29 July 2011

Musings on Finnlines' livery

I've recently been reading a lot of books related to the history of Finnlines and Finland Steamship Company/Effoa for my under-construction Master's Thesis. Amongst these books is Matti Pietikäinen's absolutely brilliant recent From High Arctic to Antarctica: Ships of the Thom Companies in the Seven Seas. In addition to ships owned by the Thom companies (Thombrokers, Thomesto and Thominvest - all are the same company who changed their name along the way) Pietikäinen writes about a variety of related things, amongst them the process by which the current Finnlines decided their livery in 1990, when the company was demerged from Effoa (who had owned Finnlines since 1982, when the previous owners Enso-Gutzeit sold it).

As those of you who have read this blog regularly will probably know, the current livery of Finnlines is like in the image below. White superstructure, blue hull, white funnel. Quite stylish, but a bit generic.

Finnmaid at Kustaanmiekka strait on 9 July 2008. Full set here.
What bothers me about the livery is not that it's somewhat generic or that I would think it unattractive, but it lacks a connection to the history of Finnlines. Technically, today's Finnlines is a descendant of not only Finnlines itself, founded in 1947, but also of Finland Steamship Company's cargo-carrying operations - and Finland Steamship Co. was founded way back in 1883. With all that history to choose from, Finnlines could maybe have come up with something more respectful of their past when choosing their new livery in the mid-00s.

In fact, until this most recent livery change, Finnlines did have a livery respecting the past on most of it's ships. When Finnlines demerged from Effoa in 1990, the company's ro-ro fleet were given green hulls. When Finland Steamship Company built it's first ro-ro freighter Juno in the early 1970s she was given a green hull - in part due to the fact that it was the cheapest paint available, but also to differentiate ro-ro ships from the rest of the fleet. Traditionally (since the 19th century) the company's passenger ships were given white hulls and cargo-carriers black. Ro-ro freighters were seen a distinct group from these two and a new colour was needed. During the first 15 years of it's existance, the "new" Finnlines used that colour on the hulls of most of their ships.

A quick manipulation of the Finnmaid in "Effoa green", though the shade is a bit too dark. I also changed the funnel stripe from blue to green to give the ship a more coherent appearance.
Had Finnlines stuck with "Effoa green" they could have saved a fortune in repainting their fleet and had a more unique and recognisable livery.

Variation 2 in Effoa livery, with the original Finland Steamship Company/Effoa funnel colours. The original livery didn't have the thin stripe above the main hull colour, but a variation adopted by Finnlines in 1994 did. I like it, I'm keeping it.
But Effoa green is not the only option available to Finnlines that would respect their past. The original Finnlines, like Finland Steamship Company, painted the hulls of their traditional freighters black, but they too had a separate livery for their ro-ro ships (in this case also including their passenger-carrying roros - with the notable exception of the Finnjet of 1977). From 1966 until the early 1980s Finnlines ro-ro ships were given grey hulls with a narrow blue line between the hull colour and the general white.

The original Finnlines ro-ro livery transferred to the present, complete with ships names written in cursive typeface.
If a blue hull colour is insisted on, and I admit it's a very nautical choice of shade, then perhaps it would have been more fitting to choose, instead of the current fairly mid-range shade of blue, a dark blue shade honouring Finnlines' one-time flagship (and still probably the best-known individual ship in Finland, several years after she was scrapped) the Finnjet. The Finnjet was originally given a unique livery of a dark blue hull and different funnel colours from the rest of the Finnlines fleet. Much later, in the late 1980s when the Finnjet had already lost her distictive livery and become a part of the Silja Line fleet, two ships belonging to the Finnlines fleet but owned by other companies, namely the Finnsailor of Neste and Finnforest of Thomesto were given hulls in the same shade of blue (although with standard Finnlines funnel colours).

Finnmaid meets Finnjet. The shade of blue might not be exact, as the Finnjet's shade was so dark it looked black in certain light and that's very difficult to replicate on a computer. Again, I've maintained the "extra stripe" on the hull as it looks good and it's the only even semi-traditional element in the current Finnlines livery.
Maybe this is just rambling by a history student/ex-graphic design student who's read one book too many. But don't tell me the other options wouldn't look good, even if I did quickly bash them together.

