28 July 2010

Crystal Symphony, 8 July 2010

Crystal Symphony

IMO 9066667
Built 1995, Kvaerner Masa Yards Turku New Shipyard, Finland
Tonnage 51 044 GT
Length 238,01 m
Width 30,20 m
Draught 7,60 m
1 010 passengers
6 Sultzer diesels, combined 38 880 kW
2 propellers
2 bow thrusters
1 stern thruster
Speed 22 knots

Crystal Symphony is one of the world's largest five-star ranked cruise ships. Crystal Cruises themselves are notable not only for being a successful luxury brand operating (relatively) large ships, but also for the fact that they are owned by the Japanese NYK Lines (Nippon Yusen Kaisha), making them the only Japanese-owned cruise line trading on the international cruise market (several Japanese cruise lines exist for the Japanese market, including NYK's other cruise subsidiary Asuka Cruises).

The photograph below is of the Crystal Symphony departing Helsinki West Harbour on 8 July 2010. Although not entirely evident in the photo, it was raining heavily at the time (1/3 of the normal rainfall of the whole month of July within less than an hour). Due to the rain the picture is a bit smudgy. Photographed from Hernesaari.

Click on the image to view full size.

Public service announcement

In an attempt to the make this page easier to manage and browse, I have changed the Cruise ships and Ferries index pages so that instead of links directing to individual entries thse now direct to the tags for each individual ship's name. Resultingly, instead of there being three separate links to Viking XPRS on the index page, there is now just one and by clicking that, you'll get to see all three entries for that ship on the same page. While the previous indexing system wasn't problematic, it was likely to become so as the number of entires increases. Plus the new system saves me the time in cases where I'm uploading additional photographs of the same ship as I no longer to have to edit the index page in these cases.

If anyone has any ideas, suggestions or feedback regarding the indexing system or this blog in general, come on out with them!


Regatta, 27 July 2010


IMO 9156474
Built 1998, Chantiers de l'Atlantique, St. Nazaire, France
Tonnage 30 277 GT
Length 181,00 m
Width 25,46 m
Draught 5,80 m
824 passengers
4 Wärtsilä diesels, combined 13 500 kW
2 propellers
2 bow thruster
Speed 18 knots

Regatta was originally named R2, the second in a series of eight identical ships built for Renaissance Cruises (I think you can guess what the names of the other seven were). Following the bankruptcy of Renaissance Cruises in 2001 the R2 was auctioned to Cruiseinvest. After spending a year laid-up she was chartered to a new company, Oceania Cruises, which had been founded by Joe Watters and Frank del Rio (the latter having been the vice-president of Renaissance Cruises). For her service with her new owners the R2 was renamed Insignia. In 2003 the Insignia was briefly chartered to TMR, but returned to the fleet of Oceania Cruises after just two months. At this time she was renamed Regatta, the name Insignia having passed to her sister R1, which Oceania took under charter at the same time. Since 2003 the Regatta has remained in Oceania Cruises' service. Oceania itself passed under ownership of Apollo Management in 2007. The same company also owns Regent Seven Seas Cruises and 50% of Norwegian Cruise Line.

Regatta photographed at the Kustaanmiekka strait, departing Helsinki South Harbour on the evening of 27 July 2010. Pictures taken from the north-eastern shore of Kustaanmiekka.

Mariella, 27 July 2010


IMO 8320573
Built 1985, Wärtsilä Turku, Finland
Tonnage 37 860 GT
Length 175,70 m
Width 28,40 m
Draft 6,78 m
Ice class 1A Super
2 500 passengers
2 500 berths
400 cars
4 Wärtsilä diesels, combined 23 008 kW
2 propellers
2 bow thrusters
Speed 22 knots

Mariella was originally delivered to SF Line, one of the (then-)three partners in the Viking Line marketing consortium. Up until the delivery of the Mariella, Viking Line's route between Helsinki and Stockholm had been solely trafficked by ships belonging to Rederi Ab Sally, but a new agreement between the Viking Line partners allowed SF Line and the third partner Rederi AB Slite to break this monopoly. The Mariella has been extremely successful on the Helsinki-Stockholm route, having stayed on the route since 1985 (apart from occasional short transfers to cover on other routes). This makes her (to date) the most durable ship on the route.

