30 May 2014

Silja Europa in Helsinki, 3 August 2013

Silja Europa

IMO 8919805
Name history: Europa, Silja Europa
Built 1993, Meyer Werft, Germany
Tonnage 59 912 GT
Length 201,78 m
Width 32,60 m
Draught 6,80 m
Ice class 1 A Super
3 123 passengers
3 696 berths
350 cars
932 lane metres
4 MAN diesels, combined 31 800 kW
2 propellers
2 bow thrusters
1 stern thruster
Speed 22 knots

For a history of the Silja Europa, see this entry on her.

As the weather in Helsinki has been rather terrible this week, I haven't bothered to head out for the purpose of new photography. Instead, here are some more photos that I had previously prepared for publication: The Silja Europa departing Helsinki West Harbour on the evening of 3 August 2013. Photographed, once again, from Sisä-Hattu. Click on the images to see them in larger size.

Lichen-covered rock and other fine things create a nice framing for the Silja Europa.
Another Bruce Peter -esque image with the swimmers looking on while the SE departs.
The dry summer created foliage that looked rather autumnly even though this was taken in early August.
This photo, on the other hand, looks very summery, even though it was taken on the same day.

25 May 2014

Emerald Princess in Helsinki, 3 August 2013

Emerald Princess

IMO 9333151
Built 2007, Fincantieri Monfalcone, Italy
Tonnage 113 651 GT
Length 289,60 m
Width 36,80 m
Draugth 6,40 m
3 114 passengers
6 Wärtsilä diesels, combined 67 200 kW
2 propellers
3 bow thrusters
Speed 21,7 knots

Here is another set of photos from last summer, which I had already prepared for publication earlier. The Emerald Princess is yet a yet another variant of Princess Cruises' numerous (and in my opinion, externally terribly unattractive) Grand class. According to Fakta om Fartyg she was originally to be named Californian Princess, but this was changed to the more international Emerald Princess during construction.

The photographs below show the Emerald Princess departing Helsinki West Harbour on the evening of 3 August 2013. Photographed from Sisä-Hattu. Click on the images to see them in larger size.

In my opinion, the framing of this image is rather successful. The ship itself is not that attractive.
Notice how much smaller the sailing boat is in comparison to the Emerald Princess.
Traditional shot with The Photogenic Tree.
It was a lovely summer day, which I think translates fantastically in this photo.
Again, while the ship isn't the most attractive thing out there, this is a superb shot, even if I may say so myself.

22 May 2014

Azores in Helsinki, 22 May 2014


IMO 5383304
Name history: Stockholm, Völkerfreundschaft, Volker, Fridtjof Nansen, Italia I, Italia Prima, Valtur Prima, Caribe, Athena, Azores
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

Today saw two firsts, one for me and one of a more general note. On the latter, today saw the first visit of Portuscale Cruises' 1948-built Azores in Helsinki under her current name. To photograph her, I headed for the first time to the fortification island Lonna outside Helsinki. The island was opened to the public only this week, so these are literally very new.

Since the Azores was featured in this blog the last time while she was still the Athena of Classic International Cruises, this is a good time to update her history. Most of this is just an update of her previous history, with the new bits added to the end.

The Azores 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 extreme, 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 than the Stockholm were being put in motion.

After the new, 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 Italian Line liner Andrea Doria in fog outside of Nantucket. The Stockholm's bow was demolished but the ship 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 subsequently repaired and she resumed sailings. Her SAL career was already coming to an end, as 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 on the Gripsholm's delivery in 1957, but could not find a buyer. A buyer was eventually found in 1959, in the form of the state-owned East German operator VEB Deutsche Seereederei, who took delivery of the ship 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 extending 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 (today the Saga Pearl II). 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. Classic International Cruises was declared bankrupt in December of the same year. In February 2013 the Athena, alongside the bulk of the CIC fleet, was sold to Portugese entrepreneur Rui Alegre, who established Portuscale Cruises (named after Portus Cale, a Roman-era port in present-day Portugal) to operate his acquisitions. The former CIC ships were at the same time given names related to Portugese geography, with the Athena becoming the Azores. The Azores spent all of 2013 either laid up or being refitted, until in spring 2014 she was reactivated for cruising with Germany's Ambiente Kreutzfahrten. Despite the charter to Ambiente, the ship sails painted in full Portuscale colours.

