24 November 2015

Silja Serenade in Helsinki, 23 November 2015

Silja Serenade

IMO 8715259
Built 1990, Masa-Yards Turku New Shipyard, Finland
Tonnage 58 376 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

The Silja Serenade returned from her most recent drydocking yesterday. In addition to changes to her interior (which were more extensive than the ones carried out on the Silja Symphony previously) the also received a new smiling seal logo on her funnel. While the old seal was painted on, the new one is made out of metal and has a rather attractice led lighting behind it, making it look very nice in the dark, as the following images, taken of the ship while moored at the Olympiaterminaali on the afternoon of 23 November 2015, show.

The new happy seal and a rather neat moon too, as photographed from Tähtitorninmäki.
Moving to Kauppatori, the Serenade is seen here with the local bunkering tanker Lotus.
Magazine cover potential here, methinks.
Another Serenade with a another ship shot, this time featuring the Suomenlinna ferry Suomenlinna II.
Next time: Magellan

18 November 2015

Azamara Quest in Helsinki, 11 August 2015

Azamara Quest

IMO 9210218
Name history: R Seven, Delphin Renaissance, Blue Moon, Azamara Quest
Built 2000, Chantiers de l'Atlantique St. Nazaire, France
Tonnage 30 277 GT
Length 181,00 m
Width 25,46 m
Draugth 5,80 m
777 passengers (maximum)
4 Wärtsilä diesels, combined 13 500 kW
2 propellers
2 bow thrusters
Speed 18 knots

Finally this blog returns to the scheduled content. And equally finally we feature shots of the current Azamara Club Cruises livery in decent weather; the Azamara Quest was already featured in the current livery once (the entry also includes a history of the ship for those interested), but those shots were taken in pouring rain.

So, the photos below show the Azamara Quest departing from Helsinki Eteläsatama (South Harbour) in the afternoon of 11 August 2015, photographed from Kustaanmiekka. Click on the images to see them in larger size.

Foreground rowan!
A dark hull does make the ship look very good. She's look even better with a dark funnel, though - just take a look at this shot of her sister sailing as the Minerva II.
Posing for cruise ship passage in the foreground.
Azamara Quest passes a teen party.
Next time: As the Silja Serenade is currently in drydock for interior refreshment (and a slight adjustment of her livery), I think it's safe to say she will be the next ship featured. Whether it will be in the form of pictures is her current livery, the upcoming livery or even interiors... well, that remains to be seen.

11 November 2015

Superstar in Tallinn, 11 March 2014

We continue the deviation from advertized programming due to yesterday's news that Tallink have sold the Superstar to Corsica Ferries, effective next month, but she will be chartered back to Tallink until the completion of the new, larger fast ferry from Turku at the beginning of 2017.


IMO 9365398
Built 2008, Fincantieri Ancona, Italy
Tonnage 36 400 GT
Length 175,10 m
Width 27,60 m
Draugth 7,00 m
Ice class 1A
2 080 passengers
520 berths
665 cars
1 930 lanemeters
4 Wärtsilä diesels, combined 50 400 kW
2 propellers
2 bow thrusters
Speed 27,5 knots

So, with these changes it's maybe a good time to look at the brief history of the Superstar. She was ordered by Tallink from Fincantieri in August 2005, for delivery in spring 2008. The ship was based on the design of the Moby Wonder -class, which Fincantieri were heavily promoting at the time (they also negoatiated about building a ship of the same design for Viking Line). The Superstar was ordered at the same time as her eventual running mater Star, and originally both contacts included an option for a sister vessel. At the time there were plenty of rumours circulating around about the future deployment of the ships: the Star and her sister were expected to go to the Helsinki-Tallinn -line, while the Superstar and her potential sister were expected to open an Estonia-Germany service for Tallink. Other rumours suggested one pair would go on the Gothenburg-Frederikshavn route in competition with Stena Line. Tallink at the time also expressed interest in submitting a tender for the state-funded service between the island of Gotland and the Swedish mainland. In the end only the Germany service came true, by the virtue of Tallink buying Superfast Ferries' Baltic Sea operations. Neither sister ship option was taken up, and the somewhat mismatched pair of Star and Superstar took over Tallink's non-cruise Helsinki-Tallinn services.

The Superstar continued in service without incident for eight years. In late 2014 Tallink signed a memorandum of agreement to build a new, larger, LNG-powered fast ferry for the Helsinki-Tallinn route, which was confirmed as a firm order in February 2015. At the time the company reported no final decisions about the fate of the current Helsinki-Tallinn Shuttles had been made: the new ship could either replace one of them or join them as a fourth ship. However, in November a contact to sell the Superstar to Corsica Ferries was made public. She will change owners in December, but is chartered back to Tallink until the completion of the new ship from Turku. In early 2017, following delively of the as-of-yet unnamed new fast ferry, she will join Corsica Ferries' fleet as the Mega Express Six.

The photographs below show the Superstar arriving in Tallink on 11 March 2014. I did not publish these images at the time, keeping them under wraps for the Tallink – The First 25 Years book. Since the book is now out (and all of you should go and buy it), these photos will not spoil anything. As always, click on the images to see them in larger size.

