28 September 2010

Braemar, 27 September 2010


IMO 9000687
Built 1993, Union Naval de Levante Valencia, Spain
Tonnage 24 344 GT
Length 195,92 m
Width 22,50 m
Draugth 5,45 m
977 passengers
4 Wärtsilä diesels, combined 12 945 kW
2 propellers
2 bow thrusters
Speed 17 knots

Braemar, a sister ship to Quail Cruises' Gemini previously featured in this blog, was originally built for Crown Cruise Line as the Crown Dynasty for Caribbean cruising. Unusually small for a mass-market cruise ship built in the early 1990s, the Crown Dynasty and her sister Crown Jewel were not huge success and soon a charter to Cunard Line was arranged, resulting in the formation of the downmarket Cunard brand Cunard Crown Cruises. To match the name of the brand the Crown Dynasty was marketed as the Cunard Crown Dynasty during this time.

The sources available to me about the Crown Dynasty's career for the period after the end of Cunard Crown around 1994 are less than clear. It seems that after the closure of Cunard Crown she returned to Crown Cruise Line service. EffJohn, Crown's owners, closed down the brand in 1997, and it is known that in 1997 the Crown Dynasty was chartered to Majesty Cruise Line as the Crown Majesty. In late 1997 Norwegian Cruise Line apparently acquired Majesty Cruise Line, and the Crown Majesty became their Norwegian Dynasty, still under charter from EffJohn. In 1999 EffJohn sold the Norwegian Dynasty to their former subsidiary Commodore Cruise Line, who reactivated the Crown Cruise Line brand and the Norwegian Dynasty re-entered service under her original brand and her original name Crown Dynasty. The second coming of Crown Cruise Line was short-lived, as already in early 2001 Commodore Cruise Line went bankrupt.

Around the same time as Commodore (and therefore their subsidiary Crown) went bust, the Norway-based Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines was looking for a third vessel to add to their fleet. As the Olsens' cruise operation has specialized in medium-size vessels, very few newer ships fit what they were looking for. The prospect of building a new ships of suitable dimensions was ruled to be uneconomic and as such Fred. Olsen was forced to seek out a second-hand ship. The Crown Dynasty appeared to suit the Olsens' needs perfectly and in May 2001 they acquired her, renaming the ship Braemar. The name Braemar is traditional in the Fred. Olsen fleet and this is in fact the third Braemar in their fleet. The name originates from the village of Braemar near Balmoral Castle in the UK.

After a large-scale rebuilding where the Braemar's passenger capacity was reduced(!) from 916 to 819, she entered service for Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines in August 2001. With her new owners the Braemar sailed on diverse iteneraries in Northern Europe, the Caribbean, the Amazon river, the Mediterranean and the Atlantic isles. During the latter half of the decade the Olsens' begun enlarging the capacity of their fleet by lengthening their ships. The newly-acquired Balmoral acquired in 2007 was given a 30-meter midsection prior to entering service. Apparently the experiences with this were positive and in May-June 2008 the Braemar was lengthened by 31 metres at Blohm + Voss Hamburg.

Unfortunately for the external apperance of the ship, at the same time a new structure was added above the bridge of the ship (containing an observation lunge and cabins with balconies), which obliterated the sleek original design of the forward superstructure. Somewhat less damaging to her looks was addition of a new restaurant on the top deck aft of the funnel. All this not to say I wouldn't think the Braemar is still a nice-looking ship... but her unaltered sister Gemini looks much better.

Photographs below are of the Braemar in Helsinki on 27 September 2010. She was the penultimate visiting cruise ship in Helsinki for the 2010 season - the last one will be Cruise & Maritime Voyages' Marco Polo that will be visiting our port on 12 October 2010. Sadly I have an exam slated for her departure time.

Click on the image(s) to view full size.

At the cruise quay at Katajanokka, lifting one of the lifeboats. photographed from onboard Suomenlinna II.
Entering the Kustaanmiekka strait - notice the added observatory atop the bridge mentioned in the text above. This and the pictures below photographed from Kustaanmiekka.
In the Kustaanmiekka strait, with the ramparts of the sea fortress in the foreground.
Cleared the strait and heading out to the less-than-welcoming Bay of Finland.

