27 November 2018

The new Silja Serenade interiors, 27 November 2018

Earlier today, I had the chance to attend the press showing of the Silja Serenade, showcasing her most recent interior refit. So, let's get down to business

Silja Serenade

IMO 8715259
Built 1990, Masa-Yards Turku New Shipyard, Finland
Tonnage 58 376 GT
Length 203,03 m
Width 31,93 m
Draught 7,12 m
Ice class 1A Super
2 852 passengers
3 001 berths
410 cars
1 600 lane metres
4 Wärtsilä-Vasa diesels, combined 32 580 kW
2 propellers
2 bow thrusters
1 stern thruster
Speed 21 knots

Once again, the new interiors of the various public space are the work of the Finnish interior design firm Aprocos, who have pretty much become Tallink's designers of choice. Interestingly enough, Aprocos' founder and CEO Heikki Mattila had already worked on the original interiors of these ships.

Starlight and the Seaview Lounge on Decks 7 and 8

The former Atlantis Palace show lounge and casino complex, forward on decks 7 and 8, which previously survived nearly in original condition, has been finally given a thorough refit, which included new staircases, replacing three old bars with two new ones, and an increased number of seats especially in the forward viewing area (now called the Seaview Lounge, whereas it was previously just the Bow Bar). Unfortunately, during the press visit the Starlight complex was not entirely complete, most notably lacking the various plants that are an integral part of the final design.

The Seaview Lounge now has much more seating, thanks to the bar originally the left being demolished. The little bit of purple in the background is the new bar, which serves both the Seaview Lounge and the main Starlight complex.
The tiered seating is where the space retains most of its original appearance, but gone are for example the seashell-shaped lamps.
On the right here was originally another bar counter, but that too has been demolished to make way for more seating. The new bars are also more up-to-date in their design, as the sheer number of drinks served has radically increased in the past two decades and the originals were simply not designed for the number of things served today.
Aft and partially below of the twin-level showlounge area is Starlight's casino, which already had the final greenery in place. I very much look forward to sailing on the ship again and seeing the Starlight complex as it is meant to be.
As a part of the programme, we also had the pleasure of seeing the ship's new The Great Gatsby -themed show. I must say in all honesty that I'm not usually a big fan of onboard shows, be they on my local cruise ferries or on proper cruise ships. But Silja's Great Gatsby really made an impression on me. I would say it easily topped, for example, Norwegian Cruise Line's much-advertised Havana, which I saw when I sailed on the Norwegian Bliss earlier this year. Then again, the show did have a lot of stuff I enjoy, such as an art deco aesthetic, an electro swing soundtrack and handsome dancers.

The Great Gatsby.
Bon Vivant on Deck 7

Further aft along the Promenade, the Bon Vivant fine dining restaurant, wine bar and the adjacent wine shop have also been redecorated (and it was about time too).

I'm afraid the lighting here didn't quite agree with my camera, and the vibrant dark blue of the chairs and carpets ended up looking grey instead.

Grill House on Deck 7

Further aft, the popular El Capitan grill restaurant has given way to the Grill House, a similarly themed restaurant already found onboard many other Silja Line and Tallink ships. Gone is the 1990s fax mexicana and in is a more refined grill restaurant (though I must say that my favourite Grill House remains that onboard the Silja Europa – also designed by Aprocos).

I wasn't a fan of El Capitan, but here I could eat just for the decor.
I really show have cleared that plate away.
Coffee & Co on Deck 7

This space wasn't actually added in the most recent refit, but in the 2015 one (I think). As it has not featured here before I thought I would put it in anyway. This space used to be the children's playroom back in the day, but that was moved to larger premises down on Deck 5 (my son loves the place), so a new cafeteria could be inserted here.

This place is, alas, where the Serenade loses to her younger sister Silja Symphony, as that ship has a sushi restaurant – one of the best I've eaten in outside Japan – instead.
Sea Pub on Deck 7

Previously, the pub aft on the promenade was named Old Port Pub and in my books, it was one of the gloomiest, least pleasant spaces onboard. The new Sea Pub is much lighter, airier and generally more pleasant (but it must be said it isn't quite as good as its cousin onboard the Silja Symphony in my books, as on that ship it's even nicer and less publike).

