13 February 2018

Finnclipper in the Åland Archipelago, 10 January 2018

Today we return to photos taken during last month's rather unusual trip with the Baltic Princess from Turku to the Remontowa shipyard in Gdansk. While sailing through the Turku and Åland archipelagos, we encountered Finnlines' Finnclipper en route, sailing in the other direction. Since the Finnclipper was last featured here in 2015, this is also a good time to offer an update to her history.

Finnclipper

IMO 9137997
Built 1999, Astilleros Españoles Puerta Real, Spain
Tonnage 33 958 GT
Length 188,30 m
Width 29,30 m
Draugth 6,30 m
Ice class 1A
440 passengers
452 berths
3 079 lane metres
4 Sulzer diesels, combined 23 040 kW
2 propellers
2 bow thrusters
Speed 22,1 knots

The Finnclipper was originally ordered in 1995 by Stena Line as the first ship of their four-strong Stena Seapacer -class. However, while the ship was under construction Stena struck a deal with Finnlines to sell the two two ships in the class to Finnlines on completion. The ship was delivered to Stena Line in May 1999, and immediately resold to Poseidon Schiffahrt, the German subsidiary of Finnlines and registered in Lübeck. However, she was given a Finnlines-traditional Finn-prefix name, rather than Poseidon's Trans-prefixed one, a step in the process of Poseidon losing their own identity. The Finnclipper was initially placed on Finnlines' service between Travemünde and Helsinki. In 2001 she was re-registered in Helsinki. From the beginning of 2003 she moved to the Naantali-Kapellskär -route (which was marketed as Finnlink), only to move to the Malmö-Travemünde (Nordö Link) -route in the beginning of 2005, at which time she was re-registered in Malmö. This proved a short stint, as from the beginning of 2006 she reverted to the Finnlink service.

The next change came in 2012, when in the winter she made a single trip from Helsinki to Aarhus, followed by a regular service on the Malmö-Travemünde and Travemünde-Saint Petersburg -routes (reportedly the trips to Saint Petersburg were done in part to purchase cheap marine fuel from Russia). For the 2015 summer season, the Finnclipper returned to the Finnlink service, which had in the interim been altered to include an intermediate call in Långnäs in the Åland Islands in order to secure tax-free sales onboard. In February 2016, the ship briefly returned to Malmö-Travemünde, before sailing to the Turku Ship Repair Yard in Naantali for installation of scrubbers. For the rest of 2016 she again sailed on the Naantali-Kapellskär -route, before returning to Malmö-Travemünde for the winter months of 2017 (she was also briefly chartered to Stena Line for their Trelleborg-Rostock route during this time), then in March again reverting to Naantali-Kapellskär. She remains on the service to this day, but is due to leave it in April, when she is replaced by the larger Finnswan (ex-Nordlink). I'm uncertain where the Finnclipper is heading after this.

The photos below show the Finnclipper in the Åland Archipelago near Ledskär, photographed from onboard the Baltic Princess. As per the usual, click on the images to see them in larger size. It might also be of interest comparing these photos to the previous set taken in 2015, before she had scrubbers installed.

Some neat sunlight on her side. The ship visible in the background on the left is Viking Line's Amorella, inbound to Mariehamn on her mid-day call.
I also quite like the way the sun lights up the exhausts, which almost seem to glow here.
An abrupt change in the lighting changed the colouring of the photo radically. Personally, I really like the way this one looks!
Sailing on towards Långnäs.
I have a confession to make: I actually quite like the way these ships look.
Next time, unless something odd comes up, we will return to sunny Madeira and the Aidablu.

01 February 2018

Norwegian Spirit at Funchal, 20 January 2018

Today, we change the chilly temperatures of the Baltic Sea in January to warm Madeira in the same month.

