28 January 2017

Megastar interiors, 27 January 2017

Tallink's new Helsinki-Tallinn fast ropax Megastar will enter service tomorrow, but she was shown to the press yesterday in Tallinn. I was there as a representative of Cruise Business Review and my article on the ship will be featured in the next issue of the magazine. Whilst waiting for that, here is a photographic tour of the ship.

Updated 29.1.2017 with a photo of the garage in normal use and some previously neglected information.


IMO 9773064
Built 2017, Meyer Turku, Finland
Tonnage 49 200 GT
Length 212,20 metres
Width 30,60 metres
Draught 7,10 metres
2 824 passengers
186 cabin berths
800 cars (if no freight units carried) or
320 cars and 110 freight units
3 653 lane metres
5 Wärtsilä LNG/diesel hybrid engines, combined 45 600 kW
2 propellers
2 bow thrusters
2 stern thrusters
Service speed 27 knots
Ice class 1A

The interior design of the Megastar has been the responsibility of two Finnish interior designers: dSign Vertti Kivi & Co and Aprocos. While dSign is the more widely publicised of the two - having designed the majority of the public spaces - in terms of floor area, the two practices were essentially equal, thanks to Aprocos doing some of the largest areas onboard, most notably the twin-level Traveller Superstore, as well as all the cabins. But, without further ado, let's dig in!

Deck 11 is inaccessible to the public, housing crew areas.

Deck 10 has the command bridge forward, followed by more crew areas, passenger cabins, the diver's lounge and, right aft, the open sun deck for passengers. Being smart, I neglected to visit this deck completely during my tour.

Deck 9 is one of the two principal passenger decks, hosting the buffet and à la carte restaurants forward, followed by the children's play room, a cafeteria and a fast food eatery, with a sitting lounge and two bars right aft.

The Delight Buffet covers most of the forward quarter of the deck. Right at the front, there is a neat bay window, continuing the shape of the command bridge above. A very neat little detail.
In contrast with dSign's earlier shipboard work, the Megastar features plants as decor in various spaces.
The Delight Buffet is designed as a series of cabinet-like spaces, which can be cordoned off on less busy departures.
The servery areas of Delight Buffet are in the middle, in the now-popular island arrangement.
Adjacent to the buffet entrance is the ship's à la carte dining room, Chef's Kitchen. The placement was strategic on the part of dSign, as it is hoped to encourage passengers en-route to the buffet to "upgrade" their dining experience.
Aft of Chef's Kitchen is the children's playroom.
Moving further aft, the starboard side of the ship is filled with the Fast Lane cafeteria. Here, again, the area is subdivided into indivisual segments with their own colour scheme. This spot is my personal favourite.
The Fast Lane servery areas.
More Fast Lane sitting areas. While the menu and branding are the same as on the Fast Lanes found onboard other ships of Tallink Grupp, the decor is unique.
The aftmost areas of Fast Lane have more neat plant detailings in the space dividers.
While Fast Lane covers the starbord side amidships, on the port there's first the galley and the a Burger King restaurant. Here, the decor is in accordance with the Burger King concept - so nothing to write home about.
The stairwells (seen here is the midships stairs on Deck 9) are all designed by Aprocos in a quite attractive styling. However, each of the three staircases has the same colour scheme; perhaps unique colours for each would have aided in passenger orientation.
Aft of Burger King is the Sitting Lounge, a much-desired if somewhat retro feature. Here, again, the design of the space is by Aprocos.
Apposite of the Sitting Lounge on the starboard side we find the Victory Bar with its centerpiece horse lamp.
Victory Bar was envisioned by dSign as a stylish, contemporary rendering of a classic sports pub.
Again, plants bring a nice organic counterpoint to dSign's angular detailing.
As in the other dSign-drawn spaces, there are some very neat lighting fixtures in the Victory Bar.
The final indorrs public space on Deck 9 is Sea Pub, another concept familiar from earlier Tallink and Silja Line ships, but with a new interior design from dSign.
Sea Pub is, without question, the most vibrant-coloured of all dSign-made public areas onboard.
dSign envisioned the Sea Pub as a more quiet space, in contrast with the Victory Bar. We'll see how the spaces will turn out in practice.
Aft on Deck 9, the outer decks have been built in as an enclosed, winter garden -like space.
Deck 8 is the second public room deck. Forward, there are the extra-cost Business and Comfort Class lounges, followed by the entrance lobby, the Coffee & Co coffee bar, the Lobby Shop and the Traveller Superstore, which covers the entire aft half of the deck.

