14 December 2018

Roald Amundsen under construction, 13 December 2018

Yesterday, I had the chance to visit the Kleven shipyard in Ulsteinvik, Norway (as a representative of Cruise Business Review) and see Hurtigruten's new expedition ships Roald Amundsen and Fridtjof Nansen under construction. I have written a bit about the event and ships for Cruise Business' website here, and a more detailed article will follow for the magazine's next issue. Here on my blog, however, I thought I would share some pictures from the visit to Kleven, and take a look at what the Roald Amundsen looks like inside now and what it will look like when delivered.

As per the usual, all photos are mine – except, this time around, the artist's impressions from Hurtigruten, which are clearly marked. As usual, you can see the images in larger size by clicking on them.
The world's most environmentally friendly expedition vessel in the outfitting quay.

Roald Amundsen

IMO 9813072
Built 2019, Kleven Ulsteinvik, Norway
Tonnage 20 889 GT
Length 140,00 m
Width 23,60 m
Draft 5,30 m
Ice class PC6
530 passengers
530 berths
4 Rolls-Royce Bergen diesels, combined 14 400 kW
2 Azipull azimuthing propellers
2 bow thrusters
Speed 15 knots

Fridtjof Nansen

Built 2020, Kleven Ulsteinvik, Norway
Tonnage 20 889 GT
Length 140,00 m
Width 23,60 m
Draft 5,30 m
Ice class PC6 
530 passengers
530 berths
4 Rolls-Royce Bergen diesels, combined 14 400 kW
2 Azipull azimuthing propellers
2 bow thrusters
Speed 15 knot

So, what was it like at Kleven? We had a chance to photograph the ships under construction (above and more below), were treated to several presentations from not only the people from Hurtigruten but also the Kleven shipyard and Rolls-Royce (who designed the ship), plus a lovely lunch of authentic food to be served onboard the ships. And, last but certainly not least, we had a chance to go onboard the Roald Amundsen in its incomplete guise, which is always an intensely interesting experience.

Presentations (and lunch) were the yard's welding hall, which also had this nice model of the Roald Amundsen on display.
Roald Amundsen under wraps in the lingering sunrise.
The Fridtjof Nansen is still in a more incomplete state – but fortunately (for photos) not under wraps.
Impressive ships up close, despite their modest dimensions.
Work at the yard didn't stop just because we were there – post-lunch the welding robots were in action (I believe building blocks for a ship under construction at the nearby Ulstein Verft shipyard), attracting the attention of many photographers.

Next, it was time for our tour of the ship. Obviously, with delivery still half a year away, most of the Roald Amundsen's interiors are still far from finished – which, of course, made the visit all the more interesting!

The forward battery room.
The first stop on our tour was of the most innovative parts about the ship – the battery room of the hybrid diesel-electric power plant. The batteries are charged from the ship's own engines, and then their output is used in "peak-shaving mode", aka allowing the engines always to operate at optimal output and getting extra power from the batteries as needed. Although to a layman like me it sounds counter-intuitive, this is expected to decrease emissions from the ship by at least 14 percent.

As you can see, the battery room is relatively empty. This, we were explained, is a concious strategy – as battery technology is currently developing at a high speed, Hurtigruten decided the sensible thing is to get additional batteries one technology has developed further, rather than get top-range batteries now and then discover in a few years they are outdated in terms of storage capacity. Considering how much resources the production of batteries takes up, this certainly lines up with Hurtigruten's sustainability efforts.

The forward engine room, with two Rolls-Royce Vergen diesels. As demanded by regulations, there is a second, separate engine room with two additional main engines.
The main dining room Aune, as it appeared yesterday...
...and as it will be in six month's time. Image courtesy of Hurtigruten.
In the passenger areas, the layout of the ship follows the model of existing 1990s/2000s generation Hurtigruten vessels surprisingly closely. Aft on the main deck is the main restaurant, Aune (named after Tinus Aune, who supplied food to make Norwergian polar expeditions).