26 July 2011

Saga Pearl II in Helsinki, 11 June 2011

Saga Pearl II

IMO 8000214
Former names: Astor, Arkona, Astoria
Built 1981, Howaldtswerke-Deutsche Werft (HDW) Hamburg, West Germany
Tonnage 18 591 GT
Length 164,34 m
Width 22,89 m
Draugth 6,11 m
618 passengers
618 berths
4 MAN diesels, combined 9 400 kW
2 propellers
1 bow thruster
Speed 18 knots

For a full account on the history of the Saga Pearl II, see the previous entry on her. Since that entry was written, new information has become available regarding the future of the ship. In May 2012, when the new Saga Sapphire joins the Saga Cruises fleet, the Saga Pearl II will be transferred to Saga's sub-brand Spirit of Adventure Cruises. The Saga Pearl II will be renamed Quest for Adventure and she will replace Spirit of Adventure's current ship, the aptly-named Spirit of Adventure. Reportedly at the same time Spirit of Adventure Cruises will adapt the same age restrictions as Saga Cruises, in other words you have to be at least 50 years old to sail on the Quest for Adventure. Personally I'm very disappointed at this change, as I was hoping to sail on the Quest one day.

The photographs below show the Saga Pearl II in the Kustaanmiekka strait on 11 June 2011, shortly after departing Helsinki South Harbour. Click on the individual images to see larger size.

Not the most flattering view for the ship I think. Despite the fact she's quite nice-looking, here she manages to look like a low box.
I've often wondered if the same people were responsible for designing the Astor and the 1981 Europa (soon to be the Saga Pearl II's fleetmate Saga Sapphire) as there are several similarities in the ship's exterior design. Though admittedly the Astor/Pearl is notably smaller and sleeker.
Compared to the Silja Serenade and Gabriella that had just passed the same way, the Saga Pearl II must have seemed like a small and old ship to the people taking the sun on the ramparts.
The ship maybe looks better seen from the aft with the attractively tiered lido area.
You can't have too many panoramic shots. Ever.

23 July 2011

Gabriella in Helsinki, 11 June 2011


IMO 8917601
Built 1992, Brodogradiliste Split, Croatia
Tonnage 35 492 GT
Length 171,50 m
Width 28,20 m
Draught 6,25 m
Ice class 1 A Super
2 420 passengers
2 402 berths
400 cars
900 lane metres
4 Pielstick diesels, combined 23 760 kW
2 propellers
2 bow thrusters
Speed 21,5 knots

 You can never have too many pictures of the Gabriella. Well maybe you can, but I think there's room in this blog for a handful more. So, the photographs below show the Gabriella departing Helsinki on 11 June 2011, photographed from Suomenlinna passing through the Kustaanmiekka strait. Click on the individual images to see larger size.

It's coming right at us! That can happen at Kustaanmiekka.
Notice how the ship's wake snakes behind her, illustrating how tricky it is to sail through the strait with such a large ship.
She's a pretty ship. And actually one of my favourites in Viking Line's fleet.
Now I'm running out of things to say. :P
The small blips in the horizon are Seabourn Sojourn (the more visible on the right) and the Silver Whisper (just right of the Gabriella's bow).

20 July 2011

Kships 1st anniversary

Kships has now been around for exactly one year, with the 1st entry posted on 20 July 2010 at 14.42 Finnish summer time. To commemorate the occasion I thought that I'd share with you a bit about the background and statistics of the blog's first year in addition to sharing with you the interior photographs of the Isabella from 17 years ago posted earlier today.

Ultimately the fault of Kships coming to life can be laid at the door of my ship photographer friend Sergei Pennonen (his website here) who once last summer while we were in Lauttasaari photographing this or that ship commented that I only photograph for my own pleasure as I don't post my photos anywhere. A few days afterwards I thought "why not?" and started planning this place.

I had planned on calling the blog Kship, singular, but that name had already been taken so I had to come up with a more creative solution. Originally I planned to put just photographs on the blog, accompanied with technical data and a minimal amount of text, but as I kept adding more entries textual accompaniments to the photographs became increasingly complex.

