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.


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.