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).

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