21 June 2012

Le Diamant in Helsinki, 7 June 2012

Le Diamant

IMO 7325629
Former names: Begonia, Explorer Starship, Song of Flower
Built 1974, Kristiansands Mekaniske Verksteds, Norway
Rebuilt as a cruise ship 1986, Lloyd Werft Bremerhaven, West Germany
Tonnage 8 282 GT
Length 124,19 m
Width 16,03 m
Draugth 4,97 m
198 passengers
2 Wichman diesels, combined 5 202 kW
2 controllable pitch propellers
1 bow thruster
Speed 15 knots

Le Diamant is a luxury cruise ship belonging to the French cruise line Compagnie du Ponant. Unlike all other Ponant ships she is not a a purpose-built luxury cruise ship but rather a ship with multiple previous owners and a fascinating history, having started out as a ro-ro freighter.

Le Diamant was originally built as the Begonia for Stoomvaart Maatschappij Oostzee in Netherlands Antilles (a subsidiary of the Norwegian Fearnley & Eger). As built she was one of the standard ro-ro freighters built by Kristiansands Mek. for many different owners (amongst others Silja Line). She could transport 695 lane metres of freight and 12 passengers. In 1985 the Begonia and her sister Gardenia were transferred under the ownership of the Lloyd Werft shipyard in Bremerhaven, to be converted into a pair of luxury cruise ships. In the end only the Begonia was rebuilt, while the Gardenia remained in the ro-ro trades until scrapped in 2001. The Begonia's radical rebuild was designed by Petter Yran (of Yran & Storbraaten fame). She was given an unusual interior arrangement for a cruise ship with public rooms aft and cabins forward (away from the engine noise). Following the refit the ship re-emerged in 1986 as the Starship Explorer for Exploration Cruise Line. She was used for cruising to off-the-beaten-path destination in North America.

Already in 1988 Exploration Cruise Line went bankrupt. The Starship Explorer returned to Fearnley & Eger (presumably she had been owned by F&E but chartered to Exploration Cruise Line?) and laid up. The next year the Starship Explorer was sold to the Meiyo Corporation in Japan for their new Seven Seas Cruises brand - or to Skaugen Marine in Norway, the sources I discovered in my quick research for this entry do not agree (any and all clarifications are welcome!). Whatever her actual owners, she was renamed Song of Flower and used for cruising under the Seven Seas Cruises brand. In 1997 Seven Seas Cruises merged with the Finland-based Diamond Cruises to become Radisson Seven Seas Cruises.

In 2003 the Song of Flower was sold to Compagnie du Ponant and was renamed Le Diamant. Although Ponant's website claims that she sails under the French flag, she is in fact registered in Nassau, the Bahamas. After a rebuilt which decreased the number of passengers carried by over sixty the ship entered service for Ponant in early 2004.

The photographs below show Le Diamant at and departing from Helsinki on 7 June 2012, photographed from the ferry to Suomenlinna (either Suokki or Suomenlinna II) and from Kustaanmiekka. Click on the images to see in larger size.

At Katajanokka in front of the now-demolished Kanavaterminaali (Channel Terminal).
I was somewhat surprised to discover the ship had a blue hull, as I thought she was white. Later research revealed that she had been repainted sometime this spring. In my humble opinion the colour looks rather cheap, particularly when compared to the ultra-elegant Le Boréal.
The blue hull colour also exaggerates the size of the already-oversized funnels - particularly as the funnels are white. In conclusion, the amateus graphic designer does not approve.
But having said that, I do find the ship utterly fascinating. And even beautiful in some strange way.
The traditional photogenic ramparts.
And some panoramica for a change.
Notice the fact that the paint has peeled a bit from the starboard funnel - at first I thought it was intentional styling, but the port funnel looks different.

18 June 2012

Prinsendam in Helsinki, 7 June 2012


IMO 8700280
Former names: Royal Viking Sun, Seabourn Sun
Built 1988, Wärtsilä Marine Turku New Shipyard, Finland
Tonnage 37 983 GT
Length 205,50 m
Width 28,90 m
Draugth 7,20 m
840 passengers
4 Wärtsilä-Sulzer diesels, combined 21 120 kW
2 propellers
2 bow thrusters
Speed 22 knots

For a brief history of the Prinsendam, see this earlier entry. The photographs below show the Prinsendam departing from Helsinki on the afternoon of 7 June 2012. Click on the images to see in larger size.

Entering the Kustaamiekka strait and looking somewhat worse for wear: notice the rusty anchor and the dents in the forepeak.
Panoramic Kustaanmiekka.
The lens creating a little bit of fisheye-style distortion here.
Ramparts and ships and so on...
Not really sure about the design of the aft superstructure.

