31 January 2016

Prinsendam in Helsinki, 27 August 2015


IMO 8700280
Name history: Royal Viking Sun, Seabourn Sun, Prinsendam
Built 1988, Wärtsilä Marine Turku New Shipyard, Finland
Tonnage 37 983 GT
Length 205,50 m
Width 28,90 m
Draugth 7,20 m
840 passengers
4 Wärtsilä-Sulzer diesels, combined 21 120 kW
2 propellers
2 bow thrusters
Speed 22 knots

Holland America Line's Prinsendam remains one of my favourite ships in terms of exterior design. So here's some more photos of her, taken as she passes through the Kustaanmiekka strait on the afternoon of 27 August 2015. For a brief history of the ship, see this enty on her. And as per the usual, click on the images to see the ship in larger size.

In addition to the ship herself looking great, the black-hulled livery rather superb.
After complimenting her looks, I have to say the additions to her aft superstucture do not improve her looks at all.

22 January 2016

Baltic Queen in Helsinki, 22 January 2016

Since I took these pictures of the Silja Europa three years back, I've been on the lookout for good weather at the same time of the month to get more photos in the same vein. 2014 never gave me the weather needed, in 2015 sunny days arrived too late... but today in 2016 was perfect, resulting in images that are arguably better than the Silja Europa ones from three years ago.

Baltic Queen

IMO 9443255
Built 2009, STX Europe Rauma, Finland
Tonnage 48 915 GT
Length 212,10 m
Width 29,00 m
Draught 6,42 m
Ice class 1A Super
2 800 passengers
2 500 berths
600 cars
1 130 lanemeters
4 Wärtsilä diesels, combined 32 000 kW
2 propellers
2 bow thrusters
Speed 24,5 knots

Nothing new to say about the Baltic Queen, really. Her history is quite succint: she was delivered in 2009 for the Tallinn-Stockholm run, on which she stayed (excepting occasional deputising on the Turku-Stockholm route) until 2014, when she moved to the Helsinki-Tallinn 22 hour cruise circuit, replacing the Silja Europa. The latter ship is due to return to the Tallink fleet, and the Helsinki-Tallinn route, later this spring, but she will joint the route as a fouth vessel and as such will not be replacing the Baltic Queen.

The photographs below show the Baltic Queen arriving at Helsinki Länsisatama (West Harbour) on the afternoon of 22 January 2016. Photographed from Hernesaari. Click on the images to see them in larger size.

Peeking from behind Pihlajasaari.
The Baltic Queen's livery is my personal favourite of the Galaxy-class. The added blue and orange stripes really improve the ship's looks compared to the Baltic Princess.
Not only did we have ice and a neat sunset, but also a decent amount of sea smoke.
The columns of water vapour were really quite magical.
A lightly different point of view.
Then the ship moved a bit further from the sun and the whole colour palette changed.
Ice ice baby.
I love how you can see the livery, just in different shades from normal.
Next time: I'll do my best to make the next update next week, but after the recent track record I'm not making any promises on what it will be about.

16 January 2016

Polaris in Helsinki, 9 January 2016

I know I've been promising to do an entry about the Princess Anastasia for some time, but this is not it either. I looked at the summery photos of her and then the showy landscape outside, and decided we should have some wintery pictures instead. So here is the under-construction new Finnish icebreaker Polaris.


IMO 9734161
Built 2016, Arctech Helsinki Shipyard, Finland
Tonnage c. 10 000 GT
Length 110,00 m
Width 24,00 m
Draugth 8,00 m
24 crew
4 Wärtsilä diesels, combined 21 000 kW
3 azipods (two stern, one bow)
Speed 16 knots

The Polaris is – or more accurately, will be – the first icebreaker built for Finland during the 21st century. Her genesis was somewhat complex: in 2012, the Finnish parliament allocated funds for the construction of a new icebreaker designed specifically for icebreaking on the Baltic Sea (instead of a multipurpose unit designed as a combination icebreaker-oil drilling supply vessel like the three Finnish icebreakers built during the 1990s), that would also be equipped as an oil spill combat vessel. Furthermore, it was decided that the new icebreaker would be owned by the Finnish Transport Agency (Liikennevirasto), with the idea that her operations could be tendered and thus the costs of icebreaking diminished from the current situation, where the state-owned Arctia Shipping holds a virtual monopoly in providing icebreakers. There were also claims the arrangement came about due to ideological reasons, as a means to stop the new icebreaker from being used as a support vessel for oil drilling in the arctic areas – at the time, the ministers in charge of state companies and transport were Heidi Hautala of the Green Party and Merja Kyllönen of the Left Alliance, respective, and both their parties were opposed to the use of Finnish ships in this use.

