25 March 2018

Aidaprima & Marella Dream at Funchal 22 January 2018

Somehow, we're already reached the end of my photos from January's visit to Funchal, Madeira. But I think you'll agree they were the best of the bunch.

Aidaprima

IMO 9636955
Built 2016, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Nagasaki, Japan
Tonnage 125 572 GT
Length 299,95 m
Width 37,65 m
Draugth 8,25 m
3 250 passengers (lower berths)
4 Caterpillar-MaK diesels, combined 43 200 kW
2 azipods
2 bow thrusters
Service speed 22 knots

Marella Dream

IMO 8407735
Name history: Homeric, Westerdam, Costa Europa, Thomson Dream, Marella Dream
Built 1986, Meyer Werft Papenburg, West Germany
Tonnage 54 763 GT
Length 243,23 m
Width 29,00 m
Draugth 7,20 m
1 533 passengers (lower berths)
1 756 passengers (all berths)
4 MAN B&W diesels, combined 54 763 kW
2 propellers
2 bow thrusters
1 stern thruster
Service speed 19 knots

Two new ships in one entry, so I guess we also have a double history entry too. Well, the Aidaprima's is fortunately short: She is the lead ship of Aida Cruises' Hyperion-class, contracted in 2011 from Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) for delivery in March 2015. MHI found they had bit off more than they could chew, and the ship was delayed by a year, finally entering service in Spring 2016.

The Marella Dream is an altogether more complex affair. She was the last new ship commissioned by Home Lines, being delivered from the Meyer Werft in West Germany in 1986 as the Homeric - she was the start of Meyer's entry into building cruise ships, in which they have become one the world's leading yards.

The Homeric's career with Home Lines was short, as the company was absorbed by Holland America Line in 1988, and the Homeric became the Westerdam. In 1989-1990, she returned to her builders to be "stretched" with the addition of a 39-metre midsection (the added bit can clearly be seen, as the windows in it are of a different size from the originals). The ship remained with Holland America until 2002, when she was transferred within the Carnival Corporation to the fleet of Costa Cruises as the Costa Europa. In 2010, she changed owners again, being told to TUI UK for their Thomson Cruises brand and became the Thomson Dream. With TUI AG deviding to harmonise their brands during the middle of the decade, Thomson Cruises was due to be rebranded TUI Cruises, with the name prefixes of the Thomson fleet due to be changed to TUI. However, someone at TUI realised there was a high chance of confusion between the German-market TUI Cruises and the to-be-ex-Thomson Cruises for the UK market. However, instead of doing the logical thing and simply keeping the Thomson brand, Thomson Cruises was renamed Marella Cruises (unintentionally recalling the name of a 1970s Viking Line ferry), with the Thomson Dream becoming the Marella Dream in November 2017.

The photos below show the Aidaprima and Marella Dream in the port of Funchal, Madeira on the evening of 22 January 2018. Photographed from different locations along the Praça Do Povo. As always, click on the link to see the images in larger size.

I admit we happened to be in the right place at the right time purely by accident. Concrete fences and the ground make a decent replacement for a tripod if need be.
Impressive illuminations on the Aidaprima here.
Even more impressive a few minutes later, with the sun having just set.
The same location but with both ships. Unfortunately, I couldn't get a decent image of only the Marella Dream from this viewpoint.
Next time: Stena Scandinavica

14 March 2018

Pride of Rotterdam in Gdansk, 11 January 2018

Shockingly, this week's entry is not about the Baltic Princess but is does consist of images taken during the BP's docking trip from Turku to Gdansk. Amongst the ships encountered during that voyage was the Pride of Rotterdam - a ship I had not chanced to see before, so it is well deserving its own entry.

Pride of Rotterdam

IMO 9208617
Built 2001, Fincantieri Venice, Italy
Tonnage 59 925 GT
Length 215,44 m
Width 31,85 m
Draugth 6,02 m
1 360 passengers
1 360 passenger berths
2500 cars and 400 trailers
3 300 lanemetres
4 Wärtsilä diesels, combined 37 800 kW
2 propellers
2 bow thrusters
Speed 22 knots

The Pride of Rotterdam and her sister Pride of Hull were contracted by what was then P&O North Sea Ferries from Fincantieri in 1999 for the you guessed it! Hull-Rotterdam route as replacements for the 1980s-vintage Norsea and Norsun. Originally, the names of the pair were reversed, with the first ship due to be named Pride of Hull (and placed under the UK flag), but during construction these were altered so that the first ship became the Pride of Rotterdam and was placed under the Dutch flag.

