28 September 2012

Eurodam in Helsinki, 9. July 2012


IMO 9378448
Built 2008, Fincantieri Porto Maghera, Italy
Tonnage 86 273 GT
Length 285,30 m
Width 32,25 m
Draught 7,80 m
1 916 passengers
2 104 passenger berths
6 MaK diesels, combined 64 000 kW
2 azipods
3 bow thrusters
Speed 23,9 knots

Following this week's earlier entry featuring the 1980s Holland America Line ship Thomson Spirit (ex-Nieuw Amsterdam), today we look at a state-of-the art HAL ship, the Eurodam. The E-dam (geddit?) was the first ship in HAL's Signature-class, a further development of the company's extremely successful Vista-class (examples of which have also been built for P&O Cruises, Cunard Line and Costa Cruises). There's very little to say about the history of the E-dam so far; she entered service in 2008 and has apparently performed well ever since. What is interesting to notice however is the fact that since the Eurodam, HAL have taken delivery of just one further newbuilding (the E-dam's sister Nieuw Amsterdam in 2010) and HAL have no new ships in order. This is somewhat suprising when you remember that other major Carnical Corporation brands either have new ships currently in order or at least have taken deliveries of new ships within the past two years. One could therefore make the presumption that HAL is the weakest-growing Carnival brand at the moment.

But speculations aside. Below are photographs of the Eurodam departing from Helsinki West Harbour on the afternoon of 9. July 2012. She sailed out after the Thomson Spirit, but unfortunately it was practically impossible to get the two generations of HAL ships in the same photo. Photographed from Sisä-Hattu. Click on the images to see in larger size.

I've featured an increasing number of upright photos recently, which is somewhat surprising as my camera has a strong tendency not to focus properly if it's not held horizontally (yes, I do photograph with an aged, half-broken piece of crap).
I like the two funnels, but I do wish they'd paint them some other colour than white. But maybe that's just me.
Sisä-Hattu's foreground rocks featured again. What can I say, they look good there.
Two upright photos in one entry, probably a new record.
Lovely Pihlajasaari there in the background as well.
I wonder, is it always windy from the same direction when I photograph in the vicinity of Pihlajasaari, or are the trees there just permanently bent away from the open sea? Or is it just an optical illusion?
Next time: AIDAsol.

25 September 2012

Thomson Spirit in Helsinki, 9 July 2012

Thomson Spirit

IMO 8024014
Name history: Nieuw Amsterdam, Patriot, Nieuw Amsterdam, Spirit, Thomson Spirit
Built 1983, Chantiers de l'Atlantique St. Nazaire, Frence
Tonnage 33 930 GT
Length 214,66 m
Width 27,26 m
Draugth 7,40 m
1 254 passengers (lower berths)
1 350 berths
2 Sulzer diesels, combined 22 400 kW
2 propellers
1 bow thruster
1 stern thruster
Speed 21 knots

The present-day Thomson Spirit was originally the Nieuw Amsterdam, the first of two cruise ships completed for the Holland America Line at the Chantiers de l'Atlantique shipyard. Her sister ship was the Noordam, delivered a year after the Nieuw Amsterdam in 1984. The 1980s Nieuw Amsterdam and Noordam were the last newbuilt ship delivered to HAL prior to the company being taken over by the Carnival Corporation in 1988. Unfortunately the ships suffered from poor constuction quality and also extensive vibrations, particularly towards the stern.

Despite these problems the 1983 Nieuw Amsterdam sailed with HAL for 17 years until the year 2000, when she was sold to America Classic Voyages, a US-based company that used her for cruising around Hawaii under the banner of the historic United States Lines (however, this new United States Lines had nothing to do with the original liner operator United States Lines). The new United States Lines renamed the ship Patriot and placed her under the US flag, an arrangement made possible by the US congress' permission as United States Lines were also to build a brand-new ship at a US shipyard, the Project America.

The new United States Lines' existance proved to be exceptionally short, as the company folded already in October 2001, due to the travel downturn that followed the 9/11 terrorist attacks. In January 2002 Holland America Line bought back the Patriot and she reverted to the name Nieuw Amsterdam. I don't know if she ever saw service during her second stint under this name. Already in May 2002 the ship was chartered to Louis Cruises and subsequently renamed Spirit. It appears that the ship was not in fact used by Louis at all and she only re-entered service in May 2003 when she was sub-chartered by Louis to Thomson Cruises and renamed Thomson Spirit.