Fredheim restaurent under construction...
...and as it will be. The windows especially look like they're going to be amazing (with all due respect to the decor, of course). Image courtesy of Hurtigruten.
With the new ships, Hurtigruten offers their passengers three different dining options for the first time. One of the two new restaurants is Fredheim, a casual eatery serving international cuisine (the name comes from a famous hunting lodge on Svalbard, a place visited by people world-wide). A third dining venue, which we alas did not see, is the extra-cost fine dining restaurant Lindstrøm, named after the cook who travelled with Amundsen both through the Northwest Passage and to the South Pole.
The science center did not look that impressive when we were there...
...but it not only looks to be impressive, it is also going to be innovative as heck. Image courtesy of Hurtigruten.
The Amundsen Science Center is found on the forward part of the main deck (where the existing Hurtigruten ships of the 90s/00s generation have their conference suites). This is by far the most exciting place onboard if you ask me; as an "edutainment" venue, it showcases the nature of the destinations the ship sails to and allows passengers to connect to the places they will visit already before they arrive. While a portion of the center is suitable to the traditional lectures, the space will be so much more than that, being akin to a science center or museum of science aimed at the general population on dry land, albeit of course smaller.

Forward of the science center is an enclosed observation deck.
Two cabins were already (almost) completely outfitted; here is a family cabin which should have a double bed, plus the convertible sofa you see in the foreground...
...and here is a standard balcony cabin for two.
The cabins will step up the standard for Hurtigruten ships: all will be outside cabins, with circa 50 percent having their own private balcony. Even the smallest cabins are a generous 23 square metres in size. Surprisingly – at least to me – the cabins are not made from prefabricated modules, but assembled in situ... which seems somewhat anarchonistic for shipbuilding of this day and age. (And without intending to brag, I am something of an expert in shipbuilding these days).

On the traditional top-deck location there is an observation lounge...
...which will look much better when it's actually outfitted. Image courtesy of Hurtigruten.
Again mirroring the layouts of the previous generation of Hurtigruten vessels, there is an observation lounge on the top deck, above the bridge. Personally, I am ever so slightly disappointed that the lounge is a single-level space and not a two-level space like those onboard the Trollfjord and Midnatsol – but that doesn't change the fact it's going to be a really impressive space.

The Roald Amundsen is going to enter service in May 2019, and I really hope I will have a chance to go onboard again to see the ship as it is meant to be. But for now, special thanks to Hurtigruten for the chance to see the ships as they are now, and to Cruise Business Review for letting me be the one who goes to visit Kleven.

Edited 15.12.2018: Additional information for the ships' technical details.

10 December 2018

Book review: Ferries of Scandinavia by Matthew Punter

Matthew Punter: Ferries of Scandinavia, the Baltic Sea and the Nordic countries. Ferry Publications: Ramsey 2018. 144 pages.

For a change, I'm featuring a book here that I haven't written anything for – instead, Matthew Punter's Ferries of Scandinavia features numerous photos that I have taken. Most of them will of course be familiar from this blog, but certainly it's different seeing them printed in a book. (Although, full disclosure, I did proofread the manuscript and offer some feedback).

Unlike some of the other books in Ferry Publications' Ferries of... series, Ferries of Scandinavia is not a pure photo book, but a lavishly illustrated overview of the ferry scene of Scandinavia, the Baltic Sea, Faroe Islands and Iceland. The book is divided into six segments: Northern Baltic, Southern Baltic, Kattegat & Skagerrak, Danish Domestic, Norwegian Domestic and Iceland & the Faroe Islands.

As an overview, the book is a very welcome addition, as no such volume previously existed. Personally, I especially enjoyed the last three chapters, as the domestic services of Denmark, Norway, Iceland and the Faroes are not something I would have detailed knowledge of. For all regions covered, there is also a short look into the local ferry history, as well as a more general history of the overall Scandinavian ferry development in the beginning of the book. These, unfortunately, have several small errors in them, such as wrong delivery years for ships or wrong routes. Nothing major, but it is somewhat irritating these have not been fixed. Whether such small errors are a dealbreaker is, of course, entirely up to each individual reader.