Mariella photographed in the Kustaanmiekka strait, photos taken from the north-eastern shore of Kustaanmiekka itself on 27 July 2010.

27 July 2010

Silja Symphony, 27 July 2010

Silja Symphony

IMO 8803769
Built 1991, Kvaerner Masa-Yards Turku New Shipyard, Finland
Tonnage 58 377 GT
Length 203,03 m
Width 31,93 m
Draft 7,12 m
Ice class 1A Super
2 852 passengers
3 001 berths
410 cars
1 600 lane metres
4 Wärtsilä-Vasa diesels, combined 32 580 kW
2 propellers
2 bow thrusters
1 stern thruster
Speed 21 knots

Silja Symphony and her older sister Silja Serenade were the first ships in the world to have a multi-deck promenade running along the centerline of the vessel (sometimes referred to as a "horizontal atrium" in the cruise industry). The feature subsequently became a trademark feature of Royal Caribbean International's ships (Color Line's massive cruiseferries Color Fantasy and Color Magic also have promenades).

The construction of the Silja Symphony and her sister was somewhat troubled. The Symphony was ordered by Svea Line (Finland), a subsidiary of the Swedish Johnson Line, while her sister was ordered by the Finland-based Effoa. While the ships were being built, Effoa and Johnson Line merged to form EffJohn, and both ships were eventually built for them. The shipyard originally contracted to build the sister was the Wärtsilä Marine yard in Turku, Finland. However, while the ships were being built the shipyard went bankrupt. Operations were re-organized under the name Masa-Yards (the name being either in honour of the shipyard boss Martin Saarikangas, or an abbreviation of The Most Acceptable Solution Available). EffJohn became a shareholder in Masa-Yards to ensure the delivery of their ships; despite this the price of the ship's rose by a third from what was originally agreed.

The photographs below show the Silja Symphony at Kustaanmiekka strait after departing Helsinki South Harbour. Photographed from the north-eastern shore of Kustaanmiekka, 27 July 2010.

Silver Whisper, 27 July 2010

Silver Whisper

IMO 9192179
Built 2001, C.N. "Visentini" di Visentini Francesco & C. Donada, Italy (hull), T. Mariotti Genoa, Italy (outfitting)
Tonnage 28 258 GT
Length 186,00 m
Width 24,80 m
Draft 6,00 m
400 passengers
2 Wärtsilä diesels, combined 11 474 kW
2 propellers
2 bow thrusters
Speed 20,5 knots

Silver Whisper is the second on Silveasea Cruises' two "second-ganeration" ships (her older sister is the Silver Shadow). She was built at two different shipyards, with the hull constructed at Visentini in Donada and towed to the T. Mariotti shipyard in Genoa for completion. Silver Whisper is one of the few cruise ships given a five-star ranking by Berlitz. All accommodation are suites and all have either a picture window or a private balcony.

Photographs of the Silver Whisper in Kustaanmiekka strait shortly after departing Helsinki on 27 July 2010, taken from the ramparts in Kustaanmiekka.

25 July 2010

Grand Mistral, 10 July 2010

Grand Mistral

IMO 9172777
Built 1999, Chantiers de l'Atlantique, St. Nazaire, France
Tonnage 48 200 GT
Length 216 m
Width 28,80 m
Draft 6,90 m
1 715 passengers
4 Wärtsilä diesels, combined 31 680 kW
2 propellers
2 bow thrusters
Speed 22,5 knots

Originally named Mistral, this ship was the first newbuilding delivered to Festival Cruises, which was the first company attempting to offer a pan-European cruise experience. Two enlargened versions of the Mistral were built for Festival in 2001-2002 (European Vision and European Stars), while MSC Cruises had further two ship of a derived design built for them in 2003-2004 (MSC Lirica and MSC Opera). Following the bankruptcy of Festival Cruises in 2004 the Mistral was sold to a French invesor group, who chartered her to Iberojet Cruceros under the name Grand Mistral. In 2007 Iberojet Cruceros closed down when a new joint venture with the Carnival Corporation was founded under the name Iberocruceros. Apart from changes to the Grand Mistral's livery, this had little effect on her service.