26 September 2010

Princess Maria, 13 September 2010

Princess Maria

IMO 7911533
Built 1981 Wärtsilä Turku, Finland
Tonnage 34 093 GT
Length 168,05 m
Width 29 m
Draft 6,72 m
1638 passengers
395 cars
4 Wärtsilä-Pielstick diesels, combined 22 948 kW
2 controllable pitch propellers
2 bow thrusters
1 sterns thruster
Speed 21,2 knots

Princess Maria was of course the subject of the very first entry in this blog. Since I didn't write anything about the ship's history of appearance in that entry, I must now try to write enough for two entries. ;)

The Princess Maria started life as Effoa's Finlandia, built in 1981 for Silja Line's Helsinki-Stockholm service. At the time of her completion she was the largest cruiseferry in the world (taking over the title from the Finnjet) and alongside her sister Silvia Regina and Viking Line's contemporary Viking Saga and Viking Song the Finlandia did much to transform the Helsinki-Stockholm route to the cruise-oriented service it remains today. Construction of the Finlandia and her sister also in part led to Bore Line withdrawing from the Silja Line consortium; by the consortium's rules, Bore should have commissioned a third sister similar to those ordered by Effoa and RAB Svea. Bore thought the concept would be uneconomic and instead decided to withdraw from Silja and passenger shipping completely, selling their passenger ships and shares in Silja to Effoa. Bore's withdrawal is often described as a mistake on their part, but it should be noted that of the three companies that founded Silja Line, only Bore exists today.

As built the Finlandia had a full-shaped rouded bow with a pronounced knuckle over the waterline to maximise car-carrying capacity. In service the bow construction was found to have very poor sea-keeping capabilities and after less than a year in service both the Finlandia and Silvia Regina were rebuilt, with the knuckle on the bow essentially "shaved off" to get a more streamlined bow. At the same time the interiors of the ships were slightly rebuilt. In 1985 the Finlandia was again partially rebuilt, with the interiors freshened up and the conference spaces enlargened. Around the same time plans were made for a more large-scale rebuilding of the Finlandia and her sister, lengthening them by 28 metres and radically rebuilding them to better compete with Viking Line's newbuildings Mariella and Olympia. In the end these plans were abandoned in favour of building two entirely new ships, that eventually emerged as the Silja Serenade and Silja Symphony.

In preparation for the delivery of the new ships, in 1987 a Memorandum of Agreement was made to sell the Finlandia to DFDS in May 1990 (the MoA also included an option for DFDS to buy the Silvia Regina, but they did not excercise that option). In the end the Silja Serenade was not ready by May 1990 (due to the bankrupcy of Wärtsilä Marine), but DFDS insisted on taking delivery of the ship as agreed, forcing Effoa to look for other solutions. The Finlandia meanwhile became the Queen of Scandinavia, entering service on Scandinavian Seaways' Kopenhagen-Helsingborg-Oslo -route on 1 June 1990. Her first running mate on that route was another former Effoa ferry, the first King of Scandinavia that had originally been Effoa's Wellamo of 1975, the ship that the Finlandia had replaced on the Helsinki-Stockholm service. In 1999 DFDS abandined the Scandinavia Seaways marketing name and in it's place the text DFDS Seaways was painted on the Queen of Scandinavia's side.

In 2000 the Queen of Scandinavia's bow was again rebuilt, now with a more rounded shape and unusually lacking a bow gate of any kind (DFDS did not, at least at the time, use bow gates on their ships due to safety reasons). The next year, following the acquisition of the Pearl of Scandinavia the Queen of Scandinavia was tranferred to the Newcastle-IJmuiden -service. In 2007 she was transferred to the Newcastle-Stavanger-Haugesund-Bergen -service that DFDS Seaways had taken over from Fjord Line the previous year. She swapped routes with the Princess of Norway, ex-Fjord Norway, allowing DFDS to operate the Princess of Norway parallel to the newest (third) King of Scandinavia on the Newcast-IJmuiden run. The Newcastle-Bergen run proved to be unprofitable and it was closed down in 2008. The Queen of Scandinavia had no further use in DFDS Seaways' fleet and she was laid up.