The photos range from great (these include ones from the likes of Kim Viktor, Søren Lund Hviid and, of course, yours truly, so there are bound to be great ones) to decent. While the standard is towards the great photos, some of the choices did make me wonder if the photo used in the book was really the best one available – although this may also be a matter of personal preference.

Despite the occasional piece of criticism, overall Ferries of Scandinavia is a very good book that nicely fills a gap in ferry literature and is certainly worth the price of admission. Ferries of Scandinavia is available from well-stocked bookshops – but for those of us living in countries that no longer have such luxuries (like Finland), I recommend getting yours from the Ferry Publications website (which, for some reason, shows the book with a different – and arguably superior – cover).

Kships will return later this week with, I hope, some very interesting pictures of certain under-construction cruise ships.

02 December 2018

Trollfjord in Ålesund, 2 October 2017

Since I will be heading back to the lovely Norwegian town of Ålesund soon (unfortunately only passing through en-route elsewhere), I thought this week would be a fine time to post some previously unreleased ship photos taken there.


IMO 9233258
Built 2002, Bruce Shipyard Landskrona, Sweden (hull) / Fosen Mek. Verksted Rissa, Norway (outfitting)
Tonnage 16 140 GT
Length 135,75 m
Width 21,50 m
Draft 4,90 m
822 passengers
636 berths
35 cars
2 Wärtsilä diesels, combined 8 280 kW
2 Aquamaster azimuthing propellers
3 bow thrusters
Speed 18 knots

The Trollfjord was the second of Hurtigruten's so-called "Millennium ships" (albeit the first in the series, the Finnmarken delivered earlier in the same, was of a completely different design). It was ordered in June 2000 by the Troms Fylkes Dampskibsselskap (TFDS) from the Fosen shipyard in Rissa, Norway, although the hull construction was subcontracted to the Bruce Shipyard in Sweden. The ship's exterior, quite different from the previous newbuildings in the Hurtigruten fleet, was by Falkum-Hansen Design, who also designed the interiors and the general arrangement plan. The Trollfjord was delivered May 2002, delayed by some six weeks. After the first summer season, the ship returned to its builders for the installation of a third bow thruster unit.

In 2006 the Trollfjord lost its original attractive TFDS funnel colours (a broad white stripe flanked by two anrrow red ones on a black background) when TFDS and the other Hurtigruten partner Ofotens og Vesteraalens Dampskibsselskap merged to form Hurtigruten ASA. This did not have an effect on the ship's operations, of course. As is perhaps inevitable on such a hectic schedule, the ship has experienced the occasional accident, such as minor groundings and collisions, but none have been severe. At the time of writing, the ship remains in the Norwegian coastal service, but when Hurtigruten loses a part of the state-subvented service to the newcomer Havila Kystruten in 2021 the Trollfjord is, to my understand, one of the ships slated to ne moved to be a full-time cruise ship.

The photos below show the Trollfjord moored at Ålesund during the post-midnight call in the port on the route southbound from Kirkenes to Bergen on 2 October 2017. As per the usual, click on the images to see them in larger size.

I did take some photos of the ship at sea, too, but the lighting conditions were such that none of them turned out too good. It would be interesting to try something similar around midsummer...
Contemporary Norwegian architecture, ship and buildings all.
A bit more unusual view, but one I very much like.

As always, Kships will return.

27 November 2018

The new Silja Serenade interiors, 27 November 2018

Earlier today, I had the chance to attend the press showing of the Silja Serenade, showcasing her most recent interior refit. So, let's get down to business

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

Once again, the new interiors of the various public space are the work of the Finnish interior design firm Aprocos, who have pretty much become Tallink's designers of choice. Interestingly enough, Aprocos' founder and CEO Heikki Mattila had already worked on the original interiors of these ships.

