31 August 2010

Non-paid advert

For those readers fortunate enough to understand Finnish, the August issue of webmagazine Ulkomatala was published today. Included in the magazine is, amongst other things, an article on the history of Finnish cruise ships written by yours truly. Eli siitä nyt lukemaan lehteä, hopi hopi!

Silja Serenade, 22 June 2010

Silja Serenade

IMO 8715259
Built 1990, Masa-Yards Turku New Shipyard, Finland
Tonnage 58 376 GT
Length 203,03 m
Width 31,93 m
Draft 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

Silja Serenade was the first ship in the world to have an indoor promenade running along the centerline of the ship (not counting Compagnie de Navigation Sud-Atlantique's L'Atlantique of 1931). The construction on her and her sister Silja Symphony was a somewhat lenghty process. There was some discussion within the company on whether to build new ships or lengthen and otherwise improve the existing Helsinki-Stockholm ships Finlandia (present-day Princess Maria) and Silvia Regina (present-day Stena Saga). In the end building new ships won the day, and in October 1987 Effoa signed a contract for building the first of the new ships with Wärtsilä Marine.

Wärtsilä Marine went bankrupt in October 1989 while the ship was under construction. The construction work was continued by the newly-formed Masa-Yards, in which Effoa and the other Silja Line partner Johnson Line were shareholders. Never the less the bankruptcy meant that the new ships were delayed and they prices rose. By the time the Silja Serenade was delivered, Effoa and Johnson Line had merged into EffJohn, and it was EffJohn that took delivery of the ship in November 1990.

Externally the Silja Serenade and her sister are surprisingly successful, considering their basix shape is essentially that of a floating box with an almost non-existent bow. The stripey paintwork certainly helps a lot in breaking up the bulky shape, but there are many, many other constructions details that improve the ship's looks, such as the superstructure being slightly narrower than the hull, the rounded forward superstructure (and the observation windows with a reverse slant compared to that of the rest of the superstructure), the high-placed bridge and the shape of the rear superstructure. Onco you go bown to the smallest details there are some things that do not appear fully thought-out, such as irrigularly shaped and placed windows, but the overall effect is pleasantly balanced.

Photographs below are of the Silja Serenade passing through the Kustaanmiekka strait on 22 June 2010. Photographed from above the King's Gate in Kustaanmiekka itself. Click on the images to view full size.

Approaching the narrowest point of the strait.
And navigating through the narrows, with the usual spectators watching.
Sailing towards the Harmaja lighthouse and the open sea.

30 August 2010

Trinacria, 28 May 2009


IMO 9261542
Built 2002, C.N. "Visentini" di Visentini Francesco & C. Donada, Italy
Tonnage 26 000 GT
Length 186,50 m
Width 26,60 m
Draugth 6,50 m
950 passengers
308 passenger beds
75 cars
2 050 lane metres of freight
2 Wärtsilä diesels, combined 18 900 kW
2 propellers
2 bow thrusters
Speed 22,5 knots

Trinacria and her sister Partenope are utilized by TTT Lines (Tomasos Transport & Tourism) on an overnight intra-Italy service between Catania and Naples. Following the completion on these two sisters, the same shipyard has delivered a whopping 16 ships based on the same design (though with increasing number of changes) to a number of different companies.

Trinacria in the port of Catania on 28 May 2009, photographed from onboard MSC Sinfonia. Click on the image to view full size.

29 August 2010

Kristina Katarina, 29 August 2010

Kristina Katarina

IMO 7625811
Built 1982, Stocznia Szczecinska im A. Warskiego Szczecin, Poland
Tonnage 12 688 GT
Length 138,00 m
Width 21,01 m
Draugth 5,60 m
450 passengers
4 Sulzer diesels, combined 12 779 kW
2 propellers
1 bow thruster
Speed 18 knots

Kristina Katarina is Kristina Cruises' new flagship, taking over the mantle of the only genuine Finnish cruise ship in existance from the Kristina Regina, which has been sold to a preservationist group in Turku.

Like the ship she replaced, the Kristina Katarina has an interesting history. She was built as the Konstantin Simonov in 1982 in Poland for the Soviet Union's Baltic Shipping Company as essentially a short-distance liner with a small side-loadable garage for 14 cars. As one of the seven Dmitriy Shostakovich -class ferries built, she was used on a service linking Leningrad to Helsinki and Stockholm. Following the fall of the Soviet Union the Baltic Sea operations of Baltic Shipping Company were reorganized as Baltic Line in 1992. She continued in service between St. Petersburg (as it was now called), but made 24-hour cruises from Helsinki to Kronstadt, Gogland (Suursaari) and Vyosotsk (Uuras).