The forward section on Deck 8 is split between the Business Class (seen here) and Comfort Class areas.
Food and drinks are included in the Business Class price, thus the space has its own buffet servery area.
dSign chose to decorazte the Business Class lounge in restive hues of grey and black, conductive for working.
The Comforst Class lounge, accopying the port side forward, features similarly restive decor as the Business Class.
Again, organic detailing brings the space to life.
The Comfort Class areas also feature three cabinets, which can be used either as private meeting rooms or incorporated into the main lounge on busier departures.
The two extra-cost areas are followed by the entrance lobby and corridors leading to the public rooms midships. On the port side, a video of the ship's naming ceremony, alongside a picture of the godmother (Finland's former president Tarja Halonen) and the lucky coins laid under the keel.
The corresponding space on the starboard side.
Amidships is the Coffee & Co coffee bar area. Here, the walking paths cross from one side of the ship to the other, an interesting new solution devised by dSign.
The Coffee & Co servery area, alongside the reception, is located in the triangular space formed by the crossroads forward.
Port side sitting areas for Coffee & Co. The starboard side has more hues of fuchsia.
The aft triangle from the corssroads has further seating and the Lobby Shop.
Located adjacent to the main supermarket, the Lobby Shop might seem like a strange concept, but many passengers probably welcome the chance for quick shopping in a much smaller space.
The Traveller Superstore, designed by Aprocos, is similar in styling to the Tax Free Superstore found onboard other Tallink and Silja vessels, but with the name altered to reflect the fact there are no tax-free sales on the Helsinki-Tallinn route.
The Traveller Superstore extends down to Deck 7, with an extremely impressive atrium-like staircase in the middle. Alas, the equipment I had with me couldn't quite capture the space in the way it deserved.
Very wish display!
Deck 7 features one of the Megastar's most innovative features: a garage that passengers can access during the voyage. This is meant for shoppers taking large amounts with them, as there is direct access from the garage to the Traveller Superstore.

During our visit, however, the garage was turned into a party space for a short celebratory cruise run from Tallinn later in the evening.
The garage photographed once the ship was in normal service on 29.1. Very similar to a shopping center on dry land.

The Decks below, 3-6, are further car decks, with technical spaces and galleys down on Decks 1 and 2.

As always, Kships will return.

22 January 2017

Sorrento at Valletta, 13 January 2010

This is an interesting small set. We were going through old photos with the wife to put in our family photo album, and I came across these ones taken at Valletta, Malta when we were there in January 2010. I remembered photographing just one passenger vessel during our visit (Malta in the winter is, apparently, not that big of a cruise destination - or at least this used to be the case) but I had no idea it was this interesting.


IMO 9264312
Name history: Eurostar Valencia, Sorrento
Built 2003, C.N. "Visentini" Donada, Italy
Tonnage 26 000 GT
Length 186,00 m
Width 25,60 m
Draught 6,50 m
1 000 passengers
400 passenger berths
160 cars
2 250 lane metres
2 Wärtsilä diesels, combined 18 900 kW
2 propellers
2 bow thrusters
Speed 22,5 knots

The Sorrento was, of course, a member of the uniquituous Vinsentini-class of ropaxes, built by the shipyard with the same name in Italy. She was built in 2003 as the Eurostar Valencia for Grimaldi Lines' service between Salerno and Valencia, as well as Salermo to Tunis via Palermo and Valletta. In 2005 the ship was tranferred to the new Grimaldi-Louis Dreyfus joint service between Civitavecchia and Toulon, but also sailed on routes linking Civitavecchia to Corsican ports. She retained the Grimaldi livery, but with Grimaldi-Louis Dreyfus hull and funnel markings.

In November 2006 the ship was renamed Sorrento, but this did not have an effect on her route for the time being. From 2008 she again served on the routes from various Italian ports to Tunis, occasionally calling en-route at Valletta. The photos below were taken during this era. In summer 2010 the ship moved to the livorno-Valencia route, then in spring 2012 tranferring to the Adriatic (Brindisi-Igoumenitsa-Patras).

In March 2013, the Sorrento was chartered to Acciona Trasmediterránea for service between Valencia and Palma da Mallorca. She was only partially painted in Trasmediterránea colour and retained her distinctly Italian name. On 28 April 2015, a fire broke outboard shortly after the ship departed Palma de Mallorca. Everyone onboard were safely evacuated, but the ship was a total loss, and was eventually scrapped in Aliaga, Turkey in 2016. The accident took place only a few months after the Sorrento's sister ship Norman Atlantic suffered a similar (albeit more widely publicized) fate on the Adriatic.