Starlight and the Seaview Lounge on Decks 7 and 8

The former Atlantis Palace show lounge and casino complex, forward on decks 7 and 8, which previously survived nearly in original condition, has been finally given a thorough refit, which included new staircases, replacing three old bars with two new ones, and an increased number of seats especially in the forward viewing area (now called the Seaview Lounge, whereas it was previously just the Bow Bar). Unfortunately, during the press visit the Starlight complex was not entirely complete, most notably lacking the various plants that are an integral part of the final design.

The Seaview Lounge now has much more seating, thanks to the bar originally the left being demolished. The little bit of purple in the background is the new bar, which serves both the Seaview Lounge and the main Starlight complex.
The tiered seating is where the space retains most of its original appearance, but gone are for example the seashell-shaped lamps.
On the right here was originally another bar counter, but that too has been demolished to make way for more seating. The new bars are also more up-to-date in their design, as the sheer number of drinks served has radically increased in the past two decades and the originals were simply not designed for the number of things served today.
Aft and partially below of the twin-level showlounge area is Starlight's casino, which already had the final greenery in place. I very much look forward to sailing on the ship again and seeing the Starlight complex as it is meant to be.
As a part of the programme, we also had the pleasure of seeing the ship's new The Great Gatsby -themed show. I must say in all honesty that I'm not usually a big fan of onboard shows, be they on my local cruise ferries or on proper cruise ships. But Silja's Great Gatsby really made an impression on me. I would say it easily topped, for example, Norwegian Cruise Line's much-advertised Havana, which I saw when I sailed on the Norwegian Bliss earlier this year. Then again, the show did have a lot of stuff I enjoy, such as an art deco aesthetic, an electro swing soundtrack and handsome dancers.

The Great Gatsby.
Bon Vivant on Deck 7

Further aft along the Promenade, the Bon Vivant fine dining restaurant, wine bar and the adjacent wine shop have also been redecorated (and it was about time too).

I'm afraid the lighting here didn't quite agree with my camera, and the vibrant dark blue of the chairs and carpets ended up looking grey instead.

Grill House on Deck 7

Further aft, the popular El Capitan grill restaurant has given way to the Grill House, a similarly themed restaurant already found onboard many other Silja Line and Tallink ships. Gone is the 1990s fax mexicana and in is a more refined grill restaurant (though I must say that my favourite Grill House remains that onboard the Silja Europa – also designed by Aprocos).

I wasn't a fan of El Capitan, but here I could eat just for the decor.
I really show have cleared that plate away.
Coffee & Co on Deck 7

This space wasn't actually added in the most recent refit, but in the 2015 one (I think). As it has not featured here before I thought I would put it in anyway. This space used to be the children's playroom back in the day, but that was moved to larger premises down on Deck 5 (my son loves the place), so a new cafeteria could be inserted here.

This place is, alas, where the Serenade loses to her younger sister Silja Symphony, as that ship has a sushi restaurant – one of the best I've eaten in outside Japan – instead.
Sea Pub on Deck 7

Previously, the pub aft on the promenade was named Old Port Pub and in my books, it was one of the gloomiest, least pleasant spaces onboard. The new Sea Pub is much lighter, airier and generally more pleasant (but it must be said it isn't quite as good as its cousin onboard the Silja Symphony in my books, as on that ship it's even nicer and less publike).

This is a pub I might consider visiting. The old incarnation wasn't.
Stairwells, corridors and lobbies

All over the ship, the stairwells, lobbies and corridors have been given a new look, including new carpets, a new colour scheme and new artworks. And it was about time, as these were areas where the original look of the ship survived. And while it feels silly to put money on these things, as they don't really generate money, they are also some of the first places the passenger sees when coming onboard and will effect how they judge the entire ship.

This is just so much better than the old one. I kind of feel bad about the originals artworks in the staircases... but then again, they weren't particularly impressive, so I won't really miss them.
Special thanks to Heikki Mattila and Miko Mattila of Aprocos. Kships, as always, will return.