Following delivery in April 2001, the ship sailed to the Netherlands and was named by Queen Beatrix. At the end of the month the Pride of Rotterdam entered service on the Hull-Rotterdam route, on which she remains to this day, having apparently only left the route for the occasional docking. In 2002, the name of her operator changed from P&O North Sea Ferries to plan P&O Ferries, when the company simplified their branding, doing away with the various sub-brands for different operational areas.

The photos below show the Pride of Rotterdam at the Remontowa shipyard in Gdansk on 11 January 2018, being reversed into drydock. Photographed from onboard the Baltic Princess. As per the usual, click on the images to see them in larger size.

Our timing was perhaps less than ideal, as this was the only near-decent shot I got showing the whole ship. Then again, the schedule was not exactly planned with photography in mind.
I guess these sisters were some of the earliest examples of a livery with a convex curve to make the ship appear less rectangular.
In the floating dock, with the tanker Yeoman Bridge high and dry in the other floating dock on the right.
Next time: Aidaprima (unless something more important comes up in the interim)

08 March 2018

The new Baltic Princess interiors, 8 March 2018

My original intention was to give you a full interior tour of the Baltic Princess today, combining my photos from today's press tour and the previous crossing with her to Gdansk. However, as the wonderful people at Tallink Silja offered me an impromptu cruise on the ship, we will instead look only at the parts of the ship that were changed during the refit, and the full tour will have to wait for another time.

Baltic Princess

IMO 9354284
Built 2008, Aker Yards Saint Nazaire, France / Aker Yards Helsinki, Finland
Tonnage 48 915 GT
Length 212,10 m
Width 29,00 m
Draugth 6,42 m
Ice class 1A Super
2 800 passengers
2 484 berths
600 cars
1 130 lanemetres
4 Wärtsilä diesels, combined 32 000 kW
2 propellers
2 bow thrusters
Speed 24,5 knots

The Baltic Princess' new public rooms were designed by the Finnish interior architects Aprocos, working in close collaboration with the crews and based on extensive passenger feedback. (Aprocos of course also worked on the ship's original interior decor back in the day). Heikki Mattila's firm is quickly becoming one of my personal favourite ship interior designers, as their work has a strong tendency to be both stylish and functional. And there is a Nordic modernist trend running through their recent work, which as a style is right up my street.

Grande Buffet on Deck 7

The old Buffet Silja Line on Deck 7 has been transformed into a Grande Buffet, with all-new decor, re-designed servery areas and new equipment.

The chairs are the originals, but they have been reupholstered in the Grande Buffet colours. The new upholstery is also designed to be easy to clean, so that they will look good even after prolonged use.
Several partitions were removed to open up the space and make it more airy.
The jewel of the restaurant is the new dessert buffet, which is also the workstation of the dessert cook, who can then also make portions on order and special portions for people with allergies or other special dietary needs.
Midships stair lobbies

The midships stair lobbies on all decks have been given new, more vibrant carpets (the old ones were not that nice, at least in my opinion). A small but attractive change.

I really like the new carpets here. A shame they didn't change the forward stair lobbies at the same time, as the carpets there are of a particularly dismal colour in my opinion.


Fashion Street on Deck 7

The pre-existing Fashion Street shop on Deck 7 was enlarged into the space of the old Siljaland children's playroom (which moved down to deck 5, of which more below). The expansion includes the world's first Tommy Hilfiger Shop in Ship, or a shop in shop onboard a ship. According to the Tommy Hilfiger representative here, the Baltic Princess has been a big seller or TH clothing to start with, so a Shop in Ship was a logical next step.

The Tommy Hilfiger Shop in Ship of course has TH brand displays - but adapted for shipboard use, rather than the movable versions used on dry land.

Fast Lane cafeteria on Deck 6

The old Cafeteria on Deck 6 has been transformed into a new-style Fast Lane cafeteria, with "action stations" making portions on order replacing the old buffet-style system. In terms of decor the space is a fusion of elements of the Fast Lanes onboard the Silja Europa and the Megastar, using similar extensive plant decor as on the Megastar but with the rest of the decor more subdued (and more in keeping with the Fast Lane concept) as on the Silja Europa. Personally I'm really highly impressed with the decor here.

