright in terms of exterior design. A nice, simple design that avoids trying too hard.
Another shot showing all three, because why the hell not?
The Megastar will be an interesting one, her exterior design is a radical departure from the style of Tallink's previous Finnish-built newbuilds, and the dSign Vertti Kivi & Co -designed interiors promise to be different from her predecessors too.
Kships will return.

22 June 2016

Mein Schiff 5 interiors, 20 June 2016

Mein Schiff 5

IMO 9753193
Built 2016, Meyer Turku, Finland
Tonnage 99 526 GT
Length 293,20 m
Width 35,80 m
Draugth 8,05 m
2 534 passengers (lower beds)
4 Wärtsilä diesels, combined 28 00 kW
2 propellers
3 bow thrusters
Speed 21,7 knots

The Mein Schiff 5 is, of course, both the most recent ship built in Finland, delivered two days ago from Meyer Turku, and the newest ship in the TUI Cruises fleet – so new, in fact, that the ship is not yet in service. It will undertake the first in a series of four short "anticipatory cruises" on 29 June, and will only be officially named on 15 July. I was onboard as a press representative for Cruise Business Review when the ship was shown to Finnish and German media on 20 June, coinciding with the delivery to TUI Cruises.

I was, in fact, also onboard Mein Schiff 4 last year when she was delivered. For some reason, I've never put up the photos taken on that occasion here. Those wanting to compare the Mein Schiff 5 with its older sibling can take a look at a short piece I wrote about that ship's delivery press showing for MaritimeMatters.

All photos were taken on 20 June 2016, while the Mein Schiff 5 was at the Meyer Turku shipyard. As per the usual, this will be a deck-by-deck tour.

Deck 15 (Brise) consists exclusively of sun decks, the forward areas being exclusive for suite passengers.

Deck 14 (Horizont) has the suite-only X-Lounge forward, followed by penthouse suites, sun decks, children's playrooms, a sports deck and the Außenalster – Bar & Grill outdoors restaurant right aft.

X-Lounge seating areas.
X-Lounge serves complimentary buffet-style breakfast and lunch, but morphs into a waiter-service restaurant in the evening.
The Arena aft of deck 15 has a "floating" floor construction, as it is located directly above the buffet restaurant. Supposedly little to no sound is carried down to the restaurant.
Arena artwork.
Deck 12 (Aqua) – there is no deck 13 – features a spa complex forward, pool areas amidships and buffet restaurants aft.

The forward (main) pool is unusually long for a cruise ship at 25 metres. This is not one of those play pools you have on cruise ships built for the English-language markets, but a proper swimming pool.
The Lagunen pool area ahead of the funnel is more conventional as far as cruise ship pools go. On the previous ships in the class, it was an indoors area, but has been opened up onboard the Mein Schiff 5.
Deck 11 (Krabbe) has extensive sauma areas forward – as a Finn I approve – with the rest of the deck filled with cabins.

Deck 10 (Perle) has the navigation bridge forward, followed by cabins and suites.

Decks 9-6 (Koralle, Muschel, Hanse and Boje) are all given over entirely to cabins.

Deck 5 (Pier) is public room territory, with the three-deck-high theatre forward, with the rest of the deck filled by various shops, bars and restaurants. Right aft is the Große Freiheit extra cost dining complex.

The Theater on Mein Schiff 5 has a different colour scheme from the previous sisters (personally I liked the blues and yellows of the MS4 better).
Artwork on the Neuer Wall shopping arcade.
Tag und Nacht is – as the name indicates – the ship's 24-hour eatery. On the Mein Schiff 5 it was given a neat Nordic decor.
Located across from Tag und Nacht is Osteria, a new italian-style dining venue added on the Mein Schiff 5.
Schau Bar.
Located within the Große Freiheit complex, Surf & Turf is the Mein Schiff 5's extra-cost steakhouse.
On the other side of Große Freiheit from Surf & Turf is Schmankerl – Entspannt genießen, a new Austrian-style eatery introduced onboard the Mein Schiff 5.
The last restaurant in the Große Freiheit complex is Hamami. Technically it is down on deck 4, but since it's only accessible via deck five I'm including it here.
On the older sisters Hamami was located amidships in smaller premises, but it proved so popular amongst passengers that it was moved here on the Mein Schiff 5.
An additional positive feature of the relocation is the fact that passengers can enjoy rather excellent views over the ship's wake from Mein Schiff 5's Hamami.
Deck 4 (Seestern) had  the middle-level of the theatre forward, with the rest of the deck given over to further restaurants, bars and shopping opportunities.

Lumas Bar is another new venue, which gives passengers the chance to buy art photography prints from Lumas.
The proper bar seating area of Lumas Bar.
Off Lumas Bar there is also a games lounge. Amusingly, it seemed only members of our small youngster's department photographed the space. If I have understood correctly, this space is open for all passengers, not just teenagers, which I consider a huge improvement.
TUI Bar is one of TUI Cruises signature spaces, found onboard all of their ships.
Big, multi-storey dining rooms seem to be on the way out; on the Mein  Schiff 5, this has been solved by breaking the main dining room into three distinct areas, spread over two decks. Here is the somewhat oddly named Atlantik – Mediterran which, as the name suggests, serves mediterranean fare.
I really like the decor of this restaurant.
On the other side of the ship is Atlantik – Brasserie.
Deck 3 (Atlantik) is primarily given over to cabins, but with the Theater forward (but not actually accessible via this deck) plus the reception and main dining room midships.

