21 April 2016

Pearl Seaways interiors, 14 April 2016

Pearl Seaways

IMO 8701674
Name history: Athena, Star Aquarius, Langkapuri Star Aquarius, Pearl of Scandinavia, Pearl Seaways
Built 1989, Wärtsilä Marine Turku, Finland
Tonnage 40 039 GT
Length 178,40 m
Width 29,61 m
Draught 6,50 m
2 200 passengers
2 166 berths
320 cars
1 008 lanemeters
4 Wärtsilä-Sulzer diesels, combined 23 730 kW
2 propellers
2 bow thrusters
Speed 21 knots

Even though this is the first time the Pearl Seaways is featured on this blog, I decided I won't be explaining the history of the ship for you, as I normally would in such a situation. Instead, I would like to say a few words about what sailing with DFDS was like.

This wasn't the first time I've sailed with DFDS, of course. I was on the Princess of Scandinavia shortly before she was withdrawn from service (interior photos from that ship here), and I've always remembered that trip fondly as one of the best ferry crossings I have ever undertaken. I was eager to see if DFDS had kept up their quality.

They had. The Pearl Seaways was, quite simply put, the best ferry I have sailed on in terms of service (except, perhaps, for the much-missed Silja Opera, but then again she wasn't technically a ferry anyway). The interiors were quite swish, but more important was the service quality. Table service for drinks at the night club and the buffet is something my local Baltic Sea ferries do not offer (not to mention a pot of coffee brought to your table at breakfast!). And when I asked the staff if it was okay to photograph the restaurant spaces when they were empty, the answer was "of course!" A certain ferry operator sailing from Finland should take notes.

I was boring and only ate at the buffet. The selection was perhaps not as extensive as, for example, on the ships of Viking Line, but the quality of what was on offer more than made up for it. Not to mention the fact there was a proper vegetarian option. In that respect, all the ferry operators from my home waters should take notes. I ate at the first seating, but that was very much a mistake: sailing from Copenhagen you have the wonderful views at Öresund (and sailing from Oslo the Oslofjord), which really should be enjoyed from the outer deck with a camera. So my recommendation is to go and eat only after passing the twin cities of Helsingborg/Helsingør.

Not everything onboard was perfect. The buffet had no dessert plates, there were intrusive announcements in the cabins and the beds (or at least my bed) lacked mattress toppers, making them quite uncomfortable. I was also rather surprised and disappointed that DFDS' 150th anniversary book was not sold onboard.

But, even with the little criticism, still the best ferry experience I've had. And it was certainly fascinating so see an old Viking Line ferry in a completely new guise.

Now, onwards to the photos. All were taken onboard the Pearl Seaways in the afternoon or evening of 14 April 2016. As per the usual, click on the images to see them in larger size.

Deck 11 has suites forward (added in a recent refit), a lounge exclusively for the use of Commodore Class passengers, conference rooms and an outdoors bar aft. I didn't venture into the conference rooms for photographing as there was a sign "for conference guests only" on the door.

This used to be a forward-facing sun deck, until the suites - the structure right in front of us in this photo - were added in 2014 (I think). The suites are only accessible via the outer deck, so all in all this is a very strange addition (especially as there seem to be underutilised spaces lower down on the ship, where the suites could have been more practically added).
The Sky Bar aft on deck 11. Notice the funnel, in DFDS' new dark blue colours. I rather like them, but alas the trip didn't give decent chances to photograph the ship from the outside.
Deck 10 is given over exclusively to cabins, but there are also jacuzzis on the outer deck aft (presumably a relic from the ship's time as a cruise ship). My cabin happened to be on this deck.

The forward staircase, photographed from the 10th deck langing up towards deck 11. I like the nautical photos, but I'm a bit disappointed they aren't ones of DFDS' own old ships (although there are several of those, as well as models of old DFDS ships, on the public room decks).
A blast from the past: the cabin corridors look like they haven't been altered since 1989, except for the cabin doors which have been painted white. Most of them seem to be original panelled doors, although some have been changed into non-panelled ones. The mix of the two looks a bit cheap, and in general the cabin corridors and not up to the same standards as the rest of the ship.
Blast from the past, part 2. Notice how the colour of the bed headboard matches the corridor walls outside.
The jacuzzi aft. The one on port side was in use, so I photographed this one. I quite regretted not packing swimwear.
Deck 9 has more cabins and the navigation bridge.