Since 2003 the Thomson Spirit has remained in service with Thomson Cruises. In 2008 she was bought by Louis Cruises (or more properly a subsidiary of theirs), but remains under charter to Thomson. Her sister ship, the ex-Noordam, also sails for Thomson Cruises as the Thomson Celebration, but she is still owned by Holland America Line and operated under charter from them.

The photographs below show the Thomson Spirit departing Helsinki's West Harbour on the afternoon of 9 July 2012, photographed from Sisä-Hattu. Click on the images to see in larger size.

Although the Thomson Spirit has both bow and stern thusters, these are apparently not very powerful as she required tug assistance when departing. Also notice old and new HAL in this photo: on the left you can see the superstructure of the Eurodam. Had it been the Eurodam's younger sister, the current Nieuw Amsterdam, one could have taken very poignant photos...
The ship's profile is quite unusual, being a fairly sleek ship built in the early 80s when most cruise lines were already opting for larger ships with substantial superstructures. One might presume that the Thomson Spirit and her sister would be loved by ship afficiandos because of this, but that does not seem to be the case.
I seem to have taken surprisingly many upright photos recently. Mostly thanks to my camera sharpening them nicely and not overexposing the ship too badly.
Traditional "onwards to open sea, with Pihlajasaari in the background" -photo, now with added foreground rock.
The lovely dark clouds in the background contrast the ship beautifully.
Next time: Eurodam.

20 September 2012

Queen Victoria in Helsinki, 6 July 2012

Queen Victoria

IMO 9320556
Built 2007, Fincantieri Maghera, Italy
Tonnage 90 049 GT
Length 297,00 m
Width 32,20 m
Draugth 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

The Queen Victoria was the second newbuilt ship delivered to the new Carnival Corporation -owned Cunard Line and (I'm sorry, this is going to be a bit of a rant, feel free to skip directly to the images) exemplifies just about everything that is wrong with the new Cunard. The ship itself is one of the numerous Vista-class ships used across various Carnival brands. It has an ahistorical name probably chosen by corporate executives with little to no understanding about the history and traditions of the company. That's really what is wrong with today's Cunard: it's a company run by people who wish to exploit the company's history to commercial ends without understanding it, aimed at people who do not understand the company's history either. The result is a pastiche - no, a parody - of the once proud Cunard Line.

The photographs below show the Queen Victoria departing from Helsinki's West Harbour on 6 July 2012, photographed from Sisä-Hattu. Click on the individual images to see them in larger size.

Just away from the quay and framed by leaves.
The twisted tree gives a bit of a Mediterranean vibe, but the Baltic Princess in the background proves that we are in fact in Helsinki.
Lovely foreground crap reeds.
Upright photo, not even a too badly distorted one thing time. This is probably my personal favourite of this batch.
Warm (I think it was, anyway) July afternoon with flowers, sunshine and ships - what more could a man ask for?
Pihlajasaari in the background, Sisä-Hattu in the foreground.
Um, yes. This doesn't really require a caption, does it?
For the record, I hate the new Blogger user interface and I'm extremely disappointed in Google for not letting us have the option of continuing to use the old interface if we wanted.

Next time: Thomson Spirit

18 September 2012

Athena in Helsinki, 6 July 2012

For once - admittedly by accident - my entry for the day will have some relevance with current events, as we will be looking at Classic International Cruises' Athena which was arrested in Marseille last Saturday together with her fleetmate Princess Danae due to unpaid crew wages and fuel bills. I sincerely hope this is just a false alarm, as CIC operate some of the most interesting old ships around... such as the Athena. Be warned that this is a text-heavy entry for a change.