The Queen of Scandinavia remained laid up until the spring of 2010, when she was chartered to St. Peter Line, a new company established by the Russian Inflot to operate a service between St. Petersburg and Helsinki. Repainted with St. Peter Line's funnel symbol and hull markings but otherwise retaining her DFDS Seaways livery, the ship was renamed Princess Maria (after whom I do not know - but my money's on my wife :P) and on 23 April she entered service on the Helsinki-St. Petersburg -run. At the time many (myself included) were sceptical of the new company's chances - after all three companies had tried to operate a Helsinki-Sr. Petersburg service and failed during the 2000s - but they have seemed to find the niché. Persistent rumours claim that St. Peter Line is about to open a second service, linking St. Petersburg to Stockholm, possibly using another chartered DFDS ferry. Whether there's any truth to these claims remains to be seen.

Photographs below show the Princess Maria departing Helsinki South Harbour on 13 September 2010, photographed from Kaivopuisto. Click on the image(s) to view full size.

Pulling away from the quay at Olympiaterminaali and looking very dynamic indeed. Also notice the dents in the 2000-rebuilt bow... seems the quality of the rebuilding was not too good.
Reversing towards the Market Square in order to have enough space to turn in the harbour pool.
Going forward and away from the harbour, with the Uspenski Cathedral (Alexey Gornostaev 1868) in the background on the right.
On Kruunuvuorenselkä en-route to the Kustaanmiekka strait, with the questionable beauty of the Laajasalo oil harbour in the background.

19 September 2010

Silja Symphony, 13 September 2010

Silja Symphony

IMO 8803769
Built 1991, Kvaerner Masa-Yards Turku New Shipyard, Finland
Tonnage 58 377 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 Symphony at the Kustaanmiekka strait on 13 September 2010, photographed from the ramparts of Kustaanmiekka. Click on the image(s) to view full size.

Entering the Kustaanmiekka strait...
In the strait, with the King's Gate in the foreground.
Lit by the evening sun with more ramparts of Kustaanmiekka in the foreground.

16 September 2010

Gabriella, 22 June 2010


IMO 8917601
Built 1992, Brodogradiliste Split, Croatia
Tonnage 35 492 GT
Length 171,50 m
Width 28,20 m
Draught 6,25 m
2 420 passengers
2 402 verths
400 cars
900 lane metres
4 Pielstick diesels, combined 23 760 kW
2 propellers
2 bow thrusters
Speed 21,5 knots

I've written about Gabriella's history in some detail in the previous entry about her. So this time I'll say a word or two about her design.

As said before, the Gabriella is of course a variation of the basic design of the Amorella, built at the same yard but adapted to the needs Euroway, her original owner, foresaw nescessary for their Malmö-Lübeck cruiseferry service. Resultingly the Gabriella shares the attractive basic design with a rounded bow, streamlined superstructure and a high-placed bridge, with masts raked forward for a more dynamic appearance. Externally the main difference from the Amorella & Isabella's design is that the Gabriella has additional cabins with balconies on deck 11 (this is open space in the other sisters' original design). Also on the forward section of deck 7, where the teo older sisters have a large cafeteria the Gabriella has additional luxury cabins.

In addition to structural differences, all of Viking's split sisters have slightly different liveries. Amorella has the basic Viking livery with a red hul land all-white superstructure. Isabella has an additional red band running along the windows of deck six. The Gabriella as you can see doesn't have Isabella's red band but she does have a black band running along the windows of deck 8. And of course, as noted in the previous Gabriella entry, she was originally painted with an all-red funnel when entering Viking service to further distinguish her from her sisters.

Other than that on the inside large portions of the Gabriella's decor draw from Swedish and German maritime history thanks to her original incarnation as the Frans Suell. For example the forward staircase has rather attractive paintings of Swedish age-of-sail warships, while the ceiling of the pub is decorated with backlit reproductions of old german ocean liner advertisement posters. I'm hoping to do a photographic coverage of the Gabriella's interiors at a later date.