The old Cafeteria was not really today... but the new Fast Lane certainly is!
The lime green that is the Fast Lane colour is much more subdued here than, for instance, on the Silja Europa - and of course, the plants provide a nicely Fast Lane -esque palette in themselves.
Very pretty.
The new servery areas are more station-based, so that if you want a coffee, you can just get a coffee and not queue though everything. I like the use of hexagonal floor tiling here, reflecting the hexagonal carpet pattern that is the Fast Lane "thing".
Siljaland on Deck 5

The old luggage room on Deck 5 has been transformed into the new, much larger Siljaland for children. The space includes a small stage for children's shows, a cafeteria for parents, and it is located adjacent to the conference suite, which can be converted into a part of the playroom during the holiday seasons. This is of course routinely done on just about every Baltic ferry, but putting the regular playroom next to the conference room of course gives adjacency benifits missing from other ships.

A TV screen will be added to the blank space behind the stage, so it can also be used for kid's karaoke.
A small cafeteria for parents, with grown-up sized seating on the left (mostly off-frame, unfortunately).
Designers chairs in child size. In addition to PS4's and to-be-installed iWalls, kids can also play board games and draw - or just frolic around.
Cabin areas on Deck 5

The passenger cabins on Deck 5 have been redecorated, but unfortunately we did not have a chance to visit any of them. The cabin corridors have also been recarpeted in similar colours as the midships stair lobbies. Again, a major improvement with a small change.

While I do like the new carpets, I have to say the juxtaposition of a blue carpet and red cabin doors is a bit jarring. Maybe paint the cabin doors to match in the next refit? Oh yes, also notice the signage in the new Silja Line style.
Kships will return.

04 March 2018

The Baltic Princesses that will never be

I've recently been too busy to do a proper blog update, but in order for this place not to slip into obscurity again, I dug into the archives for something slightly different from usual, which manges to be topical at the same time.

As some might know, the return of the Baltic Princess from her refit in Gdansk has been seriously delayed; she was due to be back by 22. February but the current estimated return to service is on 8. March. Rumour has it that they are having trouble lining up the new gearboxes with the existing engines and propeller axles. As always with rumours, take this with a suitable pinch of salt (though it is hard to think what else the reason would be).

Anyway, before the Baltic Princess went to the shipyard, there were persistent rumours (or perhaps persistent hopes) that she would receive a blue-and-white livery more in keeping with the Silja Line brand image during the docking. She won't.

Over the years I've made a few different variations of what she could look like if painted in a more Silja-style livery, and this is as good of a time as any to look at them.

Photo and "whiting out" by Jani Nousiainen, new livery by Kalle Id.
A very stripped-back version, reminescent of the original livery of the Silja Opera, dating from 2015. Here my reasoning, if I recall, was that the blue stripes should only be along the public room deck windows - in retrospect an odd thought, as that hasn't been the case in other Silja ships either.

Same creidts as above. Incidentally, the photo actually features the Baltic Queen, not Baltic Princess.
Inspired the liveries of Brittany Ferries' Économie sub-brand and La Méridionale, I took the previous version to a novel direction with the wavy line blue area painted on the hull. I actually quite like this one, but it's not very Silja. Then again, these have been some quite novel variations of the Silja livery in the past, such as the original paintjobs of the Silja Festival and Silja Karneval.

Again, the same credits as above apply.
Fast forward to autumn 2017, when I returned to the subject and created this most traditionally Silja-esque, and arguably most attractive version. There is the thin blue tripe on top of the hull, borrowed from the Silja Festival and Silja Karneval's original livery, different heights of the superstructure stripes as on the Silja Opera's second livery, and a blue stripe along the bridge windows (don't know why I omitted that in the previous ones, as that has been a common feature in just about every ship since 1981). The superstructure stripes are also boken up by white diagonals as on the Silja Serenade and Silja Symphony. Also notice the liddle added details adjacent to windbreakers of aft top decks, and the blue "spoiler" on the funnel.


Kships will return to normal programming next week.

20 February 2018

Aidablu at Funchal, 20 January 2018

As it happens, I have photographed an Aidablu at Funchal before. But it was a different Aidablu from the one we are discussing today.

