28 April 2016

Sea Endurance in Helsingborg, 13 April 2016

Sea Endurance

IMO 8913904
Name history: Saqquit Ittuk, Disko II, Quest, Sea Endurance
Built 1992, Ørskov Staalskibsværft Frederikshavn, Denmark
Tonnage 1 268 GT
Length 49,65 m
Width 11,10 m
Draught 3,70 m
60 passengers
1 MAN-B&W diesel, combined 1 470 kW
1 propeller
1 bow thruster
Speed 13,4 knots

I think I mentioned in one of my earlier entries that I met with a surprise cruise ship while in Helsingborg recently. It was this one, the delightful little Sea Endurance, owned by SunStone Ships and due to be operated this summer by Albatros Expeditions. The ship has a fascinating history, on which I'd like to dwelve a bit deeper.

Originally, the Sea Endurance was one of three identical ships built for services with Arctic Umiaq Line along the coast of Greenland (Hurtigruten of Greenland would perhaps not be far off the mark). Designed by the Knud E. Hansen naval architect office and built by Ørskov in Denmark, the trio of ships were named Sarfaq Ittuk, Sarpik Ittuq and Saqqit Ittuk (the latter being "our ship"). I presume all names mean something in Greenlandic, but haven't been able to discover what. Originally, all three ships carried 150 passengers. The original livery of all three was quite eye-catching, a bright red hull with a turquise stripe along the main deck windows, and a yellow funnel.

The Sarfaq Ittuk and Sarpik Ittuq were both lengthened by a tad over 23 metres in 2000. The Saqqit Ittuk, meanwhile, retained her original dimensions. Here the details are a bit murky. My friend Bruce Peter gives the impression in his book Knud E. Hansen A/S - Ship Design Through Seven Decades that the three-ship service had proven expensive to run, and thus the Sarfaq Ittuk and Sarpik Ittuq were lengthened to allow the service to be run on just two ships. If this is the case, what did the Saqqit Ittuk do after the other ships were lengthened?

What can be said for certain is that in 2004 the Saqqit Ittuk sailed to exotic Tallinn, where she was converted to an expedition cruise ship with the name Disko II (after the Disko Bay on the west coast of Greenland, not the music genre). An observation lounge appears to have been added on her top deck at this point. After the conversion, the Disco II returned to Greenland, but now obviously as a cruise ship. In 2007 she passed under the ownership of International Shipping Partners and was renamed Quest, but continued in cruise service and appears to have continued to cruise around Greenland during the summers. At some point after 2007 the ship's aft superstructure was expanded; this may have been done during the winter 2009-2010, when she was laid up in Helsingborg.

In 2012, the Quest's owners International Shipping Partners merged with River Advice to form FleetPro. The change of owners had no particular effect in her operations. Another change in owners took place in late 2015, when FleetPro's seagoing operations became SunStone Ships. In April 2016, just a few days before I visited Helsingborg, the Quest was renamed Sea Endurance. (A purely personal opinion: Sea Endurance is a better name than Quest, but overall the ship has gone from bad to worse with names; Saqqit Ittuk, while difficult to pronounce, is by far the best name she ever had, and even the confusing Disko II was better than the current or previous name).

The Sea Endurance is due to enter service with Albatros Expeditions next summer. Somewhat amusingly, one of her future fleetmates is the Ocean Nova, aka the former Sarpik Ittuq. (Of the three sisters, only the Sarfaq Ittuk remains in the service they were built for).

So, to the photos! These show the recently-renamed Sea Endurance laid up in Helsingborg on the evening of 13 April 2016. As per the usual, click on the images to see them in larger size.

At this point, they had only painted the name of the ship on the port side; as you can see the starboard side had only a reddish brown smudge. The ship was turned around the next day, so presumably the name was painted on the other side as well.
The lifeboat that drowns out the funnel - a post-2007 addition - does not particularly improve the ship's looks. But I can't really complain about her working ship profile.
Sea Endurance, with Helsingborg's impressive Rådhuset (Town Hall) in the background.
No name in the stern either at this point.
Kships will return.