This is a pub I might consider visiting. The old incarnation wasn't.
Stairwells, corridors and lobbies

All over the ship, the stairwells, lobbies and corridors have been given a new look, including new carpets, a new colour scheme and new artworks. And it was about time, as these were areas where the original look of the ship survived. And while it feels silly to put money on these things, as they don't really generate money, they are also some of the first places the passenger sees when coming onboard and will effect how they judge the entire ship.

This is just so much better than the old one. I kind of feel bad about the originals artworks in the staircases... but then again, they weren't particularly impressive, so I won't really miss them.
Special thanks to Heikki Mattila and Miko Mattila of Aprocos. Kships, as always, will return.

18 November 2018

Gennadiy Nevelskoy & Stepan Makarov in Helsinki, 27 November 2016

And now for something completely different – namely, Russian icebreakers. As some of you might already know, the Arctech Helsinki Shipyard (previously belonging to Wärtsilä, Masa-Yards, Aker and STX) in my home town is for sale by its Russian owners OSK (Объединенная судостроительная корпорация, the state-owned shipbuilding company), with the likely buyers being a group of Russian investors. While buyers from other countries have also shown interest, according to Russian sources the yard has been deemed by the state too important to let fall into non-Russian hands (ironically, the Finnish state never had any qualms about this). Right now, the yard has just one ship in its order books, the arctic gas condensate tanker Yuriy Kuchiev, which was due for delivery this year but looks likely to be delayed until next year. So I thought that today we would look back at somewhat happier times two years ago, when the Helsinki yard was building a series of four icebreaking supply vessels for Sovcomflot (Совкомфлот), or (in English) SCF for short.

Gennadiy Nevelskoy (Геннадий Невельской)

IMO 9742120
Built 2017, Arctech Helsinki Shipyard, Finland
Tonnage 8 362 GT
Length 104,40 m
Width 21,02 m
Draft 7,90 m
42 passengers
6 diesels, combined 21 000 kW
2 azimuthing propellers
2 bow thrusters
Service speed 16 knots

Stepan Makarov (Степан Макаров)

IMO 9753727
Built 2017, Arctech Helsinki Shipyard, Finland
Tonnage 8 365 GT
Length 104,40 m
Width 21,02 m
Draft 7,90 m
70 passengers
6 diesels, combined 21 000 kW
2 azimuthing propellers
2 bow thrusters
Service speed 15,50 knots

The Gennadiy Nevelskoy (Геннадий Невельской – note that since this is an English-language blog, I am using the English transliteration of the Russian Cyrillic alphabet. For my native Finnish or, for example, German the transliteration can be different) is an icebreaking supply vessel ordered by SFC for use in the Sakhalin-2 oil and gas fields. Originally contracted in April 2014 for a summer 2016 delivery, the ship's construction was seriously delayed until March 2017.

Although externally near-identical and of similar dimensions to Gennadiy Nevelskoy, the Stepan Makarov (Степан Макаров) is not a full sister ship but a modified design, a multifunctional icebreaking standby vessel, again designed for the Sakhalin-2 oil and gas field. Both the Gennadiy Nevelskoy and Stepan Makarov are based on the icebreaking supply vessels Vitus Bering (Витус Беринг) and Aleksey Chirikov (Алексе́й Чириков) that Arctech delivered to SFC in 2012-2013. However, whereas the Vitus Bering and Aleksey Chirikov were based on design by the Finnish icebreaker designers Aker Arctic, the Gennadiy Nevelskoy, Stepan Makarov and the latter's two sister ships were designed entirely in-house by Arctech. Originally, the Stepan Makarov was slated for a September 2016 delivery, but in the end this was delayed to June 2017.

The photos below show the Gennadiy Nevelskoy and Stepan Makarov at the outfitting quays of the Arctech Helsinki Shipyard on the afternoon of 27 November 2016 (it gets dark stupidly early in Finland during this time of the year, so "afternoon" is not a mistake on my part), photographed from the quayside next to the Clarion Hotel Helsinki in Jätkäsaari. As always, click on the images to see them in larger size.

