24 September 2016

SNAV Andromeda in Sorrento, 11 May 2016

I was going through photos from earlier this year, and discovered there is a set taken during the Crystal Symphony cruise that I had not yet put up. So, since it's September, the night are getting dark and the weather is getting cold, let's take a look back to Italy in May.

SNAV Andromeda

IMO 8708402
Name history: Vindile, Pilen 3, SNAV Andromeda
Built 1988, Oskarshamn Nya Varv, Sweden (hull); Westmarin Mandal, Norway (outfitting)
Tonnage 332 GT
Length 37,01 m
Width 9,50 m
Draught 3,69 m
322 passengers
2 MTU diesels, combined 2 038 kW
2 waterjets
Speed 40,5 knots

The SNAV Andromeda started life in somewhat colder waters than the Mediterranean: it was built for the Swedish shipping company Nordström & Thulin in 1988 for their Gotlandslinjen subsidiary which, as the name suggests, operated between the Swedish mainland and Gotland. The ship's original name, Vindile, comes from the Gutasagan, a saga that records the history of Gotland before christianisation. According to the saga, the fastest viking ship possible - naturally owned by a man living on Gotland - was named Vindile, and thus the name was highly suitable for what was to my understanding the first fast ferry to serve Gotland.

After being officially named by Queen Silvia of Sweden, the Vindile entered service on routes from Visby to Nynäshamn and Västervik. Alas, the ship proved unreliable in windy weather, resulting in numerous cancelled departures. Thus, after just one summer season, the ship was sold to Konö maskinuthyrning in Stockholm, who chartered it out to Bornholmerpilen, a Danish company who placed the ship on a service linking Rønne (on the island of Bornholm) to Kastrup airport during the summer of 1989. The following spring, Bornholmerpilen bought the ship outright and renamed it Pilen 3. In 1991, the company moved their base of operations from Rønne to Malmö in Sweden, and the Pilen 3 was thus moved to a Malmö-Kastrup route. At this time the company was renamed simply Pilen Already within the same year, the Danish port was moved to central Copenhagen.

The opening of the Öresund Bridge in July 2000, bringing down Pilen's business model overnight. The Pilen 3 was laid up at Malmö until June 2001, when it was sold to the Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC), for service with their subsidiary SNAV (Società Navigazione Alta Velocità, freely translating as "High-Speed Shipping Company"). The Pilen 3 was thus renamed SNAV Andromeda, in keeping with SNAV's celestial naming tradition. I couldn't find a record of which routes the SNAV Andromeda has sailed on with SNAV, but when I photographed it the ship was sailing on the route linking Sorrento to Capri.

The photos below show the SNAV Andromeda on the Gulf of Naples shortly after departing Sorrento, photographed from onboard the Crystal Symphony. Click on the images to see them in larger size.

Sorrento was impressive, to say at least, when viewed from onboard. I only got a quick glimpse of the town when traversing it by bus, so I'm not sure how great it was to visit. (I had just rejoined the Crystal Symphony from what Ralph Grizzle described as "the longest shore excursion ever" and was too exhausted to return on shore).
From its days as the Vindile until the early SNAV era, the ship had dark stripes painted along the windows. That was probably a preferred look, as the current livery somehow makes the ship look very old (though I do like the dark hull).
Alas, the ship kelp roughly the same distance from us while it was in my field of view, so you're getting pretty much the same view of the ship on all photos - but I think the different background make up for it.
Kships will return.

19 September 2016

Mercandia IV in Helsingborg, 13 April 2016

Mercandia IV

IMO 8611685
Name history: Superflex November, Mercandia IV
Built 1989, North East Shipbuilders Ltd. Southwick, United Kingdom
Tonnage 2 296 GT
Length 95,80 m
Width 17,00 m
Draught 3,61 m
400 passengers
170 cars or 16 lorries and 85 cars
10 Cummins diesels, combined 2 750 kW
2 azimuthing pods at both ends
Speed 14 knots

The Mercandia IV is a member of the ubiquitous superflex class, a total of 15 examples of which were delivered by the North East Shipbuilders of Southwick and Appledore Ferguson of Appledore for the Danish company PZ Trading between 1987 and 1990. Our ship was laid down as the Superflex November in May 1988, launch the followed December and completed in February 1989. However, there was no need for additional tonnage of the superflex type at this time, and the ship was laid up at the builders. In May the ship was sold to Mercandia, and in July it was moved to Fredericia, Denmark, for further layup. Around the same time the ship was renamed Mercandia IV.