18 November 2018

Gennadiy Nevelskoy & Stepan Makarov in Helsinki, 27 November 2016

And now for something completely different – namely, Russian icebreakers. As some of you might already know, the Arctech Helsinki Shipyard (previously belonging to Wärtsilä, Masa-Yards, Aker and STX) in my home town is for sale by its Russian owners OSK (Объединенная судостроительная корпорация, the state-owned shipbuilding company), with the likely buyers being a group of Russian investors. While buyers from other countries have also shown interest, according to Russian sources the yard has been deemed by the state too important to let fall into non-Russian hands (ironically, the Finnish state never had any qualms about this). Right now, the yard has just one ship in its order books, the arctic gas condensate tanker Yuriy Kuchiev, which was due for delivery this year but looks likely to be delayed until next year. So I thought that today we would look back at somewhat happier times two years ago, when the Helsinki yard was building a series of four icebreaking supply vessels for Sovcomflot (Совкомфлот), or (in English) SCF for short.

Gennadiy Nevelskoy (Геннадий Невельской)

IMO 9742120
Built 2017, Arctech Helsinki Shipyard, Finland
Tonnage 8 362 GT
Length 104,40 m
Width 21,02 m
Draft 7,90 m
42 passengers
6 diesels, combined 21 000 kW
2 azimuthing propellers
2 bow thrusters
Service speed 16 knots

Stepan Makarov (Степан Макаров)

IMO 9753727
Built 2017, Arctech Helsinki Shipyard, Finland
Tonnage 8 365 GT
Length 104,40 m
Width 21,02 m
Draft 7,90 m
70 passengers
6 diesels, combined 21 000 kW
2 azimuthing propellers
2 bow thrusters
Service speed 15,50 knots

The Gennadiy Nevelskoy (Геннадий Невельской – note that since this is an English-language blog, I am using the English transliteration of the Russian Cyrillic alphabet. For my native Finnish or, for example, German the transliteration can be different) is an icebreaking supply vessel ordered by SFC for use in the Sakhalin-2 oil and gas fields. Originally contracted in April 2014 for a summer 2016 delivery, the ship's construction was seriously delayed until March 2017.

Although externally near-identical and of similar dimensions to Gennadiy Nevelskoy, the Stepan Makarov (Степан Макаров) is not a full sister ship but a modified design, a multifunctional icebreaking standby vessel, again designed for the Sakhalin-2 oil and gas field. Both the Gennadiy Nevelskoy and Stepan Makarov are based on the icebreaking supply vessels Vitus Bering (Витус Беринг) and Aleksey Chirikov (Алексе́й Чириков) that Arctech delivered to SFC in 2012-2013. However, whereas the Vitus Bering and Aleksey Chirikov were based on design by the Finnish icebreaker designers Aker Arctic, the Gennadiy Nevelskoy, Stepan Makarov and the latter's two sister ships were designed entirely in-house by Arctech. Originally, the Stepan Makarov was slated for a September 2016 delivery, but in the end this was delayed to June 2017.

The photos below show the Gennadiy Nevelskoy and Stepan Makarov at the outfitting quays of the Arctech Helsinki Shipyard on the afternoon of 27 November 2016 (it gets dark stupidly early in Finland during this time of the year, so "afternoon" is not a mistake on my part), photographed from the quayside next to the Clarion Hotel Helsinki in Jätkäsaari. As always, click on the images to see them in larger size.

The Gennadiy Nevelskoy looking near-complete on the outside, but far less so on the inside, judging from the fact it was four months before the ship was actually delivered.
This wide-angle shot has been used in quite a few articles. In addition to the Gennadiy Nevelskoy, you can see the bow of the Stepan Makarov on the left. The box-shaped buiding on the right is the shed covering the Helsinki yard's building dock, which allows work to be completed in a controlled environment, despite the occasionally harsh weather.
A view showing the Stepan Makarov a bit better. Unfortunately the ship was parked in such a way that you couldn't get decent side views of it.
Kships, as always, will return.