AIDAblu

IMO 9398888
Built 2010, Meyer Werft Papenburg, Germany
Tonnage 71 304 GT
Length 251,89 m
Width 32,20 m
Draugth 7,20 m
2 050 passengers (lower berths)
2 500 passengers (all berths)
4 MaK diesels, combined 36 000 kW
2 azipods
2 bow thrusters
2 stern thusters
Service speed 19,5 knots
Maximum speed 21,8 knots

Not much to say about this particular Aidablu. She is a member of the ubiquituous Aidadiva-class (or Sphinx-class as it's also known), members of which seem to regularly visit Helsinki all the time during the summer season. However, encountering a members of the class in Funchal in January of course created additional interest in photographing her. The photos below show the ship arriving in Funchal on the afternoon of 20 January 2018, photographed from Santa Catarina Park. As always, click on the images to see them in larger size.

Surprisingly dramatic lighting, even though it's just regular sea and sun. Notice the pilot boat to the right of the ship.
The roof of the cruise terminal intruded in the shot.
The sun decided to hide behind a cloud as the ship was turning, so we're skipping forward a bit.
Can't have a photo set from Funchal without palm trees!
She actually came in to the quay on the land side and not the actual terminal.
Next time: Pride of Rotterdam at Gdansk, methinks.

13 February 2018

Finnclipper in the Åland Archipelago, 10 January 2018

Today we return to photos taken during last month's rather unusual trip with the Baltic Princess from Turku to the Remontowa shipyard in Gdansk. While sailing through the Turku and Åland archipelagos, we encountered Finnlines' Finnclipper en route, sailing in the other direction. Since the Finnclipper was last featured here in 2015, this is also a good time to offer an update to her history.

Finnclipper

IMO 9137997
Built 1999, Astilleros Españoles Puerta Real, Spain
Tonnage 33 958 GT
Length 188,30 m
Width 29,30 m
Draugth 6,30 m
Ice class 1A
440 passengers
452 berths
3 079 lane metres
4 Sulzer diesels, combined 23 040 kW
2 propellers
2 bow thrusters
Speed 22,1 knots

The Finnclipper was originally ordered in 1995 by Stena Line as the first ship of their four-strong Stena Seapacer -class. However, while the ship was under construction Stena struck a deal with Finnlines to sell the two two ships in the class to Finnlines on completion. The ship was delivered to Stena Line in May 1999, and immediately resold to Poseidon Schiffahrt, the German subsidiary of Finnlines and registered in Lübeck. However, she was given a Finnlines-traditional Finn-prefix name, rather than Poseidon's Trans-prefixed one, a step in the process of Poseidon losing their own identity. The Finnclipper was initially placed on Finnlines' service between Travemünde and Helsinki. In 2001 she was re-registered in Helsinki. From the beginning of 2003 she moved to the Naantali-Kapellskär -route (which was marketed as Finnlink), only to move to the Malmö-Travemünde (Nordö Link) -route in the beginning of 2005, at which time she was re-registered in Malmö. This proved a short stint, as from the beginning of 2006 she reverted to the Finnlink service.

The next change came in 2012, when in the winter she made a single trip from Helsinki to Aarhus, followed by a regular service on the Malmö-Travemünde and Travemünde-Saint Petersburg -routes (reportedly the trips to Saint Petersburg were done in part to purchase cheap marine fuel from Russia). For the 2015 summer season, the Finnclipper returned to the Finnlink service, which had in the interim been altered to include an intermediate call in Långnäs in the Åland Islands in order to secure tax-free sales onboard. In February 2016, the ship briefly returned to Malmö-Travemünde, before sailing to the Turku Ship Repair Yard in Naantali for installation of scrubbers. For the rest of 2016 she again sailed on the Naantali-Kapellskär -route, before returning to Malmö-Travemünde for the winter months of 2017 (she was also briefly chartered to Stena Line for their Trelleborg-Rostock route during this time), then in March again reverting to Naantali-Kapellskär. She remains on the service to this day, but is due to leave it in April, when she is replaced by the larger Finnswan (ex-Nordlink). I'm uncertain where the Finnclipper is heading after this.

The photos below show the Finnclipper in the Åland Archipelago near Ledskär, photographed from onboard the Baltic Princess. As per the usual, click on the images to see them in larger size. It might also be of interest comparing these photos to the previous set taken in 2015, before she had scrubbers installed.