All this came to an end in May 1996 when Baltic Line went bankrupt. In 1996 the Konstantin Simonov was sold to Venezuelan owners and renamed Francesca for planned cruise service out of Australian ports. This never materialized, and the Francesca was laid up in Wilhelmshaven for four years. In 2000 she was finally sold, to Abcus Shipping, who chartered the ship to Mano Maritime based in Israel With Mano the ship was renamed The Iris and used for cruising out of Israel. In 2001 she was rebuilt with additional public rooms on the top deck forward of the funnel. Presumably around the same time her small car deck was also removed.

In 2009, following the acquisition of larger tonnage by Mano Maritime, The Iris was sold to Kristina Cruises as a replacement for the Kristina Regina. Still retaining her earlier name, The Iris sailed back to the Baltic in winter 2009-2010 to be rebuilt in Kristina Cruises home port Kotka. Following a lengthy rebuilding during which her entire interior was rebuilt, the ship was renamed Kristina Katarina in July 2010. On 28 August 2010 she left on her first cruise as Kristina Katarina from Kotka to Helsinki via Tallinn.

Photographs below are of the Kristina Katarina's maiden arrival in Helsinki on 29 August 2010 (naturally she has visited Helsinki repeatedly as the Konstantin Simonov). Photographs taken from Kaivopuisto. Click on the images to view full size.

A familar silhouette on Kruunuvuorenselkä after 14 years. Updated/re-treated 30. 8. 2010
Turning in Eteläsatama's pool, with Uspenski Cathedral (Alexey Gornostaev 1868) in the background.
Kristina Katarina arrived somewhat ahead of schedule and had some trouble manoeuvring into quay. (Which meant Viking Line's Gabriella had to back out of quay instead of turning in the harbour pool).
Backing into the quay at Kanavaterminaali (instead of Pakkahuoneenlaituri Kristina Regina used or the quay at Makasiiniterminaali that the Konstantin Simonov used).

AIDAdiva, 27 May 2009


IMO 9334856
Built 2007, Meyer Werft Papenburg, Germany
Tonnage 69 203 GT
Length 251,89 m
Width 32,20 m
Draugth 7,20 m
2 500 passengers
4 MaK diesels, combined 36 000 kW
2 azipods
2 bow thrusters
2 stern thusters
Speed 19,5 knots

AIDAdiva is the lead ship of AIDA Cruises' Sphinx-class (there isn't, at least yet, a ship in the class called AIDAsphinx, however), part of AIDA Cruises large-scale newbuilding plan encompassing six ships. AIDA Cruises is in fact a part of Costa Cruises and as such a member of the world's largest cruise company Carnival Corporation & PLC. However, unlike all other Carnival brands, which trust Italy's Fincantieri to provide their ships, AIDA's Sphinx-class ships have been built at Germany's Meyer Werft and to a design that's (at least thus far) unique to AIDA's fleet, instead of being a generic design spread though the various Carnival brands. Perhaps this is in part due to AIDA's brand as an informal, club-like cruise line that is quite different from other Carnival brands (there was an attempt to establish a similar brand for the UK market with Ocean Village, but that was a failure. In the US market the informal cruises are provided by Carnival's competitor Norwegian Cruise Line).

Externally AIDAdiva has the same design elements that have been present in all newbuilt AIDA ships since the original AIDA (from 2001 named AIDAcara), with the wedge-shaped stern, rounded forward superstructure and swept-back funnel (interestingly, much of the design has reportedly been based on the rebuilt Sally Albatross of 1992, which AIDA's original owners Deutsche Seereederei apparently considered buying before deciding on a newbuilt ship instead). AIDAdiva and her sisters add interesting new elements to the design, such as the two-level bridge structure reminescent of the Baltic cruiseferry Finnjet (and Disney Cruise Line's ships) and the large bowl-shaped window protruding from the ship's side. Though these features certainly make the ship more interesting on the inside (and I admit that's the part that really matters), on the exterior the ship does look less well-designed than the previous AIDA newbuilds. The Sphinx-class ships lack coordination of design elements what the AIDAcara and the AIDAvita/AIDAaura sisters had.

AIDAdiva in the harbour of La Goulette, Tunisia on 27 May 2009, photographed from onboard MSC Sinfonia. Click on the image to view full size.

27 August 2010

Save the Svea!

As most ship enthustiast are without a doubt aware, SOLAS 2010 regulations soon coming to effect are forcing many classic ships to be retired and they will probably face scrapping unless attempt is made to preserve them in some osrt of a static role (as is being done with the Kristina Regina). Another classic ship about to fall victim of the tightening safety regulations and lack of support for preservation is the 1966-built Swedish short-distance liner Svea, currently sailing in the Adriatic as the Ancona for Blue Line.