10 November 2018

Isabelle in Stockholm, 30 October 2018

Last week, we made a two-night ferry cruise to Stockholm with my wife and son onboard the Silja Symphony (thanks to its sushi bar, this ship is now our family's favourite of the two Silja Helsinki-Stockholm ships). While ship photography wasn't the point of the trip, and for most of it the weather was too atrocious for any good ones anyway, I ended up in the right place at the right time by accident and got my first photos of the Isabelle in her newish white-hulled livery.


IMO 8700723
Name history: Isabella, Isabelle
Built 1989, Brodogradiliste Split, Yugoslavia
Tonnage 35 154 GT
Length 169,40 m
Width 27,60 m
Draft 6,40 m
2 480 passengers
2 166 berths
364 cars
900 lane metres
4 Wärtsilä-Pielstick diesels, combined 23 760 kW
2 propellers
2 bow thrusters
Speed 21,5 knots

Since it's been a few years since the Isabelle was featured here, I guess it's also time to take an updated look at the ship's history.

The Isabelle started life as the Isabella, the second of two ships ordered in the mid-80s by SF Line from the Brodogradiliste Split shipyard in the (then-)Yugoslavia. The older sister Amorella was completed for the Turku-Stockholm service in 1988. On delivery in 1989, the Isabella was planned to be placed on the Naantali-Kapellskär -route. However, the port authorities of Kapellskär were less than thrilled about the thought of expanding their harbour to accommodate the Isabella (and her envisioned running mate, Rederi AB Slite's Athena, today the Pearl Seaways). In the end Naantali did expand their harbour to accommodate the new ships, while Kapellskär did not. To make the best of the situation, SF Line decided to place the Isabella on a new service linking Naantali to Stockholm when the ship was delivered in June 1989.

Initially, the plan was for the Isabella to stay on the Naantali-Stockholm service around the year, but this proved unprofitable and instead the ship was moved to a service of 25-hour cruises to nowhere (actually Tallinn roads) from Helsinki for the 1989-1990 winter season. For the summers of 1990 and 1991 Isabella returned to Naantali, but the Naantali-Stockholm service was deemed a failure and from autumn 1991 the ship sailed exclusively on the 25-hour (later changed to 24-hour) cruise service from Helsinki. In spring 1992, the Isabella was rebuilt with the addition of an observation lounge on deck 11, converting the garage on deck 5 into cabins and on the exterior the addition of a red stripe running along the windows of deck 6. During the summers of 1993 and 1994 the ship also made occasional cruises from Helsinki to Visby.

In the aftermath of the bankruptcy of Rederi AB Slite (the other partner of Viking Line) in 1993, the Isabella swapped routes with the Cinderella after the 1994 summer season, moving to the Helsinki-Stockholm service. During the 1996 summer season the Isabella's (and her running mate Mariella's) route was briefly extanded to Tallinn-Helsinki-Stockholm. This was not a success at the time and the excercise was not repeated (although it was revived in 2014 and has been a regular feature since). When the Gabriella was acquired in 1997, it took over the Isabella's place on the Helsinki-Stockholm service. Isabella in turn moved to the Turku-Stockholm service (replacing the Rosella), pairing for the first time in its career with the sister ship Amorella.

Following the delivery of the new Viking Grace, the Isabella was laid up and placed for sale. Although Corsica Ferries were rumoured to be interested, no buyer emerged and Viking Line produced plans to reactivate the ship for the Helsinki-Tallinn line for the summer season, sailing as a running mate to the Viking XPRS. At this point Viking's main competitors Tallink did a little math and came to the conclusion that they would lose less money by buying the Isabella than they would if Viking could bring an extra ship in for the summer season. In April 2013 the ship was sold to Tallink; a few days before the sale was finalized, its name was amended to Isabelle and Tallink retained the name, as well as the red-hulled livery, only replacing Viking Line logos with their own (see my first entry on the Isabelle).

