29 September 2017

Viking XPRS in Helsinki, 19 May 2017

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

It seems the previous Viking XPRS entry with the history of the ship on is somewhat out of date, so it's high time to update.

Viking XPRS was originally a project name for Viking's new fast cruiseferry (XPRS being "short" for express). She was the first newbuilding delivered to Viking Line since 1990 and the first delivered to SF Line (the sole surviving Viking consortium member that renamed itself Viking Line in 1995) since 1989. In the interim the company had drawn up plans for various unrealized newbuildings, including a fast monohull ferry capable of 40 knots for the Helsinki-Tallinn service. Matters leading to the construction of the XPRS started progressing in 2003, when the Cinderella that had been doing 20 hour cruises between Helsinki and Tallinn was moved to a similar service between Stockholm and Mariehamn. In her place the former Stockholm-Mariehamn ship Rosella was moved to Helsinki-Tallinn service, with tro daily departures from each port. After initial difficulties the Rosella's ferry service proved to be a success, and Viking begun planning the addition of a newbuilding for the route.

Viking Line's own designing department drew up the basic plans for project Viking XPRS. After asking for tenders from various shipyards, the company entered serious negotations with Aker Yard's Finnish shipyards and the state-owned Italian shipbuilder Fincantieri. The former offered to build a ship for 130 million euros, while the latter was willing to build a ship based on Viking's plans for 115 million US dollars, or an example of their own Moby Wonder -class (the same design as Tallink's Superstar) for 110 million USD. Despite the higher price asked by Aker Yards, Viking ordered their newbuilding from Aker's Helsinki shipyard. The order included an option for two sister ships, which were planned to be built for the Turku-Stockholm service replacing the Amorella and Isabella. Presumably these ships would have been built with larger superstructures to house more passenger cabins and additional public spaces nescessary for the longer route. In the end Viking never exercised the option for these ships and the XPRS remains a one-off design.

The original delivery date for the Viking XPRS was set for 31 January 2008. Delays in the construction, including faults in the propellers that nescessitated an extra drydocking in Rauma, pushed the delivery date back to 21 April 2008. In summer 2007 Viking Line had organised a naming competition for their new ship. In a somewhat unusual move, the result of the competition was that Viking XPRS was chosen as the final name of the ship. (The author of this blog also participated in the competition, suggesting the more traditionally-tinted "Laurella").

Following delivery the Viking XPRS was initially registered in Mariehamn, Finland. However, this was little more than ceremony as the decision had already been made to register the ship in Sweden due to financial reasons. After spending a whole day under Finnish flag the Viking XPRS was re-registered to Norrtälje in Sweden. She entered regular service on the Helsinki-Tallinn service on 28 April 2008, replacing the Rosella (originally Viking had hoped to employ both ships on the route, but the city of Helsinki forbade this as they did not want additional cars passing through the city center).

Although the Viking XPRS was a resounding success during her first summer, with 61% increase in passenger numbers and 74% in freight, her interiors were found to be too small for the number of passengers carried. Resultingly a new dance pavillion was added to the rear decks in spring 2009. Afterwards, the ship settled nicely on the Helsinki-Tallinn route, becoming the most popular ship on the line. In early 2014, she was moved under the Estonian flag to further save costs. In January 2017, the Dance Pavillion added in 2009 was rebuilt in a larger form; interior photos of the ship as she appears today can be seen here.

The photos below show the Viking XPRS departing Helsinki Eteläsatama (South Harbour) for Tallinn around noon on 19 May 2017, photographed from Valkosaari. As always, click on the images to see them in larger size.

The Viking XPRS remains one of my favourite ships in terms of exterior design, although I'm not 100% sure about the Viking Grace -style stripes on the hull. Also note that, despite the added structures rear, the ship's profile remains unaltered.
Valkosaari gives nice foregrounds. I ought to go there more often.
As you can see, the XPRS usually reverses out and then turns around to head towards the usual photo haunt at Kustaanmiekka. Alas, further photos from this session were backlit, so I'm not including them here.

21 September 2017

Veøy on the Geirangerfjord, 29 August 2017

During the recent trip to Norway with Cruise Norway, I took a crapload of photos of local Norwegian road ferries. I'm still debating whether or not to post the photos of most of them, as road ferries are not exactly a focus for this blog. But, in addition to the road ferries, there was one "proper" ferry photographed during the trip: the Veøy, which runs a summer service between Geiranger and Hellesylt, sailing through the pictoresque Geirangerfjord.


IMO 7368748
Built 1974, Hjørungavåg Mekaniske Verksted, Norway
Tonnage 1 870 GT
Length 74,98 m
Width 12,01 m
Draught 2,60 m
345 passengers
50 cars
2 Wichmann diesels, combined 1 870 kW
2 propellers
Speed 15 knots

(Please be aware that I'm not 100% certain about the figures above; different sources give different dimensions and tonnage figures for the ship).

The Veøy was built in 1974 by the Hjørnungvaag Mekaniske Verksted for Møre og Romsdal Fylkesbåtar's (MRF) service linking Molde to Vestnes via Vikebukt, which remained the ship's primary route until 1988. After 1988, it served on a variety of different routes, which I won't bore you with, until 1997, when the ship became a regular on the Hellesylt-Geiranger -route during the summer seasons. During the winters the Veøy is a reserve ferry, and as such has sailed on several different routes for shorter or longer periods of time.

In 2001, MRF merged with Fylkesbaatane i Sogn og Fjordane. The combined company first took the name Nordvestlandske, but already in 2002 this was altered to Fjord1. The actual structure of the Fjord1 company is rather complex, with numerous subsidiaries to the main company owning and/or operating the various individual ships, which is why the Veøy's official owners are Fjord1 MRF.

