Tuesday, 16 January 2018

From Turku to the shipyard in Gdańsk with Silja Lines BALTIC PRINCESS

BALTIC PRINCESS passing the narrow strait of Oxdjupet between Rindö and Värmdö at 4:38h in the morning of 3 August 2017, inbound for Stockholm.

On 10 January I was about to embark on my first ferry trip of the year, which was to become a special trip with the BALTIC PRINCESS from Turku to Gdańsk. Built in 2008, the ship needs to undergo her 10-year-overhaul, and in addition, gets the gearboxes replaced which have plagued the vessel in recent years with unforseeable delay-situations every here and then. Tallink Silja invited a row of bloggers and journalists to join the ship on its trip to the shipyard and I was one of the lucky few to be invited.
The BALTIC PRINCESS was built by Aker Yards in Helsinki and delivered to Tallink on 10 July 2008. She operated on the Helsinki-Tallinn-Route from 15 July 2008 up until January 2013 when she was transferred to Finnish flag and, after a docking in Naantali, began to operate under the Silja Line brand on the route Turku-Långnäs-Stockholm-Mariehamn-Turku on 1 February 2013.

But befor the trip itself I was treated with some thrill... Sitting in the plane in Hamburg and being pushed back by the tractor from our ramp position, some error showed up in the systems of the plane, apparently caused by a malfunctioning push-back-bar. (whatever that parts name is correctly.) Well. We first waited for about 10 minutes on the spot and one could see a lot of flickering orange light. Then we got informed by the pilot what happened and that we'll now proceed to a new parking position to try to get the problem fixed.
Getting on board the plane in Hamburg. A Finnair Embraer 190, operated by Norra.

After another 15-20 minutes we heard the announcement "cabin crew arm your doors and cross-check". Which was a relief to hear, meaning that the cabin crew was preparing the plane for departure. Eventually we took off with about 45 min delay. I had a stay reserved in a simple and rather cheap hotel close by the railway station in Helsinki, as we were about to leave Helsinki the next morning at 05.15 from Mannerheimintie. Which we eventually did, in a rather sleepy state...

So here are some photos of the trip itself...

Rare view in Turku: both GALAXY and BALTIC PRINCESS berthed. BALTIC PRINCESS had arrived the evening before from her last commercial round-trip before the docking.
BALTIC PRINCESS berthed at the lay-by-berth at the Silja Terminal in Turku. A little van shuttled us from the terminal building to the ramp of the ship.
Check-in took place at the reception on deck 6. Here we received an ID card and a cabin key.

The ID card, which was good to wear visibly at all times and the cabin key. My name had been slightly mis-spelled, but that had no impact on immigration to Poland later on...

Glimpse into my cabin, an A-Premium cabin.

Upon departure at 9 am, it was time to get up on deck to take some rather atmospheric photos of GALAXY in the fog.

After departure it was time to gather and pay a visit to the bridge, with Captain André (Andy) Brink meeting us for a little tour of the bridge.
Captain André Brink and members of our group of bloggers and photographers.

During our visit on the bridge, weather improved and all of a sudden we even had sunny spells and a lot more to see than earlier upon departure.

Captain André Brink giving us a briefing about the route of the trip and the approach into Gdansk to the Remontowa-Shipyard via the River Leniwka.

View from the bridge once the weather improved...
Group photo on the bridge, from left: Ari Kavon (Technical Superintendent), Pasi Heinonen (Indentent), Riku Alho (Chef de Cuisine) and André Brink (Captain).

Starboard side bridge wing with compass and steering panel.

The Grill House Restaurant has been transformed into the mess for crew and workers during the time at the shipyard. All other restaurants and bars are certainly kept close, as are the shops.

A final glimpse into the old Siljaland, which had been largely emptied from toys and equipment. An hour after this photo, workers started to dismantle the installations.

In the evening of 10 January, the former Siljaland was mere history. The Fashion shop "Fashion Street" will be enlarged to include this area.

During our time in the Turku and Åland Archipelagos, some other ferries could be spotted. Like Ålandstrafikens GUDINGEN, which is here captured having just departed Överö in the Föglö Archipel of Åland, bound for Kökar (Åland) and Galtby in the Turku Archipelago.

In the Klobbsund, shortly before Ledskär, we met with Finnlines' FINNCLIPPER, which regularly sails on the route Naantali-Långnäs-Kapellskär.

Throughout the ship, such heavy cardboard plates and plastic wrap were used to cover the floors and to avoid damage and wear caused by the refurbishment. Parts of the stairs were also taken out of use.

For the docking, slot machines and other game machines were shut off and covered in plastic.