Grand Mistral departing Helsinki West Harbour on the evening of 10 July 2010, after getting a fresh load of passengers. Photographed from Vattuniemi. Click on the images to view full size.

Nordlandia, July 2010


IMO 7928811
Built 1981, AG Weser Seebeckswerft, Bremerhaven, West Germany
Tonnage 21 473 GT
Length 153,40 m
Width 24,70 m
Draft 8,80 m
Ice class 1A
2 048 passengers
938 berths
450 cars or 42 trucks
4 Pielstick diesels, combined 15 300 kW
2 propellers
2 bow thrusters
Speed 20 knots

Nordlandia was built in 1981 as Olau Hollandia for Olau Line's UK-Netherlands -service. Olau had originally been founded by the Danish Ole Lauritzen, but by this time the company had passed under the ownership of the West German TT-Line. Unconfirmed reports indicate she was built to be easily convertible into a troopship for NATO, but no official source has confirmed this (to my knowledge). In 1989 the Olau Hollandia was replaced by a larger ship (also named Olau Hollandia) and the old Olau Hollandia was sold to Nordström & Thulin, and renamed Nord Gotlandia for service with their Gotlandslinjen subsidiary. When N&T's concession to run the state-subsidised service to Gotland ran out at the end of 1997, the Nord Gotlandia was sold to Eckerö Line for their Helsinki-Tallinn service and her name shortened to Nordlandia (which in daily use is ofted further shortened to "Norsu", literally meaning "elephant").

Nordlandia arriving in Helsinki West Harbour on 10 July 2010. Unusually she came in via Harmaja instead of the normal deep shipping lane to give space for the departing Grand Mistral. The Grand Mistral's departure was delayed due to passengers arriving late, and resultingly Nordlandia's detour was useless (except for photo opportunities of course). Photographs taken from Vattuniemi.

Nordlandia arriving in Helsinki West Harbour on 17 July 2010. Photographed from Vattuniemi. The caption on the forward superstructure reads "The only Finnish ship to Tallinn".

Azura, 10 July 2010


IMO 9424883
Built 2010, Fincantieri Monfalcone, Italy
Tonnage 116 000 GT
Length 289,60 m
Width 36,00 m
Draft 8,50 m
3 076 passengers
6 Wärtsilä diesels, combined 67 480 kW
2 azipods (?)
3 bow thrusters
1 stern thruster (?)
Speed 22 knots

Azura is yet another example of the Grand-class cruise ships built by Fincantieri and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries. The first ship of this class, Grand Princess, entered service for Princess Cruises in 1998. Since then, nine ships of a design either identical to or derived from the Grand Princess have been delivered to Princess Cruises, while two additional ships have been built for P&O Cruises. At the time of writing, Fincantieri are building two further Grand-class derivatives for Princess Cruises, to be delivered in 2013 and 2014.

Images below are of Azura departing Helsinki West Harbour on 10 July 2010, once again photographed from Vattuniemi.

Star, 10 July 2010


IMO 9364722
Built 2007, Aker Finnyards Helsinki, Finland
Tonnage 36 250 GT
Length 186,00 m
Width 27,70 m
Draft 6,50 m
Ice class 1A
1 900 passengers
520 berths
450 cars
1 981 lanemeters
4 MaK diesels, combined 48 000 kW
2 propellers
2 bow thrusters
1 stern thruster
Speed 27,7 knots

Star was the first fast cruiseferry to enter service between Helsinki and Tallinn, replacing–together with the Superstar delivered the following year–four small high-speed crafts and one "slow" cruiseferry in the Tallink fleet. Structurally the Star is based on the SeaFrance Rodin built in 2001 by Aker Finnyards in Rauma for SeaFrance. Viking XPRS of Tallink's main competitor Viking Line is a further variant of the SeaFrance Rodin's basic construction.