The Svea was built at the Lindholmens Varv in Gothenburg for Rederi AB Svea's joint UK-Sweden service with the Swedish Lloyd and Ellerman's Wilson Line. The Svea and her Swedish Lloyd-owned sisters Saga (scrapped 2003) and Patricia (still sailing but malformed by multiple rebuilds) were designed by the famous maritime architect Knud E. Hansen, while interiors were designed by the even more famous Robert Tillberg.

Both externally and internally the Svea is, in my opinion, one of the best-looking liners to have ever sailed. Externally she is well-balanced and almost classicially designed... yet she also exhibits the best of the streamlined 1960s ship design, while managing to avoid it's biggest excesses. On the inside she exhibited (and still exhibits) a similar balance of tradition and modernity. For those interested, Fakta om Fartyg has an attractive series of photographs from both the ship's exteior and interior.

Between 1966 and 1977 the Svea sailed on various services on the North Sea and the Bay of Biscay for Rederi AB Svea and later for Swedish Lloyd (under the names Hispania and Saga). After the closure of Swedish Lloyd's Sweden-UK link she was sold to services in the Mediterranean in 1978, first as Knossos for Minoan Lines, later as Captain Zaman II for Diler Lines and COTUNAV, until being sold to her current owners Blue Line in 2003.

The Ancona has been retained in very good condition through-out her career, and many of her original 1966 furnishings still survive onboard. However, despite the fact her good condition and excellent seakeeping abilities, the ship must stop sailing by 1 October this year, when new SOLAS (Safety of Life at Sea) regulation come into effect. Rebuilding the 44-year old ship to correspond to the new regulations is not financially viable, and as such she faces the unpleasant fate of being scrapped, unless some way is found in which to preserve her in a static role. The Danish achitect Christian Rønne has begun a project to save the Svea, so please take the time and visit bevar SVEA! now.

Costa Concordia, 27 May 2009

Costa Concordia

IMO 9320544
Built 2006, Fincantieri Sestri Ponente, Genoa, Italy
Tonnage 112 000 GT
Length 290,20 m
Width 35,50 m
Draugth 8,05 m
3 800 passengers
6 Wärtsilä diesels, combined 75 600 kW
2 azipods
3 bow thrusters
1 stern thuster
Speed 19,6 knots

Costa Concordia is another modern mega-ship belonging to a ship class consisting of several different ships. But with Costa Cruises we're entering into muddy waters on how to define a class. Most Costa ships built since the the line was taken over by the Carnival Corporation have been built to a similar or identical design as those built for Carnival Cruise Line, and there are several variations of each design, often indistinguishable from the others. So the Costa Concordia is either the lead ship of the Concordia-class, an extended version of a Fortuna-class ships or an enlarged Triumph-class ship - take your pic. Regardless of the class, she has the angular design that has mostly been a trademark of Carnival Cruise Line, but with Costa's bold-upright funnel (which are often referred to - at least in Finland - as "toilet paper rolls" due to their shape).

[Edit 14. January 2012] The Costa Concordia sunk near the Isola del Giglio on the night between 13 and 14 January 2012. The ship hit a sandbank or a reef shortly after departing Civitavecchia, which tore and 30-meter hole in her hull and the ship begun listing. She eventually capsized and partially sank later during the night, fortunately after evacuation had been completed. At the time of writing three people have been confirmed to have died, but search for possible missing persons is ongoing.

Photographs below show the Costa Concordia shortly after departure from La Goulette, Tunisia on 27 May 2009. Photographed from onboard MSC Sinfonia. Click on the image(s) to view full size.

Passing MSC Sinfonia (no foghorns this time), La Goulette in the background.
Personally I actually rather like the shape of the aft of the ship, even if the front isn't that neat.
Turning further on the shipping lane out of La Goulette.

MSC Fantasia, 27 May 2009

MSC Fantasia

IMO 9359791
Built 2008, STX Europe Chantiers de l'Atlantique, St. Nazaire, France
Tonnage 137 936 GT
Length 333,30 m
Width 37,92 m
Draugth 8,45 m
3 887 passengers
5 Wärtsilä diesels, combined 71 400 kW
2 propellers
3 bow thrusters
2 stern thusters
Speed 22,3 knots

MSC Fantasia is the lead ship of MSC Cruises' Fantasia-class (which is based on MSC's Musica-class, which in turn traces it's roots to Festival Cruises' Mistral of 1999). When completed she was the largest cruise ship owned by an European company. Today that accolade is shared with her sister MSC Splendida. Personally I think that compared to her size the exterior design is surprisingly successful. Compared with say Royal Caribbean's similarly-sized Voyager-class, MSC Fantasia looks much more balanced, with more though given to the details and the way they affect the whole.

