28 July 2016

Caledonian Isles in Brodick, 2 June 2016

Teijo Niemelä, mister Cruise Business Review, is currently on the Aegean onboard the Celestyal Crystal (ex-Sally Albatross, Leeward, Silja Opera etc) and will provide Kships' first guest entry later, with a tour of the fascinating ship's interiors. But, while waiting for that, we'll return to the land of lochs and misty moors, and take a look at Caledonian MacBrayne's Caledonian Isles.

Caledonian Isles

IMO 9051284
Built 1993, Richards Lovestoft, United Kingdom
Tonnage 5 221 GT
Length 94,28 m
Width 15,80 m
Draugth 3,15 m
1 000 passengers
110 cars
150 lanemeters
2 Mirrlees diesels, combined 4 265 kW
2 propellers
2 bow thrusters
Speed 15 knots

The Caledonian Isles was built in 1993 to replace the Isle of Arran (detailed in my previous Scotland entry) on the Ardrossan-Brodick route. The ship was named in May 1993 by Princess Anne and was due to enter service for the 1993 summer season, but due to a computer error its entry into service was delayed until August. Even then, the ship suffered serious teething problems, before settling comfortably on the route. Very comfortably in fact, as it has remained sailing on the same service until the present.

The photos below show the Caledonian Isles arriving at Brodick on 2 June 2016, photographed from Brodick. As per the usual, click on the images to see them in larger size.

Notice that the progressive Scots have wind turbines, whereas in Finland they are vehemently opposed as they "destroy the culture landscape" (even though, by definition, "culture landscape" is a landscape where the effects of humans are visible).
The lighting was not perfect, but since these are my only photos of the ship (thus far) I'm going to do with it.
Interestingly, the ship is not in the standard CalMac colours; the masts should be buff yellow and the lifeboat davits the same light turquise shade as the ventilation equipment on the forward deck. It's quite interesting that the ship has retained this nonstandard livery of 23 years.
Nice background, but the lighting...
Next time: If all goes to plan, the Celestyal Crystal.

19 July 2016

Viking XPRS in Helsinki, 19 July 2016

A few days ago, my friend and ship photographer extraordinnaire Marko Stampehl suggested we could visit Vallisaari, the former military island outside Helsinki opened for public this year, and photograph the morning arrivals and departures to Eteläsatama (South Harbour). This proved slightly more challenging than it first sounds, as the first waterbus of the morning arrives so late that you miss all but one ship. But thanks to a little help from my friends this was sorted out. The result were a bunch of really excellent images. Since these are both great and were "hard to get", I will deviate from my unwritten rule of not including more than six (exterior) photos per entry.

Viking XPRS

IMO 9375654
Built 2008, Aker Yards Helsinki, Finland
Tonnage 35 778 GT
Length 186,71 m
Width 27,70 m
Draugth 6,75 m
Ice class 1A Super
2 500 passengers
732 berths
230 cars
1 000 lanemeters
4 Wärtsilä diesels, combined 40 000 kW
2 propellers
2 bow thrusters
1 stern thruster
Speed 25 knots

 For a short history of the Viking XPRS, see this entry (which is actually somewhat out of date; since 2014 the ship has sailed under the Estonian flag). But, onwards to the photos! The first bunch below show the Viking XPRS arriving at Helsinki Eteläsatama (South Harbour) in the morning of 19 July 2016. Photographed from Aleksanterinpatteri (the Alexander Battery) at Vallisaari. Click on the images to see in larger size.

Passing the Harmaja lighthouse and pilot station.
Maybe a bit too tight crop in this one, but alas it's too late to go back now...
In addition to the otherwise splendid view, I like the fact I got to photograph her "parade side" with the large round window (that, disappointingly, isn't actually double-height on the other side). Usually I get to photograph her evening arrival, which means the other side in the one with decent light.
The Viking Grace -style hull stripes were added in 2014 (if I remember correctly). These are actually the first daylight photos of the Viking XPRS I've put up here since they were applied.
Very mmm!
Archipelago, ship, foreground vegetation... what more could a person ask?
She looks so tiny in this view.
Alas, the chances for photographing her rear were less good, due to the extensive vegetation.
For the ship's departure, approximately 1½ hours later, we relocated down to the waterline right next to the narrowest part of the Kustaanmiekka strait. Alas, the ship was partially in the shade due to the occasional clouds you can see in the photos above. So I've chosen only two photos as representatives of the latter part of the session.

The clouds do make for an impressive background though.
A slight change of point of view from the earlier photos.
Kships will return.

12 July 2016

Berlin in Helsinki, 12 July 2016

I particularly like these entries with titles "City name in City name", and unless you know we're talking about ships it just makes no sense whatever.


IMO 7904889
Name history: Berlin, Princess Mahsuri, Berlin, Orange Melody, Spirit of Adventure, FTI Berlin, Berlin
Built 1980, HDW Kiel, West Germany
Tonnage 9 570 GT
Length 139,30 m
Width 17,51 m
Draugth 4,98 m
352 passengers
352 berths
2 MaK diesels, combined 7 060 kW
2 propellers
1 bow thruster
Speed 18,3 knots

I last photographed this ship back in 2011, when it was still known as the Spirit of Adventure, sailing for the cruise line with the same name. Since it's been a while and the ship has changed names twice, it's time to update the history from the earlier entry.

