27 April 2019

Astor in Helsinki, 27 April 2019

The 2019 cruise season in Helsinki started today (and is expected to break passenger records again), with CMV/Transocean Kreuzfahrten's Astor being the first ship of the season. Since the weather was unusually warm and sunny for the season, I thought I'd head out to take some photos. And it was high time, too, as the last time the Astor appeared in this blog was way back in 2011!


IMO 8506373
Former names: Astor, Fyodor Dostoyevskiy
Built 1987, HDW Kiel, West Germany
Tonnage 21 000 GT
Length 176,50 m
Width 22,61 m
Draugth 5,80 m
578 passengers (650 passengers maximum)
4 Sulzer-Wärtsilä diesels, combined 15 400 kW
2 propellers
1 bow thrusters
Speed 16,5 knots (18 knots maximum)

The history of the Astor is rather fascinating: the ship built in 1987 at Howaldtswerke-Deutsche Werft (HDW) in Kiel, as the last purpose-built ocean liner to be completed before the Queen Mary 2, although the Astor never sailed as such.

The Astor had been ordered by Safmarine in 1985 to replace an earlier ship (also named Astor, at the time of writing facing an uncertain future as the Pearl II, having been featured in this blog as the Saga Pearl II). The second Astor was to be essentially identical to the first, but slightly larger and with more powerful engines to be better suited for the Southampton-Cape Town -route. However, before the second Astor could ever be completed, in 1986 Safmarine decided to abandon the liner service and the under-construction Astor was sold to the Marlan Corporation.

The Astor was completed in early 1987 and placed on cruises around the Caribbean. In late 1988 the was sold to the Soviet Union's Black Sea Shipping Company and renamed Fyodor Dostoyevskiy (or however you wish to translitterate Фёдор Достоевский – the lack of consistent Russian cyrillic to English translitteration rules is a source of constant irritation to me). For a little over a year the ship was chartered to Transocean Tours, before being chartered for five years to Neckermann Seereisen. At the end of that charter in 1995 the ship reverted to its original name Astor as was chartered to Aquamarin. The next year the Astor was (again) chartered to Transocean Tours.

In 2009, the Astor became Transocean's only ship, and in 2013 the company (the name of which had been amended to Transocean Kreuzfahrten in the interim) was sold to Cruise & Maritime Voyages. During the summers, the ship operates European cruises for the German market under the Transocean brand name, and during the (northern hemisphere) winter it has cruised for the Australian market under the CMV. This, however, is due to cease now that CMV has taken delivery of the larger Vasco da Gama.

The photos below show the Astor at, and departing from, Helsinki Eteläsatama (south harbour) in the evening of 27 April 2019. Photographed from Kauppatori. As per the usual practice, click on the images to see them in larger size.

No unsuspecting offspring or spouses were harmed in the making of this photo.
The Astor and our charmingly small ferris wheel.
You get interesting photobombs when taking photos from next to the quay for local ferries, such as the lovely 1952-vintage Suokki.
The Astor took its sweet time actually getting anywhere – I guess they weren't in a hurry!
The weather attracted a lot of people to spectate, and people with boats were out in force, too.
The rest of the aft views were rubbish as this side of the ship was in the shade.
Kships will return.

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