28 December 2012

Baltic Princess in Helsinki, 14 December 2012

After the entries dealing with the new Finlandia, we now return to regular programming and the oft-promised entry featuring the Baltic Princess, also providing details about the route swap between the Baltic Princess and Silja Europa next year.

Baltic Princess

IMO 9354284
Built 2008, Aker Yards France / Aker Yards Helsinki, Finland
Tonnage 48 915 GT
Length 212,10 m
Width 29,00 m
Draugth 6,42 m
Ice class 1A Super
2 800 passengers
2 484 berths
600 cars
1 130 lanemetres
4 Wärtsilä diesels, combined 32 000 kW
2 propellers
2 bow thrusters
Speed 24,5 knots

For a short history of the Baltic Princess, see this previous entry on her. The photographs in this entry might very well be my last photos of her in Helsinki, as she will swap routes with the Silja Europa next year. The Silja Europa will replace the Baltic Princess on the Helsinki-Tallinn 22-hour cruise route on 23. January 2013, after which the Baltic Princess will be drydocked and she will enter service on the Turku-Stockholm run on 1. February. The ships will swap flags and crews, the Silja Europa moving under Estonian flag & crew and the Baltic Princess under Finnish flag and crew.

Sources within the company give somewhat conflicting information on what will happen to the ships in terms on names and brands. The Silja Europa will either keep her current name or be renamed Tallink Europa. She will, defiantely, be repainted with Tallink hull texts and funnel symbol. The Baltic Princess will be painted with Silja Line hull text but retaining the Tallink funnel symbol - or she will gain the Silja seal to her funnel. It will be interesting to see what the ships will look like come February.

The photographs below show the Baltic Princess at her quay in Helsinki's West Harbour on 14 December 2012. Click on the images to see them in larger size.

Lit up like a christmas tree. Very topical.
Princesses aplenty: Baltic Princess in the center and behind her on the right the Princess Maria.
Next time: possibly the Star... or then something completely different.

21 December 2012

Finlandia interiors, 20 December 2012

This is going to be the third entry in a row that says "Next time: Baltic Princess" as the end. What can I say? The Finlandia came along and stole my undivided attention. I had a chance to visit the new ship today (well, technically yesterday as it's past midnight here) and hence I can give you a sneak peek of the (not quite finished) interiors. Be warned that this entry contains a record-breaking 39 images, so the page might take a while to load.


IMO 9214379
Name history: Moby Freedom, Freedom, Finlandia
Built 2001 Daewoo Shipbuilding & Heavy Machinery Okpo, South Korea
Tonnage 36 093 GT
Length 175 m
Width 27,60 m
Draught 7 m
2080 passengers
1190 berth
665 cars
1950 lane metres
4 Wärtsilä diesels, combined 50 400 kW
2 propellers
2 bow thrusters
Speed 27 knots

On taking over of the Moby Freedom from Moby Line, Eckerö Line decided to rebuild almost the entire interior (even though the originals were in quite good condition). The new interiors are by the Finnish interior architect Bettina Ingves, who had previously worked on the interiors of both the Nordlandia and Eckerö's Eckerö-Grisslehamn ferry Eckerö. Almost all interiors are named after locations in Helsinki's West Harbour.

When viewing this entry it may also be of interest to look at the interiors of the Finlandia's sister ship Superstar, featured in a previous entry here.

Deck 8 is where almost all of the public rooms are located. In the bow there is a two-deck high observation lounge (spanning down to deck 7), Nosturi, followed by small conference room (that we could not access), the pubs Jätkäsaari and Nosturi, a shop (Bellezza), champagne bar Naissaar, buffet restaurant Eckerö and cafeteria Satama.

