26 July 2018

Seven Seas Navigator in Helsinki, 26 July 2018

Today, I had an afternoon entirely to myself, and it just so happened that not only was the weather good (although to be fair, by this time I'd be perfectly willing to pay for some bad weather) but also a cruise ship that I have wanted to photograph for a long time was in town. So, today we are looking at the Seven Seas Navigator.

Seven Seas Navigator

IMO 9064126
Name history: Akademik Nikolay Pilyugin, Blue Sea, Seven Seas Navigator
Built 1991, Admiralteyskie Verfi, Soviet Union/1999, T. Mariotti Genoa, Italy
Tonnage 28 550 GT
Length 170,69 m
Width 21,80 m
Draugth 6,80 m
490 passengers (lower berths)
4 Wärtsilä diesels, combined 21 000 kW
2 propellers
1 bow thruster
Speed 19,50 knots

The Seven Seas Navigator is one of the select number of ships that were under constriction in the ailing Soviet Union at the time of its break-up that ended up being completed several years later and for a quite different use than had originally been envisioned. In this case, the ship was laid down in 1988 at the Admiralteyskie Verfi in Leningrad as the research vessel Akademik Nikolay Pilyugin (western sources delight in referring to the Soviet research vessels as spy ships, handly obscuring the fact the Soviet Union had the largest number of researchers per capita of any country). Before the ship could be completed the Soviet Union collapsed, and with funding to the numerous research institutes and universities within the former country dried up, work on the Akademik Nikolay Pilyugin was halted in late 1991.

In 1997, under the temporary name Blue Sea, the ship was towed from now-Saint Petersburg to the T. Mariotti Shipyard in Genoa for completion as a cruise ship, a process that included demolishing the already-built superstructure, and refashioning the aft hull entirely (Dover Ferry Photos' page on the ship has nice pictures of the Blue Sea in Genoa, well worth a look if you want to see what it was like in the previous life that never was). In August 1998, what was then Radisson Seven Seas Cruises agreed to buy the ship on completion - a large upgrade to their fleet, which at the time consisted just of the catamaran cruise ship Radisson Diamond and the roro cargo carrier converted into cruise ship Song of Flower, plus the chartered, but purpose-built and brand new, Paul Gauguin. The company's new, undisputed flagship was delivered in August 1999 as the Seven Seas Navigator. (It ought to be noted that while I list the ship's ex names above, it never sailed as anything else than the Seven Seas Navigator).

And since that day the Seven Seas Navigator has remained with the same company - although the company did changed names in 2006 to Regent Seven Seas Cruises, and two years later the then-owner Carlson Group sold the company to Prestige Cruise Holdings. Personally, I am a bit surprised that the name of Regent Hotels still survives in the name of the cruise line - surely it would be more elegant to simply drop the hotel company prefix and rename the brand Seven Seas Cruises?

Brand and ownership issues aside, the Seven Seas Navigator was givena thorough refit at Bremerhaven, including the fitting of a duck tail sponson and swapping the propellers and rudders to new ones, the changes reportedly eliminating all vibrations onboard. The interiors were again refurbished in 2016. Which brings us nicely to the present.

The photos below show the Seven Seas Navigator in, and departing from, Helsinki's Eteläsatama on the late afternoon and evening of 26 July 2018. First photo taken from onboard the Suomenlinna II, the rest from Kustaanmiekka. As always, click on the images to see them in larger size.

Unsurprisingly, the ship got the best quay in town, the site of the old Kanavaterminaali ferry terminal.
You rarely get two ships in the same shot in Helsinki these days, so it was splended to catch the Seven Seas Navigator and the Gabriella in the same frame.
I quite like the exterior design of this one - though I must say, Regent's previous livery with purple stripes was more to my liking.
A pretty sexy aft section, too!
So sexy that it deserves another view.
Kships will return.

21 July 2018

Viking XPRS in Helsinki, 23 June 2018

I know I said in last week's entry that we would be looking at the Isosaari this time, but I changed my mind. Instead, we are looking at what is still one of my favourite ships in these waters in terms of exterior design, the Viking XPRS.

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 history of the Viking XPRS, see this entry.

The photos below show the Viking XPRS passing through the Kustaanmiekka strait en-route to Helsinki Eteläsatama (South Harbour) on the evening of 23 June 2018. Photographed from Kustaanmiekka. As always, click on the images to see them in larger size.

I have to admit that the Grace-style hull stripes are starting to grow on me.
Ten years old this year, but still very sleek!
Although I do wish they'd paint an additional black stripe along the bridge windows, she does look a bit unblanced the way she is.
Also, how many ships out there have had their aft superstructure expanded twice, with no effect on the ship's profile? Because this one has.

Kships will return.

13 July 2018

Megastar in Helsinki, 13 June 2018

The Megastar isn't exactly new anymore, but she hasn't actually been featured in this blog that often. Furthermore, the photos are somewhat newsworthy right now, as Tallink recently indicated their interest in contracting a sister ship for the Megastar - although where and when such a ship would be built is another matter entirely.