Deck 8 is the upper of the main public room decks, with four restaurants (Blue Riband, Marco Polo, Little Italy and Explorer's), three bars (Navigators Bar, Red+White and Champagne Bar) and a night club (Columbus Club).

Blue Riband is a banquet space reserved for large groups at the forward end of deck eight. It really feels like a waste of space, the best views on the ship and the space is not normally in use.
Blue Riband in flanked by two different speciality restaurants on either side. Little Italy - you guessed it, an italian restaurant, is on the starboard side.
While the port side has the Marco Polo fine dining restaurant.
Aft of Marco Polo is this weird space, originally (when the ship was Viking Line's Athena) this was the gournet restaurant Safir. Now it seems to function as an overspill space for Marco Polo.
The two-deck atrium spanning from deck seven and eight is rather nice.
Explorer's steakhouse is amidship on deck eight, in the area originally occupied by the ship's buffet restaurant.
For some reason, one table - but only one - had the dannebrog on display. I had to document it, of course.
This - I think - is the Navigators Bar. But I'm not 100% certain, as DFDS didn't provide a deck plan and I didn't photograph the ones on the walls (which were very good), so this could also be the Champagne Bar.
The Columbus Club had absolutely superb views. I wonder if the coloured lights on the ceiling above the dance floor are original?
Most chairs in the space were dark, except a few in the aft starboard corner that were purple. These were identical apart from the colour, but still they seemed to be the most popular seats in the club.
Deck 7 has the buffet restaurant forward, followed by the atrium, a casino, cafeteria and some cabins amidships, and the Sea Shop aft. The atrium was, of course, originally the ship's entrance lobby, but today only the entrances on deck five are used in both ports.

7 Seas buffet (note that it's written with a numeral, not "Seven Seas") looks quite neat and probably has the best views of all spaces onboard. The double height right at the front is a nice bonus.
Another 7 Seas shot. The servery areas are in the background on the left.
I'll spare you the food photos, but I just wanted to share this eminently civilized coffee pot that was brought to my table as if by magic.
Baresso Coffee, with the entrance to the tax-free shop in the background.
Deck 6 has the bubble zone pool and sauna area forward, followed by cabins.

Deck 5 has more cabins, as well as the entrance lobby.

Deck 3 and 4 are the car decks.

(Deck 2 had additional cabins when the ship was new, but these don't seem to be in passenger use anymore. I don't complain.)

Kships will return.


  1. Satunnainen risteilijä14 June, 2016 16:41

    Quality seems to be very expensive..

    Just sailed OSL-CPH last weekend and note from "satunnainen risteilijä" from Finalnd is that DFDS is awfully expensive.

    In that route they are sailing outside from EU to Norway and company get real tax free for their products. Still their prices are far from this planet.

    For example Heineken beer case (24 can) price is approximately 19 EUR at Tax Free. What?! That is high price if you are making comparison for example with HEL-STO ferries who keep about same price BUT they have to pay taxes to Finland or Sweden!

    Buffet price includes one drink. They gave me a small bottle of Heineken. Come on. Your buffet price is 42 EUR and you can't give nothing but one small free drink.. And last but not least. If you are paying with credit card as most people do nowdays they add "Credit card fee" to your bill. It is small fee, but still. I'm understanding that quality is expensive but "jotain rajaa" limits just filled up with DFDS.

    Otherwise the ship is very clean and the crew is very friendly but those prices.. I can recommend this ship but keep in mind that it must be the most expensive ferry in the world :D

    1. I don't actually drink alcohol so I cannot comment on the prices for those. However, I would like to point out that, thanks to the special status of Åland within the EU taxation system, the Helsinki-Stockholm ferries don't pay tax either.