17 June 2012

Deutschland in Helsinki, 6 June 2012


IMO 9141807
Built 1998, HDW Kiel, Germany
Tonnage 22 496 GT
Length 175,49 m
Width 23,00 m
Draugth 5,79 m
520 passengers
4 Krupp MaK-DMR diesels, combined 12 320 kW
2 propellers
1 bow thruster
Speed 20 knots

The Deutschland is the flagship (and currently the only ship) of Germany's Peter Deilmann Reederei. Deilmann had operated numerous ferries since 1973 and entered the cruise business in 1980 with the chartered Regina Maris and the purpose-built Berlin (most recently sailing as the Spirit of Adventure). The Regina Maris left the fleet in 1983 and the ferry division closed down later during the decade, leaving just the Berlin. In 1998 the Berlin was joined by the new purpose-built Deutschland, delivered from the HDW shipyard in Kiel. Somewhat unusually the Deutschland (and indeed the Berlin) was not placed under a flag of convinience but flies the German flag with Neustadt in Holstein as the post of registry. (Just as a small comparison: Hapag-Lloyd's Europa was built a year later by a Finnish shipyard and registered in the Bahamas).

Already during the ship's first year of service it was rebuilt with a smaller (!) number of cabins, with the removal of 100 passenger berths. The remaining cabins were upgraded in 1999. Accordingly to Berlitz Complete Guide to Cruising the interiors have been designed to "reroduce the atmosphere of the ocean liners of the 1920s" and to be fair the exterior profile is also rather classical with a low superstructure, a centrally located funnel and masts both fore and aft. One wouldn't really believe the ship was built at recently as 1998.

The photographs below show the Deutschland outbound from Helsinki South Harbour on 6 June 2012. Photographed from Kustaanmiekka. Click on the images to see in larger size.

Not sure if I like the new Deilmann funnel colours. The previous had a white funnel with the old Deilmann logo in red. The light blue background in this one looks a bit weird, particularly when combined with the red funnel-shaped thingy on the side of the funnel. Why would you need a funnel on a funnel anyway.
The logo on the forward superstructure advertises the fact the ship will be used a hotel ship in London for the 2012 summer olympics.
In the narrowest part of the strait.
Notice the classical composition of the ship's profile.
And indeed, Neustadt in Holstein as the homeport. Said city also houses the headquarters of Peter Deilmann Reederei.

14 June 2012

Silver Whisper in Helsinki, 6 June 2012

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
Draugth 6,00 m
400 passengers
2 Wärtsilä diesels, combined 11 474 kW
2 propellers
2 bow thrusters
Speed 20,5 knots

After posting the last entry about the Silver Whisper (I know it was a week ago, but I managed to take two good sets of images of the ship within a week so) something clicked in my head and I realised there is a link in the ship's name to Silver Line, a fictive shipping company in the long-running Swedish soap opera Rederiet (literally "The Shipping Company"). Rederiet was and is one of my all-time favourite TV shows. It chronicled the fortunes of the family-owned Swedish shipping company Dahlén (fictive of course) and the crew of their flagship Freja ("played" by the Birka Princess). Dahlén Line had many competitors over the run of the series, the by far most fun of which was Silver Line led by Pehr Silver (played by Peter Harryson). The company loosely modelled on Stena Line, though I don't know how much similarity there was between the fictive Pehr Silver and the real-life Sten A. Olsson. Anyway, the point of this obscure TV-series related rambling is that nowadays I'm always pronouncing the named of Silversea Cruises' ships in a heavy Swedish accent becuase, let's face it, with names like that they could be Silver Line ships. Except that Silver Line built theirs cheap in Poland, which Silversea didn't do.

But the photographs. Silvär Wispär photographed in Gustafssvärds sund after departing Helsingfors Södra Hamnen on the afternoon on 6 Juni 2012. Clicka på bilder för större format.

Cue the theme to Rederiet. I promise to stop about the series now.
My friend Olli suggested the spot for photos on this day and his choice was excellent. Even if we had to crawl through one of the windows in the ramparts to get there.
The photo looks very summery but it was actuatlly very cold. Gloved would have came in handy.
Nothing to add to this photo.

13 June 2012

Viking XPRS in Helsinki, 29 May 2012

Viking XPRS

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

One more entry from the extensive photo session on 29 May, before we move on to newer (and perhance more interesting) photos from June. The Viking XPRS arriving in Helsinki, photographed passing through the Kustaanmiekka strait on the evening of 29 May 2012. Click on the images to see in larger size.

Surprisingly heavy on the exhausts here.
And coming in quite fast, considering how narrow and twisting the strait is.
My camera battery died just after taking this photo...
...but none the matter, I had a spare.