The Gennadiy Nevelskoy looking near-complete on the outside, but far less so on the inside, judging from the fact it was four months before the ship was actually delivered.
This wide-angle shot has been used in quite a few articles. In addition to the Gennadiy Nevelskoy, you can see the bow of the Stepan Makarov on the left. The box-shaped buiding on the right is the shed covering the Helsinki yard's building dock, which allows work to be completed in a controlled environment, despite the occasionally harsh weather.
A view showing the Stepan Makarov a bit better. Unfortunately the ship was parked in such a way that you couldn't get decent side views of it.
Kships, as always, will return.

10 November 2018

Isabelle in Stockholm, 30 October 2018

Last week, we made a two-night ferry cruise to Stockholm with my wife and son onboard the Silja Symphony (thanks to its sushi bar, this ship is now our family's favourite of the two Silja Helsinki-Stockholm ships). While ship photography wasn't the point of the trip, and for most of it the weather was too atrocious for any good ones anyway, I ended up in the right place at the right time by accident and got my first photos of the Isabelle in her newish white-hulled livery.


IMO 8700723
Name history: Isabella, Isabelle
Built 1989, Brodogradiliste Split, Yugoslavia
Tonnage 35 154 GT
Length 169,40 m
Width 27,60 m
Draft 6,40 m
2 480 passengers
2 166 berths
364 cars
900 lane metres
4 Wärtsilä-Pielstick diesels, combined 23 760 kW
2 propellers
2 bow thrusters
Speed 21,5 knots

Since it's been a few years since the Isabelle was featured here, I guess it's also time to take an updated look at the ship's history.

The Isabelle started life as the Isabella, the second of two ships ordered in the mid-80s by SF Line from the Brodogradiliste Split shipyard in the (then-)Yugoslavia. The older sister Amorella was completed for the Turku-Stockholm service in 1988. On delivery in 1989, the Isabella was planned to be placed on the Naantali-Kapellskär -route. However, the port authorities of Kapellskär were less than thrilled about the thought of expanding their harbour to accommodate the Isabella (and her envisioned running mate, Rederi AB Slite's Athena, today the Pearl Seaways). In the end Naantali did expand their harbour to accommodate the new ships, while Kapellskär did not. To make the best of the situation, SF Line decided to place the Isabella on a new service linking Naantali to Stockholm when the ship was delivered in June 1989.

Initially, the plan was for the Isabella to stay on the Naantali-Stockholm service around the year, but this proved unprofitable and instead the ship was moved to a service of 25-hour cruises to nowhere (actually Tallinn roads) from Helsinki for the 1989-1990 winter season. For the summers of 1990 and 1991 Isabella returned to Naantali, but the Naantali-Stockholm service was deemed a failure and from autumn 1991 the ship sailed exclusively on the 25-hour (later changed to 24-hour) cruise service from Helsinki. In spring 1992, the Isabella was rebuilt with the addition of an observation lounge on deck 11, converting the garage on deck 5 into cabins and on the exterior the addition of a red stripe running along the windows of deck 6. During the summers of 1993 and 1994 the ship also made occasional cruises from Helsinki to Visby.

In the aftermath of the bankruptcy of Rederi AB Slite (the other partner of Viking Line) in 1993, the Isabella swapped routes with the Cinderella after the 1994 summer season, moving to the Helsinki-Stockholm service. During the 1996 summer season the Isabella's (and her running mate Mariella's) route was briefly extanded to Tallinn-Helsinki-Stockholm. This was not a success at the time and the excercise was not repeated (although it was revived in 2014 and has been a regular feature since). When the Gabriella was acquired in 1997, it took over the Isabella's place on the Helsinki-Stockholm service. Isabella in turn moved to the Turku-Stockholm service (replacing the Rosella), pairing for the first time in its career with the sister ship Amorella.

Following the delivery of the new Viking Grace, the Isabella was laid up and placed for sale. Although Corsica Ferries were rumoured to be interested, no buyer emerged and Viking Line produced plans to reactivate the ship for the Helsinki-Tallinn line for the summer season, sailing as a running mate to the Viking XPRS. At this point Viking's main competitors Tallink did a little math and came to the conclusion that they would lose less money by buying the Isabella than they would if Viking could bring an extra ship in for the summer season. In April 2013 the ship was sold to Tallink; a few days before the sale was finalized, its name was amended to Isabelle and Tallink retained the name, as well as the red-hulled livery, only replacing Viking Line logos with their own (see my first entry on the Isabelle).

