28 March 2019

Finlandia on the Bay of Tallinn, 26 March 2019

Before we move to the main attraction of today's entry, I would like to take a chance to showcase two articles I did this month for a new customer, Ferry Shipping News: I had the chance to interview both Björn Blomqvist, the managing director of Rederi Ab Eckerö (who of course own Eckerö Linjen, Eckerö Line and Birka Cruises), and Jan Hanses, the president and CEO of Viking Line, with both offering fascinating insight on how they view the ferry industry in their business area.

You can read the interview with Eckerö's Blomqvist here, and Viking's Hanses here. Both also showcase some of my photography (that is already familiar to the readers of this blog, of course).

Today's entry, by chance, is related to both companies mentioned: I was out on a day cruise with the Viking XPRS to Tallinn earlier this week, and took these quite neat photos of the Finlandia on the Bay of Tallinn as she was outbound and we were inbound.


IMO 9214379
Name history: Moby Freedom, Freedom, Finlandia
Built 2001 Daewoo Shipbuilding & Heavy Machinery Okpo, South Korea
Tonnage 36 093 GT
Length 175 m
Width 27,60 m
Draft 7 m
Ice class 1B
2 080 passengers
1 190 passenger berths*
610 cars
1 900 lane metres
4 Wärtsilä diesels, combined 50 400 kW
2 propellers
2 bow thrusters
Speed 27 knots

* = The berths figure is for the ship as originally built. In 2015, a number of cabins were converted into public rooms, so this figure is no longer correct, but none of the sources at my disposal were able to provide an up-to-date figure.

For a history of the Finlandia, see this earlier entry on her.

As said above, the photos below show the Finlandia on the Bay of Tallinn on the early afternoon of 26 March 2019, outbound from Tallinn towards Helsinki. Photographed from onboard the Viking XPRS sailing in the opposite direction. As per the usual, click on the images to see them in larger size.

The ship does look immensely better with the frames of the large forward-facing window painted blue. She might look even better if they added a blue stripe along the bridge windows, too.
If you look closely, you'll notice the small Finland 100 logo (which used to be above the piano keys) has been replaced by an Eckerö Line 25 Years one – the company will have its anniversary in late August.
I really like this shot myself.
The seagulls and the ship's name they added in the previously blank blue part in the rear last year also make the ship look better.
Kships will return.

08 March 2019

Isosaari in Helsinki, 23 June 2018

To start off, I must apologise for the longest hiatus in the history of this blog. Both my work and my personal life has been really hectic of late, and the blog has been an easy thing to drop off. Things are looking a bit easier in the near future and I will hopefully be able to return to a more normal update frequency.

For today's entry, we will be looking at a something of an unusual ship for this blog: the Isosaari, a local ferry connecting central Helsinki to the outlying island Isosaari. I've been sitting on these photos for some time, and the reason why I was inspired to post them today is the fact that the miniature Isosaari is slated to become a cruise ship this year – it will make one two-night cruise from Helsinki to Turku via Jussarö and Örö, and another one with reverse itininerary in early May. Both cruises will be all inclusive, even! So let's take a brief look at the history of one of the smallest premium cruise ships out there!


IMO 67212806
Name history: Sveio, Aspö, Isosaari
Built 1967, Ankerløkken Værft Florø, Norway
Tonnage 506 GT
Length 44,18 m
Width 9,94 m
Draugth 3,30 m
275 passengers
40 passenger berths
2 Wichmann diesels, combined 661 kW
? propellers
1 bow thruster
Speed 11,5 knots

The Isosaari was originally built in 1967 by the Ankerløkken Værft in Florø, Norway as the Norwegian local ferry Sveio for Hardanger Sunnhordlandske Dampskibsselskab. As built, the ship had a drive-through car deck for 30 cars and a passenger capacity of 350.

After lengthy service in Norway, it was sold in 1995 to Suomen Saaristolaivat in Turku, Finland and, despite being 28 years old, rebuilt at Pansion Korjaustelakka in Turku, with new passenger areas built into most of the former car deck. At the same time, the superstructure was made lower to keep the gross tonnage below 500 (as ships of under 500 gt can follow different crweing rules than bigger ships) Renamed Aspö, the ship then started service in the Turku Archipelago, linking to the outlying island of Utö.

In this role the ship remained until spring 2018, when it was sold to Suomen Saaristokuljetus in Helsinki, who had a dual role in mind for the ship: it both links Kauppatori in central Helsinki to the island of Isosaari, and functions as a hotel ship in Isosaari during the summers, and as a hotel ship and restaurant in central Helsinki during the winters. In March 2019, Suomen Saaristokuljetus made known that the ship would offer the two all-inclusive Helsinki-Jussarö-Örö-Turku cruises mentioned above, as a test for the potential demand for further such cruises in the future.

The photos below show the Isosaari on the afternoon and evening of 23 June 2018 in the Kustaanmiekka strait, in the first two photos outbound from Kauppatori towards Isosaari and in the second two sailing in the opposite direction. As per normal practica, click on the images to see them in larger size.

Apparently, the ship has a pretty attractive 1960s style interior. I wouldn't know, I haven't sailed on it yet.
In 2019, the Isosaari will also connect to Vallisaari, the island seen in the background here.
An hour later, the ship is in the same spot but bound in the other direction.
Kships will return. Hopefully sooner than in a months' time.

Edited 2019-03-09 20.47 with additional information about the ship's 1995 refit, courtesy of Miran Hamidulla.