13 February 2018

Finnclipper in the Åland Archipelago, 10 January 2018

Today we return to photos taken during last month's rather unusual trip with the Baltic Princess from Turku to the Remontowa shipyard in Gdansk. While sailing through the Turku and Åland archipelagos, we encountered Finnlines' Finnclipper en route, sailing in the other direction. Since the Finnclipper was last featured here in 2015, this is also a good time to offer an update to her history.

Finnclipper

IMO 9137997
Built 1999, Astilleros Españoles Puerta Real, Spain
Tonnage 33 958 GT
Length 188,30 m
Width 29,30 m
Draugth 6,30 m
Ice class 1A
440 passengers
452 berths
3 079 lane metres
4 Sulzer diesels, combined 23 040 kW
2 propellers
2 bow thrusters
Speed 22,1 knots

The Finnclipper was originally ordered in 1995 by Stena Line as the first ship of their four-strong Stena Seapacer -class. However, while the ship was under construction Stena struck a deal with Finnlines to sell the two two ships in the class to Finnlines on completion. The ship was delivered to Stena Line in May 1999, and immediately resold to Poseidon Schiffahrt, the German subsidiary of Finnlines and registered in Lübeck. However, she was given a Finnlines-traditional Finn-prefix name, rather than Poseidon's Trans-prefixed one, a step in the process of Poseidon losing their own identity. The Finnclipper was initially placed on Finnlines' service between Travemünde and Helsinki. In 2001 she was re-registered in Helsinki. From the beginning of 2003 she moved to the Naantali-Kapellskär -route (which was marketed as Finnlink), only to move to the Malmö-Travemünde (Nordö Link) -route in the beginning of 2005, at which time she was re-registered in Malmö. This proved a short stint, as from the beginning of 2006 she reverted to the Finnlink service.

The next change came in 2012, when in the winter she made a single trip from Helsinki to Aarhus, followed by a regular service on the Malmö-Travemünde and Travemünde-Saint Petersburg -routes (reportedly the trips to Saint Petersburg were done in part to purchase cheap marine fuel from Russia). For the 2015 summer season, the Finnclipper returned to the Finnlink service, which had in the interim been altered to include an intermediate call in Långnäs in the Åland Islands in order to secure tax-free sales onboard. In February 2016, the ship briefly returned to Malmö-Travemünde, before sailing to the Turku Ship Repair Yard in Naantali for installation of scrubbers. For the rest of 2016 she again sailed on the Naantali-Kapellskär -route, before returning to Malmö-Travemünde for the winter months of 2017 (she was also briefly chartered to Stena Line for their Trelleborg-Rostock route during this time), then in March again reverting to Naantali-Kapellskär. She remains on the service to this day, but is due to leave it in April, when she is replaced by the larger Finnswan (ex-Nordlink). I'm uncertain where the Finnclipper is heading after this.

The photos below show the Finnclipper in the Åland Archipelago near Ledskär, photographed from onboard the Baltic Princess. As per the usual, click on the images to see them in larger size. It might also be of interest comparing these photos to the previous set taken in 2015, before she had scrubbers installed.

Some neat sunlight on her side. The ship visible in the background on the left is Viking Line's Amorella, inbound to Mariehamn on her mid-day call.
I also quite like the way the sun lights up the exhausts, which almost seem to glow here.
An abrupt change in the lighting changed the colouring of the photo radically. Personally, I really like the way this one looks!
Sailing on towards Långnäs.
I have a confession to make: I actually quite like the way these ships look.
Next time, unless something odd comes up, we will return to sunny Madeira and the Aidablu.

01 February 2018

Norwegian Spirit at Funchal, 20 January 2018

Today, we change the chilly temperatures of the Baltic Sea in January to warm Madeira in the same month.

Norwegian Spirit

IMO 9195157
Name history: Superstar Leo, Norwegian Spirit
Built 1998, Meyer Werft Papenburg, Germany
Tonnage 75 904 GT
Length 268,60 m
Width 32,20 m
Draugth 7,90 m
2 018 passengers (double occupancy)
2 475 passenger berths
4 MAN-B&W diesels, combined 58 800 kW
2 azipods
2 bow thrusters
Speed 24 knots

For a relatively recently built cruise ship, the Norwegian Spirit actually has a bit of history to her. She was completed in 1998 by Meyer Weft as the first newbuilt ship for Star Cruises as the Superstar Leo (Kværner Masa-Yards in Finland were one of the other bidders to build her), placed on short cruises from Singapore. With the arrival of the sister ship Superstar Virgo the following year, the Superstar Leo was cascaded to Hong Kong.

Additional newbuilds were planned for Star Cruises, but after the company acquired Norwegian Cruise Line 2000, the newbuilds entered service in the NCL fleet. This fate also expected the Superstar Leo: the delayed delivery of the Pride of America in 2004 left NCL one ship short, and the Superstar Leo was transferred to NCL as the Norwegian Spirit to cover for the lack of tonnage. She was never to return to the Star Cruises fleet, staying with NCL even after Star Cruises sold first 50% of the company and subsequently reducing their share to only a small minority shareholding. Indeed, the Norwegian Spirit remains with NCL today, now their smallest ship.

The photos below show the Norwegian Spirit departing from Funchal in the afternoon of 20 January 2018, photographed from the children's playground in Santa Catarina Park. As per the usual, click on the images to see them in larger size.

Not one of the greatest places for photography as far as direction of light is concerned, but... not bad either.
Palm trees look very night, writing this from Finland currently covered in thick blanket of snow.
Finally the ship turned so that I could actually photograph the lit side.
Okay, maybe one close-up of the ship too.
Funchal being as it is, the ship dropped off pilot after a few hundred meters; you can see the pilot cutter alongside here.
Next time we probably return to chilly Finland and the Finnclipper.