Images below are of the Star departing Helsinki West Harbour on 10 July 2010, taken from Vattuniemi. Click on the images to view full size.

Seven Seas Voyager in Helsinki, 10 July 2010

Seven Seas Voyager

IMO 9247144
Built 2003, T. Mariotti Genoa, Italy
Tonnage 42 363 GT
Length 206,50 m
Width 28,80 m
Draft 7,10 m
752 passengers
2 Wärtsilä diesels, combined 16 600 kW
2 azipods
2 bow thruster
Speed 20 knots

Seven Seas Voyager is the to-date newest addition to the fleet of Regent Seven Seas Cruises (previously Radisson Seven Seas Cruises, formed in a merger of Seven Seas Cruise Line and Radisson Diamond Cruises in 1994. Radisson and Seven Seas parted ways in 2006 and Radisson Seven Seas Cruises became Regent Seven Seas Cruises). Seven Seas Voyager was built to the same hull design as the company's previous newbuilding Seven Seas Mariner, but with a completely different-shaped and more nicely streamlined superstructure. In keeping with Regent Seven Seas Cruises' styling of themselves as a luxury brand (though the ship is ranked at "only" 4+ stars by Berlitz), all cabins on the ship have private balconies and are designated as suites.

Photographs below are of the Seven Seas Voyager departing Helsinki West Harbour on 10 July 2010, taken once again from Vattuniemi. Click on the images to view full size.

23 July 2010

Le Boréal, 10 July 2010

Le Boréal

IMO 9502506
Built 2010, Fincantieri Ancona, Italy
Tonnage 10 700 GT
Length 142 m
Width 18 m
Draft 4,7 m
Ice class 1C
264 passengers
Diesels, combined 6 400 kW
2 propellers
1 bow thruster
Speed 16 knots

Le Boréal is the newest addition to the fleet of the France-based luxury-yacht cruising brand Compagnie du Ponant. The sleek exterior was designed by Stirling Design, Nantes, while the chic interiors are by Jean-Philippe Nuel. The company website for Le Boréal has an attractive array of pictures from the inside of the ship. An interesting detail on the exterior is that the anchors are only for decoration; the ship is equipped with a dynamic positioning system that makes the usage of ancors unnescessary.

Click on image(s) to view full size.

Le Boréal passing Kustaanmiekka strait after departing from her maiden call in Helsinki on 10 July 2010. She departed relatively early and resultingly the lighting in these pictures, taken from Kustaanmiekka itself, is less than ideal. I've done my best to improve this, but there's only so much you can do.

Empress, 17 July 2010


IMO 8716899
Built 1990, Chantiers de l'Atlantique, St. Nazaire, France
Tonnage 48 563 GT
Length 210,81 m
Width 30,70 m
Draft 7,10 m
2 020 passengers
2 Wärtsilä-Duvant Crepelle diesels, combined 16 200 kW
2 propellers
2 bow thrusters
1 stern thruster
Speed 19,5 knots

Empress was originally ordered by Admiral Cruises with the intended name Future Seas. Before she was completed, Admiral Cruises was acquired by Royal Caribbean Cruise Line and the ship entered service with them as the Nordic Empress. In 2004 her name was amended to Empress of the Seas to bring her in-line with the nomenclature of the rest of the Royal Caribbean fleet. In 2008 she was transferred to the fleet of the Royal Caribbean Spanish-market subsidiary Pullmantur Cruises and her name shortened to Empress.

Click on image(s) to view full size.

Empress departing Helsinki West Harbour, photographed from Vattuniemi. 17 July 2010.

Queen Victoria, 17 July 2010

Queen Victoria

IMO 9320556
Built 2007, Fincantieri Maghera, Italy
Tonnage 90 049 GT
Length 297,00 m
Width 32,20 m
Draft 7,80 m
2 014 passengers
2 014 berths
6 Sulzer diesels, combined 63 360 kW
2 azipods
3 bow thrusters
1 stern thruster
Speed 22 knots

Click on image(s) to view full size.