21 April 2016

Pearl Seaways interiors, 14 April 2016

Pearl Seaways

IMO 8701674
Name history: Athena, Star Aquarius, Langkapuri Star Aquarius, Pearl of Scandinavia, Pearl Seaways
Built 1989, Wärtsilä Marine Turku, Finland
Tonnage 40 039 GT
Length 178,40 m
Width 29,61 m
Draught 6,50 m
2 200 passengers
2 166 berths
320 cars
1 008 lanemeters
4 Wärtsilä-Sulzer diesels, combined 23 730 kW
2 propellers
2 bow thrusters
Speed 21 knots

Even though this is the first time the Pearl Seaways is featured on this blog, I decided I won't be explaining the history of the ship for you, as I normally would in such a situation. Instead, I would like to say a few words about what sailing with DFDS was like.

This wasn't the first time I've sailed with DFDS, of course. I was on the Princess of Scandinavia shortly before she was withdrawn from service (interior photos from that ship here), and I've always remembered that trip fondly as one of the best ferry crossings I have ever undertaken. I was eager to see if DFDS had kept up their quality.

They had. The Pearl Seaways was, quite simply put, the best ferry I have sailed on in terms of service (except, perhaps, for the much-missed Silja Opera, but then again she wasn't technically a ferry anyway). The interiors were quite swish, but more important was the service quality. Table service for drinks at the night club and the buffet is something my local Baltic Sea ferries do not offer (not to mention a pot of coffee brought to your table at breakfast!). And when I asked the staff if it was okay to photograph the restaurant spaces when they were empty, the answer was "of course!" A certain ferry operator sailing from Finland should take notes.

I was boring and only ate at the buffet. The selection was perhaps not as extensive as, for example, on the ships of Viking Line, but the quality of what was on offer more than made up for it. Not to mention the fact there was a proper vegetarian option. In that respect, all the ferry operators from my home waters should take notes. I ate at the first seating, but that was very much a mistake: sailing from Copenhagen you have the wonderful views at Öresund (and sailing from Oslo the Oslofjord), which really should be enjoyed from the outer deck with a camera. So my recommendation is to go and eat only after passing the twin cities of Helsingborg/Helsingør.

Not everything onboard was perfect. The buffet had no dessert plates, there were intrusive announcements in the cabins and the beds (or at least my bed) lacked mattress toppers, making them quite uncomfortable. I was also rather surprised and disappointed that DFDS' 150th anniversary book was not sold onboard.

But, even with the little criticism, still the best ferry experience I've had. And it was certainly fascinating so see an old Viking Line ferry in a completely new guise.

Now, onwards to the photos. All were taken onboard the Pearl Seaways in the afternoon or evening of 14 April 2016. As per the usual, click on the images to see them in larger size.

Deck 11 has suites forward (added in a recent refit), a lounge exclusively for the use of Commodore Class passengers, conference rooms and an outdoors bar aft. I didn't venture into the conference rooms for photographing as there was a sign "for conference guests only" on the door.

This used to be a forward-facing sun deck, until the suites - the structure right in front of us in this photo - were added in 2014 (I think). The suites are only accessible via the outer deck, so all in all this is a very strange addition (especially as there seem to be underutilised spaces lower down on the ship, where the suites could have been more practically added).
The Sky Bar aft on deck 11. Notice the funnel, in DFDS' new dark blue colours. I rather like them, but alas the trip didn't give decent chances to photograph the ship from the outside.
Deck 10 is given over exclusively to cabins, but there are also jacuzzis on the outer deck aft (presumably a relic from the ship's time as a cruise ship). My cabin happened to be on this deck.