Photographs below are of the Gabriella departing Helsinki on 22 June 2010, photographed from Kustaanmiekka. Click on the image(s) to view full size.

Entering the Kustaanmiekka strait... the most common point of view in any ship photograph taken in Suomenlinna.
And heading to open sea and on to Stockholm via Mariehamn after clearing the strait.

14 September 2010

Saga Pearl II, 13 September 2010

Saga Pearl II

IMO 8000214
Built 1981, Howaldtswerke-Deutsche Werft Hamburg, West Germany
Tonnage 18 591 GT
Length 164,834 m
Width 22,89 m
Draugth 6,11 m
618 passengers
4 MAN diesels, combined 9 400 kW
2 propellers
1 bow thruster
Speed 18 knots

Although she is externally a somewhat unimposing small cruise ship, the Saga Pearl II has a fascinating past. She was built in 1981 for West Germany's HADAG Cruise Line as the Astor, the company's first and last deep-sea cruise ship. According to William H. Miller's book The Last Blue Water Liners HADAG (which was owned by the city of Hamburg) ordered the ship mainly in order to ensure employment for the HDW shipyard in Hamburg. Originally HADAG planned on pairing the Astor (which was originally to be named Hammonia) with Hapag-Lloyd's then-new Europa (now the Bleu de France), completed some months later than the Astor, but nothing came of this. In service the Astor usually sailed half-empty (despite being one the stars in Das Traumschiff, the German version of The Love Boat) and HADAG were soon looking to rid themselves of the ship.

In January 1984 the Astor was sold to the South Africa -based Safmarine. Safmarine had previously operated passenger liners on a route connecting South Africa to the UK, but this has been closed down in 1977. Now the company were looking to re-establish this link with the Astor, that was planned to spend part of the year cruising and a part making crossings, much like Cunard's QE2 at the time. However, in practice the Astor was found to be underpowered for long-haul service between Southampton and Durban. Resultingly Safmarine ordered a new ship, of a similar but larger (and more powerful) design from HDW Kiel in 1985. In preparation for the delivery of the new ship (also to be named Astor) and in part in order to pay for the construction of the new ship, the old Astor was sold to East Germany's VEB Deutsche Seereederei in 1985 (via a West German intermediary) and she was renamed Arkona. (The new Astor was completed in 1987, but by this time Safmarine had decided to again abandon passenger services and the ship was instead completed for the Marlan Corporation).

The Arkona sailed for her East German (and soon of course, unified German) owners until 2002, when Deutsche Seereederei gave up their cruise operations (their better-known AIDA Cruises brand having been sold to P&O the previous year). The Arkona was sold to the Russian Sovcomflot, but she was chartered to another German company, Transocean Tours, who were already operating her near-sister, the second Astor. Paired with her near-sister the Arkona was renamed Astoria. In 2007 the Astoria's ownership paased to Club Cruise, but she remained in service with Transocean Tours. In 2008 Club Cruise were experiencing financial difficulties and resulting agreed to sell the Astoria to Saga Cruises after the end of her Transocean charter in April 2009.

Before the Astoria's sale could be affected however, Club Cruise went bankrupt. She was laid up at Barcelona, awaiting auction. In the end she found a buyer in Saga Cruises, who took delivery of the ship August 2009. Originally Saga had planned to rename the ship Quest for Adventure and place her in service under their Spirit of Adventure -brand. However, this was never realised and instead the Astoria was placed under Saga Cruises' own brand as the Saga Pearl II, replacing the Saga Rose that had to be withdrawn from service due to the new SOLAS regulations. Saga Pearl II finally entered service with Saga Cruises in March 2010.

Photographs below are of the Saga Pearl II in Helsinki on 13 September 2010. Click on the image(s) to view full size.

At Katajanokka cruise quay, photographed from onboard MS Suomenlinna II.
Entering Kustaanmiekka strait, with beautiful examples of 1970s Finnish brutalist architecture visible over the trees in the background. This one and the photos below are taken from the ramparts at Kustaanmiekka.
At Kustaamiekka strait, with the top of the King's gate at visible at the bottom of the picture.
Clearing the strait...
...and onwards to the busy waters of the Bay of Finland.