The photos below show the Veøy on the Geirangerfjord, and the ferry quay in Geiranger, on 29 August 2017. Photographed from onboard the excursion ship Geirangerfjord. As per the usual, click on the images to see them in larger size.

The forward rake of the superstructure is interesting; the angle will reduce glare and therefore improve views from inside, but such stylings are relatively rare, except for dedicated onservation longes.
I quite like the classic style of the Fjord1 flag in the logo, but I do wish they would paint the funnels entirely with the red and blue stripe, rather than a white funnel with the stripes just "stamped on".
On the left is the Friaren ("Suitor") waterfall; across the fjord is the better-known De syv søstrene ("The Seven Sisters") waterfall. Personally, I thought Friaren looked more impressive, but maybe that's just me. In any case you're only getting to see that one, as getting De syv søstrene in the same photo as the ferry would have been abviously problematic.
As is common oon ferries that do not venture far into the open sea, the car deck is open to the elements aft.
At Geiranger. The size of the bow visor is rather impressive.
Returning to the livery for a bit, based on photos it seems the masts were originally painted yellow (matching MRF's funnel colours, which were yellow with a black stripe). At least arguably the white masts are not an improvement, even if they are in keeping with Fjord1's corporate image.

16 September 2017

Viking Sky in Helsinki, 31 July 2017

My plan for a return to weekly updates hasn't been too successful, thanks to the combination of a hectic work schedule and a hectic travelling schedule - two weeks ago I was in Norway on the trip organised by Cruise Norway mentioned in the previous entry, after that I had a week to do final corrections my and Bruce Peter's upcoming book Innovation and Specialisation: The Story of Shipbuilding in Finland (which will get a detailed blog entry later) and then during the past week I was in Armenia of all places. I had actually prepared this particular entry before going to Norway, with the idea that I could post it during the travels, but never found the time. The technical quality of the photos is not perhaps quite as good as in the more recent entries, as these were taken during the time brief moment in time when I had to revert to using the old old 350D camera.

Viking Sky

IMO 9650420
Built 2017, Fincantieri Maghera, Italy
Tonnage 47 842 GT
Length 227,28 m
Width 28,79 m
Draft 6,65 m
944 passengers
4 MAN diesels, combined 23 520 kW
2 propellers
2 bow thrusters
1 stern thrusters
Speed 20 knots

The Viking Sky is, of course, a sister ship to the Viking Star, and as she was delivered just this year, there's very little to actually say about her. So let's get straight down to the photos, which were taken from Vattuniemi in Lauttasaari as the ship departed Länsisatama (West Harbour) on the afternoon of 31 July 2017. As always, click on the images to see them in larger size.

People in general seem to be extremely keen on the Viking Cruises ships' exterior design. To be honest, I'm not sure if I agree; they are attractive modern cruise ships, sure, but nothing spectacular.
And since I started criticising the ships, I'm also going to say that the names - while nice in that they recall the Royal Viking Line of old - do come across as rather uninspired.
As you can see, the water levels were quite low, which resulted in neat foreground rocks.
There was also a regatta of some sort going on, so neat sailboats were also captured alongside the Viking Sky.

03 September 2017

Nordlys in Trondheim, 28 August 2017

I returned yesterday from a trip through various Norwegian cruise ports organized by Cruise Norway, and you can later on read more about the trip from Cruise Business Review. Sufficient to say for now that it was interesting, exhausting and at times eye-opening - and all this in superb company. The trip also gave some chances to photograph ships I don't normally see - the first of which is the subject of this entry.


IMO 9048914
Built 1994, Volkswerft Stralsund, Germany
Tonnage 11 204 GT
Length 121,66 m
Width 19,20 m
Draught 4,70 m
691 passengers
482 berths
50 cars
2 MaK diesels, combined 9 000 kW
2 propellers
2 bow thrusters
Speed 18 knots

The Nordlys was the last ship of Hurtigruten's first trio of 1990s newbuildings, built by the Volkswerft in Stralsund, in the former East Germany (the sister ships being the Kong Harald and Richard With). Her original owners were TFDS (Troms Fylkes Dampskibsselskap), though the name Nordlys (Norwegian for "Northern Lights") recalls that of a previous 1951-built BDS (Bergenske Dampskibsselskap) -owned Hurtigrute, which TFDS took over, alongside BDS's Hurtigruten share, in 1979.

The Nordlys entered service in April 1994 on Hurtigruten's Bergen-Kirkenes service, on which the ship remains to this day. There has been some drama to her career: in January 2006 she evacuated 680 people from Melkøya due to a heavy storm and in September 2011 an engine room fire onboard resulted in two deaths. Less dramatic were a sale in 2003 to KS Kirberg, with a 15-year charterback agreement (so actually due to end next year), and a series of brief winter lay-ups in 2007, 2008 and 2009.

The photos below show the Nordlys arriving at Trondheim in the morning of 28 August 2017 on a northbound crossing. Photographed from the Trondheim port cruise quay. As per the usual, click on the images to see them in larger size.

You can get nice photos if you get up early enough. Which I normally wouldn't do, but (fortunately or not) I didn't get to design the schedules of the trip.
The exterior design is fairly utilitatian, though I still quite like it. If I remember correctly, the funnel exhausts were a later addition to the original design.
Passing Munkholmen, a former monastery and prison on Trondheimsfjorden.
The island-passing photos were so good, I just had to include a second one!
Approaching the Hurtigruten terminal - and the run, giving less nice lighting.