Sunday, 12 May 2013

Ship Profiles 6: Cristal

The ship I'm about to introduce you is special because she has been rebuilt entirely many times, the only thing that has stayed the same is the IMO number, which is used to identify a ship.

Name: MS Viking Saga
IMO number: 7827213
Built: 1980
Lenght: 145,2m
Beam: 25,4m
Draught: 5,5m

Tonnage: 14,330 GT
Type: Cruiseferry
Speed: 21,3 knots

Capacity: 2000 passengers, 426 cars
Sister: Viking Song, now known as Regina Baltica

The Viking Saga, along with her sister Viking Song was one of the first genuine cruiseferries to follow Finnjet. Her design was heavily influenced by Finnjet as well. In 1979 - 1981 the traffic on Turku-Stockholm and Helsinki-Stockholm routes was increased a lot when both Viking Line and Silja Line put several new cruiseferries on the routes. Viking Saga was one of them, entering the Helsinki - Stockholm route and serving there for 6 years, until she was replaced by Olympia.

In 1986 she was rebuilt into a cruise ship, although she still kept her cardeck. She was renamed Sally Albatross and she was used for cruises on the Baltic Sea under the brand Sally Cruises.
In 1988 she was rebuilt again, more rooms were added from the cardeck and her outer appearance was changed remarkably, to a more streamlined and round appearance.
After the 1986 and 1988 refits her stats had changed:

Name: Sally Albatross
Lenght: 145,18m
Tonnage: 15,179 GT
Type: Cruise ship
Capacity: 1016 passengers

She served as a cruise ship like that for two years.

In 1992, when she was docked in Sweden for a small interior reconstruction, a fire broke out. The sprinkler system was turned off for the docking, all water sources were dry and the watchman had just left for lunch. Since gas was used for the construction, extinction from inside the ship was very dangerous, and so the crew was evacuated and firefighting continued from outside the ship, which burned for three days. Luckily, no lives were lost. Here's a video about the fire.

And some photos of Sally Albatross after the fire. She was damaged beyond repair.

The remains were cut into pieces, and transported to Rauma, Finland, where the ship was rebuilt from the remains, leaving only the engines and the part of the hull below the waterline in tact. The new ship was longer and now a genuine cruise ship with no cardeck. Many sources count the result of this a new ship, but the IMO number and name remained the same. Most of the stats changed though:

Lenght: 158,9m
Beam: 25,2m
Draught: 5,6m
Tonnage: 25,076 GT
Type: Cruise ship
Speed: 19 knots
Decks: 9 passenger decks
Capacity: 1452 passengers

After the new ship was ready, in 1992, she started doing Baltic Sea cruises similar to what she did before. In July she was used as a hotel and conference ship for Barcelona Summer Olympics. After the charter, she joined Silja Line's fleet, although her name and livery were kept the same. 

In 1994 Sally Albatross ran aground near Porkkala. Her passengers were evacuated and she was left on the spot. Preparations to refloat her started immediately, but it proved to be difficult, taking over a month. It was once again a lucky accident, because no lives were lost. 

After she was refloated and repaired, she was chartered to Norwegian Cruise Line until 2000 and renamed Leeward. She started doing Caribbean cruises in 1995. 

In 2000 she was chartered to Star Cruises, renamed Superstar Taurus and used for cruises in Asia, until in 2001 the charter contract was broken, leaving her in Silja Line's fleet again. She sailed back to Europe and her interior was rebuilt for Baltic Sea cruises. She was then renamed Silja Opera and repainted to Silja Line's livery, and in 2002 she started cruising on Baltic Sea once again. 

She was already infamous for all the accidents, and it was made worse when she collided with three ships in St. Petersburg, and a couple of months later with a Russian icebreaker. Therefore the cruises on her turned out to be unpopular and she was put up for sale. 

In 2007, she was sold to Louis Cruise Lines and renamed Cristal. Ever since she has been doing Mediterranean cruises.

Finally,  here's a before-and-after view of the same ship as she was built and as she is now.


1 comment:

  1. To think that the ship has been entirely rebuilt, as you said many times. At least the cereal number is the same so the ship can be cataloged and kept in record. I think it is wonderful that people have taken the time to restore older ships like this to their former glory.
    Cynthia |