The Starlight Palace will get its seating newly upholstered and new flooring, as well as a new dance floor with led lights in it.

Another view of Starlight Palace.

The Tax Free Shop, which actually still is one, as on routes calling the Åland islands, tax free sales is still possible due to a special status Åland has negotiated back in 1995, when Finland joined the EU.

A self-service point for coffee, tea, water, juice and biscuits has been set up in the Reception lobby on deck 6.

A self-service point for coffee, tea, water, juice and biscuits has been set up in the Reception lobby on deck 6.

The former cafeteria, serving makitas, extension cords and ladders... :-P

The cafeteria, with dismantling of the furniture having just started.

Work lights instead of coffee, pizza slice and köttbullar...

Counters of the cafeteria seen from inside.

Former Buffet Silja Line. To become Grande Buffet.

Former Buffet Silja Line. To become Grande Buffet.

Former Buffet Silja Line. To become Grande Buffet.

The former luggage room, to be transformed into the new Siljaland for children.

The former luggage room, to be transformed into the new Siljaland for children.

The usual mess of the BALTIC PRINCESS, not in use during our voyage and during the docking.

Chef de Cuisine Riku Alho gave us an in-depth view into the kitchens, their organisation and how supplies are stored in the ship.

Dishwashing machines...

Second time that we checked on the Buffet restaurant, large parts of the floor were gone...

Grocery supplies

Supplies of pepper, salt and other spices.

Various lockers to keep supplies fresh. Freezers on the left and...

...and cold stores on the right. This one here for cheese.

Chairs in storage on the arcade next to the Grill House, waiting to be newly upholstered. These are the chairs from the Buffet restaurant, which will be rebuilt as Grande Buffet.


Some sunny spell shortly before leaving the Åland archipelago.

Some sunny spell shortly before leaving the Åland archipelago.

Our initial route from Turku took us to the Åland Sea, from where our trip continued further south.

Nyhamn, the last outpost of Åland we saw. Shortly after this point, the mobile network coverage ended and we were left in peace with ourselves, some music from the ipod and a good book to read.

Alas, it was time to attend the safety instruction, a must for everyone on board. There were three of these instructions given at the Starlight Palace nightclub, and everyone had to read and undersign such a form and turn it in to the Safety Officer.

After the safety instruction presentation, a visit to the engine control room and the engine room was arranged, under the lead of technical superintendent Ari Kavon.

First Engineer Markku Elijoki together with engineers Harri Lehtomäki and Tomi Pitkänen.

Markku Elijoki (to the right) explaining the Kongsberg system which is the central tool to control the various systems.

The exhaust system of the port side main engines, with the gear box (blue) in front.

View of the port side gear box. Both current Wärtsilä gearboxes will be replaced by similar ones made by Renk (Germany) during the docking in Gdansk.

To exchange the gear boxes, the platforms visible here, together with the stairs and the exhaust pipes as well as all the piping and cabling in the ceiling has to be dismantled. Holes will be cut in the car deck to lift the old gear boxes (each weighing approx 58 tonnes) out and lower the new gear boxes in place. It will then be a challenging task to align propeller axle, gearbox and engine to get the power from the engine properly transmitted and reduced through the gear box to act on the propeller axle.

New signage was prepared on board. The "workshop" of the signage guy was set up in the Sea Pub.

Staircase lobby used to store a few tools...

The perfume shop covered in plastic to avoid dust.
Our special "midnight show", this time already at 6pm, where Marika introduced us to the details of what will be done during the docking.

Life vests taken out from the storage to be checked.

View into the former Cafeteria which will be rebuilt as Fastlane Restaurant.

Most of the stations in the Buffet Restaurant had gone by late evening on 10 January.

The Buffet Restaurant, emptied from chairs...

The place which is to become the new Siljaland, children's play area, much larger than the former one, even if from this space (the former luggage room) it is difficult to judge.

The Reception desk was closed during the night.

A quiet Reception desk during the night.

Safety and Sauna: important information was put on this display next to the reception.

Morning lights in the bight of Gdansk.

Part of the Piano Bar was transformed into an upholstery.

Visit to Captain André Brink at his desk in his cabin.

Back on the bridge we waited to see the tugs and the pilot boat approaching the BALTIC PRINCESS.

Close-up of the navigation panel on the starboard bridge wing.

We were not the only Finns in the area. Passing Finnish Tug KRAFT (Alfons Håkans) with a barge from the same company right off Gdansk Roads.

Table flags on the bridge.

Find two "errors"... :-D  (I want such a jacket!!)

Operation "clean window" under progress.

Captain's crib on the bridge...

