18 November 2016

Silja Europa in mid-transformation, 17 November 2016

Kships returns from the child-induced hibernation to bring you this reportage.

Yesterday, I had the chance to visit the Silja Europa in Muuga, where she is undergoing a 16-million euro refit to thoroughly modernise her passenger facilities - including all the cabins. Not only is this the largest individual refit in the history of Tallink, but combined with the refit done last spring it means that nearly all of her passenger facilities will have been modernised - resulting essentially in a brand-new ship as far as the passenger is concerned.

Updated 18.11.2016 at 15:54 with an artist's impression of the Grill House .

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

Heikki Mattila of Aprocos explains the refit onboard the Star.
We sailed to Tallinn on the Star, and whilst en-route Marika Nöjd of Tallink Silja Oy (Tallink Grupp's Finnish subsidiary) and Heikki Mattila of Tallink's trusted interior designers Aprocos explained the refit in detail. I was especially impressed not only by Mattila's designs, which will transform the ship into an attractive contemporary one, but also his enthusiasm about retaining parts of the original decor in his new designs, which makes sense not only from a purely economic point of view but is important from an environmental point of view.

We started our tour from the bridge - which, unlike the public spaces, isn't getting a refit.
The flag collection on the bridge illustrates the ship's varied career. On the top row are Silja Line, Estonia, Denmark and Spain; on the bottom row the Silja Europa's own pennant, Sri Lanka, Indonesia and Australia.
From the bridge, we proceeded up to Deck 12, to the conference rooms and sauna & pool areas. Here, the spaces aren't receiving quite as extensive renovation as elsewhere, being primarily restructed to new upholstery, carpeting and the like.

The conference lobby, where new carpeting are being put in in the background.
The sauna bar area has already received new carpeting...
...while new glazed tiles were being put in in the pool area.
In the aft stair lobby (which will also reveive a new look), new upholstery awaits being put in place.
The public toilets will also get a new, less dark look. Many of these were originally faced in red granite and this will be retained in locations where the stone remains in good enough condition.
An impressive part of the Silja Europa's transformation is that ALL cabins will receive a complete makeover, from the suites to the C-class cabins below the car deck (although the latter will receive theirs only in January, to be done while the ship is in service). New bathrooms, storage spaces and in general a lighter, more contemporary look is the word of the day.

A pile of new carpeting awaits installation in the stair lobby of Deck 10.
The cabin corridors will also get an all-new look, replacing the somewhat musty original 1993 design.
Everything must go!
Heikki Mattila shows Sami Koski of Valkeat Laivat one of the cabins that's in a more advanced stage. The sofa here is still to be redone in the new colour scheme. In addition to the black and turquise seen here, other cabins will receive a black and red colour palette instead.
Down on the public room decks, it's not only the public rooms that get a "new look", but here too the corridors, lobbies and staircases will be redone; including the removal of the original staircase artworks in favour of new black-and-white photomurals of the destinations that Tallink and Silja Line sail to.

The bank of elevators on Deck 8 has already been refaced with the new dark stone wall covering.
The atrium, meanwhile, receives a new wall of lights similar to the one found on the aft promenade of the Silja Serenade and Silja Symphony.
An impression of what the main lobby on Deck 7 will look like once the refit is done. Image copyright Aprocos.
The main buffet restaurant forward on Deck 8 is getting a full-scale renovation, with a new look similar to the Grande Buffet onboard the post-refit Silja Serenade and Silja Symphony.
The forward part of the buffet will retain the original custom-made copper light fixtures from 1993, incorporated into the new look.
For comparisons, here is the Silja Serenade's Grande Buffet. The decor of the Silja Europa's buffet will be similar once complete. (For a full tour of the Silja Serenade after her winter 2014 refit, see here)
The Tavolata restaurant, the entrace of which is here on the right, was added in the spring and no changes will be done there. The arcade here will receive a new look - the original hardwood floor will be retained, but restored to original appearance. On the deck below the original floor was in such a poor condition that it has to be replaced.
The pub isn't exactly inviting right now...
...but it will be very nice once the refit is complete. Image copyright Aprocos.
The former Maxim à la carte restaurant transforms to the new Grill House.
Which will look like this in the final form, with the original ceiling finished and columns retained, but a more contemporary look that even has a hint of luxury to it. Image copyright Aprocos.
 Down of Deck 7, much of the public rooms were already redone in the spring (see this earlier reportage). Here, the primary changes will thus be done to the corridors and lobbies, alongside which the cafe will be completely redone, in a similar appearance as the Coffee & Co café onboard the Silja Serenade.

In the Fashion Shop added last spring, the displays are covered to keep the soot away.
The former Seaside Café today...
...and in a month's time. Image copyright Aprocos.
A public room that will not be redone, and thus retains the original 1993 decor, is Theatre Europa down on Deck 6. Once the Silja Europa returns to service on the 22-hour cruise circuit, it will see some use as an entertaintment venue. Marko Makke, Tallink Grupp's head of Finland-Sweden operations, suggested during our tour that this may not be the final solution for the space, suggesting that it could instead be converted to an entertainment venue similar to the Iskelmä bars aimed at an older demographic found onboard the Baltic Princess and Baltic Queen.

For now, however, the theatre is a storage for the cabin matresses.
Kships will return... eventually.

11 November 2016

Book news: Uusikaupunki Maritime Historical Society yearbook 2015-2016

So, I've been in a book yet again. This time, it's the 2015-2016 yearbook of Uudenkaupungin merihistoriallinen yhdistys (Uusikaupunki Maritime Historical Society). This is a wonderful hardcover article collection in full colour, which has just one problem for many of my readers: it's available only in Finnish.

My own article - which apparently was good enough to be the one opening the book - is on the history of the Lindblad Explorer, the world's first purpose-built expedition cruise ship, which happened to be built at Uusikaupunki. As such, the article naturally concentrates primarily on the design and construction of the ship, but also charts its entire history. The whole thing is lavaishly illustrated, mostly with wonderful images (including interiors in the original guise) provided by the Uusikaupunki museum. For those wanting all this in English, fear not: much of the material will appear in that language in 2017, when my and Bruce Peter's first joint offering, Innovation and Specialisation: A History of Finnish Shipbuilding, is published.

Many thanks are in order to the Uusikaupunki museum for the wonderful photos that grace my article here.

Apart from my article, the Uusikaupunki yearbook includes a host of wonderful articles on subjects as varied as sea transports in ancient Rome, the voyage of Finnish missionaries to Namibia on one of the last commercial liners voyages under sail, and marine paintings. My personal favourites, however, were Pirita Frigren's text on the lives of seamen's wives in the age of sail, and Jukka Huotari's history of the Juliana-class cargo ships.

The book is mailed to the members of the Uusikaupunki Maritime Historical Society automatically; I presume you can ask to buy a copy by contacting the society via their website.

In other news, you may have noticed a distinct lack of updates to this blog of late. The reason for this is simple: the Id Fleet grew by one member in October. As the new addition consumes a sizeable amount of my time, I've decided to use what remains on writing and photo work I'm actually paid to do. Which means that, for the time being, this blog will be on a hiatus. For how long, I cannot say. So, as the wizard said: expect me when you see me.