13 September 2010

Amadea, 10 September 2010


IMO 8913162
Built 1991, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Nagasaki, Japan
Tonnage 28 856 GT
Length 192,82 m
Width 24,70 m
Draugth 6,60 m
624 passengers
2 MAN-Mitsubishi diesels, combined 17 300 kW
2 propellers
1 bow thruster
Speed 21 knots

Amadea started life as the Asuka, the sole ship of Asuka Cruises, a cruise brand established by Japan's Nippon Yusen Kaisha (alias NYK Line). Interestingly enough, although NYK are one of Japan's main shipping companies, the Asuka was their first newbuilt passenger ship since the second world war. The Asuka cruised around Asia and the Oceania on cruises aimed at the Japanese market until 2006, when NYK decided to replace her by transferring the Crystal Harmony sailing under their US market luxury brand Crystal Cruises to the Asuka Cruises brand as the Asuka II. The original Asuka was sold to Germany's Phoenix Reisen (or more accurately, a Bahamas-based holding company) and entered service in 2006 as Phoenix's new flagship Amadea.

Photographs below show the Amadea on 10 September 2010, shortly after departing the cruise quay at Katajanokka, Helsinki. Photographed from Suomenlinna. Click on the image(s) to view full size.

On Kruunuvuorenselkä. Notice the larger windows towards aft, evidence of the Amadea's unusual layout with public rooms aft and cabins forward.
Turning towards the Kustaanmiekka strait.
And entering the Kustaanmiekka strait.

09 September 2010

Delphin, 9 September 2010


IMO 7347536
Built 1975, Wärtsilä Turku, Finland
Tonnage 16 214 GT
Length 156,27 m
Width 21,90 m
Draugth 6,20 m
556 passengers
2 Pielstick-Wärtsilä diesels, combined 13 240 kW
2 propellers
1 bow thruster
Speed 21 knots

Delphin is another member of the once-vast Soviet passenger fleet. She was built in 1975 at Wärtsilä's Turku shipyard in Finland as the Belorussiya. She was first ship in a series of five identical ferries built for for Soviet Union's black Sea Shipping Company. To my best knowledge, the Belorussiya was the largest ferry in the world at the time of her completion. Standards of the accommodations and public spaces on the Belorussiya and her sisters were high, comparable with the highest-class cruiseferries built for western companies around the time. Their vehicle decks on the other hand were found to be too small for the demands of the Soviet's Black Sea ferry trade. Due to this the Belorussiya and her sisters were used for occasional cruising from early on, and in the 1980s the entire class was converted into cruise ships.

The Belorussiya was converted for cruising in 1986 at Lloyd Werft in Bremerhaven, West Germany. After this she was chartered to CTC Cruises for cruising out of Australia and European ports. Following the fall of the Soviet Union the Belorussiya passed under the Ukrainian flag (retaining Odessa as her port of registry). In late 1992, following the end of her charter to CTC, the Belorussiya capsized while being drydocked in Singapore. After this incident she sailed to Lloyd Werft, where she was heavily rebuilt. Following the rebuilding the ship was renamed Kazakhstan II and chartered to the Germany-based Delphin Seereisen in late 1993. In 1995 she was tranferred under Cypriot flag and in 1996 Delphin Seereisen bought the ship outright and renamed her Delphin.

In 2007, after Delphin Seereisen had acquired a new ship in the form of the Delphin Voyager, the Delphin was chartered to the associated Hansa Kreuzfahrten. Despite the change of operator the Delphin retained her previous name and livery even in service with Hansa Kreuzfahrten.

Photographs below are of the Delphin at Kruunuvuorenselkä in Helsinki on the slightly murky afternoon on 9 September 2009, photographed from Suomenlinna. Click on the image(s) to view full size.

Shortly after departing Eteläsatama.
Passing behind the former island fortification Lonna.
On Kruunuvuorenselkä. After the treatment I gave the pic to get the colours to look better, it ended up looking suspiciously like a 1970s postcard. Which is rather neat, actually.
Entering the Kustaanmiekka strait, with the breakwater of Suomenlinna's boat harbour in the foreground.