During the first month I really went crazy with posting entries. During 11 days in July that the blog was up I posted 23 entries, or an average of two per day, and in August 41. After that I subsided to a more sedate pace (in part thanks to my studies taking up a larger chunk of my time) and from the beginning of this year I've attempted to maintain a schedule with about two entries per week.

The original Kships header image was this photograph of Peace Boat's Oceanic from 8 June 2009. In an attempt at neutrality I removed the company markings from the hull and funnel (I admit I also think the ship looks better without them).

Some statistics

During the past 12 months Kships has been viewed 27 939 times. The least busy month was September 2010, with just 670 views and the busiest April 2011 with 3 544 views. April's record also coincides with an article by me being published for the first time at Maritime Matters, which in part explains the increased number of visitors (though it's only about 500 more than during the preceeding month). This month has a chance of being another record breaker, with 2 616 views to date and a third of the month still to go. This time the increased number of views are most likely due to increased visibility at Maritime Matters and the Finnish-language message board maritimeforum.fi. In 2010 the average number of views per month was around 1 000. For 2011 it has jumped, for no reason I can discern, to around 3 000 per month.

On nationalities, of the 27 939 page views 12 752 or 46% have originated from Finland. Number 2 spot is held by Sweden with 1 925 views (7%), followed by the US (1 684 views, 6%), UK (1 466, 5%) and Estonia (1 107, 4%). 42% of visitors use Firefox as their browser, 37% use Internet Explorer and 12% use Google Chrome. This is good as I use Firefox and therefore the page looks most like it's supposed to on that browser.

The four most important sources of traffic are Google (in all it's variations), maritimeforum.fi, Maritime Matters and Ulkomatala, the Finnish-language webmagazine I contribute to. The most popular individual entries are ones featuring interior photographs, the single most popular one being the entry on Silja Symphony's interiors from December 2009-February 2010. However, the entry calcular is perhaps not truly indicative of popularity as I've built the blog's internal navigation system around tags rather than individual entries.

The current header image shows the Viking XPRS arriving in Helsinki on 3 May 2009 (the entry this is from was one of the earliest posted). I'm currently planning a new header with a slightly different logo and layout. If you have any ideas on which ship or even individual photo should have the honour, please feel free to comment and tell me.

Isabella interiors, January 1994


IMO 8700723
Built 1989, Brodogradiliste Split, Yugoslavia
Tonnage 34 000 GT
Length 169,40 m
Width 27,60 m
Draught 6,40 m
Ice class 1 A Super
2 200 passengers
2 184 berths
420 cars or 53 trucks
4 Wärtsilä-Pielstick diesels, combined 24 000 kW
2 propellers
2 bow thrusters
Speed 21,5 knots

(Technical data from Viking Line's 1992 brochure for the ship).

So then, for Kships' first anniversary I'd like to give you something a bit out of the ordinary. In early January 1994 at the tender age of ten I made a 24-hour cruise from Helsinki to Tallinn roads on the Isabella together with my grandmother (who, bless her, was willing to go on a multitude of ferry cruises with me. Today she actually travels more on ships that I do). She also bought me a disposable camera for the trip which I used to take what are amongst my very first ship photographs ever and certainly my first (and for many years only) attempt to document the interiors of a ship.

As usual, click on the individual images to view larger size.

The Bella Sky observation lounge on deck 11 (that was added in a refit in 1992). On the right is my grandmother, perusing (iw would seem) a brochure of the ship that I still have in my archives.
The Casino on deck 8. Yes, photographing isn't allowed in casinos... but you get away with all sorts of things when you're a 10-year-old kid.
Dancing Café Amanda in the front of deck 7 was probably the most popular entertainment venue onboard. Compare, if you will, with this image of the same space as she appears today.
Staying on deck 7, the gift shop located on the starboard side of a central arcade (alongside a perfumery), with the main tax-free shop on the port side. In the most recent (2007) refit of the ship this space was demolished when all the shops were combined into a larger single tax free shop and a new corridor was built on the starboard side of the ship.
Sauna Riviera located right at the bow of the ship on deck 6, with four saunas, two jacuzzis and a small swimming pool.
A B1-class cabin, located on deck 6 if memory serves.
While the Isabella was on cruise service, there was naturally no use for her car deck. Resultingly a part of the car deck was built into an exhibition area. The car deck also housed the set of the popular Finnish TV game show Megavisa (seen here) that was shot onboard the Isabella.