Norwegian Spirit

IMO 9195157
Name history: Superstar Leo, Norwegian Spirit
Built 1998, Meyer Werft Papenburg, Germany
Tonnage 75 904 GT
Length 268,60 m
Width 32,20 m
Draugth 7,90 m
2 018 passengers (double occupancy)
2 475 passenger berths
4 MAN-B&W diesels, combined 58 800 kW
2 azipods
2 bow thrusters
Speed 24 knots

For a relatively recently built cruise ship, the Norwegian Spirit actually has a bit of history to her. She was completed in 1998 by Meyer Weft as the first newbuilt ship for Star Cruises as the Superstar Leo (Kværner Masa-Yards in Finland were one of the other bidders to build her), placed on short cruises from Singapore. With the arrival of the sister ship Superstar Virgo the following year, the Superstar Leo was cascaded to Hong Kong.

Additional newbuilds were planned for Star Cruises, but after the company acquired Norwegian Cruise Line 2000, the newbuilds entered service in the NCL fleet. This fate also expected the Superstar Leo: the delayed delivery of the Pride of America in 2004 left NCL one ship short, and the Superstar Leo was transferred to NCL as the Norwegian Spirit to cover for the lack of tonnage. She was never to return to the Star Cruises fleet, staying with NCL even after Star Cruises sold first 50% of the company and subsequently reducing their share to only a small minority shareholding. Indeed, the Norwegian Spirit remains with NCL today, now their smallest ship.

The photos below show the Norwegian Spirit departing from Funchal in the afternoon of 20 January 2018, photographed from the children's playground in Santa Catarina Park. As per the usual, click on the images to see them in larger size.

Not one of the greatest places for photography as far as direction of light is concerned, but... not bad either.
Palm trees look very night, writing this from Finland currently covered in thick blanket of snow.
Finally the ship turned so that I could actually photograph the lit side.
Okay, maybe one close-up of the ship too.
Funchal being as it is, the ship dropped off pilot after a few hundred meters; you can see the pilot cutter alongside here.
Next time we probably return to chilly Finland and the Finnclipper.

26 January 2018

Gudingen at Överö, 10 January 2018

Today, we look at some more pictures taken during the recent trip with the Baltic Princess to Gdansk. These little Ålandstrafiken ferries rarely make the most popular entries here, but I'm quite partial to them, so why not?

Gudingen

IMO 7902609
Built 1980, Laivateollisuus Turku, Finland
Tonnage 961 GT
Length 48,50 m
Width 10,50 m
Draugth 3,70 m
Ice class 1A
195 passengers
25 cars and 4 trucks
2 Wärtsilä Vasa diesels, combined 1 606 kW
2 propellers (?)
Speed 14 knots

The Gudingen has of course been feauted here before, and the entry included a brief look at her history, but since it's so uneventful I might as well go through it again: The ship was delviered in 1980 by the Laivateollisuus (literally "ship industry") yard in Turku, which - if I recall correctly - was by this time a part of the state-owned Valmet conglomerate. She was placed on Ålandstrafiken's southern line, linking Galtby on the island of Korppoo in the Turku Archipelago to Långnäs on the island of Lumparland in Åland, via various intermediate ports. And that's the service on which the ship remains to this day, the only major change having been the addition of a blue stripe running alongside the superstructure windows sometime during her career (which helps distinguish her from her near-sister Skiftet).

The photos below show the Gudingen departing from the ferry port of Överö on 10 January 2018, photographed from onboard the Baltic Princess. The ships encountered each other at a slightly unusual time due to the Baltic Princess being in transit to the shipyard rather than regular service. As per the usual, click on the images to see them in larger size.

The reason why the ferry looks so small is... well, because it is so small.
Why not two panoramic shots taken from the distance?
The Gudingen did a nifty little turn...
...and then passed us at close quarters.
Alas, getting ship to stand out from the sea reflecting they white sky was a bit of a challenge.
A little splash while encountering the Baltic Princess' aft wave...
...and a rather bigger splash (albeit not as visible) shortly afterwards.
Next time we will probably change to a rather more tropical setting and will take a look at the Norwegian Spirit visiting Funchal, Madeira.

