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What Ever Happened To........??? A place to discuss the glorious past of cruising...the ships, the people, the cruise lines, the ports that bring back those wonderful memories.

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  #1  
Old June 6th, 2004, 12:31 AM
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Default NCL's Leeward

She seems to have left the fleet mysteriously and without announcement somewhere within 2 years before 9/11. Anyone have any info on her? She was the first ship I sailed on....and I did so twice. Nice ship as far as I can remember.

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  #2  
Old June 6th, 2004, 04:05 AM
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In 2000 she was transferred to Star Cruises and renamed SUPERSTAR TAURUS and in 2002 to Silja Line, a Finnish ferry company who owned her all the time (was just chartered to NCL and later to Star Cruises) and was renamed SILJA OPERA and is now performing cruises from Helsinki to St. Petersburg.

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Old June 6th, 2004, 11:39 AM
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that is interesting, I didn't know she had always been chartered..

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Old June 6th, 2004, 05:21 PM
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<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by DeckCadet:
that is interesting, I didn't know she had always been chartered..<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>
Actually, there is a lot to find interesting about this ship. For all intents and purposes she dates back to 1992 but her official build date is 1980; she must be the most modern-looking (supposedly) 24-year-old ship in the world! (Heck she still looks new and she's older than I am!) She has one of the most convoluted histories of any passenger ship in recent memory.

If we consider her history as going back to 1980, she was originally built as VIKING SAGA for Redieri AB Sally, a member of the consortium that then made up Viking Line. She was built for the Helsinki-Stockholm route, the most prestigious of the many overnight ferry routes in the Baltic. This was the flagship route of both Viking Line and the rival consortium Silja Line, and from the 1970s through the 1990s, the ships on this route inevitably represented the very latest in Scandinavian ferry design. They were routinely replaced every few years and "demoted" to other routes in the Baltic. (New ferries have not been built for this route since SILJA SERENADE and SILJA SYMPHONY in the early '90s; these amazing ships were the inspiration for Royal Caribbean's VOYAGER-class. They were actually designed with the US market in mind but that's a totally different story which I'll save for another day; SALLY ALBATROSS alone has a history so long I can hardly recount it in a single sitting. They were owned by part of the same company as LEEWARD and like everything involving that company, their story is long, complicated, and not very well-documented at least outside Sweden and Finland.)

She was renamed SALLY ALBATROSS and converted to a cruise ship in 1986. The next year Sally was ironically sold to a consortium of made up of EFFOA and Johnson Line - both members of the Silja Line consortium which were Viking Line's main competition. The two companies later merged to become Effjohn International and took over total control of Silja Line (by this time, the two companies were the sole members of the consortium anyway). In the meantime, SALLY ALBATROSS continued on short cruises in the Baltic. In 1988 she underwent a massive refit at SSW Werft in Germany to permanently convert her to a full-time cruise ship with no car deck.

In 1990 during her annual overhaul at Stockholm, she caught fire and virtually her entire accomodation was destroyed. Virtually the entire ship was scrapped, but her keel, the lower protions of her former car deck, and much of her machinery spaces were salvaged. They were incorporated in what was, depending on your point of view, the construction of her replacement or simply an enormous refit.

The salvaged parts of the former SALLY ALBATROSS went to Rauma Yards in Finland where what was essentially a totally new ship was built. Indeed, the yard, now Aker Finnyards, considered her a newbuild. So did her owners, Effjohn. In fact her acceptance as a new ship was almost universal, but from a legal standpoint the old SALLY ALBATROSS was not dead, and this was just a conversion of the same ship. If you consider this a conversion, it may have been the most extensive one on any passenger ship, anywhere; even conversions from cargo or container ships like DANAE/DAPHNE and COSTA MARINA/COSTA ALLEGRA actually re-used more of their previous incarnations than SALLY ALBATROSS did. If we consider the life of SALLY ALBATROSS/LEEWARD as having begun in 1992, this is where it starts. She emerged from the yard as a vastly different ship; strikingly modern in every way and unrecognizable as a ship that was supposedly built 12 years earlier. She was fitted to a far higher standard than her predecessor. Initially she was to be chartered to Regency Cruises as REGENT MOON; after this failed she was to be chartered to Majesty Cruise Line as CROWN MAJESTY. (Interestingly both lines were nominally competitors to Effjohn's own Commodore and Crown lines, neither of which apparently was ever slated to get SALLY ALBATROSS.) Both charter agreements failed and she remained on short Baltic cruises. However, while this was basically a new ship, it seemed that one of the parts carried over from the old SALLY ALBATROSS was that ship's bad luck. In March 1994 - just over four years after the demise of her ill-fated predecessor - disaster struck again. SALLY ALBATROSS ran aground in bad weather southwest of Helsinki. The engine room began to flood and the ship was uneventfully evacuated, her passengers transferred to the ferry SAINT PATRICK II. SALLY ALBATROSS eventually had a 25-degree list and her stern rested on the bottom approximately ten metres (33 feet) underwater; she was flooded up to Deck 5.

