03 July 2012

Azamara Journey in Helsinki, 15 June 2012

We continue "The R Week" with Azamara Club Cruises' Azamara Journey. Previously featured in this series was the Ocean Princess, to come are (at least) the Nautica and Columbus 2.

Azamara Journey

IMO 9200940
Former names: R Six, Blue Dream
Built 2000, Chantiers de l'Atlantique St. Nazaire, France
Tonnage 30 277 GT
Length 181,00 m
Width 25,46 m
Draugth 5,80 m
826 passengers (maximum)
4 Wärtsilä diesels, combined 13 500 kW
2 propellers
2 bow thrusters
Speed 18 knots

Azamara Journey was originally built as the R Six (as is evident from the name), the sixth ship in Renaissance Cruises' eight-strong R-class. After Renaissance Cruises' brankruptcy in October 2001 the ship, like her sisters, was laid up; first in Gibraltar and then in Marseille. After almost two years of inactivity the ship was chartered in June 2003 to Pullmantur Cruises of Spain, joining her sister R Five. Both R Five and R Six retained their original names but were marketed as the "Blue Dream" and "Blue Star", respectively. In 2005 the R Six was (confusingly) renamed Blue Dream, the R Five "Blue Dream" having passed to Oceania Cruises as the Nautica. (Don't worry, this will get even more confusing...)

Pullmantur Cruises was acquired in 2005 by Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. In 2006 Pullmantur purchased both the Blue Dream and her sister Delphin Renaissance (ex-R Seven), that was now renamed Blue Moon. However, soon after this the decision was made to transfer the Blue Dream and Blue Moon within the Royal Caribbean companies to Celebrity Cruises, to join the Celebrity Xpeditions sub-brand. Presumably the ships would have been renamed Celebrity Journey and Celebrity Quest, but this never came to pass as instead a new separate sub-brand of Celebrity Cruises, Azamara Cruises, was created for the two ships. Perhaps the decision to create a new brand was due to the success of Oceania Cruises, operating three other R-class ships, as many observers noted that early on the Azamara brand was essentially undistinguishable from the Oceania brand.

The Blue Dream left the Pullmantur fleet in May 2007, becoming Azamara Cruises' first ship Azamara Journey, cruising on world-wide itineraries. Six months later she was joined by Blue Moon, now renamed Azamara Quest. In 2010 Azamara Cruises got a new CEO, Larry Pimentel, and subsequently the company was rebranded as Azamara Club Cruises with a new logo and slightly altered livery. Internally the ships were partially refitted and the cruise product was made more distinct from that of Oceania Cruises. (For those interested, you can see the Azamara Journey in the original Azamara livery for instance here).

The photographs below show the Azamara Journey passing through the Kustaanmiekka Strait on 15 June 2012, shortly after departing Helsinki South Harbour. Click on the individual images to view in larger size.

Inbound to Kustaanmiekka on Kruunuvuorenselkä.
Compared to the Ocean Princess, the more colourful funnel symbol is definately an improvement. As is the company logo on the hull and the blue stripe demarking the hull from the superstructure.
I'm also a big, big fan of the black-painted window frames of the bridge, it gives the ship a much more sleek appearance.
Notice that the tenders have little blue stripes on them in the same hue as the stripe on the ship - a very neat little detail.
Outbound. Unfortunately I didn't get too many good photographs from this direction due to the Costa Voyager passing hot on the heels of the Azamara Journey - the Voyager was on her first Helsinki visit and hence naturally got a priority.

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