Regardless, in November 2013 Arctech Helsinki Shipyard was awarded the contract for building the new icebreaker. Then, just three days later, the contract was withdrawn, as it turned out the shipyard did not have nescessary during-construction funding. A second round of tenders was arranged, in which Arctech again emerged victorious in January 2014. Subsequently, political turmoil in the Finnish parliament resulted in both the Green Party and Left Alliance leaving the cabinet coalition during 2014. The duties of the ministers in charge of state companies and transport were now assured by Sirpa Paatero of the Social Democratic Party and Paula Risikko of the National Coalition, respectively. The new ministers decided that ownership of icebreakers was not a part of the Finnish Transport Agency's portfolio, and the Agency was adviced to seek a buyer for the under-construction icebreaker in early 2015. In March, an agreement was signed to sell the new icebreaker to Arctia Shipping immediately following delivery.

These complex machinations aside, the ship's keel was laid on 4 March 2015, which also happened to be 150th anniversary of the shipyard. She was named Polaris on 11 December 2015 by Paula Risikko (now the Second Deputy Speaker of the Parliament of Finland). The name, a departure from both the tradition of giving icebreakers Finnish-language names and the -ica suffixed names of the multipurpose icebreakers, was chosen by public competition (personally, I suggested the traditional Finnish-language names Tarmo ["vigour"] and Murtaja ["breaker"], but apparently such names will not return). The ship was floated out on 3 January 2016 and will be delivered during the coming months.

The photographs below show the Polaris at the outfitting quay of Arctech Helsinki Shipyard on the afternoon of 9 January 2016 (yes, afternoon. You wouldn't believe how early it gets dark in Finland during the winter). Click on the images to see them in larger size.

A close-up view. The asymmetric bridge means the ship needs less crew to operate her than would otherwise be the case.
An overview of the shipyard area with the Polaris. I must say the personally I think the name is a bit unfortunate - especially as the ship is specifically designed for the Baltic Sea, not the Polar areas. The genral opinion seems to be that she would have been better off with a traditional Finnish-language name.
Hey, I did include the promised Princess Anastasia in this entry, as that's her in the background.
Next time: Judging from the recent track record, I shouldn't make any promises. Possible either photos of the float-out of the Mein Schiff 5, or something (such as the Princess Anastasia) from last summer.

08 January 2016

New book with an article from me: Perspectives on the Development of Cruise Travel

Today, I received my author's copies of the 2015 yearbook of the Forum Marinum maritime museum. Last year, they ran an exhibition on the development on cruising in Finland. As I had researched the subject for my Master's Thesis, I helped gather material for the exhibition and to provided an article for the yearbook. (The exhibit is actually still open for two days, until 10 January, if anyone reading hasn't yet visited and can make it to Turku, Finland by Sunday).

Perspectives on the Development of Cruise Travel has numerous articles about both proper cruising and ferry cruising in the Finnish context.

My contribution to the book is essentially an abbreviated version of my master's thesis, outlining the attempts by the Finnish shipping companies Finnlines and Effoa to run proper cruises on both the Finnish and international market between the years 1965 and 1980. In addition to covering the realised cruise service (cruise service with the Nili, Finnpartner, Bore Star and Finnstar by Finnlines, as well as the Ilmatar and Regina by Effoa), the article also looks at the abortive cruise attempts of the era, such as Finnlines' unrealised Finncruiser newbuilding project, which served as a template for the first-generation newbuildings of Royal Caribbean Cruise Line and Royal Viking Line.

There are seven other articles in the book, on a wide variety of subjects related to cruising in the Finnish context. These range from a look at the development on passenger ship interiors to a travelogue from a cruise with the most successful Finnish cruise ship of all time, the Kristina Regina. Personally, I find Pauli Kivistö's article on the cruise operations of Rederi Ab Sally particularly interesting (and also a perfect companion piece to my own article).

Perspectives on the Development of Cruise Travel is 180 pages, with trilingual text in Finnish, Swedish and English. The book is limited edition and should be available to buy from both Forum Marinum's physical museum shop, as well as the webshop of Trafiikki museums (though it does not appear to be available on the latter website yet).

03 January 2016

Silja Serenade interiors, 17 February 2014

I guess it's nescessary to start with the traditional apologies for the lack of updates recently. My goal was to update the blog once a week, starting from November, and there was a grand total of one entry in all of December. In addition to Christmas, I was busy working simultaneously with not just one but two issues of Ulkomatala (a  Christmas special, which you can read from the magazine's website - presuming that you speak Finnish - and the next proper issue, which will come out in two days). I'm not sure how regular updates will be in the future either, as I've received a research grant for a book on the history of Finnish shipbuilding and I'm starting as a regular contributor with Cruise Business Review. But weekly updates still remain the goal, and hopefully I'll also achive that somewhat more frequently.