Photographs below are of the MSC Fantasia departing La Goulette, Tunisia on 27 May 2009. Pictures taken from onboard MSC Sinfonia. Click on the images to view full size.

Outbound from La Goulette at relatively high speed. Passing her fleetmate the Fantasia of course blew her foghorn, with Sinfonia replying. I near dropped my camera into the sea on the first blast out of shock.
Sleek lines, even if she's massive.
Though the aft isn't quite as sleek as the rest of the ship...

25 August 2010

Gemini, 25 May 2009


IMO 9000687
Built 1992, Union Naval de Levante Valencia, Spain
Tonnage 19 093 GT
Length 163,81 m
Width 22,50 m
Draft 5,40 m
940 passengers
4 Wärtsilä diesels, combined 12 945 kW
2 propellers
2 bow thrusters
Speed 17,5 knots

Gemini has the unusual distinction of originally being purpose-built cruise ship built for a Finnish-owned cruise line. She was built for Commodore Cruise Line (owned by the Finnish-Swedish EffJohn) as Crown Jewel for Caribbean cruising. EffJohn was experiencing financial difficulties during the early 90s, and already in 1993 new employment was sought for the Crown Jewel and her sister Crown Dynasty that was completed in 1993. The led to the ships' being chartered to Cunard Line, who now formed a short-lived downmarket Cunard Crown Cruise Line brand.

Already in 1995 the Crown Jewel changed owners. She was sold to Star Cruises and and given the somewhat cubersome name SuperStar Gemini for cruising in southeast Asia. In the beginning of 2009 the SuperStar Gemini was withdrawn from Star Cruises' fleet and sold. After being briefly named Vision Star, she was renamed Gemini and entered service with the Spain-based Quail Cruises in spring 2009.

Externally the Gemini has (in my opinion) a very attractive design, combining a relatively low superstructure with streamlined stylings that create a very sleek overall appearance. There are a multitude of details in the design that appear well-thought and as such the mix together very attractively to create a coherent whole (except for the radar mast, which does look like it sticks out a bit). Internally she appears very attractive as well. Obviously I don't have interior ptohos of her, but Quail Cruises' website has a very neat gallery for those interested. [Dec. 2011 update: of course the link doesn't work anymore now that the company in question has gone bust].

Gemini in Valencia harbour on 25 May 2009, photographed from the gangway of the cruise terminal. Click on the image to view full size.

23 August 2010

SeaDream II, 24 May 2009

SeaDream II

IMO number 8203440
Previous names: Sea Goddess II, Seabourn Goddess II
Built 1985, Wärtsilä Helsinki New Shipyard, Finland
Tonnage 4 333 GT
Length 104,81 m
Width 14,60 m
Draft 4,17 m
108 passengers
2 Wärtsilä diesels, combined 3 540 kW
2 propellers
1 bow thruster
Speed 15 knots

SeaDream II is a five-star yacht-like luxury cruise ship operated by SeaDream Yacht Club. She was built in 1985 in Helsinki for the new-fangled Sea Goddess Cruises as Sea Goddess II. Sea Goddess Cruises were not a success, and in 1986 the Sea Goddess II and her sister Sea Goddess I were chartered to Cunard Line who took them under the Cunard banner but retained the original names. Following the sale of Cunard to the Carnival Corporation in 1998 the Sea Goddesses were transferred to Carnival's Seabourn Cruise Line brand as Seaborn Goddess I and Seabourn Goddess II, respectively. In 2001 Seabourn decided to give up the Goddesses, which were sold to the new SeaDream Yacht Club, which ironically is owned by the same person who originally founded Seabourn Cruise Line. With SeaDream the ships were named SeaDream I and SeaDream II. They remain two of the world's most highly-regarded cruise ships to this date. In the 2008 edition of Complete Guide to Cruising they shared the number two spot on the list of the world's most luxurious cruise ships, second only to Hapag-Lloyd's Europa.

SeaDream II at Monte Carlo roads on 24 May 2009, photographed from onboard MSC Sinfonia. Click on the image to view full size.

22 August 2010

Silver Wind, 24 May 2009

Silver Wind

IMO 8903935
Built 1995, Soc. Esercizio Viareggio, Italy (hull), T. Mariotti Genoa, Italy (superstructure), Cant. Nav. Visentini Donada, Italy (outfitting)
Tonnage 16 927 GT
Length 155,81 m
Width 21,40 m
Draft 5,30 m
315 passengers
2 Wärtsilä diesels, combined 10 600 kW
2 propellers
2 bow thrusters
Speed 17,5 knots

Silver Wind was the second ship completed for Silversea Cruises, which in itself is a joint venture between Lefebvre and V-Ships. Unusually the Silver Wind and her older sister Silver Cloud were built at three different shipyards, one building the hull, the second the superstructure and the third being responsible for the outfitting. Externally the ships have an attractively simple yet streamlined design. The external design was further refined in Silversea's next two ships Silver Shadow (2000) and Silver Whisper (2001), and Radisson Seven Seas Cruises' 2003 newbuilding Seven Seas Voyager also bears affinity to the first Silver sisters' design. Sadly, with their newest ship Silver Spirit Silversea have abandoned the attractive common exterior design of their ships.