The forward staircase, photographed from the 10th deck langing up towards deck 11. I like the nautical photos, but I'm a bit disappointed they aren't ones of DFDS' own old ships (although there are several of those, as well as models of old DFDS ships, on the public room decks).
A blast from the past: the cabin corridors look like they haven't been altered since 1989, except for the cabin doors which have been painted white. Most of them seem to be original panelled doors, although some have been changed into non-panelled ones. The mix of the two looks a bit cheap, and in general the cabin corridors and not up to the same standards as the rest of the ship.
Blast from the past, part 2. Notice how the colour of the bed headboard matches the corridor walls outside.
The jacuzzi aft. The one on port side was in use, so I photographed this one. I quite regretted not packing swimwear.
Deck 9 has more cabins and the navigation bridge.

Deck 8 is the upper of the main public room decks, with four restaurants (Blue Riband, Marco Polo, Little Italy and Explorer's), three bars (Navigators Bar, Red+White and Champagne Bar) and a night club (Columbus Club).

Blue Riband is a banquet space reserved for large groups at the forward end of deck eight. It really feels like a waste of space, the best views on the ship and the space is not normally in use.
Blue Riband in flanked by two different speciality restaurants on either side. Little Italy - you guessed it, an italian restaurant, is on the starboard side.
While the port side has the Marco Polo fine dining restaurant.
Aft of Marco Polo is this weird space, originally (when the ship was Viking Line's Athena) this was the gournet restaurant Safir. Now it seems to function as an overspill space for Marco Polo.
The two-deck atrium spanning from deck seven and eight is rather nice.
Explorer's steakhouse is amidship on deck eight, in the area originally occupied by the ship's buffet restaurant.
For some reason, one table - but only one - had the dannebrog on display. I had to document it, of course.
This - I think - is the Navigators Bar. But I'm not 100% certain, as DFDS didn't provide a deck plan and I didn't photograph the ones on the walls (which were very good), so this could also be the Champagne Bar.
The Columbus Club had absolutely superb views. I wonder if the coloured lights on the ceiling above the dance floor are original?
Most chairs in the space were dark, except a few in the aft starboard corner that were purple. These were identical apart from the colour, but still they seemed to be the most popular seats in the club.
Deck 7 has the buffet restaurant forward, followed by the atrium, a casino, cafeteria and some cabins amidships, and the Sea Shop aft. The atrium was, of course, originally the ship's entrance lobby, but today only the entrances on deck five are used in both ports.

7 Seas buffet (note that it's written with a numeral, not "Seven Seas") looks quite neat and probably has the best views of all spaces onboard. The double height right at the front is a nice bonus.
Another 7 Seas shot. The servery areas are in the background on the left.
I'll spare you the food photos, but I just wanted to share this eminently civilized coffee pot that was brought to my table as if by magic.
Baresso Coffee, with the entrance to the tax-free shop in the background.
Deck 6 has the bubble zone pool and sauna area forward, followed by cabins.

Deck 5 has more cabins, as well as the entrance lobby.

Deck 3 and 4 are the car decks.

(Deck 2 had additional cabins when the ship was new, but these don't seem to be in passenger use anymore. I don't complain.)

Kships will return.

16 April 2016

Skiftet in the Åland Archipelago, 9 June 2015

Good whatever time of the day is when you're reading this, dear readers. I returned yesterday from a rather delightful (if somewhat exhausting) trip to Sweden, Denmark and Norway. My main purpose was to visit the head office of Tillberg Design, something that you can read about in the next issue of Cruise Business Review. Also crammed into the trip was photographing the ferries sailing between Helsingborg and Helsingør (plus travel on one of them), a surprise cruise ship and a crossing between Copenhagen and Oslo on the Pearl Seaways. All that will come up when I have time to prepare the photos for publication. While we wait for that, this week's update will be something completely different: the Skiftet, one of the small ferries operated by the Åland Provincial Government (Ålands Landskapsstyrelse) on routes connecting Finland to Åland.


