26 October 2017

Mein Schiff 6 in Helsinki, 31 July 2017

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

I always like it when a new Mein Schiff comes to Helsinki (especially as I've usually had the chance to visit them beforehand at the shipyard on delivery - in fact, I have a bunch of interior photos of the Mein Schiff 6 on the computer waiting for me to bother looking through them and editing for publication) and, of course, the Mein Schiff 6 is no exception. As testified by the fact her maiden call in our fair city was one of the few times that I actually managed to go out and photograph ships this summer.

As she entered service only a few months ago, there's very little to say about her history, so let's get straight down to the photos, which show the ship departing Helsinki Länsisatama (West Harbour) in the afternoon of 31 July 2017, photographed from Vattuniemi. As per the usual, you can click on the images to see them in larger size.

Two generation of Finnish-built ships in the Finnish capital: the Mein Schiff 6 and the Costa Mediterranea.
I continue to think there is a nice clarity to the design of the Mein Schiff 3 -class.
Construction of a new cruise quay underway on the left.
If I recall correctly, there was a Tallinn-Helsinki regatta on this particular day, hence the abundance of pictoresque sailboats.
Next week, it'll be time for the 500th entry into this blog. If I receive my copies of Innovation and Specialisation: The Story of Shipbuilding in Finland, I will be writing a little bit about the book; if not, I was thinking of doing a short guide to the different ship photo locations in Helsinki, which some of you have requested. So stay tuned!

20 October 2017

Aidavita in Helsinki, 18 October 2017

The summer cruise season for Helsinki ended last Thursday, and thanks to my lovely wife, I actually managed go out and photograph the the relevant ship. Due to the presenced of a tiny new human in my life, and the work on Innovation and Specialisation: The Story of Shipbuilding in Finland, this was only the third time this year I was out to photograph visiting cruise ships this year. Next year will hopefully be better. Oh yes, and speaking of the book, it should be out from the printers next week. I will write about it in more detail once I have my own physical copies at hand. In the meantime, let's look at this year's last cruise ship.


IMO 9221554
Built 2002, Aker MTW Wismar, Germany
Tonnage 42 289 GT
Length 202,85 m
Width 28,10 m
Draught 6,30 m
1 266 passengers (lower berths)
1 687 passenger berths
4 Wärtsilä diesels, combined 27 550 kW
2 controllable pitch propellers
2 bow thrusters
2 stern thrusters
Speed 19,4 knots

Delivered in 2002, the Aidavita was Aida Cruises second newbuilding ever. Although externally quite similar to the company's first ship, the Turku-built Aidacara (originally named just Aida), the Aidavita and her sister Aidaaura were built by the Aker MTW shipyard in Wismar in former East Germany - rather fitting, as Aida Cruises themselves started out as an offshoot of the former East German state-owned shipping company Deutsche Seereederei. However, by the time the Aidavita was delivered, Aida Cruises'  ownership had passed under P&O Princess Cruises, which of course subsequently merged with the Carnival Corporation to become Carnival Corporation & PLC. The Aidavita's career appears to have been rather uneventful, so let's proceed right to the photos.

The images below show the Aidavita departing from Helsinki's Länsisatama (West Harbour) in the afternoon of 18 October 2017, photographed from Vattuniemi. The lighting conditions were far from ideal, so I ended up editing these quite a bit; I quite like the end result myself but it is hardly "natural", and I can understand if it isn't everyone's cup of tea. As always, click on the images to see them in larger size.

I think the Aidavita and her sister are particularly successful externally, with a nicely balanced profile already evident in the first Aida ship, but with the covered bridge wings giving an extra touch.
The later Aida newbuilds have, alas, not been as successful (visually) if you ask me.
Yes, I did "cut out" the ship and edit it separately from the background. How ever did you guess?
`The reason why I've been out photographing so little this year on the left - and a more natural lighting of the ship on the right.
I really dig the aft design on this ship; a wedge similar to that of the Sally Albatross, but done better.

16 October 2017

Megastar in Helsinki, 19 May 2017

I've done surprisingly few entries about the Megastar, and I since there are a few sets sitting on my hard drive that have not been published here - or anywhere else for that matter - I think it's high time to rectify the case. (Though in my defence, a new small human appeared in my life a few months before the Megastar entered service and as a result I have also photographed her surprisingly few times).


IMO 9773064
Built 2017, Meyer Turku, Finland
Tonnage 49 134 GT
Length 212,10 metres
Width 30,60 metres
Draught 7,00 metres
2 824 passengers
188 cabin berths
800 cars (if no freight units carried) or
320 cars and 110 freight units
3 653 lane metres
5 Wärtsilä LNG/diesel hybrid engines, combined 45 600 kW
2 propellers
2 bow thrusters
2 stern thrusters
Service speed 27 knots
Ice class 1A

Nothing much to write about the history of the ship so far, as she's only been in service for less than ten months now. If you want to see what she looks like on the inside, check this previous entry.