08 September 2010

Ocean Village, 30 May 2009

Ocean Village

IMO 8611398
Built 1989, Chantiers de l'Atlantique St. Nazaire, France
Tonnage 63 524 GT
Length 247,00 m
Width 32,20 m
Draugth 8,20 m
1 693 passengers
2 MAN-B&W diesels, combined 39 000 kW
2 propellers
2 bow thrusters
1 stern thruster
Speed 19 knots

Ocean Village (the ship) was built as a part of Sitmar Cruises' (one of the major cruise lines of the 70s and 80s) large-scale expansion drive of the late 1980s. The ship was given the cubersome name Sitmar Fairmajesty and she was due to enter service in 1989 as then new Sitmar flagship. (Sitmar ships traditionally had names beginning with "Fair", such as Fairwind or Fairstar, but in 1988 the company's new management had the fantastic idea of adding a "Sitmar" prefix to the names of all their ships). Sitmar Fairmajesty was never to sail as a Sitmar cruise ship however, as in September 1988 the company was sold to P&O, one of it's main competitors. Sitmar's ships aimed at the US market were transferred under P&O's Princess Cruises brand and it was for Princess Cruises that the Sitmar Fairmajesty was finally delivered, now under the name Star Princess. (In the Australian market P&O retained the Sitmar brand until 1991 and after that P&O's Australian operations have been run almost exclusively using old Sitmar tonnage).

The Star Princess' career with Princess Cruises proved to be relatively short, as in 1997 she was transferred to P&O's UK-market fleet under the name Arcadia as a replacement for the classic Canberra that had been sold for scrap. The Arcadia sailed for P&O for six years, until the Adonia joined the P&O fleet in 2003 (Adonia too was an ex-Princess ship, namely the Sea Princess of 1998). As a new job for the Arcadia, P&O had something new in mind. The ship was rebuilt as an informal cruise ship catering for the young and young at heart (in a similar operation as P&O's German-market subsidiary Aida Cruises). Renamed Ocean Village, the ship would go into competition against Royal Caribbean's informal UK cruise line Island Cruises. Somewhat confusingly, the cruise line brand the Ocean Village would sail for was also named Ocean Village. To reflect the casual atmosphere onboard, the Ocean Village was given an eyecatching orange/red/purple livery.

The Ocean Village cruise line was apparently something of a success, and in 2007 the Ocean Village was joined by the Ocean Village Two (interestingly, the Ocean Village Two was also one of the ships ordered by Sitmar but completed for Princess Cruises). Despite this outward signs of good performance, Ocean Village's new owner Carnival Corporation & PLC was not satisfied with the line's performance. In 2008 the decision was made to close down the Ocean Village brand and transfer it's ships to P&O Cruises Australia. Ocean Village Two left the Ocean Village fleet in 2009, becoming P&O Australia's Pacific Jewel. The Ocean Village will be withdrawn by the end of 2010. She will subsequently become P&O Australia's Pacific Pearl.

Photographs below show the Ocean Village manoeuvring the quay at Livorno on the morning of 30 May 2009, photographed from onboard MSC Sinfonia. Click on the image(s) to view full size.

Despite the calm weather the Ocean Village had to be escorted into quay by a tug (just visible on the right).
Pulling into quay, with Princess Cruises' Ruby Princess in the background.

04 September 2010

Corsica Marina Seconda, 30 May 2009

Corsica Marina Seconda

IMO 7349039
Built 1974, Rickmers Werft Bremerhaven, West Germany
Tonnage 12 035 GT
Length 120,78 m
Width 21,60 m
Draft 5,90 m
1 500 passengers
74 beds
480 cars
790 lane metres
2 MaK diesels, combined 10 356 kW
2 propellers
1 bow thruster
Speed 19,5 knots

Corsica Marina Seconda was built as one of four freight-oriented ferries ordered by Stena Line from Rickmers Werft in West Germany with the epxress purpose of chartering out the ships when completed. Delivered on 1 October 1974 as Stena Nautica, already on the same day the ship passed under charter to Marine Atlantic of Canada and was renamed Marine Nautica for service on Canada's east coast. In 1979 Marine Atlantic bought the ship outright.