Nosturi as seen from the front of the space, facing starboard and aft. The area where I was standing on is the new floor added in the recent refit, originally the space was three decks high but the lowest deck was given over to the main tax-free shop and an extra-charge lounge.
A close-up of the seating.
Nosturi, looking down from the mezzanine level between decks 7 and 8. The name Nosturi (Finnish for a mechanical crane) honours a combined culture & music hall-nightclub near the Arctech Helsinki shipyard in West Harbour.
More Nosturi, looking down from deck 8.
The slightly more sedate seating area on deck 8, without a direct view of the dance floor.
The deck 8 entrance to Nosturi; don't know if this will be the final arrangement of the bar stools.
As a leftover from the Moby days, the staircases are colour-coded. Here is the forward staircase (green). From fore to aft the colours are green, yellow, red and blue.
Pub Jätkäsaari (named after the part of the city where the West Harbour is located in Helsinki) is an intimate space between Nosturi and the larger Pub Telakka. The ceiling lights are made to look like upside-down table lamps, which certainly sounded like a bizarre idea. At the moment they are still lacking lampshades.
Moving further aft, we come to Pub Telakka ("shipyard"), which will  have live music,
As you can see, Pub Telakka is decorated with an industrial theme. I'm not at all sure if I like it. Nothing against industrial themes, but the direction taken here just looks strange to me.
Close-up view of pub Telakka's chairs... which at least to me look like they're either plastic or enamelled metal.
A somewhat tastier take on the industrial theme in the corridor that passes by Pub Telakka.
In the aft end of Pub Telakka there's also a little corner for slot machines.
Moving aft from Pub Telakka we come to champagne bar Naissaar (name after an island on Estonia's north coast). Here the room is seen as we first entered, with the chairs under wraps...
And here is the same space later during the day, with nicely vibrant chairs out of their wrappings.
Not sure about the chrome chairs in the middle, but the rest of the space looks very nice. Unfortunately the floral-patter carpet is still under a semi-transparent plastic film here and not fully visible.
Naissaar wall decor next to the blue staircase entrance. The caption reads: "No other form of travel is as soothing to the nerves in these hectic times filled with competition, work and politics as a voyage by a ship" -- Carl-Eric Creutz, 1950. Naissaar was originally inhabited by Swedish-speaking people, hence the appearance of the island's Swedish name Närgö (the Swedish-speaking Estonians fled after the Soviet Union occupied Estonia during World War II).
Buffet Eckerö on the port side of the ship, across from Bar Naissaar on the starboard. The blue ceiling decorations are (supposedly at least) the sole surviving relic of the Moby era and their colour and shape informed the new decor.
More of Buffet Eckerö under wraps.
And this is what the entire space will look like when it's no longer under wraps. Fantastic, I say!
On the right are the foor counters for desserts.
The foor counters for warm foods are located in a semi-enclosed nook of their own near the front of the space. The carvery station will be at the corner seen here - I strongly suspect there will be crowding here, as there is on the Viking XPRS' buffet that has a similar segregated service room.
On the aft of deck 8 there is another double-height space, cafeteria Satama ("Harbour"). This was a sports bar on the Moby Freedom; the TV sceens from that era have been retained and apparently they will be filled with (fake) flowers. Not sure if I like that idea, but otherwise the space looks fine.
Looking down from the balcony level on deck 9. Wintertime lighting just does not look good in this space; the problem was the same when I visited the Superstar. The problem could perhaps been alleviated with more vibrant colours.
The carpets of Satama feature the coordinates of three principal harbours connected to the Finlandia: Eckerö, Helsinki and Tallinn.
Off of Satama and decorated in a similar style (albeit with different chairs; they are in fact re-upholstered Moby Freedom originals) is a multi-purpose room that can function on it's own for groups, be combined to the cafeteria or to the buffet (the grey door in the middle of the photo leads directly to the buffet).
The balcony level of Satama on deck 9. The "wooden" floor looks very neat.
Don't know why they covered some of the windows to the sun deck with leaf-pattern film, but it looks quite nice.
The sundeck in Finnish winter. Forward on deck 9 there is also an outside summer bar (Laituri, "wharf"), but in the winter cold I did not venture further.
Deck 7 is - apart from the lower level of Bar Nosturi - given entirely over to cabins.

Deck 6 had the Eckerö Market and Extra class lounge in the front, followed by the entrance vestibule and more cabins that fill most of the deck.

The Eckerö Market doesn't exactly shine with bright colours when none of the wares are yet in place. Still, it's not a bad-looking place.
At the bow there will be a "tasting station" for alcoholic drinks (hopefully other stuff as well, for the benifit of those of us who don't drink). This part of the shop was originally a part of the three-deck high forward lounge.
The price tags not matching the size of the plastic thingies they should go in and the typo in "kermalikööri" don't give a particularly good impression.
By the exit there is a large advert for Finlandia Vodka that changes colour (apparently the different colours representing different flavours).
Next to the Eckerö Market there is a separate added-cost  Extra Class lounge with additional services. The principle is the same as in other Helsinki-Tallinn ships' Business Class, but sensibly (and perhaps taking their cue from the Finnish rail operator VR) Eckerö have decided to name the class Extra to make it appealing to a wider demographic.
The abundant use of wood patterns in the walls and ceiling as well as the colour of the carpeting really makes this space resemble a sauna rather than a lounge.
Extra class unwrapped. The orange chair was lovely.
A part of the entrance vestibule, still in rather unfinished state. On the right (partially obscured by the blue movable screens) is the information booth and next to it the foor to Extra class.
Decks 4 and 5 contain the upper car deck.