18 July 2011

Silja Serenade in Helsinki, 11 June 2011

Silja Serenade

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

I found to my surprise I've posted just two entries with photographs of the Silja Serenade and five of her Swedish-flagged sister Silja Symphony. Since such a state of affairs is clearly intolerable, especially as I'm bound by my nationality to prefer the Serenade (honestly the sisters are indistinguishable from each other and so is the service onboard), here are some new(ish) photographs of the Serenade.

Silja Serenade departing Helsinki on 11 June 2011, photographed passing through the Kustaanmiekka strait. Click on the individual images to see larger size.

Turning towards the strait, with Laajasalo oil harbour in the background. The sailboat in the foreground almost caused an accident when they insisted on sailing through the strait simultaneuosly with the Serenade, ignoring warnings from the ship's foghorn (it's possible the crew simply didn't realise they were warnings, as the three cruise ships sailing through the strait before the Serenade had been quite liberal in blasting their typhon purely for showoff purposes).
Let's be honest, she's a big floating box. But a strangely good-looking one at that.
Straight through the strait.
Passing out of the strait, with the sail of sailboat that got out of the way just in time in the foregroundbehind the ramparts.
Can't resist some additional panoramic fiddling. The two-funnel ships that looks suspiciously like the Finnjet in the distance on the right is in fact the Seabourn Sojourn.

The day after tomorrow (20 July) is Kships' 1st anniversary. I'll try to come with something interesting for the occasion.

13 July 2011

Seabourn Sojourn in Helsinki, 11 June 2011

Seabourn Sojourn

IMO 9417098
Built 2010, T. Mariotti, Italy
Tonnage 32 346 GT
Length 198,15 m
Width 25,60 m
Draught 6,40 m
462 passengers
462 berths
4 Wärtsdilä diesels, combined 23 040 kW
2 azipods
2 bow thrusters
Service speed 19 knots
Maximum speed 25,5 knots

Seabourn Sojourn is the second ship in a trio of newbuildings for the Carnival Corporations -owned Yachts of Seabourn. (Personally I would question if a 32 000 GT ship can by any measurement be called a "yacht", even if she is small by today's cruise ship standards - she is for instance about 7 000 GT bigger than Louis Cruises' Louis Cristal). She entered service in 2010. As Seabourn is one of the ultra-luxe cruise lines, all accommodation onboard the Seabourn Sojourn are suites. I admit I don't really have much to say about the ship apart from that. For some reason, her exterior reminds me very much of the former Finnish cruise ship Sally Albatross/Silja Opera (today sailing as the aforementioned Louis Cristal), though to be honest the semblance might just in my head.

The photographs below show the Seabourn Sojourn passing through the Kustaanmiekka strait on 11 June 2011 after departing from Helsinki South Harbour. Click on the individual images to view larger size.

Entering the Kustaanmiekka strait. In the background you can see the slowly-dismantling Laajasalo oil harbour. In a few years there should be a residential area in it's place.
The ship is surprisingly goodlooking, considesing the all-outside accommodation and large number of balconies. Of course, the small size helps... and maybe for a luxury cruise line, exterior appearances are slightly more important than for lines offering more standard products.
Out to the open sea, with plenty of spectators on the "no entry" -area of the ramparts.
I guess what mainly reminds me of the Sally Albatross in the looks of the Seabourn Sojourn is the rear of the ship, combined with the fact that the side of the ship is very similar.
The blob in the background on the right is Le Boréal, which had departed some minutes before. Silver Whisper also departed between Le Boréal and the Seabourn Sojourn, but I'm not putting of the photographs of her as they are so similar to my earlier set of the Silver Whisper.