Internally the Silver Wind has a somewhat unusual arrangement with cabins in the forward sections of the ship (furthest from engine noise) and public rooms aft. This arrangement was popular in ferry design during the late 1970's and early 80's (and it was used in a handful of cruise ships of the time as well), but since then it has largely fallen to disfavour - except on Silversea's ships. Unsurprisingly considering the company's Italian origins, the interiors are decorated in Italian modern style and the company has an Italian Heritage theme (seriously, how many Italian Style cruise lines do we need?).

Photographs below show the Silver Wind at Monte Carlo roads on 24 May 2009, photographed from onboard MSC Sinfonia. Click on the image(s) to view full size.

In the morning mists of Monaco on the day of the 2009 Monaco Grand Prix.
And in the mid-day sun.

21 August 2010

Wind Surf, 24 May 2009

Wind Surf

Built 1989, Atelier et Chantiers du Havre, France
Tonnage 14 745 GT
Length 187 m
Width 20 m
Draugth 5 m
347 passengers
Diesels, combined 9 120 kW
2 propellers
1 bow thruster
1 stern thruster
5 masts, 7 computer-controlled sails
Total sail area 2 500 square metres

Wind Surf is a product of the 1980s sail-cruising fad. She was originally ordered by Windstar Cruises with the intended name Wind Surf, but when Holland America Line purchased Windstar Cruises in 1988 the company decided not to continue with the construction of the Wind Surf and her sister Wind Saga. To complete the already under construction ships the French goverment arranged for them to be completed for the French leisure company Club Med as the Club Med 1 and Club Med 2, respectively. Club Med 1 was completed in 1989 and spent the next nine years sailing for Club Med. In 1998 Windstar Cruises had a change of heart about the ship, purchased her and renamed her with her planned original name Wind Surf. Since then she has remained in service with Windstar (her sister still sails as Club Med 2 for Club Med).

While she looks very chic when sailing under full sail, the Wind Surf isn't one of the most attractive ships around once her sails are furled. With her high sides, low-placed bridge and lack of co-ordination with the various superstructure elements she looks almost like an incomplete east block -built ferry with additional superstructure and some masts added as an afterthought.

Wind Surf at Monte Carlo roads on 24 May 2009. Photographed from onboard MSC Sinfonia. Click on the image to view full size.

20 August 2010

Moby Otta, 23 May 2009

Moby Otta

IMO 7361324
Name history: Tor Scandinavia, Princess of Scandinavia, Moby Otta
Built 1976, Lübecker Flender-Werke, West Germany
Tonnage 22 528 GT
Length 184,55 m
Width 26,40 m
Draugth 6,20 m
1 900 passengers
Unknown number of beds
500 cars
4 Pielstick diesels, combined 33 540 kW
2 propellers
2 bow thrusters
Speed 27 knots

Moby Otta was originally built in 1976 as Tor Scandinavia for Tor Line's services from Gothenburg to Felixstowe and Amsterdam. As built she and her older sister Tor Britannia were the fastest ferries in the world. Sometimes they're also credited as being the largest, but this honour in fact fell on the Gruziya-class ferries built in Finland for the Soviet union's Black Sea Shipping Company in 1975-1976. The Tor Britannia and Tor Scandinavia were an immediate success on the Sweden-UK/Netherlands -service and their arrival forced the other company on the route, Swedish Lloyd, to abandon their passenger services. However, the company's finances were badly off despite the success and Tor Scandinavia was often chartered as a floating expo ship to the Middle and Far East during the winters. In 1980 Tor Line begun collaborating with Sessan Linjen under the name Sessan Tor Line. This collaboration only lasted for a year; later in 1981 DFDS purchased Tor Line (Sessan Line meawhile passed to their competitor Stena Line). Following the sale to DFDS the Tor ships came to be marketed as DFDS Tor Line. Despite the changes the Tor Scandivia remained in Gothenburg-UK/Netherlands service.