18 January 2018

Mont St Michel in Gdansk, 11 January 2018

I was originally planning to post a different set of images from the recent Baltic Princess to Poland trip today, and indeed had already prepared one for publication in advance, but then got a request for images of the Mont St Michel at Remontowa. As I don't even remember when was the last time someone requested something, of course I'm going to do it.

Mont St Michel

IMO 9238337
Built 2002, Van der Giessen-de Noord Krimpen aan den Ijssel, the Netherlands
Tonnage 35 891 GT
Length 173,95 m
Width 28,50 m
Draugth 6,20 m
2 120 passengers
774 passenger berths
830 cars
2 250 lane metres
4 MaK diesels, combined 21 600 kW
2 propellers
2 bow thrusters
Service speed 21 knots

The Mont St Michel was contracted by Brittany Ferries from the Van der Giessen-de Noord shipyardiun the Netherlands in 2000, and delivered a little over two years later in December 2002 - no less than nine months behind originally agreed schedule. On delivery she replaced the older Duc de Normandie on routes linking Portsmouth to Caen (or rather, its outer port Ouistreham).

To comply with the International Maritime Organisation's restrictions of sulphur emissions on the English Channel, North Sea, Baltic Sea and the coasts of North America, Brittany Ferries in 2013 announced that the Mont St Michel, along with other newer members of the company fleet, would be rebuilt to run on liquidized natural gas. However, this was later revised to equipping the ship with sulphur scrubbers, which were installed in late 2015. To this day, the ship remains on the Portsmouth-Caen route.

The photographs below show the Mont St Michel at the Remontowa shipyard in Gdansk, Poland on 11 January 2018. Photographed from onboard the Baltic Princess, which was also coming in for a refit. As per usual procedure, click on the images to see them in larger size.

The weather was far from good, but an image-editing software can work wonders.
Alas, due to our relative positions and the fact we did not have a chance to walk around the shipyard, there wasn't much variation to the photos taken.
Kships will return next week, probably with photos of the lovely little Ålandstrafiken ferry Gudingen.

13 January 2018

With the Baltic Princess from Turku to Gdansk, 10-11 January 2018

My first shipboard travel of the year was something slightly different: we boarded the Baltic Princess in Turku early in the morning of 10 January, and arrived the next day at noon at the Remontowa shipyard in Gdansk, Poland. I was one of the seven journalists/bloggers invited to join the ship on this unusual trip. A lot photos were taken and some will undoubtedly form the basis of future entries, but I wanted to give you an overview of the trip when it's still fresh.

10 January 2018

At 5:15 in the morning we boarded a bus in Helsinki, and after a rather sleepy bus ride we arrived at Silja Line's terminal in Turku, with both the Galaxy and the Baltic Princess at quay. The latter had arrived the last evening, while the Galaxy had just arrived from Stockholm and would stay in port the entire day to take over her sister's place in the service for the duration of the docking.