The photoraphs below show the Azores on Kruunuvuorenselkä shortly after departing Helsinki South Harbour, on the afternoon of 22 May 2014. Photographed from Lonna. Click on the images to see them in larger size.

The Azores shortly after departing the Katajanokka cruise quay. Unfortunately the ship took the more northernly shipping lane through Kruunuvuorenselkä, which means these photos don't show the Lonna vantage point at its best (though these are still the best possible photos that could have been taken at such an early departure time).
Today the Gods of Weather smiled on me, providing a nice amount of photogenic background clouds on an otherwise clear sky.
The Portuscale Cruises livery looks fantastically classic - although I would maybe have chosen a shade of yellow closer to buff for that extra traditional effect.
Leaving the clouds behind.
Just a ten minutes' ferry ride from central Helsinki you have this landscape, which could be from anywhere in the Finnish countryside (as long as there would be water, which there usually is). Of course, few other places have cruise ships as a part of their daily routine.

20 May 2014

L'Austral in Helsinki, 20 May 2014


IMO 9502518
Built 2011, Fincantieri Ancona, Italy
Tonnage 10 700 GT
Length 142,00 m
Width 18,00 m
Draught 4,70 m
Ice class 1C
264 passengers
264 berths
Diesels, combined 6 400 kW
2 propellers
1 bow thruster
Speed 16 knots

L'Austral is, as is evident from her looks, the second ship in Compagnie du Ponants super-chic Le Boréal -class trio (soon to be quartet). There is very little to say about the history of the ship itself, as it was completed only three years ago. Up until this year, Le Boréal has been Compagnie du Ponant's primary ship on the Baltic Sea cruise circuit, but this year L'Austral made two calls. And since the Stirling Design International -styled exteriors of these ships are some of my favourites, of course I had to catch the ship while I had the chance.

So, the photographs below show L'Austral in the Kustaanmiekka strait on the afternoon of 20 May 2014, shortly after departing Helsinki South Harbour. Photographed from Kustaanmiekka. Click on the images to see them in larger size.

As is the tradition, when I got to Suomenlinna the weather and lighting were delightful. But as departure time for the ships drew nearer, the skies darkened.
I'm not saying this wouldn't be good... it just would have been better had the ship departed a bit earlier.
The L'Austral and Le Boréal can be distinguished from their newer sister Le Soleal by the dark grey hull - Le Soleal has a much less effective light grey shade. It remains to be seen how the upcoming Le Lyrial will be painted.
And of course, just as the ship came to the spot with the juiciest views, the sun was obscured by clouds.
And just seconds later, it was sunlight again.
French flag with Mata Utu as the port of registry.
Next time: Tomorrow I will (probably) head out to photograph the Azores, so that will probably be the next installment.

Crystal Serenity in Helsinki, 3 August 2013

Crystal Serenity

IMO 9243667
Built 2003, Chantiers de l'Atlantique St. Nazaire, France
Tonnage 68 870 GT
Length 250,00 m
Width 32,20 m
Draught 7,60 m
1 100 passengers (lower berths)
1 257 passengers (all berths)
6 Wärtsilä diesels, combined 52 197 kW
2 azipods
2 bow thrusters
Speed 22 knots

Another not-previously-featured ship gets an entry. That's two in a row! Not too much to say about the history of the Crystal Serenity. She is the newest ship of the Japanese-owned luxury line Crystal Cruises, built in 2003 by Chantiers de l'Atlantique. The exterior design of Crystal Cruises' ships hasn't been particularly attractive, but the Crystal Serenity is particularly bad in my opinion, with the unattractive angular forward superstructure.

Anyway, the photographs below show the Crystal Serenity departing Helsinki West Harbour on the afternoon of 3 August 2013. Photographed from Sisä-Hattu. click on the images to see them in larger size.

FOREGROUND CRAP OVERLOAD! Still looks rather good though.
Really don't like the design of the ship. Still, the composition is nice.
The lichen on the rock really does look rather fancy.
The aft part of the superstructure does actually look quite good.

15 May 2014

Marco Polo in Helsinki, 14 May 2014

We interrupt the advertised programming to bring you these images of the Marco Polo from yesterday. I've decided to at least try to post images this summer in real time (or at the very least, post the most interesting images from each day quickly after the session).