In 1991 the Tor Scandinavia was rebuilt at Blohm & Voss in Hamburg and following the completion she was renamed Princess of Scandinavia in keeping with DFDS' new naming scheme for their passenger services (her sister Tor Britannia became the Prince of Scandinavia). During the 1990s she occasionally served on other routes, but her main route thouigh-out this time was Gothenburg-Newcastle (with an intermediate call in Kristiansand added in 2000). In 2006 the Princess of Scandinavia was withdrawn from service when DFDS closed down their Sweden-UK passenger service (I took a Gothenburg-Kristiansand "mini-cruise" on the Princess of Scandinavia just weeks before she was withdrawn; photos here). Following this she was sold to Moby Lines (who had already bouth her sister, now named Moby Drea, in 2003). The Princess of Scandinavia was now renamed Moby Otta, painted in Moby's Looney Tunes -livery and set on a service linking Livorno (Leghorn) to Olbia.

Photographs below are of the Moby Otta in Livorno on 23 May 2009. Click on the image(s) to view full size.

In the port of Livorno with an annoying counterlight and light clouds that make her fine lines hard to make out.
A rear view, taken from a "no entry" section of the cruise quay (I didn't notice the no entry signs until I was leaving the quay, honestly!).
A different point of view: same ship, same harbour, same day, but photographed from onboard MSC Sinfonia.

19 August 2010

Oceanic, 8 June 2009


IMO 5260679
Built 1965, Cantieri Riuniti dell'Adriatico Monfalcone, Italy
Tonnage 37 772 GT
Length 238,44 m
Width 29,42 m
Draft 8,60 m
1 550 passengers
2 CRDA-Del Laval steam turbines, combined 39 279 kW
2 propellers
2 bow thrusters
Speed 26,5 knots

Oceanic is one of my personal favourite ships in existance. Like the Mona Lisa and Marco Polo, she's a survivor of the age of the ocean liner. Unlike those two, the Oceanic has been spared the rebuilding of her stylish exterior and she still retains her original name. On the technical side she's powered with steam turbines, unlike the Mona Lisa and Marco Polo which were built with diesel engines.

The Oceanic was originally built for Home Lines with the intention of using her on Europe-Canada transatlantic service during the summers and cruising during the winters. However, by the time of her completion Home Lines had decided to abandon liner services, leaving line voyages for the associated Hamburg Atlantik Linie. Resulting the Oceanic entered service as a full-time cruise ship and she was marketed as the world's largest purpose-built cruise ship - which she of course was not. Oceanic left the fleet of Home Lines in 1985 due to the arrival of the new Homeric (today Thomson Cruises' Thomson Dream). Oceanic was sold to Premier Cruise Lines and renamed StarShip Oceanic. In 2000, shortly before Premier went bankrupt, the StarShip Oceanic was renamed Big Red Boat I in keeping of Premier's marketing sheme of their ships as the Big Red Boats (naturally, they had a matching hull colour).

Following Premier Cruise Lines' bankruptcy Big Red Boat I was sold to Pullmantur Cruises and reverted back to her original name Oceanic for Mediterranean cruising out of Spain. Reportedly Pullmantur only operated her during the summer seasons and she spent the winters laid up. During these layups she was gradually rebuilt to be compatible with the SOLAS 2010 regulations. Pullmantur Cruises was sold to Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. in 2006, and subsequently the new owners begun disposing of the older tonnage. The Oceanic was withdrawn from service in 2009, but fortunately the aged ship found a new owner with the Japanese Peace Boat charity organization. Still retaining the name Oceanic, the ship sails around the world on educational cruises.

Externally the Oceanic is a superb example of post-World War II Italian ocean liner design with a long hull, a relatively low superstructure beautifully streamlined in the front and attractively terraced towards the rear. Yet her design does have more modern touches, most notably the single funnel placed quite far aft and the libefoats located in recesses on the sides of the ship instead of being at the top of a superstructure. According to William H. Miller, the Oceanic's head designers were Home Lines' Charalambos Keusseuglou and the Italian maritime architect Constanza (first name not mentioned in Miller's book).

Photographs below are from Oceanic's visit to Helsinki's Länsisatama on 8 June 2009 as a part of Peace Boat's 66th Global Voyage for Peace. To the best of my knowledge this was the 44-year-old ship's maiden visit to Helsinki. Photographed from the breakwater in Vattuniemi, click on the image(s) to view full size.

Pulling away from quay in the evening light, with Hernesaari in the background.
Old-world charm: a steamer powering up, with the tug that helped her off the quay (in this case the Hector) returning to port.
Passing Pihlajasaari (what else?) on the deep shipping lane en-route to the Bay of Finland.
This image might look oddly familiar [Dec. 2011 edit: this was the original kships header image]. Panoramic Oceanic heading for the open sea.