Alas, the weather for photographing the two sisters together in Turku was far from ideal.
Entrance to the ship was via the car deck (the Silja terminal in Turku has passenger gangways to just one quay). From left to right are Sami Koski of Valkeat Laivat, Marko Stampehl of Ferryfacts, Olli Tuominen of Ulkomatala, and with her back to the camera Tuula Nurminen of Tuula's Life.
So, what was the day like? We toured the ship, with expert guidance from both the crew and Tallink Silja's office staff, ate at the temporary mess set up in the Grill House restaurant for the duration of the docking, chatted, worked... I think this in particular is a case where pictures speak louder than words, so let's get to it!
The old Siljaland on Deck 7 was still intact, though not for long. This area will turn into an extension of the Fashion Street shop, with a new Siljaland to be built on Deck 5.
The Starlight Palace show lounge & night club will get new upholstery and a new dance floor with in-built led lighting.
The information booth fullfilled its unusual function, plus there was coffee, juice and small bited on offer outside. The "analogue dial" sofas are presumably getting reupholstered.
Forward on Deck 6, the old Cafeteria will give way to a Fast Lane restaurant similar to those found on the Silja Symphony, Silja Europa and Megastar. This is in particular in answer to passenger requests for more warm foods in cafeteria-style dining.
Buffet Silja Line will be rebuilt to a Grande Buffet like those found on the Silja Serenade, Silja Symphony and Silja Europa. Here, the chairs will be reupholstered rather than replaced; I presume the new soft furnishings will be dark orange in keeping with the theme found on the other ships.
The servery areas will be rebuilt, with the new "jewel" of the buffet being the dessert station with waiters in attendance to "tune" the portions according to customer wishes.
The old luggage room on Deck 5, adjacent to the conference areas, will become the new Siljaland. Based on cuystomer feedback, this will have a cafeteria for adults and a stage for the children themselves, as well as Silja's mascot Herri Hylje, to perform on. During school holiday seasons, the play areas can be extended to the conference rooms.
Bridge visits are a rare thing these days, but since this trip didn't officially have any passengers, we visited the bridge twice.
Last winter saw the addition of a Tavolata Italian restaurant; the Baltic Princess is the only ship in the Tallink and Silja fleets where this also serves pizza, thanks to a dedicated pizza oven. Tavolata, like the adjacent Happy Lobster and Grill House, will remain unchanged.
In the archipelago, we passed both the Gudingen, seen here, and Finnlines' Finnclipper. Both encounters will get their own blog entries later, I think.
The big thing about this refit is the replacement of the Wärtsilä-built reduction gears, which have proven unreliable, with new Renk-built ones. These will have to be lifted off the ship via the car deck, which will mean cutting through many things that were not originally designed to be cut through. The Baltic Princess' gearbxes will be kept as spare parts for the sister ship Baltic Queen.
The starboard side main engines.
11 January 2018

On the second day of the trip I woke early, as we were expected to pick up pilot at six in the morning. No such luck, as there were several ships in the queue before us and in the end we only picked up the pilot around ten. This left some time for further exploration and working (it's surprisingly productive to write in your own cabin on a ship that offers no organised entertainment) before the rather exciting (if cold) trip up the Leniwka river to Ostrów island and the waiting Remontowa shipyard.

The old Siljaland had been almost entirely demolished by the morning of the second day.
New restaurants mean new signage, of course, but also most of the other signage onboard will be replaced by new ones in the new official Silja style adopted last year.
Sailing up the Leniwka with assistance of no less than four tugs.
Remontowa is a busy place: in addition to the Baltic Princess, the morning saw the arrival of the Pride of Rotterdam, being reversed into the floating dock here...
...as well as the Stena Scandinavica and the Mont St. Michel, seen here on the right in the background.
The most interesting ship, though sadly poorly positioned for photography, is BC Ferries' Spirit of British Columbia, which came all the way from Canada for conversion to run on LNG.
Disembarking the ship at half past three in the afternoon. Much like in Finland, it was already getting dark by this time.
After that, our programme included a brief walking tour of Gdansk (the planned visit to the maritime museum was axed due to us getting off the ship so late) and a quick dinner before an evening flight back to Helsinki.

This entry was brought to you in collaboration with Silja Line. I would like to extend my most heartfelt thanks to both the crew of the Baltic Princess for their hospitality and in particular Tallink Silja's chief of communications Marika Nöjd for making the trip possible. And, naturally, further thanks are in order to the fellow participants. If you want to take a look at what the others participants have written on the trip, here is a list of links:

The Ferryfacts Blog by Marko Stampehl (in English)
Valkeat laivat by Sami Koski (in Finnish)
Ulkomatala by Olli Tuominen (in Finnish)
Kristallin hohtoa by Krista Hytönen (in Finnish)
Tuulas Life by Tuula Nurminen (in Finnish)
Beachhouse Kitchen by Heli-Hannele Pehkonen (in Finnish)

As said, further material from the trip will be published as separate entries in the coming weeks. The Baltic Princess will return to service on 22 February 2018 (if all goes to plan). I hope to visit her then and will report on how the refit turned out.