08 July 2011

Le Boréal in Helsinki, 9 & 11 June 2011

Le Boréal

IMO 9502506
Built 2010, Fincantieri Ancona, Italy
Tonnage 10 700 GT
Length 142,00 m
Width 18,00 m
Draught 4,70 m
Ice class 1C
264 passengers
264 berths
Diesels, combined 6 400 kW
2 propellers
1 bow thruster
Speed 16 knots

There's really nothing much new to say about Le Boréal  that I wouldn't already have said in the previous entry about her. She's still a magnificient yatch-like cruise ship with superbly attractive stylings both inside and out, with the white-grey-red exterior colour scheme also carried over to the inside in a most tasteful manner. This is one ship I would not mind sailing on... not that I would have the money to do so in the foreseeable future.

Le Boréal called in Helsinki twice within three days in early June this year, first on 9 June. On this day she departed early, at 14.00, and the photo opportunities were less than ideal, but below are two images from that day. Click on the image(s) to view larger size.

At the Katajanokka cruise quay, with the ship and the sun for once positioned so that a nicely lit photo of the ship's rear was possible.
On Kruunuvuorenselkä, bound for the Kustaanmiekka strait.
The same ship again in Helsinki on 11 June 2011. This time she left at the more practical time of half past four, which yielded nice photo opportunities at the Kustaanmiekka strait. Click on the individual images to see larger size.

From the point of view of the history of ship design it's interesting to note that two funnels located on the sides of the ship, which once was the sign of a workmanlike ferry, have now become increasingly common on luxury cruise ships.
You wouldn't nescessarily think a predominantly grey livery makes for a good-looking ship, but it does work amazingly well on the Le Boréal and her sister.
Through the strait. The warm day attracted a lot of people to Suomenlinna and surprisingly many were taking photographs of the ships passing by, as the two people visible here.
18th-century military architecture and 21st-century maritime architecture in the same image.
Proudly flying the French flag... even if the ship is actually registered at Mata-Utu in the French overseas collectivity of Wallis and Futuna in the Pacific.
Off she goes for more cruising around the Baltic.

06 July 2011

MSC Poesia in Tórshavn, Akureyri & Ísafjörður 26.-29. May 2011

MSC Poesia

IMO 9387073
Built 2008, Aker Yards Chantiers de l'Atlantique, St. Nazaire, France
Tonnage 93 330 GT
Length 293,80 m
Width 32,20 m
Draugth 7,70 m
3 013 passengers
5 Wärtsilä diesels, combined 58 000 kW
2 propellers
3 bow thrusters
1 stern thruster
Speed 22 knots

MSC Poesia is the third ship in MSC Cruises' Musica-class (currently numbering a total of four ship and two more under construction). As I have undoubtedly mentioned several times in this blog, this class is a futher development from Festival Cruises Mistral of 1999, via two "intermediate" designs in the form of Festival Cruises' sisters European Stars and European Vision and MSC Cruises' own pair MSC Opera and MSC Lirica. The MSC Poesia was ordered in March 2006, her keel laid in December of the same year, she was launched in October 2007 and entered service in April 2008.

I sailed onboard the MSC Poesia on an 11-night cruise from Kiel (Germany) to Norway, the Faroe Islands and Iceland. My three-part review from the cruise can be read from MaritimeMatters here. The photographs below show the MSC Poesia in three of the harbours during the cruise. Click on the individual images to view them in larger size.

MSC Poesia at Tórshavn's cozy (for the lack of a better word) harbour on 26 May 2011. The ship was a snug fit in the quay, but there was just enough space behind her for the local ferry Smyril to dock.
A view of the Poesia from Tórshavn waterfront, photographed from the back yard of a local hospital. 26. May 2011.
Two days later in Akureyri, Iceland. Here the quay was actually too short for the ship, which dwarfed the city. 28. May 2011.
A view down from the mountain overlooking Ísafjörður. The "city" had a little over 3 000 inhabitants, while the Poesia was full, meaning there were about 3 000 passengers onboard. 29. May 2011.