In May 2013 the Isabelle entered service on Tallink's Stockholm-Riga route, replacing the Silja Festival as the Romantika's running mate. Between August 2014 and December 2016, the Isabelle sailed as the sole ship on the route, due to route changes resulting from the Silja Europa being chartered to Australia (and the period after its return when Tallink pondered on what to do with their fleet). In February 2017, the Isabelle was docked at the Turku Ship Repair Yard in Naantali, Finland, where the ship was repainted in a similar style to its running mate Romantika, all-white with black stripes along the passenger deck windows.

The photos below show the Isabelle at the new Värtaterminalen in Stockholm on the afternoon of 30 October 2018. Photographed from onboard the Silja Symphony. As always, click on the images to see them in larger size.

For once, I'm rather pleased with a shot of a ship at quay and taken from the side of the quay (although I rather think one could also get great shots from the Lidingö side).
These shots also turned out surprisingly sharp considering the fact I didn't have a tripod with me – as you can see from the "warp speed" trucks, the exposure time wasn't exactly short.
Kships will return.

02 November 2018

Spirit of British Columbia in Gdansk, 11 January 2018

Finally, the grande finale of photos from my trip onboard the Baltic Princess to the Remontowa shipyard in Gdansk last January, the ferry that had travelled the longest distance to be there and also the one undergoing the biggest renovation: BC Ferries' Spirit of British Columbia.

Spirit of British Columbia

IMO 9015668
Built 1993, Integrated Ferry Construction Victoria & Allied Shipbuilders Vancouver, Canada
Tonnage 21 939 GT
Length 167,50 metres
Width 27,21 metres
Draft 5,00 metres
2 048 passengers
358 cars (if no freight units carried)
4 Wärtsilä LNG/diesel hybrid engines, combined 15 990 kW
2 propellers
1 bow thruster
Service speed 19,50 knots

The Spirit of British Columbia was the first of BC Ferries' two Spirit (or S) class ferries, built in 1993 for the Tsawwassen (Vancouver)–Swartz Bay (Victoria) route (the sister ship, Spirit of Vancouver Island, followed in 1994). Somewhat unconventionally, the ship was built in two parts: the forward bit at Allied Shipbuilders in Vancouver and the rear by IFC (Inregrated Ferry Construction) in Victoria. The two halves were then joined together at the Esquimalt drydock, before construction was finished at IFC.

The Spirit of British Columbia entered service in April 1993 and proceeded to give what appears to have been uneventful, regular service on the Tsawwassen–Swartz Bay route for the next 25 years. In October 2017, the ship arrived at the Remontowa shipyard in Gdansk for a radical conversion from a conventional diesel-powered ferry to one using liquidized natural gas (LNG). The ship's original engines, two MAN units, were replaced by four Wärtsilä 8L34DF engines, without an effect on the ship's speed. In spring 2018, the ship returned to service. (The sister ship Spirit of Vancouver Island is slated for a similar conversion during the current winter season).

I must say it is quite fascinating that BC Ferries would choose to give such a radical refit to a 25-year-old ship. In contrast, Viking Line studied the possibility of converting their existing ships to run on LNG soon after the Viking Grace entered service – but for them, not even their second-newest ship, Viking XPRS, at the time just five years old, was deemed worthy of conversion.

Anyway, onwards to the photos, which I admit are less than great quality, but do show the Spirit of British Columbia at an absolutely fascinating point of its life, taken in the middle of the LNG conversion at the Remontowa shipyard (from onboard the arriving Baltic Princess). As per the usual, click on the images to see them in larger size.

A foggy day in Gdansk Town.
Unfortunately, as the ship was deep in the yard, this was about the only view that was possible to get...
...unless one wanted to have all kinds of other crap in the foreground.
Next time: Tallink's Isabelle and finally my first proper photos of the ship in the no-longer-so-new white livery.