Sisters are doing it for themselves: the inbound Superstar and the outbound Finlandia outside the harbour.
I'm really quite fond of the combination of the decaying concrete in the foreground.
Next time: Presumably, we'll hopefully finally get to the Azamara Quest.

03 November 2015

Regal Princess interiors, 10 May 2015

We interrupt the advertized programming to bring you this entry of interior images from onboard Princess Cruises' newest ship, the Regal Princess. I would also like to take this opportunity to let my Finnish-speaking readers know that the latest issue of Ulkomatala is out, featuring amongst other things an article on the 50th anniversary of Princess Cruises, as well as four articles by yours truly.

Regal Princess

IMO 9584724
Built 2014, Fincantieri Monfalcone, Italy
Tonnage 142 714 GT
Length 330 m
Width 38,40 m
Draft 8,60 m
4 380 passengers
6 Wärtsilä diesels, combined 62 400 kW
2 propellers
3 bow thrusters
3 (?) stern thrusters
Speed 23 knots

The Regal Princess made her first call at Helsinki on 10 May 2015. She was the largest cruise ship to have called in Helsinki at the time (although she lost the title in a few months to P&O's Britannia), and Princess Cruises arranged a press tour of the ship to commemorate the occasion together with the Port of Helsinki.

Since the Regal Princess is essentially a brand-new ship with very little history to wade through, let's get right down to business of the interior photos, shall we?

Our tour of the ship started up on the bridge, where Port of Helsinki's managing director Kimmo Mäki (left) exchanged commemorative plagues with Regal Princess' Captain John Foster.

Deck 17 - Sun Deck: The Regal Princess has a whopping 19 decks, but our tour started from deck 17, which houses pool areas, the fitness center, as well as childrens' and teenagers' lounges.

The Sanctuary is an adults-only deck area forward on deck 17.
The Sanctuary also includes an extra-cost spa pavillion for rent.
Aft of The Sanctuary is the Retreat pool, with private cabanas for rent. On the right is the guide of our little tour, Michael Korhonen. I don't know where Princess pulled a Finnish staff member to guide us, but he was definately a hit amongst the visitors.
According to our other guide, cruise director Geof, the Regal Princess has the largest fitness facilities of the Princess fleet.
Deck 16 - Lido Deck features cabins forward, a pool area amidships and restaurants aft.

The main pool area, with Princess' trademark Movies Under the Stars screen. (Okay, these days every other mass-market cruise line has them too, but Princess were the first to feature them).
The SeaWalk glass-floored corridor is cantilevered outside the ship. Not as interesting when the side with the SeaWalk faces the quay, I'm, afraid.
The aft part of the ship is filled by the buffet restaurant (I continue to be puzzled by the placement of the buffets on cruise ships, but that's probably just me being Finnish). The restaurant is divided into two distinct areas: this is the Horizon Bistro...
...aft of which is the (in my opinion) more attractively styled Horizon Court.
Deck 7 - Promenade Deck: Next we leap down several deck filled with cabins and go back to the public rooms. Deck 7 houses the upper level of the Princess Theatre show lounge forward, followed by various bars and lounges.

What would be a mass-amrket cruise ship without an art gallery.
Another must-feature is a multi-deck Atrium; in the case of the Regal Princess it spans decks five, six and seven.
I must admit I'm not a huge fan of the Regal Princess' interiors overall, but the Ocean Terrace seafood bar on the Atrium is quite attractive.
Michael explains Princess Cruises' 50th anniversary celebrations to us.
Regal Princess and her sister Royal Princess feature a Princess Live! television studio, where programmes shown on the cabin televisions are produced. Personally, I don't quite see the appeal.
Aft of Princess Live! is the traditionally decorated Wheelhouse Bar.
And accessible through the Wheelhouse Bar is the Crown Grill, an extra-cost steakhouse.
Finally, right aft on deck seven is the Vista Lounge, a venue for music performances and standup comedy. I find the name extremely ironic, as the lounge could have windows on three sides, with amazing views overlooking the wake of the ship; instead, it has no windows.
Deck 6 - Fiesta Deck has the lower level of the Princess Theatre forward, followed by the ship's casino and various restaurants, including two of the ship's main dining rooms. Unfortunately the tour did not include a visit to any of these.

Princess Theatre, looking forward towards the stage...
...and looking aft. I like the rest of the decor, but the seating looks like it's from the 1980s - and the unadventurous design schools of the 1980s at that. Definately not an attractive space and not one you'd expect to find on a brand-new ship.
The Casino.Another thing that I personally don't see the appeal of.
Deck 5 - Plaza Deck: Here we find the ship's spa forward (following the current trend of placing spas low on the ship), the reception, as well as various spas and restaurants.

The Enclave at Lotus Spa is, I believe, another extra cost feature.
The reception lobby. Placing the reception outside the Atrium is a feature I find puzzling from the point of view of orientation.
Prior to leaving the ship, we were served lunch at Sabatini's, one of the ship's extra-charge restaurants. I'm afraid the lunch was not very memorable; it wasn't bad, but if this was the normal extra-cost fare they serve, I'd give the restaurant a pass.
A parting shot of the glitzy atrium.
Next time we will probably return to the previously advertized programming with the Azamara Quest. Stay tuned!