Marco Polo

IMO 6417097
Name history: Alexandr Pushkin, Marco Polo
Built 1965, VEB Mathias-Thesen-Werft Wismar, East Germany
Tonnage 22 080 GT
Length 176,28 m
Width 23,55 m
Draught 8,17 m
848 passengers (lower berths)
915 berths
2 Sulzer-Cegielski diesels, combined 15 447 kW
2 propellers
1 bow thruster
Speed 16,5 knots

 For a brief history of the Marco Polo, see the first entry on her.

The photographs below show the Marco Polo departing Helsinki West Harbour in the afternoon of 14 May 2014. Photographed from Kustaanmiekka. Click on the images to see them in larger size.

The lighting was not ideal yesterday, but the clouds were certainly impressive.
It did take some post-photography fiddling to get the clouds to display just right... but I think this turned out quite fine, don't you?
I admit these are quite similar views as on the previous entry on the ship. Well, at least the backgrounds are a bit different with the spring foliage.
Out and about.

12 May 2014

Artania in Helsinki, 3 August 2013


IMO 8201480
Name history: Royal Princess, Artemis, Artania
Built 1984, Wärtsilä Helsinki, Finland
Tonnage 44 500 GT
Length 230,61 m
Width 29,60 m
Draught 7,80 m
1 260 passengers
4 Wärtsilä diesels, combined 23 200 kW
2 propellers
2 bow thrusters
Speed 22 knots

It's been a while since I've featured a new ship here. The Artania had been on my to-photo list for some time (already since she was the Artemis of P&O Cruises), but for whatever reason I only photographer her for the last time last summer. But since this is the first time this ship has been featured here, it's time for a short history.

The Artania was originally built in 1984 by Wärtsilä's Helsinki shipyard as the Royal Princess for Princess Cruises. She was the first newbuilt ship ever to be delivered to Princess Cruises, and a rather innovative at that: not only did she feature cabins with balconies on an unprecedented scale, she was the first modern cruise ship to offer all-outside accommodation. It tells something about the cruise business 30 years ago that the Royal Princess was a one-off design; no sister ship was ever built and it was well over a decade before cabins with balconies truly caught on.

The Royal Princess was never the less clearly a popular ship and she stayed with Princess Cruises for over 20 years, until in 2005 she was transferred to the fleet of P&O Cruises and renamed Artemis. She was one of the company's increasingly popular child-free ships. In 2009 the ship was sold to Artania Shipping (who I presume are related to Phoenix Reisen), but chartered back to P&O Cruises until 2011. At the end her charter to P&O the ship joined the fleet of Phoenix Reisen and was renamed Artania. Interestingly, her place in the P&O fleet was taken over by the second Royal Princess (ex-R Eight, Minerva II), which was renamed Adonia. The Artania remains in the Phoenix Reisen fleet at the time of writing and is used on worldwide cruising.

The photographs below show the Artania departing from the Helsinki West Harbour in the afternoon of 3 August 2013. Photographed from Sisä-Hattu. Click on the images to see them in larger size.

She does look a wee bit retro, the bridge design and funnel-mounted observation lounge in particular.
Water levels were low, so interesting foreground crap presented itself.
Innocent bystanders (or bysitters, more accurately) featured in ship photos: the Bruce Peter school of photography.
This shot would be better without the yellow-hulled sailing boat. But I can't be bothered to photoshop it out.
Next time: Crystal Serenity

09 May 2014

Translandia and Nordlandia in Tallinn, 16 May 2012

Just a little something I stumbled on while looking though old photos. For some reason, I had never published this. Now seems as good a time as any to do so.


IMO 7429229
Name history: Transgermania, Rosebay, Eurostar, Eurocruiser, Rosebay, Transparaden, Translandia
Built 1976, J.J. Sietas Werft Hamburg, West Germany
Tonnage 13 700 GT
Length 135,49 m
Width 21,71 m
Draugth 6,46 m
100 passengers
63 berths
1624 lane metres
2 MAN diesels, combined 9312 kW
2 propellers
Speed 19 knots


IMO 7928811
Name history: Olau Hollandia, Nord Gotlandia, Nordlandia, Isabella I
Built 1981, AG Weser Seebeckswerft, Bremerhaven, West Germany
Tonnage 21 473 GT
Length 153,40 m
Width 24,70 m
Draugth 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 and Translandia, the two Eckerö Line Helsinki-Tallinn ferries that were replaced by the arrival of the Finlandia at the end of 2012. For a brief history of the Translandia, see here. An even frisfer history of the Nordlandia can be found here. Today the Translandia is owned by the Salem Al Makrani Cargo Company of United Arab Emirates, retaining her Eckerö-era name. The former Nordlandia, meanwhile, was supposed to begin sailing in the Black Sea under the name Isabella I for Paradise Cruise & Ferry. However, the current situation between Russia and Ukraine seems to have put a spanner in the works and the ship remains laid up at Perama, Greece.