Queen Victoria shortly after departing Helsinki West Harbour, photographed from Vattuniemi. 17 Julu 2010.

Mariella, 2008


IMO 8320573
Built 1985, Wärtsilä Turku, Finland
Tonnage 37 860 GT
Length 175,70 m
Width 28,40 m
Draft 6,78 m
Ice class 1A Super
2 500 passengers
2 500 berths
400 cars
4 Wärtsilä diesels, combined 23 008 kW
2 propellers
2 bow thrusters
Speed 22 knots

Click on image(s) to view full size.

At Kustaanmiekka strait, photographed from the isthmus between Susisaari and Kustaanmiekka. 2008.

At Kustaanmiekka strait, photographed from Kustaanmiekka. 1 August 2008.

Viking XPRS interiors, 2009

Viking XPRS

IMO 9375654
Built 2008, Aker Yards Helsinki, Finland
Tonnage 35 778 GT
Length 186,71 m
Width 27,70 m
Draft 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

Viking XPRS interiors designed by Lasse Heikkinen and Tillberg Design. Unless otherwise noted, photographs are taken on 15 July 2009.

Click on image(s) to view full size.

Deck 8: Restaurant deck

Red Rose Bar / Dining area

Originally planned as a dance bar capable of also housing diners who bought food from the nearby Blue Deli. However, in practice the ship was found not to have enough seating on the inside, especially for people needing a seat to eat in. Resultingly a separate Dance Pavillion was added in 2009 (see below).

Although the furniture and stylings of Red Rose are very attractive, the large size of the room combined with the single-deck ceiling height makes it unattractively warehouse-like. This is especially notable when the room is crowded (=always when the ship is underway).

Blue Deli takeway cafeteria and grill

Blue Deli was one of the more unusual features of Viking XPRS. Instead of a traditional dedicated cafeteria, there's a self-serve takeway café with a small number of seats adjacent. The plan was that diners would spread through-out the ship with their takeway foods. In realise this was found to be less than practical, as all seats near the Deli are likely to be crowded and finding a free place to sit and eat in can be stressful.

Xpresso Street café

A small dedicated café. The service counter for the café is also the reservations counter for the buffet restaurant. Another less-than-successful feature resulting in the café being almost inaccessible after departure while people are trying to make table reservation for the buffet. A tip: make your reservations beforehand.

Bistro Bella buffet restaurant

A very attractively styled restaurant serving the traditional Scandinavian shipboard buffet. Unlike on most ships, the food counters are housed in a semi-separate room at the forward end of the restaurant. While this does make the dining area more sedate, the arrangement does lead to congestion at the counters. In 2009 (after this picture was taken), an additional food counter for starters was added in the middle of the restarant.

Picture taken on 23 April 2009.

Xpresso Cabinet

A separate cabinet off the rear of Xpresso Street. Originally this was envisioned as a cabinet to be used by conference guests, but in practice it seems to have turned into an extra section of the buffet.

Deck 7: Shopping- and Conference deck

The hallway outside the Shopping World "Sea Shop".

Midship stair lobby on deck 7. One of the less stylish places onboard - although the photo does not perhaps do it full justice either.

Viking's Inn music pub.

Aft stair lobby on deck 7. All the staircases are attractively decoted with black-and-white photographs of past Viking Line ships, mostly from the 70's. Here we see SF Line's Kapella and one of Rederi Ab Sally's "Papenburger" ships, probably Viking 1 or Viking 3.

Dance Pavillion

Due to shortage of seats on the ship, especially during the winter months when the outer decks are mostly unusable, a new Dance Pavillion was built in the rear of Deck 7, in place of the former covered outdoors area Viking's Out (geddit?). Although built while the ship was in service, the finish of the new space is very good, and it's design is one of the most attractive on the ship, taking the retro stylings found all over the ship a step further, with chair models and colours schemes reminescent of 50's and 60's ocean liner decor.