Saturday, 6 April 2013

Farewell, sweet Isabella.

Yesterday, a letter with breaking news dropped in my e-mail box. It was from my favourite cruiseferry operator Viking Line. I opened it and I was very much saddened by the news. Viking Line sold Isabella and cancelled all the planned trips between Helsinki and Tallinn in summer.

As I mentioned in my last post, Isabella was replaced by the gorgeous Viking Grace earlier this year, and she has been for sale since last summer. The plans of putting her on Tallinn-Helsinki route were made, because it seemed unlikely that the ship would sell anytime soon. But then things changed.

I was just sad at first, wondering about the fate of Isabella, and worrying that she would be taken as far as Translandia was.

Fun Facts: Translandia was Eckerö Line's cargo ship until she was replaced by Nordlandia, which used to be their passenger ship. Nordlandia's job was taken over by Superstar's sister, much newer and really nice Finlandia (ex Moby Freedom). Translandia was recently sold to some company of United Arab Emirates, and delivered to Turkey. I've seen her in several locations in eastern Mediterranean ever since.

I was also sad to know that my plans of seeing Isabella as I return from Finland in June had to be cancelled, and wondering what ship I could discover instead of her. But when I found out who bought Isabella, I wasn't pleased, to say the least.

Isabella was bought by a daughter company of TallinkSilja to be placed on Riga - Stockholm route, replacing Silja Festival.

That looks to me like a clear indicator that Tallink doesn't want any more competition on Tallink - Helsinki route. Every day, the Gulf of Finland is crossed 22 times by ships operating between Tallinn and Helsinki. Of those crossings, Tallink makes 14 (12 with Star and Superstar, 2 with Silja Europa). Viking Line makes 4 with Viking XPRS, and with Isabella it would've reached 8. Eckerö Line makes 4 too, with Finlandia. 

I can't think of any better reason why the deal was made, really. Tallink said that they bought Isabella to meet the growing demand between Riga and Stockholm, but Isabella isn't much bigger than Silja Festival, and the change would be almost insignificant. 

All I can do now is to hope that Viking Line will be strong enough to stay in the competition, and that Tallink will not end up being the only ship company operating in the Baltic Sea. 

Bye Bye Beautiful

I've been thinking of starting to post on this blog regularly, to introduce one ship at a time. Now I've decided that I will be posting one ship introduction every Sunday, and the first ship I'll introduce will be Isabella. I don't want the selection to be limited to Baltic Sea passenger ships, instead I want to try to cover all kinds of different vessels, and you can help me with that. If you have any ships in mind that you would like me to introduce, please do leave a comment. 

Now I'm very curious about what will happen to Silja Festival, as she's very beautiful and unique, and it would be sad to see her sold and/or repainted. I'd also like to see what will Tallink do with Isabella, mostly regarding the new livery. When it comes to my trip, I considered Linda Line, but then I revised the rules of Eckerö Line, and I was happy to find that I can come with Finlandia.

In the meanwhile, I also had my first ship driving experience, if controlling a small model can be called that. I went to the Seaplane harbor in Tallinn with my class, which is now a museum. My class voted to be taught about aviation, but after that was over, we were free to look around, and I went straight to the pool with two ship models and a mini harbor. I set a goal to drive a ship out of the harbor and back in again without any collisions, but it took me over an hour of practice. I also had a few encounters with people controlling the other ship model, who seemed very determined to collide with my vessel. But in the end I think I got it, and I really liked it. It also made me understand several little things I didn't understand about ships before.

My first ship! :D

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