Some neat sunlight on her side. The ship visible in the background on the left is Viking Line's Amorella, inbound to Mariehamn on her mid-day call.
I also quite like the way the sun lights up the exhausts, which almost seem to glow here.
An abrupt change in the lighting changed the colouring of the photo radically. Personally, I really like the way this one looks!
Sailing on towards Långnäs.
I have a confession to make: I actually quite like the way these ships look.
Next time, unless something odd comes up, we will return to sunny Madeira and the Aidablu.

01 February 2018

Norwegian Spirit at Funchal, 20 January 2018

Today, we change the chilly temperatures of the Baltic Sea in January to warm Madeira in the same month.

Norwegian Spirit

IMO 9195157
Name history: Superstar Leo, Norwegian Spirit
Built 1998, Meyer Werft Papenburg, Germany
Tonnage 75 904 GT
Length 268,60 m
Width 32,20 m
Draugth 7,90 m
2 018 passengers (double occupancy)
2 475 passenger berths
4 MAN-B&W diesels, combined 58 800 kW
2 azipods
2 bow thrusters
Speed 24 knots

For a relatively recently built cruise ship, the Norwegian Spirit actually has a bit of history to her. She was completed in 1998 by Meyer Weft as the first newbuilt ship for Star Cruises as the Superstar Leo (Kværner Masa-Yards in Finland were one of the other bidders to build her), placed on short cruises from Singapore. With the arrival of the sister ship Superstar Virgo the following year, the Superstar Leo was cascaded to Hong Kong.

Additional newbuilds were planned for Star Cruises, but after the company acquired Norwegian Cruise Line 2000, the newbuilds entered service in the NCL fleet. This fate also expected the Superstar Leo: the delayed delivery of the Pride of America in 2004 left NCL one ship short, and the Superstar Leo was transferred to NCL as the Norwegian Spirit to cover for the lack of tonnage. She was never to return to the Star Cruises fleet, staying with NCL even after Star Cruises sold first 50% of the company and subsequently reducing their share to only a small minority shareholding. Indeed, the Norwegian Spirit remains with NCL today, now their smallest ship.

The photos below show the Norwegian Spirit departing from Funchal in the afternoon of 20 January 2018, photographed from the children's playground in Santa Catarina Park. As per the usual, click on the images to see them in larger size.

Not one of the greatest places for photography as far as direction of light is concerned, but... not bad either.
Palm trees look very night, writing this from Finland currently covered in thick blanket of snow.
Finally the ship turned so that I could actually photograph the lit side.
Okay, maybe one close-up of the ship too.
Funchal being as it is, the ship dropped off pilot after a few hundred meters; you can see the pilot cutter alongside here.
Next time we probably return to chilly Finland and the Finnclipper.

26 January 2018

Gudingen at Överö, 10 January 2018

Today, we look at some more pictures taken during the recent trip with the Baltic Princess to Gdansk. These little Ålandstrafiken ferries rarely make the most popular entries here, but I'm quite partial to them, so why not?

Gudingen

IMO 7902609
Built 1980, Laivateollisuus Turku, Finland
Tonnage 961 GT
Length 48,50 m
Width 10,50 m
Draugth 3,70 m
Ice class 1A
195 passengers
25 cars and 4 trucks
2 Wärtsilä Vasa diesels, combined 1 606 kW
2 propellers (?)
Speed 14 knots

The Gudingen has of course been feauted here before, and the entry included a brief look at her history, but since it's so uneventful I might as well go through it again: The ship was delviered in 1980 by the Laivateollisuus (literally "ship industry") yard in Turku, which - if I recall correctly - was by this time a part of the state-owned Valmet conglomerate. She was placed on Ålandstrafiken's southern line, linking Galtby on the island of Korppoo in the Turku Archipelago to Långnäs on the island of Lumparland in Åland, via various intermediate ports. And that's the service on which the ship remains to this day, the only major change having been the addition of a blue stripe running alongside the superstructure windows sometime during her career (which helps distinguish her from her near-sister Skiftet).

The photos below show the Gudingen departing from the ferry port of Överö on 10 January 2018, photographed from onboard the Baltic Princess. The ships encountered each other at a slightly unusual time due to the Baltic Princess being in transit to the shipyard rather than regular service. As per the usual, click on the images to see them in larger size.