12 June 2012

Mariella in Helsinki, 29 May 2012


IMO 8320573
Built 1985, Wärtsilä Turku New Shipyard, Finland
Tonnage 37 860 GT
Length 175,70 m
Width 28,40 m
Draugth 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

A few more photographs from the extensive photo session on 29 May. When it came to the Mariella I decided that instead of taking photos from the usual locations (from which I have hundreds of photos of the ship anyway) I decided to move to a different location that didn't give me a chance of photographing the ship from a forward point of view but did give chances for unusual images from the aft view. So here they are. The Mariella departing from Helsinki, photographed from Kustaanmiekka, click on the images for larger size, you know the drill.

Clearing the Kustaanmiekka strait and heading out to the open sea.
And that little lighthouse-thing included in the photo. ;)

10 June 2012

Silja Symphony in Helsinki, 29 May 2012

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
Draught 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

It seems that the last time I posted a new entry about the Silja Symphony was spring 2011, so I guess it's high time to make another one. Especially as Silja Line have started introducing their new logotype on the hulls of their ships (the Silja Europa already has it, though I have not had the chance to photograph it in the new livery yet), and hence there might not be that many chances to photograph the ship in her current appearance. Okay, I admit I might already have hundreds of photos of her in the current livery...

But still. Silja Symphony passing through the Kustaanmiekka strait, outbound from Helsinki to Stockholm on the afternoon of 29 May 2012. Photographed from Kustaanmiekka. Click on the images to see in larger size.

In our ongoing series of"obscured but good": the Silja Symphony.
The Helsinki archipelago is decidedly not as impressive as the Stockholm and Turku variants.

07 June 2012

Silver Whisper in Helsinki, 29 May 2012

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
Draugth 6,00 m
400 passengers
2 Wärtsilä diesels, combined 11 474 kW
2 propellers
2 bow thrusters
Speed 20,5 knots

Silver Whisper is one of the ship that comes to Helsinki a lot. Interestingly, these ships tend to fall into two very different categories: large mass-market ships like AIDAsol, Celebrity Constellation and Norwegian Sun in one end of the spectrum, and exclusive luxury ships like Le Boréal, Seabourn Sojourn and Silver Whisper in the other. I find it quite fascinating that such diverse ships seem to follow so similar itineraries.

Anyway. The photographs here show the Silver Whisper at the Kustaanmiekka strait after departing Helsinki South Harbour on the afternoon of 29 May 2012. As usual, photographed from Kustaanmiekka. Click on the images to see them in larger size.

Not photographed from "The Hill" near the western shore of Suomenlinna but from the bottom of it, giving ever-so-slightly different point of views from the earlier Kristina Katarina entry from the same session.
All kinds of foreground crap here.
And a rowan in bloom. And way markers. And a small lighthouse-thing.
Past the rowan and onwards to... someplace. Probably either St. Petersburg or Stockholm.

02 June 2012

Kristina Katarina in Helsinki, 29 May 2012

Kristina Katarina

IMO 7625811
Previous names: Konstantin Simonov, Francesca, The Iris
Built 1982, Stocznia Szczecinska im A. Warskiego Szczecin, Poland
Tonnage 12 688 GT
Length 138,00 m
Width 21,01 m
Draugth 5,60 m
450 passengers
4 Sulzer diesels, combined 12 779 kW
2 propellers
1 bow thruster
Speed 18 knot

For a brief history of the Kristina Katarina, see the first entry on her. On 29 May 2012 the Kristina Katarina arrived back home in Finland from her extensive winter cruise season, that took her as far as the Caribbean (becoming the first Finnish-flagged cruise ship to sail there). Unusually she arrived at 16.00, which gave the change to - for once - photograph a ship arriving in Helsinki South Harbour without the need to wake up ridiculously early. She was due to depart at 20.00 and it was my intention to also photograph her outbound passage through Kustaanmiekka - but alas, she departed an hour late by which time I had made the (wrong) decision to start heading home. I did manage to photograph her departure, but only got a handful of not that good images from the deck of the Tor.

Click on the images to see them in larger size.

As you can see, the lighting was not ideal for photographing the arrival - and the all-white cloud cover didn't help much.
That little lighthouse-thing is extremely pictoresque. Should try to take more images featuring it, really.
The white sky and light sea stop being a problem when you can frame the ship's superstructure in front of some trees.
A lot of the ship is obscured, yet I find this photo looks very good.
Passing a pilot boat - who, as my wife pointed out, looks very much like the red Angry Bird here. ;)
More in our series of "obscured but good".
Departing after nine. Has I stayed in Kustaanmiekka the photos would have undoubtedly been awesome - and I would have been home by 23.00 at earliest.