21 January 2019

Upcoming book: The North Sea Bridge

I am happy to finally officially announce that this year will see the publication of another book by me. The North Sea Bridge – Ferry connections between Scandinavia and Britain 1820-2014 will, es the name suggests chronicle the history of the passenger ferry services between Scandinavia and Britain (plus Finland and Iceland to Britain) from the beginning of regular scheduled services right until the closure of the last passenger link in 2014.

Those of you who speak Finnish might be familiar with my very long article series on the same subject in Ulkomatala, published in 2015-2016; the book will be a translated, expanded and generally improved version of the article series.

Projected publication will be in December this year, while the projected page count will be 160. For the most eager amongst you, the book can already be pre-ordered from the Ferry Publications website here.

05 January 2019

Wasa Express interiors, 13 March 2014

Happy belated new year to all Kships readers! There was a bit of a hiatus over christmas and new year, as you probably noticed – in addition to being "regularly busy" with the festivities, there were also other issues of a personal nature that kept me from the regular update schedule. But now we're back and hopefully will be back to the weekly updates.

Today, we will look at an older photo set that, for some reason, I neglected to post when it was brand new: interiors of the Wasaline Vaasa-Umeå ferry Wasa Express from my & Bruce Peter's trip onboard her back in 2014.

Wasa Express

IMO 8000226
Name history: Travemünde, Travemünde Link, Sally Star, Thjelvar, Color Traveller, Thjelvar, Rostock, Thjelvar, Betancuria, Wasa Express
Built 1981, Wärtsilä Helsinki, Finland
Tonnage 17 046 GT
Length 141,00 m
Width 22,81 m
Draugth 4,95 m
Ice class 1A
915 passengers
316 passenger berths
450 cars
1 150 lanemeters
4 Wärtsilä diesels, combined 14 866 kW
2 propellers
1 bow thruster
Speed 19,5 knots

For those interested, the history of the Wasa Express was covered in a previous entry, which also includes my (so far only) exterior shots of her.

Before making judgements on the Wasa Express based on this entry, please remember that the photos are from 2014 and many of the interior spaces have since been refurbished. Wasaline are, of course, planning a replacement for 2021 delivery – I guess I will need to do another trip to Vaasa before then and document the Wasa Express again. Not an unpleasant prospect, as the service and food onboard were some of the best I have encountered on any ship, even if part of the ship were, at least at the time, in need of some TLC.

Decks 9-11 – all passenger spaces onboard the Wasa Express are found on decks 7 and 8. Above are the bridge (on deck 10), crew spaces and open decks accessible to passengers.

Sunset at Holmsund (Umeå's outer harbour) as seen from deck 9 of the Wasa Express.
Deck 8 – back in 2014, this deck had the bar forward, passenger cabins amidships, and kennels, conference rooms and the children's playroom aft. Since then, the aft areas have been reorganised so that there is now a sitting lounge and an extra-cost business lounge there in addition to the kennels and conference rooms.

The bar occupies the entire width of the ship forward. Since 2014, this had been rebuilt with the bar counter moved away from the view-blocking central location and is now just behind the photographer's back in this view. The chairs have also been swapped for new ones.
Midships there are a total of 60 cabins.
The kennel as it was back then. The chairs have since been swapped for new ones. Unfortunately, the rest of the aft area were closed (and I didn't want to intrude on the kid's playroom), so I can offer you no other shots of this part of the ship.
Deck 7 – here were (and still are) the cafeteria, à la carte restaurant, shop and the information booth. New additions since 2014 are the children's playroom (moved down here from deck 8) and buffet restaurant, which replaced the (at least on my trip unused) second cafeteria aft.

The cafeteria had a wonderfully eclectic collection of chairs from the ship's career back then. Perhaps fortunately, they have since been replaced with new ones and are now all of a uniform design.
The Vitfågelskär à la carte restaurant served some of the absolutely best, locally-inspired cuisine I have ever eaten onboard any ship (and yes, this includes your luxury cruise ships like the Crystal Symphony). The sea buckthorn panna cotta was to die for – and I don't even normally like panna cotta.
Midships, a starboard arcade connects the forward and aft restaurants. The glass doors on the right led to the small onboard shop, but this has since been replaced by the kid's playroom and a new, larger shop has been added aft. As was typical for Wärtsilä-designed ferries at the time, the galley occupies the same space port, serving restaurants both forward and aft of it.
The aft stair lobby, which also serves as the entrance foyer.
The (unused) aft cafeteria has since then been completely transformed into a buffet restaurant – which, my friends tell me – serves excellent food. The new shop is again behind the photographer's back here.
Decks 3-6 – the ship has two double-height car decks, allowing it to carry a pretty impressive number of lane metres considering what a small ship we're talking about.

While the ship does actually have a bow visor and side gate that would allow drive-through operation, for reasons unknown to me Wasaline use the bow ramps in both ports. The traffic cones are here because the gangway in Vaasa was broken and we had to embark and disembark via the upper car deck.
Kships, as always, will return.