The reason why the ferry looks so small is... well, because it is so small.
Why not two panoramic shots taken from the distance?
The Gudingen did a nifty little turn...
...and then passed us at close quarters.
Alas, getting ship to stand out from the sea reflecting they white sky was a bit of a challenge.
A little splash while encountering the Baltic Princess' aft wave...
...and a rather bigger splash (albeit not as visible) shortly afterwards.
Next time we will probably change to a rather more tropical setting and will take a look at the Norwegian Spirit visiting Funchal, Madeira.

18 January 2018

Mont St Michel in Gdansk, 11 January 2018

I was originally planning to post a different set of images from the recent Baltic Princess to Poland trip today, and indeed had already prepared one for publication in advance, but then got a request for images of the Mont St Michel at Remontowa. As I don't even remember when was the last time someone requested something, of course I'm going to do it.

Mont St Michel

IMO 9238337
Built 2002, Van der Giessen-de Noord Krimpen aan den Ijssel, the Netherlands
Tonnage 35 891 GT
Length 173,95 m
Width 28,50 m
Draugth 6,20 m
2 120 passengers
774 passenger berths
830 cars
2 250 lane metres
4 MaK diesels, combined 21 600 kW
2 propellers
2 bow thrusters
Service speed 21 knots

The Mont St Michel was contracted by Brittany Ferries from the Van der Giessen-de Noord shipyardiun the Netherlands in 2000, and delivered a little over two years later in December 2002 - no less than nine months behind originally agreed schedule. On delivery she replaced the older Duc de Normandie on routes linking Portsmouth to Caen (or rather, its outer port Ouistreham).

To comply with the International Maritime Organisation's restrictions of sulphur emissions on the English Channel, North Sea, Baltic Sea and the coasts of North America, Brittany Ferries in 2013 announced that the Mont St Michel, along with other newer members of the company fleet, would be rebuilt to run on liquidized natural gas. However, this was later revised to equipping the ship with sulphur scrubbers, which were installed in late 2015. To this day, the ship remains on the Portsmouth-Caen route.

The photographs below show the Mont St Michel at the Remontowa shipyard in Gdansk, Poland on 11 January 2018. Photographed from onboard the Baltic Princess, which was also coming in for a refit. As per usual procedure, click on the images to see them in larger size.

The weather was far from good, but an image-editing software can work wonders.
Alas, due to our relative positions and the fact we did not have a chance to walk around the shipyard, there wasn't much variation to the photos taken.
Kships will return next week, probably with photos of the lovely little Ålandstrafiken ferry Gudingen.

13 January 2018

With the Baltic Princess from Turku to Gdansk, 10-11 January 2018

My first shipboard travel of the year was something slightly different: we boarded the Baltic Princess in Turku early in the morning of 10 January, and arrived the next day at noon at the Remontowa shipyard in Gdansk, Poland. I was one of the seven journalists/bloggers invited to join the ship on this unusual trip. A lot photos were taken and some will undoubtedly form the basis of future entries, but I wanted to give you an overview of the trip when it's still fresh.

10 January 2018

At 5:15 in the morning we boarded a bus in Helsinki, and after a rather sleepy bus ride we arrived at Silja Line's terminal in Turku, with both the Galaxy and the Baltic Princess at quay. The latter had arrived the last evening, while the Galaxy had just arrived from Stockholm and would stay in port the entire day to take over her sister's place in the service for the duration of the docking.