Eventually, the Mercandia IV was activated in November 1990 for service with Kattegatbroen (a Mercandia subsidiary) on the Danish internal service between Juelsminde and Kalundborg. The ship remained on that service until the end of May 1996, when it was transferred to a different Mercandia subsidiary, Sundsbroen (literally "The Sound Bridge") for service between Helsingborg and Helsingør, extering service from the beginning of June.

In April 1997, Sundsbroen was taken over by a newly-formed Danish-Swedish company and renamed HH-Ferries. As the only competitor to the state-owned Scandlines consortium, HH-Ferries marketed themselves as "the monopoly breakers". The new operator took the Mercandia IV, and its sister Mercandia VIII sailing on the same route, under charter. In March 1999, HH-Ferries purchased both ships, only to be bought out themselves by Stena Line in autumn 2001. Stena had also taken over as the Swedish partner of Scandlines in 2000. Never the less, it was not until 2009 that an official collaboration between Scandlines and HH-Ferries was came to be.

The Mercandia IV appears to have remained on the Helsingborg-Helsingør -route since 1996, albeit not without incident: in September 2006 it collided with the Sundbuss Pernille. The Mercandia IV suffered only minor damage to its bow visor, but three people on the Sundbuss Pernille were injured. In January-February 2012, meanwhile, the Mercandia IV was rebuilt with a new cafeteria. In April 2015, both the Scandlines and HH-Ferries ships sailing on the Helsingborg-Helsingør -route were taken over by the Australian investment company First State. For the time being, this has not had an effect on the ships' day-to-day operations, and the dual brands of Scandlines and HH-Ferries still remain in use.

The photos below show the Mercandia IV arriving at Helsingborg's Knutpunkten terminal on the evening of 13 April 2016, photographed from the breakwater outside the port. Click on the images to see them in larger size.

Arriving at the terminal, with the Tycho Brahe visible in the background on the left.
Noticethe windows of the 2012-added cafeteria on the right. I also got a fairly neat shot of the Mercandia IV and Tycho Brahe together soon after this one - but a big drop of water had landed on the lens soon after taking this shot without my noticing it, rendering the subsequent shots largely unusable.
Kships will return.

13 September 2016

Koningsdam in Helsinki, 12 September 2016

As you may have noticed, I haven't been too active with photographing visiting cruise ships in Helsinki during the soon-to-end summer. Today, however, the weather was good and HAL's new(ish) Koningsdam made its last call of the season in the Helsinki. So it was time to dust off the bike and head to Lauttasaari for a spot of photography.


IMO 9692557
Built 2013, Fincantieri Porto Maghera, Italy
Tonnage 99 836 GT
Length 299,57 m
Width 38 m
Draught 8,20 m
2 560 passengers
4 Caterpillar-MaK diesels, combined 50 400 kW
2 azipods
3 bow thrusters
Service speed 18 knots
Maximum speed 22,3 knots

So, the Koningsdam is Holland-America Line's newest and largest ship, delivered in March 2016. It is also the lead ship of what HAL call the Pinnacle-class, a further development of the older Signature-class. Her interiors, something of a departure from HAL's traditionalist outlook, are by Adam Tihany (who has previously worked on the interiors of the Solstice-class ships built for HAL's competitors Celebrity Cruises) and Bjørn Storbraaten. Since the ship has been in service only for a little over five months there's not much else to say, so let's go to the photos!

The photos below show the Koningsdam departing from Helsinki Länsisatama (West Harbour) on the afternoon of 12 September 2016, photographed from Vattuniemi. As per the usual, click on the images to see them in larger size.

While I do have a liking for HAL and the looks of their ships, I must admit the Koningsdam could look better, especially if you compare it to the older but very similar Vista-class ships.
By this time of the year, the light is already coming in very low in the late afternoon. I admit to some fiddling with the brightnesses of various hues to make the ship stand out better from the sky.
My wife's comment on the livery was 'I like the classic dark hull, but the white funnel looks a bit cheap'. I agree. It would look much superior if they simply reversed colours and put the company logo on white on a dark blue background.
Something a bit more atmospheric.
Next time: Fred. Olsen's classic Black Watch is due to call on Wednesday, giving me a chance to not only photograph the ship itself (I'm surprised I never have, actually!), but also Fred. Olsen's new livery for the first time. So if the weather is passable on Wednesday, look forward to that some time after.