Deck 3 contains the lower car deck, and since the Finlandia was berthed at a quay without normal passenger access, we also entered and exited the ship via the car deck.

In my very limited experience of car decks, this is one rather nice and clean.
A little memory of the Moby Freedom at the door to the car deck from the blue staircase.
Next time: Baltic Princess (this time for real)

19 December 2012

Finlandia in Helsinki, 18 December 2012

During a two-week period around new year, no less than three new passenger ships sailing from Finnish port will be entering service. The first of these will be Eckerö Line's new Finlandia (ex-Moby Freedom), which will enter service on the Helsinki-Tallinn run on 31 December. She will be followed by the Wasa Express (ex-Travemünde, Travemünde Link, Sally Star, Thjelvar, Color Traveller, Rostock, Betancuria) on the Vaasa-Umeå run on 4 January, and by the Viking Grace on the Turku-Stockholm run on 13 January. For the last two mentioned you will have to wait for a bit, but the Finlandia arrived in Helsinki for the first time yesterday. Of course, I went to photograph the ship.


IMO 9214379
Name history: Moby Freedom, Freedom, Finlandia
Built 2001 Daewoo Shipbuilding & Heavy Machinery Okpo, South Korea
Tonnage 36 093 GT
Length 175 m
Width 27,60 m
Draught 7 m
2080 passengers
1190 berth
665 cars
1950 lane metres
4 Wärtsilä diesels, combined 50 400 kW
2 propellers
2 bow thrusters
Speed 27 knots

(Capacity data is preliminary).

The newest (fifth overall) Finlandia begun her life as as Moby Lines' Moby Freedom. She was built in 2001 by Daewoo in South Korea as a sister ship to Moby Wonder, completed some months previously. The plans of these newbuildings (unless I'm terribly mistaking, Moby's first newbuilt ships) were drawn up by Fincantieri but for some reason unknown to me the ships were built by Daewoo instead. Fincantieri later built two slightly refined examples of the same class, Moby Aki to Moby and Superstar to Tallink.

The Moby Freedom entered service with Moby in July 2001, sailing on their routes conencting Olbia to Genoa, Civitavcchia and Livorno. She was designed for flexible operations, sailing in cruiseferry mode during weekends and the summer high season and in ropax mode with less passenger services during weekdays. Originally the Moby Freedom was painted in a fairly traditional livery with a while hul land superstructure, the Moby name painted in large blue letters and a light blue funnel. However, soon Moby entered an agreement with Warner Bros. to use their Looney Tunes characters on the Moby ships and the Moby Freedom was repainted with Bugs Bunny, Wile E. Coyote, Tasmanian Devil, Tweety, Sylvester and Daddy Duck on her sides.

After serving with Moby for a little over a decade, in February 2012 the Moby Freedom was sold to the Finnish Eckerö Line, with a delivery date in March. Once sold the ship's name was shortened to Freedom and she sailed to the Öresundsvarved in Landskrona, Sweden. The ship lay at the shipyard for two months while negotiations for her refit were carried out and eventually the refit started in May. In June Eckerö Line announced that as a result of a naming competition the ship would be renamed Finlandia.

In the beginning of November the Finlandia left Öresundsvarvet for Tallinn, where the interior refits would be continued. In 17 December the Finlandia left Tallinn for the first time for Helsinki, where she arrived in the early hours of the 18th, mooring at the South Harbour where finishing touches will be applied to her interiors in preparation for entering service on New Year's Eve.

The photographs below show the Finlandia at Helsinki South Harbour on the afternoon of 18 December 2012. Click on the images to see them in larger size.

I must admit I quite like the livery. The new Eckerö Line logo works marvellously and the application of the blue colour is well thought-out. The only thing that jars the whole a bit is the Finnish flag, but at least it's more tastefully done than has been the case on the Nordlandia. And it's almost acceptable for a ship named Finlandia.
Facing off with Viking Line's Gabriella. The two ships are actually roughtly the same size in terms of gross tons, though the Finlandia is certainly bulkier.
Although you would think the notes on the bow are from Jean Sibelius' Finlandia, they are in fact the opening notes of the Finnish national anthem Maamme. Which is a bit lame, Finlandia would have been far more suitable. Interestingly, the notes continue on the other side of the ship and hence the two sides are not identical.
Couldn't resist a bit of panoramic fiddling.
Finnish winter, South Harbour at 5 PM and it's pitch dark. A shame they only put on the lights illuminating the side of the ship at this point, when I was already far too froster to go back and take more photographs from a bow-view.
Next time: Baltic Princess.