The Berlin, as the ship was also originally known, was ordered in 1979 by a consortium of owners. The main figure behind ordering the ship was Peter Deilmann, but he only had a minority share in the ship. Deilmann had previously operated coastal ships from West Germany to Denmark and East Germany, but in 1979 he decided to enter the cruise business. In addition to the share in the Berlin, Deilmann acquired a second-hand cruise ship, the Regina Maris.

It appears that the Berlin, when delivered in 1980, did not join the Regina Maris in Deilmann's cruise line but was instead chartered to Neckermann Seereisen. In 1982 the Berlin was chartered to Blue Funnel Cruises and renamed Princess Mahsuri (the next year the Regina Maris was sold and Peter Deilmann was briefly without a cruise ship). In 1985 the Princess Mahsuri returned from the charter and begun cruising for Peter Deilmann for the first time, reverting to the original name Berlin. In late 1986 the ship was lenghtened by 17 metres at Werft Nobiskrug in Rendsburg, West Germany.

The Berlin spent twenty years in Peter Deilmann service, being joined in 1998 by the new Deutschland. During the ship's time with Deilmann it was also one of the ships featured in Das Traumschiff, the German version of The Love Boat. In 2005 the Berlin was sold to Saga Shipping, but did not enter service with Saga Cruises. Instead, it was chartered to the Russian cruise operator Metropolis Tur for a year as the Orange Melody.

Saga Cruises had until this point concentrated on a somewhat exclusive market, as only people aged 50 and over were allowed onboard their ship. However, when in 2006 Carnival Corporation made public their intention to close down their Swan Hellenic expedition brand, Saga Cruises saw a market opening for their latest acquisition. A new cruise line named Spirit of Adventure was founded and the Orange Melody, when returned from the Metropolis Tur charter in 2006, was renamed Spirit of Adventure. Unlike Saga Cruises, Spirit of Adventure Cruises adopted a more conventional age limit of 21. Apparently the Spirit of Adventure venture was a success, and in 2009 the Spirit of Adventure was reported to soon be replaced by Saga Cruises' next acquisition, Transocean Tours' Astoria, that was to become the Quest for Adventure.

However, the bankruptcy of the Astoria's owner Club Cruise put a spanner in the works. Saga eventually acquired the Astoria, but several months later than intended and in the interim it had been decided to use her as a replacement for the Saga Rose (that had to be withdrawn due to SOLAS 2010). The Astoria therefore became the Saga Pearl II and the Spirit of Adventure continued sailing for Spirit of Adventure Cruises. In 2012 the "new" Saga Sapphire was delivered and the Saga Pearl II transferred to Spirit of Adventure Cruises as the Quest for Adventure (as planned back in 2009), replacing the Spirit of Adventure.

The Spirit of Adventure had already found a buyer in the form of the German tour operator FTI, who now entered the cruise business under the name FTI Cruises. Their new and for the time being only ship was named FTI Berlin. This name was short-lived, as in 2014 the ship reverted back to plain Berlin. Which, personally, I think is great. And the fact the ship has been named Berlin on three separate occasions in quite interesting.

(As a final note: in the 2011 entry I noted that the ship would have been perfect for Kristina Cruises. Well, they had to give up their own cruise ship soon afterwards, and instead begun selling cruises on the ships operated by other lines including the Berlin).

The photos below show the Berlin passing through the Kustaanmiekka strait outside Helsinki on the evening of 12 July 2016. Photographed from Kustaanmiekka itself. Click on the images to see them in larger size.

I'm really quite fond of the little ship. As well as the dramatic lighting we had.
But I must say the Berlin would look better if the funnel was a different colour than white.
Neat shot, even if I may say so myself.
And a neat ship, eller hur?
Mmm..., part 2 (yes, I ran out of caption ideas).

05 July 2016

Gabriella in Helsinki, 31 May 2016


IMO 8917601
Name history: Frans Suell, Silja Scandinavia, Gabriella
Built 1992, Brodogradiliste Split, Croatia
Tonnage 35 492 GT
Length 171,50 m
Width 28,20 m
Draugth 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

The Gabriella is one of my favourite ferries in these waters, probably because of its varied history. This spring, the ship was given a thorough refit of the public spaces and some of the cabins, in a similar vein to the refit given last year to the Mariella, but more extensive. At the same time, the Gabriella was given the 'Grace-stripes' livery, being the last Viking Line ship not painted in the new colours. Which gave me a good excuse to photograph the ship. And it's high time, considering it was last featured on this blog in 2012.

So, the photographs below show the Gabriella passing through the Kustaanmiekka strait on the afternoon of 31 May 2016, shortly after departing Helsinki Eteläsatama (South Harbour) for Stockholm. Photographed from Kustaanmiekka. As always, click on the images to see them in larger size.

They maybe should have taken the opportunity to move the company name on the hull slightly towards the aft for better balancing effect while they were at it.
I really quite like the exterior design of the Gabriella, the dark window stripe in particular is quite attractive. I'm not sure if the added Grace-stripes were an improvement, however.
Kustaanmiekka remains quite impressive.
Personally, I think the sponsons aft rather improve the ship's profile... which is a controversial opinion, I'm sure.
The boat going in the other direction really improves the composition here.

Kships will return.