In 1986, coinciding with the delivery of Marine Atlantic's new purpose-built ferry Caribou, the Marine Nautica was sold to Tourship group, owners of the Mediterranean ferry operator Corsica Ferries. Renamed Corsica Marina II, the ship entered service on Corsica Ferries' Livorno-Bastia -route. In 1999 her name was amended into Corsica Marina Seconda.

Photographs below are from the morning of 30 May 2009, showing the Corsica Marina Seconda departing Livorno for Bastia, hot on the heels of the same company's Mega Express Four. Photogaphed from onboard MSC Sinfonia. Click on the image(s) to view full size.

Low morning sun reflecting on the ship's hull. Port of Livorno in the background.
The ship's boxy exterior might actually have been improved a bit with the addition of side sponsons, as they break up the monotonous white expanse of the ship's side a bit.
Rear view. While the ship's general shape might be a bit unattractive, the 70's-style funnel with it's large smoke deflector is completely kickass in terms of design. Unsurprising when you know the ship was designed by Knud E. Hansen A/S.
Heading out to their respective destinations, Mega Express Three leading and Corsica Marina Seconda following.

03 September 2010

Mega Express Three, 30 May 2009

Mega Express Three

IMO 9208083
Built 2001, Samsung Heavy Industries Koje, South Korea
Tonnage 26 995 GT
Length 212,00 m
Width 25,00 m
Draft 6,60 m
2 100 passengers
1 446 berths
680 cars
1 916 lane metres
4 Wärtsilä diesels, combined 50 424 kW
2 propellers
2 bow thrusters
1 stern thruster
Speed 28,5 knots

Mega Express Three is one of Corsica Ferries' five fast Mega Expresses. She was originally built for Minoan Lines as the Oceanus, the second ship in a series of three large, fast ferries built by Samsung for Minoan in 2001-2002. Around the time Minoan Lines were expanding heavily, taking delivery of four other large, fast ferries from Italian shipyards between 2000 and 2002. The Oceanus kept her initial name only for a brief time, as in 2002 she was renamed Ariadne Palace I (somewhat confusingly, her sister ship delivered in 2002 was named Ariadne Palace, without a number).

In early 2003, after less than two years in service with Minoan Lines, the Ariadne Palace I was sold to Corsica Ferries but chartered back to Minoan Lines. At this time her name was amended into Ariadne Palace One. In September 2003 the Ariadne Palace One was withdrawn from service with Minoan Lines and sailed to Nuovi Cantieri Apuania in Italy to be rebuilt with larger passenger capabilities and additional passenger beds. In 2004 she entered service as the Mega Express Three with Corsica Ferries.

Photographs below are of the Mega Express Three shortly after having departed Livorno (Leghorn) on the morning of 30 May 2009, photographed from onboard the MSC Sinfonia which was inbound to Livorno. Click on the image(s) to view full size.

You can't blame Corsica Ferries for not having an eyecathing livery.
Mountains emerging from the morning mists in the background, a sleek ship lit by the morning sun...
Unlike the Mega Express Four (ex-Superfast II, Spirit of Tasmania III), the Mega Expess Three's aft superstructure was not rebuilt to match the shape of the purpose-built Mega Express and Mega Express Two. And she's better off for it.

02 September 2010

Island Escape, 29 May 2009

Island Escape

IMO 8002597
Built 1982, Dubigeon-Normandie Prairie-au-Duc, Nantes, France
Tonnage 40 132 GT
Length 185,89 m
Width 27,01 m
Draugth 7,20 m
1 741 passengers
2 B&W diesels, combined 19 850 kW
2 propellers
2 bow thrusters
Speed 20 knots

Island Escape is an informal cruise ship sailing for Thomson Cruises' sub-brand Island Cruises. The angular ship has an interesting history that's well worth looking into.