STENA VISION has left Gdynia for another day trip to Karlskrona.

The pilot boat approaches the pilot door.

Pilot grabs the pilot ladder and comes on board.
Jakub Bogucki (left of the pilot on the pilot boat) is taking photos.

On River Leniwka, with the Westerplatte monument, remembering the Polish defenders in WWII.

Manoeuvering the river Leniwka, which at this point had a quite narrow turn. The Westerplatte Ferry Terminal can be seen in the background. Altogether four tugboats accompanied us to the shipyard. Two were connected to the BALTIC PRINCESS (one fore and one aft), while to pusher boats were on standby and later pushed the ship towards the quay.

Jakub Bogucki again in action, this time ashore...

We, as seen by Peter Stareńczak who was on STENA SCANDINAVICA when taking these photos.

STENA SCANDINAVICA at Zdobywców Kołobrzegu Quay. BALTIC PRINCESS initially took the berth which is visible behind the bow of STENA SCANDINAVICA.

Are you free from giddiness?

Left the Tallink house flag, then the Finnish flag, and to the far right the Polish flag. The little flag right next to the Finnish flag is the signal flag for the letter "H" and means "I have a pilot on board".

BALTIC PRINCESS being pushed to the berth at Zdobywców Kołobrzegu Quay, Remontowa Shipyard, Gdansk.

On monkey island...

The "black box" of BALTIC PRINCESS.

Me on the helipad on BALTIC PRINCESS. This photo was taken by Sami Koski.
The route of BALTIC PRINCESS from Turku to Gdansk. The voyage calculation
indicated a travel time of 22 hours and a distance of 431 nautical miles (798 km).

This track from Marinetraffic makes the extra round visible which BALTIC
PRINCESS took during the waiting time before the pilot came on board. Caused
by the delayed start of the river voyage, the total travel time became 27.5 hrs.
Thanks to my Polish friends Peter Stareńczak and Jakub Bogucki, who picked me up right from the ship after we finally were allowed to go ashore, I was able to get a closer glimpse at some of the ships currently at Remontowa for repairs and conversions, shortly before it became totally dark. It also does not happen too often that you get to the airport in Gdansk by a former taxi from Hamburg... (Thank you for meeting me Peter and Jakub!!)
The MONT ST. MICHEL was the first of three ferries arriving on 11 January 2018, and was directly going into floating dock #D3.

Second in the row was the PRIDE OF ROTTERDAM. She will amongst others surely receive the new company logo of P&O painted on her hull. She is here seen in the floating dock #D5. BALTIC PRINCESS was third in the row on 11 January with the STENA SCANDINAVICA having arrived already on 7 January.

The SPIRIT OF BRITISH COLUMBIA already came end of October 2017 and will stay some more months, while being converted to use LNG as fuel. She is currently located alongside Ostrawica IV Quay.

This blog entry has been brought to you in collaboration with Tallink Silja Oy, Jakub Bogucki and Peter Stareńczak. Tallink Silja invited me to join the ship on it's trip from Turku to Gdansk. A warm thanks ja suuret kiitokset goes to Marika Nöjd and the entire crew of BALTIC PRINCESS, of which I'd specially like to mention the Captain André Brink, Indendent Pasi Heinonen, Chef de Cuisine Riku Alho and (from the shore organization) Technical Superintendent Ari Kavon. Peter and Jakub met me once I went ashore and also took some photos of the BALTIC PRINCESS here in this blogpost (photos are marked accordingly).

Blogposts and other social media posts from my fellow travel companions can be viewed under below links (except for Kalle's blog - all are in Finnish language):

Valkeatlaivat - by Sami Koski

kships - by Kalle Id

Ulkomatala - by Olli Tuominen

Kristallin hohtoa - by Krista Hytönen

Tuulas Life - by Tuula Nurminen

Beachhouse Kitchen - by Heli-Hannele Pehkonen (to be published soon)

Marika Nöjd (Tallink Silja Oy's Communications Director) has made a youtube video of the trip, which can be watched here.

Happy shipyard travellers: Marika Nöjd in the middle. Behind from left: Heli-Hannele Pehkonen, Kirsti Hytönen, Tuula Nurminen, Olli Tuominen, Kalle Id, Sami Koski and myself. Photo taken by Marika
Part of our group following the arrival of the pilot from the outside of the bridge wing. Photo by Tuula.
As from 22 February 2018, the BALTIC PRINCESS will return to service on her regular evening roster on the route Turku-Långnäs-Stockholm-Mariehamn-Turku. I hope to be able to travel on her later this spring to show you how the ship looks after the refurbishment and modernization has been accomplished.

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