IMO 5383304
Name history: Stockholm, Völkerfreundschaft, Volker, Fridtjof Nansen, Italia I, Italia Prima, Valtur Prima, Caribe, Athena
Built 1948, Götaverken Gothenburg,Sweden
Tonnage 16 144 GT
Length 160,08 m
Width 21,04 m
Draught 7,90 m
650 passengers
2 Wärtsilä diesels, combined 10 664 kW
2 propellers
1 bow thruster
Speed 16,5 knots

The Athena was built way back in 1948 for Svenska Amerika Linjen (Swedish American Line, SAL) for their Gothenburg-New York -service as the Stockholm. The ship took her name from a previous Stockholm, completed in 1941 by an Italian shipyard but never entered service for SAL due to the war. Whereas the 1941 Stockholm was luxurious to the entreme, the post-war Stockholm was originally a rather austere people-carrier not at all in keeping with SAL's pre-war luxury image. It was not the SAL's intention to turn into a second-rate operator however, as during the same year the Stockholm entered service, plans for a new ship, larger and more luxurious from the Stockholm were being put in motion.

After the new, much more luxurious Kungsholm entered service in 1953, the Stockholm was given a large-scale refit in order to get her to match the quality of her newer fleetmate. In 1956 she was given another refit, when Dennt Brown -type stabilisers were installed to help the combat the ship's pronounced rolling. Soon afterwards the ship was involved in an collision that would make her famous forever. Due to a navigational error, the Stockholm rammed the larger Italian Line liner Andrea Doria in fog outside of Nantucket. The Stockholm's bow was demolished but she stayed afloat. The Andrea Doria was not so lucky and sunk 11 hours later. Fortunately, only 46 people onboard the Andrea Doria and five people onboard the Stockholm perished in the accident.

The Stockholm's bow was later repaired and she resumed sailings. Her SAL career was already coming to an end however. The company's new flagship Gripsholm, an improved version of the Kungsholm, was already under construction in Italy. SAL wanted to sell the Stockholm immediately but could not find a buyer. Evnetually it was only 1959 that a buyer was found, in the form of the state-owned East German operator VEB Deutsche Seereederei, with delivery in 1960.

Under the East German flag the ship was renamed Völkerfreundschaft for further cruising. From 1966 onwards the Völkerfreundschaft spent several winters under chater to Stena Line, who used on cruises out of Gothenburg as far as the Caribbean. She remained in service for the East Germans until 1985, when she was sold to Neptunus Rex Enterprises, Panama, following the delivery of the newer Arkona (later known as the Saga Pearl II and currently as the Quest for Adventure). The Völkerfreundschaft was renamed Volker and laid up. In 1986 she was renamed Fridtjof Nansen for use as an accommodation ship in Oslo.

Three years later the aged Fridtjof Nansen got a new lease of life when sold to StarLauro (the future MSC Cruises) to be radically rebuilt into a cruise ship in Genoa, potentially to be renamed Surriento after a previous Lauro liner. However, it was not until 1992 that the rebuilding actually started. A year later the ship was renamed Italia I, later amended into Italia Prima. In 1994 the ship was delivered to Nina Cia. di Navigazione (StarLauro having resold her) and entered service on Mediterranean cruises. In 1995 the Italia Prima was chartered for five years to Neckermann Seereisen of Germany and used for Caribbean cruising. Neckermann got into financial difficulties in early 1998 and the ship was laid up.

In late 1998 the Italia Prima was chartered to another German tour operator, Valtur Tourist, as the Valtur Prima for further Caribbean cruising. In 2001 the Valtur Prima war laid up in Havana, Cuba. The next year the ship was sold to Festival Cruises and renamed Caribe for planned Caribbean cruising out of Havana, but this never took place and the ship remained laid up for three more years.

In 2005 the Caribe was finally reactivated. She was sold to the Portugal-based Classic International Cruises, specilising in the operation of older tonnage. CIC renamed the ship Athena and used her for around-the-world cruising. Interestingly, she cruised winter seasons for the Australian market. In 2009 the ship was briefly chartered to Phoenix Reisen after they had trouble taking the delivery of their new Alexander von Humboldt.

In September 2012 the Athena was arrested in Marseille alongside her fleetmate Princess Danae, due to alledged unpaid crew wages and fuel bills. This news followed swift on the heels of reports of fnancial difficulties for the company and troubles refitting their first ship Funchal to correspond with SOLAS 2010 rules. At the time of writing the future of CIC and the Athena remains a mystery.

The photographs below, however, show the Athena still in full swing, departing Helsinki three months ago, photographed from Suomenlinna and the ferry to the island (not sure which one). Click on the images to see them in larger size.