The photo below show the pair still in their Eckerö Line incarnations on the Bay of Tallinn, with the Nordlandia departing for Helsinki while the Translandia arrives. Photographed from Linnahall. Click on the image to see it in larger size.

Notice that despite the fact the ships sailed for the same company, they carried quite different liveries.
Next time: Artania

07 May 2014

My first book: Silja Line from De Samseglande to Tallink

Silja Line from De Samseglande to Tallink is lavishly illustrated with images from the entire 110-year period covered in the book.
My first (but hopefully not the last) book, Silja Line from De Samseglande to Tallink was published at the end of last month. For the first time, the book details the entire history of Silja Line and its predecessors, from the first joint service agreement in 1904 to the present day, when Silja Line is a brand owned by the Estonia-based Tallink Grupp. It also includes, for the first time in detail, a history of Tallink, who have rised from obscurity to being one of the world's leading ferry operators during the last quarter of a century.

In addition to the history of Silja Line, the book also includes a detailed history of Tallink.
At 156 pages, the book is lavishly illustrated with images from such skilled photographers as Krzysztof Brzoza, Jukka Huotari, Sami Koski, Rami Wirrankoski and others - in addition to myself, naturally.

With a recommended price of 28 euros, the book is available from well-stocked bookstores, as well as directly from the publisher's website at ferrypubs.co.uk.

Kships will return to normal programming later this week.

06 May 2014

AIDAbella in Helsinki, 3 August 2013


IMO 9362542
Built 2008, Meyer Werft Papenburg, Germany
Tonnage 69 203 GT
Length 251,89 m
Width 32,20 m
Draugth 7,20 m
2 500 passengers
4 MaK diesels, combined 36 000 kW
2 azipods
2 bow thrusters
2 stern thusters
Service speed 19,5 knots
Maximum speed 21,8 knots

As I may have mentioned before, I find it very hard to get excited about AIDA Cruises ships... especially the Sphinx-class ones. There are so many, and they don't really have any individual identity at all. Still, that doesn't change the fact the exterior design of the ships is quite interesting.

AIDAbella departing Helsinki West Harbour in the afternoon of 3 August 2013, photographed from Sisä-Hattu. Click on the images to see them in larger size.

I was displaying a Bruce Peter -esque paparazzing of unsuspecting bystanders for the foreground, it seems.
Upright shots seem to be in fashion for me these days.
Foreground reeds and the AIDAbella.
This one I really like.
The Photogenic Tree returns once again.
Here comes the sun.
Next time: Translandia & Nordlandia

02 May 2014

Princess Anastasia in Helsinki, 3 August 2013

Before we get on today's photographs, a little piece of advertising: the new issue of the Ulkomatala web magazine is out (and indeed has been for a few days now), and the magazine's new website finally up and running. So if you're fortunate enough to understand Finnish, go and check it out.

Princess Anastasia

IMO 8414582
Name history: Olympia, Pride of Bilbao, Bilbao, SPL Princess Anastasia
Built 1986, Wärtsilä Turku New Shipyard, Finland
Tonnage 37 583 GT
Length 176,82 m
Width 28,40 m
Draught 6,71 m
Ice class 1A Super
2 500 passengers
2 447 berths
580 cars
1 115 lane metres
4 Wärtsilä diesels, combined 22 988 kW
2 propellers
2 bow thrusters
Speed 22 knots

For a history of the Princess Anastasia, see this entry. The photos below show the Princess Anastasia departing from Helsinki West Harbour in the afternoon of 3 August 2013, photographed from Sisä-Hattu. Click on the images to see them in larger size.

Last summer was maybe a bit dry, considering how withered the rowan in the foreground looks. Though the fact it grows on rock might have something to do with it.
Speaking of rock, it endlessly puzzles me that the English language doesn't have a separate word for the kind of rock you see here. It's very difficult when movable, loose rocks are referred to with the same word as the kind of rock that makes up entire islands.
The ship is maybe a bit overexposed... but it works nicely with the photo, so I'm not complaining.
Next time: AIDAbella