IMO 8412807
Built 1985, Laivateollisuus Turku, Finland
Tonnage 961 GT
Length 48,52 m
Width 10,72 m
Draugth 3,90 m
Ice class 1A
200 passengers
25 cars and 4 trucks
2 Wärtsilä Vasa diesels, combined 1 606 kW
2 propellers (?)
Speed 14 knots

The Skiftet was one of two archipelago ferries delivered by the Laivateollisuus shipyard (a part of the state-owned Valmet industry conglomerate) in 1985 for Ålands Landskapsstyrelse; the other was the Knipan. Unlike the Knipan, the Skiftet was based on an earlier Laivateollisuus-built ship, the Gudingen, although the pair are not exactly identical. The ship was named after a stretch of open water between the Turku and Åland archipelagos, named Kihti in Finnish (naturally, Åland government ships have Swedish-language names). On delivery, the Skiftet was placed on the "northern line" service linking Hummelvik to Torsholma via Enklinge, Kumlinge and Lappo.

In 1990, when the new Alfågeln was delivered, the Skiftet shifted to join her sister Gudingen on the "southern line", linking Galtby to Långnäs via Kökar, Kyrkogårdsö, Husö, Sottunga and Överö. And this is the service on which the Skiftet remains to this day, so there isn't that much else to say, really.

The photos below show the Skiftet probably between Överö and Långnäs in the Åland archipelago, with most likely Bredskär in the background (thank you to Mikko-Oskari Koski and Harri Molsa for helping hunt down the location at the Ahvenanmaan saaristolautat Facebook group). The photos were taken from the passing Baltic Princess, which was running a special schedule due to a concert cruise of the Finnish metal band Nightwish held onboard, and as such you probably can't take this photo under normal circumstances. (And for the record, I don't much like Nightwish, but my wife does, so I grudgingly participated). As always, you can click on the images to see them in larger size.

She's a lovely little thing, isn't she?
Notice the flag of Åland flying from the mast. There's also a notably smaller flag of Finland, obscured by the mast in this shot.
Most of the other Ålandstrafiken ferries have a blue stripe along the windows of the passenger deck. I think the Skiftet looks much better than her fleetmates as she's all white. While I'm normally a fan of putting more colour on a ship, on such a small craft all white works nicely.
The funnel symbol, in case you were wondering, is the coat of arms of Åland.
Off she goes!
Kships will return.

08 April 2016

Galaxy in Mariehamn, 30 October 2015

Before we move to today's actual entry (which I planned to post before midnight, but promptly forgot), a little announcement.

As you know, I have been a regular contributor on Cruise Business Review since beginning of this year. However, the plan is that my association with CBR isn't solely limited to my writing to them; rather, the plan is that Kships will also occasionally include contributions from the good folk at CBR. If all goes to plan, within the next few weeks our collaboration will bring its first fruit for you, CBR editor Teijo Niemelä's look at Viking Cruises brand new Viking Sea.

But, before that, we shall go back to the old Baltic Sea haunts for a look at Silja Line's Galaxy:


IMO 9333694
Built 2006, Aker Finnyards Rauma, Finland
Tonnage 48 915 GT
Length 212,10 m
Width 29,00 m
Draught 6,40 m
Ice class 1A Super
2 800 passengers
2 138 berths
420 cars
1 130 lanemeters
4 Wärtsilä diesels, combined 26 240 kW
2 propellers
2 bow thrusters
Speed 22 knots

For a brief history of the Galaxy, see here.

Like the Baltic Princess images from the previous post, these are perhaps not my best photos of this ship ever, but I think it's high time I posted shots of the ship with the current Silja Line hull markings. As you maybe already guessed, the photos below show the Galaxy departing Mariehamn on the afternoon of 30 October 2015, photographed from onboard the Viking Grace. Click on the images to see them in larger size.

The continuing adventures of rush hour in Mariehamn: the Galaxy depart while Amorella arrives.
Showing the new Silja Line hull markings.
Some nice autumn foliage in the background, too.
Next time: either Skiftet or Viking Sea.