02 July 2011

Princess Maria interiors, 10.-11. February 2011 + Princess Maria in St. Petersburg, 11. February 2011

The temperature outside is +28 degrees Celsius today. To balance what is probably the warmest day of the summer, I'd like to take you back to this year's February and my cruise to St. Petersburg onboard the Princess Maria. On that trip the outside temperatures were closer to -28 degrees centigrade. Some of these images have already been featured in the April 2011 issue of Ulkomatala. For those interested (who can speak Finnish), the June issue is now out and can be read at www.ulkomatala.net.

Princess Maria

IMO 7911533
Built 1981 Wärtsilä Turku, Finland
Tonnage 34 093 GT
Length 168,05 m
Width 29 m
Draught 6,72 m
Ice class 1 A Super
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

A word of the ship's interior design is perhaps in order. The original 1981 interiors of the (then-)Finlandia were designed by Vuokko Laakso, Carita Holthoer and Ilmo Issakainen. Most of the original interiors would perhaps be best described as late-70s functionalism - with the notable exception of the focal point of the ship, the two-deck high restaurant/night club complex in front of the ship, which had a less sterile decor featuring tiffany lamps and illuminated stained glass panels on the lower level (à la carte -restaurant) and a garden-like ambience for the terrace level (buffet). With the exception of a handful of the original trellis-backed chairs in the buffet, very little of the original decor remains and the layout has been altered in places, sometimes radically.

The current decor, mostly dating from the ship's time as DFDS Seaways' Queen of Scandinavia, is fairly subdued and somewhat minimalist, avoiding the excesses of modern ferry (and cruise ship) interiors. However, some of the changes made by the current operator St. Peter Line appear uncoordinated and do not fit the overall theme of the interiors.

The following is a somewhat limited section of photography from the ship's interiors. In part this is of no fault of my own as St. Peter Line did not allow photographing in the two most interesting interior spaces, the Nemo Casino/Exporer's restaurant complex on the front of deck 7 nor the XXXX Bar night club and the adjacent smoking room on deck 8.

Princess Maria interiors photographed on 10. and 11. February 2011. Click on the individual images to view larger size.

Looking aft from the sun deck on deck 9 on the very cold morning of 11. February 2011. The windows on the right are those of conference rooms added during a refit in 1985. This forward section of the outer deck is normally out-of-bounds, but on this trip there were only very few passengers onboard as the ship was returning from a docking in Helsinki and some of the onboard restrictions were relaxed.
Un-sunny sun deck on deck 8. Had it not been for the pretty impressive entryway into St. Petersburg (and struggling through the ice), the weather would have chased any sane person indoors.
The forward stairwell, with John Walravens striking a pose. The sculpture on the left, like so many other things onboard, is a DFDS addition.
The arcade on deck 7, facing forward with the tax-free shop on the left. The plastic wicker chairs are at odds with the otherwise refined decor.
Appareantly, gambling is all the rage in Russia as slot machines were liberally sprinkled on deck 7 even outside the casino. Annoying there was even a row of slot machines and garish neon signs right in front of the large forward window in the casino/restaurant complex, rendering the beautiful window useless.
The Columbus Night Club on deck 7. This area was originally conference rooms (with the evening's entertainment taking place largely in the restaurants) but DFDS sensibly opted for a separate night club/showroom, although it must be said the layout of the room is quite generic, almost a direct copy from the Mariella of 1985.

While the place was ptractically deserted on the outbound voyage, inbound from St. Petersburg with a large number of young Russians onboard the atmosphere was amazing and the entertainment (both the evening show and the bands) was amongst the best I've ever seen onboard any ship.
The Bake & Coffee cafeteria with it's attractive DFDS-era decor (this area was originally simply an extantion of the entrance lobby). My fellow passenger Mathias Saken (of Finnjetweb fame) tells me the food sold here was both affordable and tasty (I opted for the more expensive but very nice buffet on both nights).
DFDS Seaways are responsible for the crewing of the ship and their legacy show in quite many other places on the ship. This sticker (appareantly from the days the ship was sailing between Newcastle and IJmuiden) was in the mirror of our cabin bathroom.
Time to get back onboard... Princess Maria at the Morskoy Vokzal terminalin the afternoon of 11. February 2011. The somewhat unusual point of view of this photograph was archieved by climbing on top of a big pile of snow in the quay.