On the Mein Schiff 5, the reception area doubles as a reading lounge, operated in collaboration with the German bookstore chain Thalia, and a coffee bar.
There's also a faux fireplace, which is not one of my favourite design elements on an otherwise very attractive ship.
Another view of the reception area, showing the Nespresso bar. (At least) one of the people who designed the ship's interiors can also be seen in this photo, though I was so intent in taking photos that I only noticed him afterwards.
Atlantik – Klassik is the main level of the Atlantik dining complex, serving – as the name suggests – classic cruise ship fare.
For those interested in more detailed information about the Mein Schiff 5 and how it differs from the earlier ships in the series, my article on the subject will be published in the next issue of Cruise Business Review.

Kships will return.

17 June 2016

Marco Polo in Helsinki, 31 May 2016

Marco Polo

IMO 6417097
Name history: Alexandr Pushkin, Marco Polo
Built 1965, VEB Mathias-Thesen-Werft Wismar, East Germany
Tonnage 22 080 GT
Length 176,28 m
Width 23,55 m
Draught 8,17 m
848 passengers (lower berths)
915 berths
2 Sulzer-Cegielski diesels, combined 15 447 kW
2 propellers
1 bow thruster
Speed 16,5 knots

Obviously, the classic Marco Polo is a ship that has been featured here several times. However, last winter the ship got a slight amendment to its livery, with the turquise stripe on the hull (a hue that had survived for a surprisingly long time as memory of her time with Transocean Tours) repainted white, which tremendously improved the ship's looks if you ask me. Now if they only changed the funnel colours into something else than plain white with the company logo stamped on, the ship would look superb.

As per the usual, I have already covered the ship's history briefly in a previous entry. For those wanting more information, I heartily recommend Richard Clammer's wonderfully detailed monograph Marco Polo - Celebrating Fifty Golden Years of Ocean Travel.

The photos below show the Marco Polo passing though the Kustaanmiekka strait on 31 May 2016, shortly after departing Helsinki Eteläsatama (south harbour). Photographed from Kustaanmiekka. As per the usual, click on the images to see them in larger size.

While I do like the classic looks of the ship, this photo does betray the fact her superstructure has been radically expanded over the years, not to the improvement of her looks.
Notice the aforementioned white hull stripe.
A common sight in Helsinki for the past five decades, albeit under different names and liveries.
Vallisaari, the island in the background on the right, was opened to visitors this summer. I haven't sampled it yet, but it should be a very good spot to photograph ships departing/arriving in the morning and early afternoon.
The terraced after decks are definitely not bad.
Onwards and outwards (yes, I did run out of things to say).

Next time: I'll be visiting the Meyer Turku shipyard on Monday to tour Mein Schiff 5 for Cruise Business Review, so if all goes to plan the next entry is a tour of MS5.

11 June 2016

Isle of Arran at Ardrossan and Brodick, 2 June 2016

I recently returned from a week-long vacation in Scotland, which included a brief tour of the various ferries plying the waters of Scotland's western coast and islands in the company of the knowledgeable Bruce Peter. The trip resulted in almost 2000 photos of various Caledonian MacBrayne ferries (as well as the paddle steamer Waverley). The current plan is to put these up mixed with the cruise ship photos I'm bound to take over the summer, thus hopefully avoiding drowning you with CalMac shots.

This time around, we are taking a look at the very first CalMac ship I both saw and travelled on, the Isle of Arran.

Isle of Arran

IMO 8219554
Built 1984, Ferguson Ailsa Glasgow, United Kingdom
Tonnage 3 269 GT
Length 84,92 m
Width 16,24 m
Draught 3,20 m
652 passengers
62 cars
2 diesels
2 propellers
1 bow thruster
Speed 15 knots

As the name suggests, the Isle of Arran was built for a service linking to the isle of Arran (although there was also a 19th century steamer with the same name, and Caledonian MacBrayne have generally been keen to recycle historical names for their ships). Unsurprisingly for a state-owned ship, it was built locally by Ferguson Ailsa in Glasgow, completed in 1984. It must be said that compared to other ferries that entered service around the same time, the Isle of Arran appeared decidedly dated, in terms of both exterior design. Upon entering service on the Ardrossan-Brodick -route the Isle of Arran replaced two older vessels, the Clansman and the Caledonia, and appears to have been a success from the start.

Eventually, demands on the route grew and the Isle of Arran proved too small for the service, and was replaced by the much more modern Caledonian Isles in 1993. Thus the Isle of Arran was moved to services to the isle of Islay, sailing on routes from Kennacraig to Port Ellen and Port Askaig. The ship was used on this route only during the summers, spending winters as a reserve vessel. Following the arrival of further new tonnage in 2001, the Isle of Arran was no longer needed as a regular on the Islay routes, and has since served on a bewildering array of different routes.

Since 2012, the Isle of Arran has again served primarily on the Ardrossan-Brodick -route (alongside the Caledonian Isles), interspersed with sailings from Ardrossan to Campbeltown, with winters spent in reserve. The Isle of Arran is an old ship, however, and it is due to be replaced by a newbuilt vessel in 2018.

The photos below show the Isle of Arran arriving at Ardrossan (first three) and departing from Brodick (the rest), both taken on 2 June 2016. As per the usual, click on the images to see them in larger size.

Not a bad-loking ship, though - as said - I do think it looks very old-fashioned for one built in 1984.
Apparently, the livery has varied over the years: there was a brief period with a grey hull (which extended all the way up to the boat deck), soon replaced by the more traditional black. After the first season, the white paint was lowered, and finally in 1998 the black hull colour was lifted back to the original level at the bow, resulting in the current livery.
Coming from the Baltic, tides fascinate me. The fact that the shoreline here is different depending on the time of day is a concept quite alien to me.
One Ardrossan-Brodick -crossing later, the Isle of Arran departs Brodick again. The construction work of a new ferry terminal meant the sightlines were less good than they could have been.
I really like this shot.
In less than 55 minutes, the ship is back at Ardrossan.
Next time: the previously-promised Marco Polo, I think.