In May 2013 the Isabelle entered service on Tallink's Stockholm-Riga route, replacing the Silja Festival as the Romantika's running mate. Between August 2014 and December 2016, the Isabelle sailed as the sole ship on the route, due to route changes resulting from the Silja Europa being chartered to Australia (and the period after its return when Tallink pondered on what to do with their fleet). In February 2017, the Isabelle was docked at the Turku Ship Repair Yard in Naantali, Finland, where the ship was repainted in a similar style to its running mate Romantika, all-white with black stripes along the passenger deck windows.

The photos below show the Isabelle at the new Värtaterminalen in Stockholm on the afternoon of 30 October 2018. Photographed from onboard the Silja Symphony. As always, click on the images to see them in larger size.

For once, I'm rather pleased with a shot of a ship at quay and taken from the side of the quay (although I rather think one could also get great shots from the Lidingö side).
These shots also turned out surprisingly sharp considering the fact I didn't have a tripod with me – as you can see from the "warp speed" trucks, the exposure time wasn't exactly short.
Kships will return.

02 November 2018

Spirit of British Columbia in Gdansk, 11 January 2018

Finally, the grande finale of photos from my trip onboard the Baltic Princess to the Remontowa shipyard in Gdansk last January, the ferry that had travelled the longest distance to be there and also the one undergoing the biggest renovation: BC Ferries' Spirit of British Columbia.

Spirit of British Columbia

IMO 9015668
Built 1993, Integrated Ferry Construction Victoria & Allied Shipbuilders Vancouver, Canada
Tonnage 21 939 GT
Length 167,50 metres
Width 27,21 metres
Draft 5,00 metres
2 048 passengers
358 cars (if no freight units carried)
4 Wärtsilä LNG/diesel hybrid engines, combined 15 990 kW
2 propellers
1 bow thruster
Service speed 19,50 knots

The Spirit of British Columbia was the first of BC Ferries' two Spirit (or S) class ferries, built in 1993 for the Tsawwassen (Vancouver)–Swartz Bay (Victoria) route (the sister ship, Spirit of Vancouver Island, followed in 1994). Somewhat unconventionally, the ship was built in two parts: the forward bit at Allied Shipbuilders in Vancouver and the rear by IFC (Inregrated Ferry Construction) in Victoria. The two halves were then joined together at the Esquimalt drydock, before construction was finished at IFC.

The Spirit of British Columbia entered service in April 1993 and proceeded to give what appears to have been uneventful, regular service on the Tsawwassen–Swartz Bay route for the next 25 years. In October 2017, the ship arrived at the Remontowa shipyard in Gdansk for a radical conversion from a conventional diesel-powered ferry to one using liquidized natural gas (LNG). The ship's original engines, two MAN units, were replaced by four Wärtsilä 8L34DF engines, without an effect on the ship's speed. In spring 2018, the ship returned to service. (The sister ship Spirit of Vancouver Island is slated for a similar conversion during the current winter season).

I must say it is quite fascinating that BC Ferries would choose to give such a radical refit to a 25-year-old ship. In contrast, Viking Line studied the possibility of converting their existing ships to run on LNG soon after the Viking Grace entered service – but for them, not even their second-newest ship, Viking XPRS, at the time just five years old, was deemed worthy of conversion.

Anyway, onwards to the photos, which I admit are less than great quality, but do show the Spirit of British Columbia at an absolutely fascinating point of its life, taken in the middle of the LNG conversion at the Remontowa shipyard (from onboard the arriving Baltic Princess). As per the usual, click on the images to see them in larger size.

A foggy day in Gdansk Town.
Unfortunately, as the ship was deep in the yard, this was about the only view that was possible to get...
...unless one wanted to have all kinds of other crap in the foreground.
Next time: Tallink's Isabelle and finally my first proper photos of the ship in the no-longer-so-new white livery.