14 December 2012

Princess Maria in Helsinki, 14 December 2012

If you came here through a link with a previous picture you are probably thinking "didn't I just see a night photo of the Princess Maria in this same blog?". And indeed you did. However, since the last update (this morning, in fact) I got a new camera to replace my well-served but completely worn-out Canon EOS 350D. And of course I had to head out to test the new machine. So, the photographs below are the first taken by my new (well, second-hand) EOS 500D camera. If you compare the image quality to the old Princess Maria night photos, I think you'll agree it was a worthy investment.

Princess Maria

IMO 7911533
Name history: Finlandia, Queen of Scandinavia, Princess Maria
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

Nothing really to say about the Princess Maria that wouldn't have been said in the previous entry. Still a strangely stylish ship on the outside and one of the best ferry cruise products I have seen on the inside. I really ought to sail on this ship again in the future (although that is a bit unlikely, with all the new ships and changes due in 2013 - I will probably have my year well and truly occupied with the new Viking Grace, the "new" Finlandia and Wasa Express and the new routes of the Baltic Princess and Silja Europa).

But yes, the photographs below show the Princess Maria at Länsiterminaali (West Terminal) at Helsinki's West Harbour in the afternoon (yes, afternoon, despite the lighting conditions) of 14 December 2012. Click on the images to see them in larger size.

Since it's a new camera and night photos are particularly difficult to edit afterwards, I did almost no changes to the originals the machine delivered. But just look at that precision!
A close-up from a slightly different point of view.
By the time I walked across the bay (and took some photos of the Baltic Princess before returning to the Princess Maria) it had started snowing; hence the fog-like atmosphere of the photo.
Next time: Baltic Princess

08 December 2012

Karolin in Helsinki, 6 May 2011

It's been a while since a new ship was featured in this blog. Even with the summer cruise calls, there are only a finite amount of ship that call in Helsinki (and even with my occasional travels, the vast majority of photos featured here are from Hki). There is however a ship that calls regularly in Helsinki's South Harbour that I have not - for some reason - never feaured before: Linda Line's Karolin.


IMO 9124433
Name history: Caraibe Jet, Polarstern, Karolin
Built 2000, International Shipyards Henderson, Australia
Tonnage 636 GT
Length 45,40 m
Width 12,32 m
Draught 2,02 m
354 passengers
4 MTU diesels, combined 7 840 kW
4 KaMeWa waterjets
Service speed 37 knots

The Karolin was originally ordered by Oceanfast Ferries under the name Caraibe Jet from the International Shipyards in Henderson, Western Australia. However, soon after the ship's sea trials in November 1995, Oceanfast went bankrupt. The unfinished Caraibe Jet was left at the shipyard, awaiting her fate. It was only five years later, in October 2000, that the Caraibe Jet was completed. Later during the same month she was sold to the German operator AG Ems. However, the ship required rebuilding to meet AG Ems' needs, and it was not until March 2001 that the ship was delivered to her owners. In the interim she had been renamed Polarstern.

In April 2001 the Polarstern entered service along Germany's North Sea coast on the route Papenburg-Ditzum-Emden-Emshaven-Borkum. At times the service was extended from Borkum to Helgoland. In September 2008 the Polarstern was sold to the Estonian fast ferry operator Linda Line. According to Fakta om Fartyg, the sale took place soon after the ship had suffered some damage during a particularly stormy crossing from Helgoland, but I do not know if this had any effect on the sale. Those interested in the history of Linda Line, there is a concise account in this entry about the Merilin.

The Polarstern was renamed Karolin in November 2008 (continuing Linda Line's tradition of using Estonian female names for their ships), but she did not enter service until after the winter lay-up period in April 2009. Since then the Karolin has continued in service between Helsinki and Tallinn alongside the Merilin - naturally with winter layups for the times when fast ferries cannot operate due to the sea ice.

The photographs below show the Karolin arriving in Helsinki South Harbour on the afternoon on 6 May 2011 via the southernly Särkkä shipping lane that is too shallow and narrow for most ships to use today. Click on the images to see them in larger size.

The Karolin is actually quite a neat little thing. Though at a quick glance she resembles the Merilin, the pair are actually quite different.
As with the Merilin, Linda Line didn't change the livery of the Karolin from what she carried with her previous owners. Fortunately, the Karolin looks much better than the all-red Merilin.
Passing in front of Klippan (or Luoto, if you want to use the rarely-used Finnish name), with St. Peter Line's Princess Anastasia outbound in the background.
South Harbour calling.