But on to the photos, which show the Sorrento departing Valletta Grand Harbour on 13 January 2010. Photograped from Birgu (Vittoriosa). As always, click on the image to see it in larger size.

Sorrento with Valletta in the background. Come to think of it, I haven't done a panoramic photo in a while.
Not a bad livery, to be fair. I also quite like the GLD funnel symbol.

Kships will return in about a week with photos from the brand-new Megastar.

05 January 2017

Viking Grace and Amorella in Mariehamn, 8 June 2014

Today's entry is brought to you by my discovering a previously unposted set of shots of the Viking Grace and Amorella in Mariehamn a few years back while working on today's issue of Ulkomatala (which, if you speak Finnish, you should totally check out). Featuring these two ships will also handily give me a chance to write about Viking Line's memorandum of agreement for the Amorella's replacement. But first, few words about this blog.

In the past month or so, inaddition to learning quite a lot about how to care for a newborn baby, I've also discovered how to maximise the number of blog views. Contrary to what I previously thought, the key is not regular updates. The key is making one entry a month about the interiors of the Silja Europa. December 2016's visitor numbers smashed the previous record by more than 50 percent, and while the Silja Europa interior entries have been the newest on the blog, daily visitor numbers have regularly been double or triple the normal numbers. It will be interesting to see what will happen after this entry is posted. Which brings us nicely back to the point.

Viking Grace

IMO 9606900
Built 2013, STX Europe Turku, Finland
Tonnage 57 700 GT
Length 218,60 m
Width 31,80 m
Draught 6,80 m
Ice class 1 A Super
2 800 passengers
2 876 berths
530 lane metres of cars
1 275 lane metres of cargo
4 Wärtsilä dual fuel (LNG/diesel) engines, combined 30 400 kW
2 fixed-pitch propellers
2 bow thrusters
1 stern thruster
Service speed 21,8 knots
Maximum speed 25,6 knots


IMO 8601915
Built 1988, Brodogradiliste Split, Yugoslavia
Tonnage 35 384 GT
Length 169,40 m
Width 27,60 m
Draught 6,35 m
2 480 passengers
2 046 berths
350 cars
900 lane metres
4 Wärtsilä-Pielstick diesels, combined 23 760 kW
2 propellers
2 bow thrusters
Speed 21,5 knots

The Amorella and Viking Grace have both enjoyed fairly uneventful careers, by the virtue of having both sailed (near-)exclusively on the Turku-Stockholm route (the Amorella has also had short stints on the Helsinki-Stockholm line). An end is in sight for the Amorella's time on the service, however, as Viking Line signed a memorandum of agreement to build a new ship for the Turku route - previously reported to be the Amorella's replacement - in November with the Xiamen Shipbuilding Industry Co. Ltd. in China. If the new ship is realised, she will be the largest on the Northern Baltic, with a projected gross tonnage of circa 63 000; this will be achieved by making the ship circa three metres wider than the Viking Grace, allowing the addition of one more lane of cargo on a ship with the same length.

The newbuilding is slated for delivery in 2020, and according to an interview with Viking's CEO Jan Hanses, on being replaced the Amorella will move to the Helsinki-Tallinn line as a running mate for the Viking XPRS. Also according to Hanses, Viking have been scouting the second-hand market for a suitable Helsinki-Tallinn ship for some time, without success. (This does, however, beg the question if it was smart to sell the Isabella back in 2013, if less than four years later Viking are in dire need of an additional ship).

The to-be-confirmed contract for the Chinese newbuilding also includes the option of a sister ship. If Viking are pleased with the new ship, surely the sensible thing would be to use the option and operate the Turku route with two identical sisters. This would also free the Viking Grace for use on other routes - rumours about transferring her to Helsinki-Stockholm have occasionally circulated. Of course, anything related to the optional sister is pure speculation.

The photos below, meanwhile, show the Viking Grace and Amorella arriving at Mariehamn for their simultaneous afternoon call, allowing for passengers to and from the Åland islands to disembark/embark, but - more importantly - allowing people making a 'picnic cruise' from Turku or Stockholm to change ships. Photographed from Västra Ytternäs, if I remember correctly. As always, click on the images to see them in larger size.

The weather and lighting were far from perfect - I fiddled with these quite a lot to make them less grey - but the synchronised arrival and turning is rather neat.
Interesting to compare the ship's looks; the same company, designed for the same route, but 25 years between them.
The dance of the (not so) little ferries.
Kships will return at latest at the end of this month with photos of the brand-new Megastar.