21 October 2018

Megastar in Tallinn and on the Gulf of Finland, 5 March 2017

I am deviating from the advertised programming again to give a somewhat more newsworthy entry. As people will probably be aware, Tallink Grupp and Rauma Marine Constructions signed a letter of intent to build a new fast ropax ferry for the Helsinki-Tallinn route last Thursday. Although not said outright in the press release, the ship looks likely to be based on the Megastar, albeit with improvements – an artist's impression that was originally included with the press release (but pulled after a few hours) showed a version of the Megastar with additional cabins up on Deck 11 (a nescessary change, as the Megastar has insufficient cabins for the crew and they actually have to accommodate crew in cabins originally meant for passengers). According to Shippax, the public room decks will also be rearranged compared to the Megastar, so it remains to be seen how much of a sister ship the new one will really be.

Anyway, since the new ship will at least be related to the Megastar, I thought we'd look at her again.


IMO 9773064
Built 2017, Meyer Turku, Finland
Tonnage 49 200 GT
Length 212,20 metres
Width 30,60 metres
Draught 7,10 metres
2 824 passengers
186 cabin berths
800 cars (if no freight units carried) or
320 cars and 110 freight units
3 653 lane metres
5 Wärtsilä LNG/diesel hybrid engines, combined 45 600 kW
2 propellers
2 bow thrusters
2 stern thrusters
Service speed 27 knots
Ice class 1A

For interior views of the Megastar, see here.

The photos below show the Megastar arriving at Tallinn (first three) and on the Gulf of Finland approaching Helsinki (the last three) on 5 March 2017, all taken from onboard the Silja Europa. As per the normal procedure, click on the images to see them in larger size.

No idea what the little cargo ship there was, but it made for a nice background.
I'm still not 100% sure about the relatively extensive use of the colour red in the Megastar – it's a very Viking Line-y shade.
The Megastar and Tallink's Helsinki-Tallinn cargo ferry Sea Wind. Since this photo was taken, the Sea Wind's harbour in Estonia has been moved to Muuga, Tallinn's outer cargo harbour, so you can't take a photo like this anymore.
Later, that same day, the Megastar passed us en-route to Helsinki.
Passing the Helsingin kasuuni (Helsinki Caisson) lighthouse.
Next time: Spirit of British Columbia (this time for real)

15 October 2018

Stena Scandinavica in Gdansk, 11 January 2018

I haven't been too successful at keeping up the planned update schedule of putting up a new entry every weekend. But at least we're back to weekly updates, even if the update day seems to be Monday. And on this particular Monday, we are looking back to last January, when I was arriving at Gdansk onboard the Baltic Princess (a trip on which you can read more here) and encountered some slightly rarer ferries for me, even if they were in rubbish weather.

Stena Scandinavica

IMO 9235517
Built 2003, Hyundai Heavy Industries Ulsan, South Korea
Tonnage 55 050 GT
Length 241,06 m
Width 29,90 m
Draught 6,30 m
1 300 passengers
1 040 berths
300 cars
4 220 lane metres
4 MAN diesels, combined 25 920 kW
2 propellers
3 bow thrusters
Speed 22,5 knots

Unlike the other ferries seen at Gdansk (Mont St Michel, Pride of Rotterdam and Spirit of British Columbia), the Stena Scandinavica is a ship I have encountered before, and you can read the brief history of the ship, as well as look at some additional photos, in the first entry on her. What makes out current photos particularly interesting is the fact the ship was still carrying the special funnel colours celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Gothenburg-Kiel route.

So, the photos below show the Stena Scandinavica at the Remontowa shipyard in Gdansk on 11 January 2018, photographed from onboard the Baltic Princess as she was arriving at the same shipyard for a refit. As per the usual, click on the images to see them in larger size.

I wouldn't have minded if the weather was better (although had the sun been shining, the side of the ship facing the camera would have been in the shade, so I'm not sure if the photos would have been good anyway).
The Stena Scandinavia has arrived that same morning, but work on her was already much more advanced. Also notice the Mont St Michel in the background.
A bit of a tight squeeze to the get the entire ship into one frame, but it was doable.
Kships will return. Unless something else comes up, I think next time we'll round up the Gdansk visit with some photos of the Spirit of British Columbia.