Nordlandia, 8 June 2009


IMO 7928811
Built 1981, AG Weser Seebeckswerft, Bremerhaven, West Germany
Tonnage 21 473 GT
Length 153,40 m
Width 24,70 m
Draugth 8,80 m
Ice class 1A
2 048 passengers
938 berths
450 cars or 42 trucks
4 Pielstick diesels, combined 15 300 kW
2 propellers
2 bow thrusters
Speed 20 knots

Nordlandia arriving in Helsinki's Länsisatama from Tallinn on the evening of 8 June 2009, photographed from the breakwater in Vattuniemi. Click on the image(s) to view full size.

The only Finnish ship from Tallinn passing Pihlajasaari.
Blessedly at this time Eckerö had not yet painted a large Finnish flag on the forward superstructure. Pihlajasaari as usual in the background.
Past Pihlajasaari and towards the harbour.
About to turn and back into quay, with the now-disappeared bid mound of gravel on the left.

16 August 2010

Star, 8 June 2009


IMO 9364722
Built 2007, Aker Finnyards Helsinki, Finland
Tonnage 36 250 GT
Length 186,00 m
Width 27,70 m
Draft 6,50 m
Ice class 1A
1 900 passengers
520 berths
450 cars
1 981 lanemeters
4 MaK diesels, combined 48 000 kW
2 propellers
2 bow thrusters
1 stern thruster
Speed 27,7 knots

Photographs of Star arriving in Helsinki's Länsisatama on 8 June 2009, photographed from the breakwater in Vattuniemi. Click on the image(s) to view full size.

On the deep shipping lane after the crossing from Tallinn.
Still on the deep lane, passing (from this point of view anyway) a neat two-masted sailboat.
Sun reflecting from the windows while passing Pihlajasaari, with some kind of a small boat -race being carried out in the foreground.
Nearing Länsisatama, with the now-gone huge mound of rocks in the tip of Hernesaari in the background on the left. It doesn't look too impressive from this point of view, but it was probaby at least as tall as the Star at it's highest.

Aurora, 11 July 2009


IMO 9169524
Built 2000, Meyer Werft Papenburg, Germany
Tonnage 76 152 GT
Length 270,00 m
Width 32,20 m
Draft 7,90 m
1 975 passengers
4 MAN-B&W diesels, combined 58 800 kW
2 propellers
3 bow thrusters
1 stern thruster
Speed 24 knots

Some more photographs of the Aurora, this time from 11 July 2009 taken from Vattuniemi as the ship is departing Länsisatama, Helsinki. Notice that compared to the previously posted 2010 photos of the ship, the Aurora still carries the old P&O logo on her forward superstructure instead of the new P&O Cruises logo.

Shortly after departing the Hernesaari cruise quay.
On the deep sea lane headed for the open sea, with Pihlajasaari in background on the left and the rocks and some tree leaves of Vattuniemi in the foreground on the right.

Balmoral, 13 July 2009


IMO 8506294
Built 1988, Meyer Werft Papenburg, West Germany
Tonnage 43 537 GT
Length 218,18 m
Width 28,21 m
Draugth 7,26 m
1 778 passengers
4 MaK diesels, combined 21 330 kW
2 propellers
2 bow thrusters
Speed 20 knots

Balmoral was originally built in 1988 for Greece-based Royal Cruise Line as the Crown Odyssey. As built she was a neat-looking smallish ship, with her nicely streamlined funnel balanced by an oval-shaped observation lounge located below the radar mast. Royal Cruise Line was later absorbed by the Kloster Cruise empire, and on closure of the Royal brand the Crown Odyssey passed to Norwegian Cruise Line in 1996, becoming their Norwegian Crown. In 2000 the Norwegian Crown was transferred to the fleet of NCL's subsidiary Orient Lines and reverted to her original name Crown Odyssey. In 2003 she again returned to NCL's fleet and her old name as Norwegian Crown. Prior to her re-entry into service with NCL the ship was rebuilt with a spa-section above the bridge, ruining the fine lines of her forward superstructure. In 2007 the ship was sold to Fred. Olsen Cruise Line and she was renamed Balmoral. Prior to entering service with her new owners the ship was again rebuilt, now with the addition of a 30-meter-long midsection, further compromising her original good looks. Some reports indicate Fred. Olsen actually planned on removing the spa from the above the bridge, which certainly would have improved the ship's looks. Of course, this never came to pass and the information could easily be a rumour started by an aesthetically-minded ship enthustiast.

Photographs below are of the Balmoral departing Helsinki on 13 July 2009, taken from the breakwater of Suomenlinna's boat harbour. Click on the image(s) to view full size.

Sunlit Balmoral on Kruunuvuorenselkä, with impressive dark clouds looming in the background.
A little less-sunlit, turning towards Kustaanmiekka strait.
Entering the Kustaanmiekka strait, with more impressive (though less threathening) clouds in the background.