In the late 1970s the Danish shipping company DFDS decided to initiate a new ferry service along the coast of the United States under the name Scandinavian World Cruises, linking New York City to Miami. For this purpose a new cruiseferry, named Scandinavia, was built at the Dubigeon-Normandie shipyard in France. However, things did not go as smoothly as planned: due to US cabotage laws, the Scandinavia could not link New York to Miami directly. Instead, when completed she was placed on a New York-Freeport (in the Bahamas) service. In Freeport the passengers (and their cars) transferred to another ferry to take them to Miami. Needless to say this was not a huge success and after less than a year in service with Scandinavian World Cruises the Scandinavia was withdrawn in November 1983 and tranferred to DFDS's Oslo-Copenhagen service. Somewhat unusually she retained her Scandinavian World Cruises livery, which was later adopted to the entire DFDS passenger services fleet.

The Scandinavia did not survive in the DFDS Seaways fleet long enough to see the rest of the fleet being repainted to match her livery however, as in early 1985 she was sold to Sundance Cruises (a joint venture between Effoa, Johnson Line and MacDonald Enterprises) as a replacement for their Sundancer that had been declared a total loss after a grounding (oddly enough the Sundancer was restored and continued sailing for another decade). The Scandinavia was rebuilt to better cope with cruising (she did however retain her car deck) and she was renamed Stardancer for US east coast cruising. In 1987 Sundance Cruises merged with Eastern Cruise Line to form Admiral Cruises and the Stardancer transferred to the new company without a change of name. Admiral Cruises too proved to be short-lived, as it merged with the Royal Caribbean Cruise Line in 1990. Following the merger all other Admiral Cruises ships were sold except the Stardancer, which now became RCCL's Viking Serenade.

In 1991 the Viking Serenade was heavily rebuilt in San Diego, with the cardeck filled with additional cabins, RCCL's trademark "sky lounge" added aft of the funnel and the funnel itself shortened from it's attractive original desing. A large duck-tail had to be added to the rear to increase stability with the additional top-deck structures. The Viking Serenade stayed with Royal Caribbean until 2002, when it was transferred to the newly-founded Island Cruises, a joint subsidiary of Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. and First Choice Holidays. Renamed Island Escape, the ship now became an informal cruise ship for the UK market. Island Cruises was not the success it was slated to be, and in 2008 Royal Caribbean withdrew from the joint venture, selling it's shared to TUI Travel (which in the interim had taken over First Choice Holidays). As TUI Travel already owned another downmarket UK cruise line, Thomson Cruises, the Island Escape came to be marketed as a part of the Thomson Cruises fleet. However, Thomson have retained the Island Cruises name as a sub-brand to differentiate between the informal Island Escape and the rest of their fleet. Resultingly the Island Escape also retains Island Cruises' livery at least for the time being.

Photographs below are of the Island Escape departing Naples on 29 May 2009. Photographed from onboard MSC Sinfonia. Click on the image(s) to view full size.

Rather aft-heavy, with the added structures there. Note the pilot-boat alongside; apparently the ship dropped off the pilot even though they were still in the harbour pool?
Passing the lighthouse at the entrance to the harbour.

Sovereign, 29 May 2009


IMO 8512281
Built 1987, Chantiers de l'Atlantique St. Nazaire, France
Tonnage 73 912 GT
Length 268,32 m
Width 32,21 m
Draugth 7,50 m
2 733 passengers
4 Pielstick-Alsthom diesels, combined 21 844 kW
2 propellers
2 bow thrusters
Speed 21,5 knots

Sovereign was originally built as Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines' Sovereign of the Seas, at the of her construction the largest passenger ship in the world, taking over the title from NCL's Norway (to which the Sovereign of the Seas lost the accolade of being the largest ship two years later, when the Norway was rebuilt with additional decks). Sovereign of the Seas remained in the Royal Caribbean International (as the company was later restyled) fleet until 2008, by which time she was the smallest and oldest ship in the RCI fleet. With Royal Caribbean International's parent company Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. having taken over Pullmantur Cruises of Spain some years earlier and new tonnage having been delivered to RCI, the decision was made to transfer the Sovereign of the Seas to Pullmantur Cruises. In 2009 she begun cruising with Pullmantur under the shortened name Sovereign.

Sovereign in the Bay of Naples outbound from, you guessed it, Naples. Photographed from onboard MSC Sinfonia on 29 May 2009. Click on the image to view full size.