IMO 9773064
Built 2017, Meyer Turku, Finland
Tonnage 49 134 GT
Length 212,10 metres
Width 30,60 metres
Draught 7,00 metres
2 824 passengers
188 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 those interested, my interior tour of the Megastar can be found here.

The photo below were taken on the afternoon of 13 June 2018, showing the Megastar outside Helsinki, bound for Länsisatama (West Harbour), photographed from onboard the outbound Finlandia. As always, click on the images to see them in larger size.

I do like the departures where ships meet just outside Länsisatama. The views are always so dramatic.
Case point.
If you're close enough, the ship looks so sleek.
Look in the other direction, and the sky changes dramatically. Yes, this is from the same session, though you would be forgiven for thinking otherwise.

Next time: we will probably do a little change of pace and look at the little Helsinki local ferry Isosaaari.

08 July 2018

Viking Grace in Turku, 1 June 2018

Apologies for the recent hiatus. Our family has been enjoying some well-deserved vacation time, so I left the blog on the sidelines during the past few weeks. But now we are back, and this entry will feature my first images of the Viking Grace with its new flettner rotor.

Viking Grace

IMO 9606900
Built 2013, STX Europe Turku, Finland
Tonnage 57 700 GT
Length 218,60 m
Width 31,80 m
Draught 6,80 m
Ice class 1 A Super
2 800 passengers
2 876 berths
530 lane metres of cars
1 275 lane metres of cargo
4 Wärtsilä dual fuel (LNG/diesel) engines, combined 30 400 kW
1 Norsepower flettner rotor
2 fixed-pitch propellers
2 bow thrusters
1 stern thruster
Service speed 21,8 knots
Maximum speed 25,6 knots

The Viking Grace has been around for five years already, but it seems I haven't done a proper history article on the ship, so here goes.

The NB1376, as it was originally referred to in marketing materials, was contracted in December 2010 by Viking Line from what was then the STX Europe yard in Turku. The order materialised after prolonged negotiations. From the start, the new ship was designed to use liquidized natural gas (LNG) as fuel, becoming the first major passenger vessel in the world to do so. The ship's final name, chosen from 9 900 unique proposals from the public, was revealed in February 2012 (I was rather disappointed in both the eight finalists shortlisted as well as the final choice, and wrote about this in some detail).

The Viking Grace was launched in August 2012 and entered service in January 2013. The maiden voyage was a special all-inclusive two-night cruise, which was sold out, despite the prices being in the same range per person per night as upper end luxury cruise lines. For the first few months, the ship operated primarily with marine diesel fuel, until the delivery of the bespoke LNG fueling ferry Seagas in March.

In April 2018, the Viking Grace was fitted with a new flettner rotor provided by Norsepower, becoming the first major passenger vessel to be fitted with one (cargo carriers have been fitted with them before). The rotor is projected to decrease LNG fuel consumption by 300 tonnes per year, resulting in a 900 ton reduction of carbondioxide emissions yearly.

The photos below show the Viking Grace departing from Turku in the evening of 1 June 2018, photographed from the Kansanpuisto ferry quay in Ruissalo. For these particular images, special thanks go to Krzysztof Brzoza for making these shots possible by giving me a ride to and from central Turku to Ruissalo.

As always, click on the images to see them in larger size.

It does look more than slightly phallic, doesn't it?
The rotor doesn't quite match the stylings of the rest of the ship, but then again it's pretty hard to make a design that would do so. A different paintjob for the rotor might help though.
The lighting was not ideal this time around, but I think the photos turned out pretty good even so.
I do like that ship. Her only fault is that she sails from Turku, and the schedule is slightly problematic coming from Helsinki.
Also notice the "spoiler" added aft of the funnel to accommodate the various antennas which were originally located where the roto is now (the first renderings showed the rotor aft of the funnel, but I guess the central location is better).
I think the "spoiler" actually works quite well with the original design.
Next time we will probably look at the Megastar again.

Postscript: As you undoubtedly noticed, the photos in this entry introduced a new copyright watermark. I discovered earlier this year that Blogger, in its infinite wisdom, not only crops off a bit from the top and bottom of photos for previews on Facebook (and I presume elsewhere too), but these images also show up on Google searches. The old watermark was just small enough to be cropped off, resulting in an incident earlier this year where a company (who shall remain unnamed) used one of these preview images copied from a Google search on Facebook without asking for permission (they did remove it when I pointed out to them, although only after accusing me of lying first). This new watermark should solve this particular problem, although it of course doesn't solve the issue with more malicious image thieves of editing it out. But if one gets too paranoid there's really no way of putting up images on the internet...

Anyway, since I was changing the watermark anyway, I also wanted to change the font to match the one used in the blog header image, remove the year (it was really quite superfluous and added extra work as it needed to be updated yearly) , and add the url, just in case someone posts these somewhere else. So, yeah, here we are. I hope people don't find it too bothersome.