Silja Serenade

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

The Silja Serenade was at Rauma last November for a few weeks being refitted. These photos are not from that particular refit, but rather taken after her February 2014 refit, which started the current renewal cycle for the Silja Serenade and Silja Symphony. I did not post these here immediately after the refit, as shots from the session were featured both in my 2014 book, Silja Line from De Samseglande to Tallink, and in Ulkomatala. It's high time these get featured here, too. Most of the photos are of the refitted spaces and as such they are the current interiors of the ship.

All photos are from the press tour of the refitted ship on 17 February 2014. As per the usual, click on the images to see them in larger size.

Deck 13 houses the bridge as well as New York Club & Lounge, an observation lounge around the funnel.

Deck 12 has the main sun deck, and the Sunflower Oasis Sauna and pool complex around the base of the funnel.

Sunflower Oasis' pool area was one of the spaces completely refitted. Seen here is, according to the compamny, the largest jacuzzi on the Baltic.
I have to say I find the new interiors a bit blad, too much white and not enough colour. Sure, the original had terrible plexiglass rocks, but also some quite nice streamline moderne -inspired furnishings and teak furniture - I kind of miss those.
At least at the time the actual saunas, as well as the dressing rooms, were in original appearance. If I've understood correctly, the dressing rooms have since been rebuilt - which is a good thing, they rather clashed with the new look of the pool area.
Deck 11 is dedicated exclusively to cabins.

Deck 10 houses a dedicated Commodore Class lounge forward, alongside more cabins. The Silja Serenade was the second ship to introduce the "ship within a ship" class concept now popular wth cruise ships, and the first newbuilt ship to do so (the first was the Finnjet after her 1986 refit).

The redecorated Commodore Lounge. This was the first time the area was given a proper makeover - so after 24 years it was high time!
Deck 9 is, again, dedicated to cabins. Forward are three junior suites added in the 2014 refit, which replaced the conference suites previously located there.

If I remember correctly, the interior architect for the suites was Marjut Nousiainen. Each suite is themed; here is the bedroom of Spring...
...the sitting area of Summer...
...and the sitting area of Autumn. As you can see, the main differentiating factor is the colour of the upholstery and carpets.
Deck 8 has the upper storey of the Atlantis Palace showlounge complex forward, followed by more cabins.

Deck 7 is the ship's heart, with the promenade (horizontal atrium) running through it, lined by shops, restaurants and bars. The forward half of the promenade was rebuilt in the 2014 refit, with the aft parts following in 2015.

View of the promenade from the entrance to Atlantis Palace, facing aft.
The gift shop added in the 2014 refit.
Kids & Toys replaced the previous Trend Shop in the 2014 refit.
Deck 6 houses conference rooms forward, followed by the Tavolata Italian restaurant, the Tax Free Superstore and the Grande Buffet. Apart from the conference rooms, all spaces on this deck were rebuilt in the 2014 refit.

The conference area as it appeared in 2014. At least the conference lobby was completely rebuilt in the 2015 refit. I'm not sure if all conference rooms were given the same treatment.
I admit my first reaction to Tavolata was "not another Italian restaurant!", but the food surprised me very pleasantly. As for the interiors... well, I like subtle use of the colours of the Italian flag, but it does lack that something. Now sure what, but something.
The new Tax Free Superstore encompasses the old main tax-free shop, Orient Café and parts of Bistro Maxime.
The crew were still hard at work putting everything in the correct locations when we were onboard, normally there aren't piles of cardboard boxes laying around.
The new layout emulates that of airport duty free stores, which is a very nice change from the old grocery store -style layout. This is in part by nescessity, as the only route through deck six now passes through the tax free shop.
The buffet restaurant, aft on deck six, was completely rebuilt. The entrance, seen here, has been opened up beautifully.
The servery areas were rebuilt, but remain in the island-type arrangement, with the exception of the servery area for main courses. I'm somewhat surprised the latter wasn't extended, as it's long been the bottleneck of the whole space.
While the new look of the sitting areas has been criticized, I really very much like the vibrant colours and simple forms.
In fact, I like it so much that here's another photo.
At the time of this visit, Deck 5 housed a spa forward and cabins aft. In the 2015 refit, the spa was converted to a large children's playroom and ice cream bar.

Decks 3 & 4 house the ship's car deck and crew cabins.

Deck 2 has economy-class cabins forward and technical spaces aft.

Next time: probably the Princess Anastasia.