At the Katajanokka cruise quay. In the original full-size image you could see the riveted hull, a farly notable difference from the welded 90s-built superstructure.
It doesn't really look 64 years old, but that's radical rebuilds for you...
Peeking behind Lonna.
Foreground crap inspired my then-recent trip with Bruce Peter.
More foreground crap.
Entering the Kustaanmiekka strait, now minus the foreground crap.
Next time (probably): Queen Victoria

16 September 2012

Sea Wind in Turku, 26 June 2012

Sea Wind

IMO 7218332
Name history: Svealand, Saga Wind, Sea Wind
Built 1972, Helsingør Skibsværft og Maskinbyggeri, Denmark
Tonnage 15 879 GT
Length 154,41 m
Width 21,04 m
Draugth 5,02 m
Ice class 1B
12 passengers (as a cargo ship), 363 passengers (maximum)
363 berths
60 cars
1 270 lanemetres
4 MaK diesels, combined 7 356 kW
2 controllable pitch propellers
1 bow thruster
Speed 18 knots

For a history of the Sea Wind, see the first entry on her.  The photographs below show the Sea Wind arriving in Turku on the evening of 26 June 2012, photographed from onboard the Isabella. Click on the images to see them in larger size.

The lighting was far from perfect, but it did result in interesting photography anyway.
Ruissalo in the background.

14 September 2012

Fjärdvägen in the Åland Archipelago, 26 June 2012

As you know, I don't normally post images of cargo ships. Today, I am going to make an exception with the Fjärdvägen, simply because these images are so awesome. :)


IMO 7226952
Name history: Anu, Norcliff, Anu, Luna Bridge, Lady Catherin, Lakespan Ontario, Sir Lamorak, Merchant Trader, Mols Trader, Mads Mols, Pride of Portsmouth, Norman Commodore, Fjärdvägen
Built 1972, Ankerløkken Verft Florø, Norway
Tonnage 6 040 GT
Length 109,51 m
Width 21,45 m
Draught 4,95 m
Ice class 1A
12 passengers
12 berths
45 trailers
2 Pielstick diesels, combined 5 885 kW
2 propellers
1 bow thruster
Speed 17 knots

The Fjärdvägen is a roro freighter that provides a "lifeline" service between the Åland Islands and Finnish mainland (although one can question how much of a lifeline it is, when thanks to EU tax regulations the Åland Islands are probably the best-served area in the world when it comes to ferries). The little freight ferry has a suprisingly interesting history, however.

The Fjärdvägen was originally built in 1972 as the Anu, one of four identical ferries delivered by Ankerløkken Verft in Florø, Norway to Alander Frachtsciff, a Germany-based company owned by Ålandian interests. On delivery the Anu and her sisters Ilkka, Lalli and Leila were chartered to the Finnish Avomeri Line (avomeri = open sea). The Anu briefly served on the Helsinki-Helsingborg-Århus -route, until chartered to North Sea Ferries between 1973 and 1974 as the Nordcliff. For the years 1973-80 she reverted to the Anu, spending time under charter to Tor Line and Sealink. In 1980 she was sold to Tejo Leasing, but soon resold to Javelin Shipping and renamed Luna Bridge within the same year, continuing under charter to Sealink. In late 1980 the ship was again renamed, now to Lady Catherin, and chartered to B&I Lines until 1981.

Between 1981 and 1982 the ship was chartered to Lakespan Marine in Canada as the Lakespan Ontario. In February 1982 the ship was requisitioned by the British Ministry of Defence, renamed Sir Lamorak and used as a material and troop transport during the Falklands War. She remained in service with the Ministry of Defence until the end of 1985.

In 1986 the Sir Lamorak was sold to Cenargo Navigation as the Merchant Trader. The next year she passed to Scout Shipping as the Mols Trader and in 1988 to Bahamadifko LXII as the Mads Mols, sailing under charter to Mols Linien in Denmark (based on the name one could presume she was already connected to Mols Linien when known as the Mols Trader). Between 1989 and 1992 the ship sailed in the English Channel as the Pride of Portsmouth for Mainland Market Deliveries. After this she was chartered to Commodore Ferries as the Norman Commodore.

In 1994 the Norman Commodore was sold to Clare Business, but remained in service with Commodore Ferries. In late 1995 the ship was sold to Rederi Ab Lillgaard in the Åland Islands and renamed Fjärdvägen for service between Långnäs in the Åland Islands and Naantali in the Finnish mainland. She took over the route and the name from a previous Fjärdvägen that had only serviced on the route for a year.

