13 January 2018

With the Baltic Princess from Turku to Gdansk, 10-11 January 2018

My first shipboard travel of the year was something slightly different: we boarded the Baltic Princess in Turku early in the morning of 10 January, and arrived the next day at noon at the Remontowa shipyard in Gdansk, Poland. I was one of the seven journalists/bloggers invited to join the ship on this unusual trip. A lot photos were taken and some will undoubtedly form the basis of future entries, but I wanted to give you an overview of the trip when it's still fresh.

10 January 2018

At 5:15 in the morning we boarded a bus in Helsinki, and after a rather sleepy bus ride we arrived at Silja Line's terminal in Turku, with both the Galaxy and the Baltic Princess at quay. The latter had arrived the last evening, while the Galaxy had just arrived from Stockholm and would stay in port the entire day to take over her sister's place in the service for the duration of the docking.

Alas, the weather for photographing the two sisters together in Turku was far from ideal.
Entrance to the ship was via the car deck (the Silja terminal in Turku has passenger gangways to just one quay). From left to right are Sami Koski of Valkeat Laivat, Marko Stampehl of Ferryfacts, Olli Tuominen of Ulkomatala, and with her back to the camera Tuula Nurminen of Tuula's Life.
So, what was the day like? We toured the ship, with expert guidance from both the crew and Tallink Silja's office staff, ate at the temporary mess set up in the Grill House restaurant for the duration of the docking, chatted, worked... I think this in particular is a case where pictures speak louder than words, so let's get to it!
The old Siljaland on Deck 7 was still intact, though not for long. This area will turn into an extension of the Fashion Street shop, with a new Siljaland to be built on Deck 5.
The Starlight Palace show lounge & night club will get new upholstery and a new dance floor with in-built led lighting.
The information booth fullfilled its unusual function, plus there was coffee, juice and small bited on offer outside. The "analogue dial" sofas are presumably getting reupholstered.
Forward on Deck 6, the old Cafeteria will give way to a Fast Lane restaurant similar to those found on the Silja Symphony, Silja Europa and Megastar. This is in particular in answer to passenger requests for more warm foods in cafeteria-style dining.
Buffet Silja Line will be rebuilt to a Grande Buffet like those found on the Silja Serenade, Silja Symphony and Silja Europa. Here, the chairs will be reupholstered rather than replaced; I presume the new soft furnishings will be dark orange in keeping with the theme found on the other ships.
The servery areas will be rebuilt, with the new "jewel" of the buffet being the dessert station with waiters in attendance to "tune" the portions according to customer wishes.
The old luggage room on Deck 5, adjacent to the conference areas, will become the new Siljaland. Based on cuystomer feedback, this will have a cafeteria for adults and a stage for the children themselves, as well as Silja's mascot Herri Hylje, to perform on. During school holiday seasons, the play areas can be extended to the conference rooms.
Bridge visits are a rare thing these days, but since this trip didn't officially have any passengers, we visited the bridge twice.
Last winter saw the addition of a Tavolata Italian restaurant; the Baltic Princess is the only ship in the Tallink and Silja fleets where this also serves pizza, thanks to a dedicated pizza oven. Tavolata, like the adjacent Happy Lobster and Grill House, will remain unchanged.
In the archipelago, we passed both the Gudingen, seen here, and Finnlines' Finnclipper. Both encounters will get their own blog entries later, I think.
The big thing about this refit is the replacement of the Wärtsilä-built reduction gears, which have proven unreliable, with new Renk-built ones. These will have to be lifted off the ship via the car deck, which will mean cutting through many things that were not originally designed to be cut through. The Baltic Princess' gearbxes will be kept as spare parts for the sister ship Baltic Queen.
The starboard side main engines.
11 January 2018

On the second day of the trip I woke early, as we were expected to pick up pilot at six in the morning. No such luck, as there were several ships in the queue before us and in the end we only picked up the pilot around ten. This left some time for further exploration and working (it's surprisingly productive to write in your own cabin on a ship that offers no organised entertainment) before the rather exciting (if cold) trip up the Leniwka river to Ostrów island and the waiting Remontowa shipyard.

The old Siljaland had been almost entirely demolished by the morning of the second day.
New restaurants mean new signage, of course, but also most of the other signage onboard will be replaced by new ones in the new official Silja style adopted last year.
Sailing up the Leniwka with assistance of no less than four tugs.
Remontowa is a busy place: in addition to the Baltic Princess, the morning saw the arrival of the Pride of Rotterdam, being reversed into the floating dock here...
...as well as the Stena Scandinavica and the Mont St. Michel, seen here on the right in the background.
The most interesting ship, though sadly poorly positioned for photography, is BC Ferries' Spirit of British Columbia, which came all the way from Canada for conversion to run on LNG.
Disembarking the ship at half past three in the afternoon. Much like in Finland, it was already getting dark by this time.
After that, our programme included a brief walking tour of Gdansk (the planned visit to the maritime museum was axed due to us getting off the ship so late) and a quick dinner before an evening flight back to Helsinki.

This entry was brought to you in collaboration with Silja Line. I would like to extend my most heartfelt thanks to both the crew of the Baltic Princess for their hospitality and in particular Tallink Silja's chief of communications Marika Nöjd for making the trip possible. And, naturally, further thanks are in order to the fellow participants. If you want to take a look at what the others participants have written on the trip, here is a list of links:

The Ferryfacts Blog by Marko Stampehl (in English)
Valkeat laivat by Sami Koski (in Finnish)
Ulkomatala by Olli Tuominen (in Finnish)
Kristallin hohtoa by Krista Hytönen (in Finnish)
Tuulas Life by Tuula Nurminen (in Finnish)
Beachhouse Kitchen by Heli-Hannele Pehkonen (in Finnish)

As said, further material from the trip will be published as separate entries in the coming weeks. The Baltic Princess will return to service on 22 February 2018 (if all goes to plan). I hope to visit her then and will report on how the refit turned out.

6 comments:

  1. Nice trip and good report. Thanks for sharing.

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  2. Great write up and photos, I bet it was cold. Thanks for sharing. If you manage to get anymore photos of 'Mont St Michel'. please share them.

    Tony https://www.facebook.com/BrittanyFerriesShips/

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    1. I did manage to get some (not too many, as she was a bit inconveniently located), I'll put them up here later.

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