The photos below show the Megastar arriving at Helsinki Länsisatama (West Harbour) in the afternoon of 19 May 2017, photographed from Vattuniemi. As per the usual, click on the images to see them in larger size.

I do like the occasional sailboat for photo purposes.
Pihlajasaari (on the left) would be a nice photo spot for mornings - if a) I would wake up early enough and b) the ferry there would go early enough to actually catch the morning cruise ship arrivals.
Is it just me or does the upper left bit of the red infinity sign actually look slightly sloppishly done, with a reverse arch to what it should be?
Behind the Megastar here is the construction work of a new cruise quay, which has made photography from Hernesaari impossible.
While I like the way the ship looks, her exterior does look like it wasn't given a final touch with the detailing. The are good ideas, but the final execution and detailing just looks messy.

10 October 2017

Book news: Ferries 2018

I received this book last week, and was going to do a blog update about it then, but a certain vomitting one-year-old put a small projectile vomit spanner in the works.

But gory details about life at the Id household aside, I've been in a book yet again. This time it's the 2018 edition of the yearly Ferries of British Isles and Northern Europe, published by Ferry Publications. As the name suggests, the "beef" of Ferries 2018 is a database of all Northern European car/passenger ferries in international service, plus all ferries sailing in intra-British or Irish services, and roro cargo ferries sailing to/from Great Britain and Ireland. In addition to the database (which is highly useful in itself), this year's version includes three articles: "Silja Line – 60 Years of Service" by yours truly, "Tallinn-Helsinki: Fit for the Future" by Matthew Punter, and "To Iceland in Wind and Storm" by Kai Ortel.

My "Silja Line – 60 Years of Service" is, as the name suggests, a short look into the history of the company since the formation of Siljarederiet in 1957. If you already own Silja Line from De Samseglande to Tallink, then there's probably nothing new in the article for you (apart from the few lines at the end about the re-separation of Silja Line and Tallink brands that is currently taking place). But if you don't own the book (and you should), this is a nice introduction to the history of the company.

"Tallinn-Helsinki: Fit for the Future" explains and explores the recent grances to Tallink's Helsinki-Tallinn fleet – not just the Megastar introduced earlier this year, but also the changes done to the Star, and the radical refit of the Silja Europa (which was of course also covered on this blog, both during and after the refit).

Finally, "To Iceland in Wind and Storm" is a rather perceptively written account of a Viking Cruise to Iceland and the Faroe Islands onboard Smyril Line's delightful Norröna – well worth a read!

The best way to buy the book is, of course, through Ferry Publications' website here. You can hopefully also find the book in well-stocked bookstores... but unfortunately we no longer have those in Finland, so if you live here and want a copy, off to Ferry Publications' site you go.

06 October 2017

Express (Viking FSTR) in Helsinki, 19 May 2017

The previous entry with exterior views of the Express has a been a surprise hit at the blog, skyrocketing over the summer to the number one most popular entry of all time. As the ship's summer season with Viking Line is spooling towards its end (the last sailings will be on the 22nd of this month), it's high time we look at her again.


IMO 9176046
Name history: Catalonia, Catalonia L, Portsmouth Express, Express
Built 1998, Incat Hobart, Australia
Tonnage 5 902 GT
Length 91,30 m
Width 26,00 m
Draught 3,73 m
836 passengers
120 cars
4 Caterpillar diesels, combined 28 800 kW
4 waterjets
Maximum speed 48 knots
Service speed 30 knots

The history of the Express is explained in this previous entry. The ship's future remains uncertain at the time of writing; earlier this summer, it was reported the catamaran has been sold to Armas for service around the Canary Isles, but this appears to have been what we in Finnish call a "news duck". However, Viking Line have not confirmed the ship's return for the next season. Personally, I would not be surprised if the Express turns out to be a one-summer wonder with Viking; with limited retail, restaurant and entertainment facilities the ships doesn't fit too well in with Viking's strategy of providing cheap tickets but exacting high revenue from onboard services.

While waiting for the final news of what happens with the ship, we can look at some photos from earlier this year. These show the Express arriving at, and departing from, Viking Line's terminal at Katajanokka, photographed from Valkosaari. As always, click on the images to see them in larger size.

Inbound, the Express passed several local ferries: the Suokki sailing to Suomenlinna, the Vire to Korkeasaari and the Viapori also to Suomenlinna. The light on the first two was not too good, but this one of the Viapori and Express turned out pretty okay.
It'll be interesting to see if we'll ever see an Incat wave-piercing catamaran in Helsinki after 22nd this month.
45 minutes later, the ship departs, reversing out from the quay.
The Viking XPRS, of course, usually does the same manoeuvre.
Now the pointy bit is in the right direction and we can get going.
I still think they should have painted the hull red all the way to the bow.