Alas, the weather for photographing the two sisters together in Turku was far from ideal.
Entrance to the ship was via the car deck (the Silja terminal in Turku has passenger gangways to just one quay). From left to right are Sami Koski of Valkeat Laivat, Marko Stampehl of Ferryfacts, Olli Tuominen of Ulkomatala, and with her back to the camera Tuula Nurminen of Tuula's Life.
So, what was the day like? We toured the ship, with expert guidance from both the crew and Tallink Silja's office staff, ate at the temporary mess set up in the Grill House restaurant for the duration of the docking, chatted, worked... I think this in particular is a case where pictures speak louder than words, so let's get to it!
The old Siljaland on Deck 7 was still intact, though not for long. This area will turn into an extension of the Fashion Street shop, with a new Siljaland to be built on Deck 5.
The Starlight Palace show lounge & night club will get new upholstery and a new dance floor with in-built led lighting.
The information booth fullfilled its unusual function, plus there was coffee, juice and small bited on offer outside. The "analogue dial" sofas are presumably getting reupholstered.
Forward on Deck 6, the old Cafeteria will give way to a Fast Lane restaurant similar to those found on the Silja Symphony, Silja Europa and Megastar. This is in particular in answer to passenger requests for more warm foods in cafeteria-style dining.
Buffet Silja Line will be rebuilt to a Grande Buffet like those found on the Silja Serenade, Silja Symphony and Silja Europa. Here, the chairs will be reupholstered rather than replaced; I presume the new soft furnishings will be dark orange in keeping with the theme found on the other ships.
The servery areas will be rebuilt, with the new "jewel" of the buffet being the dessert station with waiters in attendance to "tune" the portions according to customer wishes.
The old luggage room on Deck 5, adjacent to the conference areas, will become the new Siljaland. Based on cuystomer feedback, this will have a cafeteria for adults and a stage for the children themselves, as well as Silja's mascot Herri Hylje, to perform on. During school holiday seasons, the play areas can be extended to the conference rooms.
Bridge visits are a rare thing these days, but since this trip didn't officially have any passengers, we visited the bridge twice.
Last winter saw the addition of a Tavolata Italian restaurant; the Baltic Princess is the only ship in the Tallink and Silja fleets where this also serves pizza, thanks to a dedicated pizza oven. Tavolata, like the adjacent Happy Lobster and Grill House, will remain unchanged.
In the archipelago, we passed both the Gudingen, seen here, and Finnlines' Finnclipper. Both encounters will get their own blog entries later, I think.
The big thing about this refit is the replacement of the Wärtsilä-built reduction gears, which have proven unreliable, with new Renk-built ones. These will have to be lifted off the ship via the car deck, which will mean cutting through many things that were not originally designed to be cut through. The Baltic Princess' gearbxes will be kept as spare parts for the sister ship Baltic Queen.
The starboard side main engines.
11 January 2018

On the second day of the trip I woke early, as we were expected to pick up pilot at six in the morning. No such luck, as there were several ships in the queue before us and in the end we only picked up the pilot around ten. This left some time for further exploration and working (it's surprisingly productive to write in your own cabin on a ship that offers no organised entertainment) before the rather exciting (if cold) trip up the Leniwka river to Ostrów island and the waiting Remontowa shipyard.

The old Siljaland had been almost entirely demolished by the morning of the second day.
New restaurants mean new signage, of course, but also most of the other signage onboard will be replaced by new ones in the new official Silja style adopted last year.
Sailing up the Leniwka with assistance of no less than four tugs.
Remontowa is a busy place: in addition to the Baltic Princess, the morning saw the arrival of the Pride of Rotterdam, being reversed into the floating dock here...
...as well as the Stena Scandinavica and the Mont St. Michel, seen here on the right in the background.
The most interesting ship, though sadly poorly positioned for photography, is BC Ferries' Spirit of British Columbia, which came all the way from Canada for conversion to run on LNG.
Disembarking the ship at half past three in the afternoon. Much like in Finland, it was already getting dark by this time.
After that, our programme included a brief walking tour of Gdansk (the planned visit to the maritime museum was axed due to us getting off the ship so late) and a quick dinner before an evening flight back to Helsinki.

This entry was brought to you in collaboration with Silja Line. I would like to extend my most heartfelt thanks to both the crew of the Baltic Princess for their hospitality and in particular Tallink Silja's chief of communications Marika Nöjd for making the trip possible. And, naturally, further thanks are in order to the fellow participants. If you want to take a look at what the others participants have written on the trip, here is a list of links:

The Ferryfacts Blog by Marko Stampehl (in English)
Valkeat laivat by Sami Koski (in Finnish)
Ulkomatala by Olli Tuominen (in Finnish)
Kristallin hohtoa by Krista Hytönen (in Finnish)
Tuulas Life by Tuula Nurminen (in Finnish)
Beachhouse Kitchen by Heli-Hannele Pehkonen (in Finnish)

As said, further material from the trip will be published as separate entries in the coming weeks. The Baltic Princess will return to service on 22 February 2018 (if all goes to plan). I hope to visit her then and will report on how the refit turned out.