The Fjärdvägen is jokingly referred to as the "Sips Express" after the popular brand of crisps (or potato chips if you're American) manufactured by the Ålandian company Taffel, as Taffel's crisp trucks are the Fjärdvägen's main customers.

The photographs below show the Fjärdvägen in the Åland Archipelago on 26 June 2012, soon after departing Långnäs for Naantali. Photographed from onboard the Isabella. Click on the images to see them in larger size.

My camera had a little trouble focusing on this one, but the composition is brilliant (even if I may say so myself).
The we departed Mariehamn just a short while earlier it was raining. Not anymore, just look at that fantastic light!
Closeups of the ship were hard to get, as she was actually quite far away all the time.
The Fjärdvägen has a less demanding timetable than the Isabella, so we soon left her behind...
Which resulted in some rather delightful photo opprtunities.
Looking back, I'm not sure where the light in these photos comes from since the sky seems to have been almost entirely cloudy. One of life's great mysteries.
Next time: Probably staying with the freighter theme and featuring the Sea Wind.

12 September 2012

Baltic Queen in Mariehamn, 25 June 2012

I apologise for the recent pause in updates to this blog. I have, somehow, managed to be frightfully busy for the past two weeks - quite an archievement considering I'm currently technically unemployed and hence I should have all the time in the world. But, onwards to the point and the last photographs (worth of publishing) from my midsummer visit to Mariehamn with Bruce Peter.

Baltic Queen

IMO 9443255
Built 2009, STX Europe Rauma, Finland
Tonnage 48 915 GT
Length 212,10 m
Width 29,00 m
Draught 6,42 m
Ice class 1A Super
2 800 passengers
2 500 berths
600 cars
1 130 lanemeters
4 Wärtsilä diesels, combined 32 000 kW
2 propellers
2 bow thrusters
Speed 24,5 knots

The Baltic Queen is probably the least-covered Northern Baltic ferry in this blog. For whatever reason, I never manage to find myself in a location that allows good photography of the ship. Except on the recent midsummer trip with Bruce, where the night between 24 and 25 June allowed for rather splendid nocturnal photography of the ship (and when I say nocturnal, do remember that this was midsummer - the photos were around 1 AM and as you can see, a part of the sky was still quite light). The photographs below show the BQ arriving at, and departing from, Mariehamn on her nocturnal tax-free visit. Click on the images to see in larger size.

Feel free to disagree, but personally I think the Baltic Queen has the best-looking livery of the Galaxy-class ships. Of course, these photos don't exactly do the livery justice...
One in the morning and you can see the sun setting. Finnish summer is quite awesome (winter, not quite so).
Turning to reverse into the quay.
Twenty minutes later, the Baltic Queen is outbound towards Tallinn.
Tallink have not skimped on the budget for lamps to light up the sides. Nice for photography purposes.
Next time: (probably) Fjärdvägen.

02 September 2012

Isabella off Kobba Klintar, 24 June 2012 (part 2)


IMO 8700723
Built 1989, Brodogradiliste Split, Yugoslavia
Tonnage 35 154 GT
Length 169,40 m
Width 27,60 m
Draugth 6,40 m
2 480 passengers
2 166 berths
364 cars
900 lane metres
4 Wärtsilä-Pielstick diesels, combined 23 760 kW
2 propellers
2 bow thrusters
Speed 21,5 knots

Okay, these are the final photos from my venture to Kobba Klintar with Bruce Peter. Possibly these are also my final pictures of the Isabella. As most will probably know, she is likely to be sold on the completion of the Viking Grace, and I don't have any trips planned between now and next January that would allow further Isabella photography. Of course, Viking Line might still surprise us and find a deployment for the ship in their own fleet... but time is running short, if and when they need to publicise the new itineraries before next January. Anyway, onwards to the photographs.

Isabella departing Mariehamn on 24 June 2012, photographed from Kobba Klintar. Click on the images to see them in larger size.

23 years and still going strong - for a few months more, anyway.
The lighting here was so much better than when the 'Bella came in.
Foreground islands yay!
I thought I'd make a panoramic photo of this one - but then it looked so much better without any further cropping.
Upright photo! Mark the occasion on your calendars!