Star Princess, 13 August 2010

Star Princess

IMO 9192363
Built 2002, Fincantieri Monfalcone, Italy
Tonnage 108 977 GT
Length 289,51 m
Width 36,00 m
Draugth 8,00 m
3 102 passengers
4 Sulzer-Grandi Motori diesels, combined 41 925 kW
2 propellers
3 bow thrusters
1 stern thruster (?)
Speed 22,5 knots

Star Princess is a member of Princess Cruises' and P&O's Grand-class. She is one of the three ships built to the unmodified original Grand-class design (the other two being the Grand Princess and the Golden Princess), with 17 decks (instead of 18 in the later designs) and the "spoiler" right at the back of the ship (moved to the base of the funnel in most later examples of the class). The usual criticism of the exterior of the Grand-class ships, especially the ones with the spoiler, is that they're ugly. I'm not sure if I agree. They're unconventional, yes, unusual, certainly, but at least the designers have tried to give the ships a unique appearance. The ships are actually quite attractive streamlined and rounded in the forward parts, and the spoiler (with the way the corridor accessing it sort of continues forward through the funnel) gives a neat forward-going appearance. And it also breaks up the box-shape of the rear superstructure nicely, as is evident when you look at the spoiler-less Grand ships like P&O's Azura.

Photographs of the Star Princess below were taken on 13 August 2010 from Vattuniemi, showing the ship departing from Helsinki's Länsisatama. Click on the image(s) to view full size.

Pulling away from the cruise quay in Hernesaari.
Heading for the deep sea lane.
And on the deep lane, with Pihlajasaari (as usual) in the background.

14 August 2010

Aurora, 13 August 2010


IMO 9169524
Built 2000, Meyer Werft Papenburg, Germany
Tonnage 76 152 GT
Length 270,00 m
Width 32,20 m
Draft 7,90 m
1 975 passengers
4 MAN-B&W diesels, combined 58 800 kW
2 propellers
3 bow thrusters
1 stern thruster
Speed 24 knots

Aurora is arguably the last true purpose-built ship for P&O Cruises. All P&O newbuildings built after the P&O Princess/Carnival Corporation merger in 2003 (Arcadia, Ventura and Azura) have been based on generic designs, the Vista- and Grand-classes, whereas Aurora was a one-off design especially designed for P&O's needs (although her design is a refined version of the 1995-built Oriana).

Externally the Aurora has an attractive design, combining traditional touches (such as the terraced rear superstruture and funnel reminescent of that of the Canberra of 1961) with a sleek and somewhat futuristic overall design, resulting in a rather neat-looking retro-futurist exterior appearance.

Photographs below are of the Aurora departing Helsinki's Länsisatama on 13 August 2010 (Friday the 13th), photographed from Vattuniemi. Click on the image(s) to view full size.

Shortly after departure, having just passed the Star Princess (on the left; unfortunately the photos showing the Aurora and Star Princess side-by-side were less than successful).
Heading the deep shipping lane.
Displaying her fine lines, with Pihlajasaari (as usual) in the background.
And heading to the Bay of Finland.

Superstar, 13 August 2010


IMO 9365398
Built 2008, Fincantieri Ancona, Italy
Tonnage 36 400 GT
Length 175,10 m
Width 27,60 m
Draugth 7,00 m
Ice class 1A
2 080 passengers
520 berths
665 cars
1 930 lanemeters
4 Wärtsilä diesels, combined 50 400 kW
2 propellers
2 bow thrusters
Speed 27,5 knots

As noted previously, Superstar is a member of the Moby Wonder -class developed by Fincantieri for Moby Lines (although the first two members of the class were built by Daewoo in South Korea). Apart from her eyecathing livery, Superstar mostly differs from her sisters with the shape of her funnel; the Moby sisters have a much more streamlined design. The funnel of the Superstar rather looks like the funnel of the Moby ships placed backwards. On their most recent Finnish-built ships (the Galaxy-class and Star) Tallink have had a uniform (and quite stylish) funnel design. Personally I find it odd that this design was not carried on to the Superstar, especially as her funnel was designs was changed from the class template. That said, the Superstar's funnel does look better, with the front of the funnel being raked in the same angle as the forward superstructure.

As for the Superstar's livery, it seems she was originally planned to have a more conventional look. Apparently Fincantieri retain a builder's model of her, painted in all-white livery with blue water-splash -like patterns in place of the orange swirls of the real livery. Initial artists' impressions of the Star had a similar livery, so it does seem possible the original planned livery for these ships was quite different from the final one.

Superstar departing Helsinki Länsisatama (West Harbour) on 13 August 2010. Click on the image(s) to view full size.

Shortly after departure, with bow of the Star Princess visible on the left.
Passing Pihlajasaari, with the funnel cathing the rays on the sun nicely.
Heading south towards Tallinn for yet another 2-hour crossing.