Effjohn attributed the accident to human error and amazingly they decided once again to salvage the ship, which had now survived both burning and sinking, and in totally separate incidents! She was successfully salvaged by the Smit tug NOBLE LIFTER and was brought back to Finland. She was towed to La Spezia, Italy, where she received a refit variously reported has having cost from $30 to $60 million US. At this point is reputed that Effjohn thought her an "unlucky ship" and she was chartered out to NCL for five years beginning in 1995. When her charter ended in 2000, she was chartered to Star Cruises (who ironically bought NCL shortly after) and bcame their SUPERSTAR TAURUS, operating short cruises from Singapore. Apparently she was not a success in the Asian market and Star Cruises ended her charter early. By now Effjohn had sold off all of their non-Silja Line assets and had renamed themselves Silja Line OY, controlled by the American-owned, Bermuda-registered, British-based conglomerate Sea Containers. Silja Line had an ageing ferry, WASA QUEEN, which they wanted to get rid of; she turned out to be perfectly suitable for a new low-budget Chinese operation that Star Cruises was about to start up, and in exchange for returning SUPERSTAR TAURUS, Star bought WASA QUEEN. (That ship has since been very successful as part of their new operation, Cruise Ferries; ironically she retains her very Scandinavian-sounding name.) After a refit she was renamed SILJA OPERA and, after more than 15 years being owned by Effjohn/Silja Line, she finally bore the Silja livery for the first time. She has since operated on short cruises from Helsinki, mainly to St. Petersburg but also to Riga and Talinn.

Ironically while her careers with NCL and Star Cruises were relatively uneventful, the ship seems to still have a problem with her home waters of the Baltic; she has had several minor mishaps as SILJA OPERA including a collision with a pier at St. Petersburg not long after re-entering service. I guess she prefers the warm weather of the Caribbean or Singapore and wanted to make her displeasure at being back in the cooler Baltic known .

If you haven't had enough of her yet, you might want to take a look here. The text is all in Swedish but there are photos of her in every one of her post-1992 incarnations, including interior photos of her as SALLY ALBATROSS (link marked "Inredningsbilder på SALLY ALBATROSS"), a deck plan of her as SALLY ALBATROSS (link marked "Översikts ritning på SALLY ALBATROSS"), interior photos of her as SILJA OPERA (links marked "Inredningsbilder" 1 and 2), and photos of her in drydock as SILJA OPERA (link marked "M/S SILJA OPERA på varv"). Even today she maintains some traces of her former identity - on this page ("Inredningsbilder 2"), the first page shows the shopping arcade carpeted in a pattern that was ubiquitous to all NCL ships in the '90s (usually used in the casinos), and the last photo is a close-up of a glass cocktail table emblazoned with the logo of the now-gone Redieri AB Sally which apparently survived the 1994 sinking.

You can also see photos of the first SALLY ALBATROSS here (from the same Swedish site, Fakta om Fartyg), including photos of her during and after the 1990 fire at Stockholm.

If that still isn't enough you might want to take a look at the Silja Line official site which includes an excellent virtual tour of SILJA OPERA (see "cabins" and "panoramas"), as well as their other ships which are equally fascinating (well, maybe not to you, but to me - modern cruise ships are descended from, and have had their designs intertwined with, Baltic ferries, so I'm a big ferry fan as well).

I have seen a photo of her with her stern resting underwater after the 1994 sinking but I can't for the life of me remember where it was. If I do I'll post here. It was certainly an odd sight; while we're all used to the image of a ship like TITANIC or ANDREA DORIA going under, it's rather hard, for me at least, to imagine what a sinking 1990s cruise ship looks like!

Anyhow, I've spent more than an hour writing now so I guess that should be enough about this ship at least for now. I should know better than to do this, ANY time I try to answer a question about anything remotely related to Effjohn I wind up writing something so long nobody's likely to read it, so it's quite possible that nobody will be reading this and still be awake by the time they come to this paragraph ! Whenever I write about Effjohn I'm always a bit wary of making errors - I don't have the benefit of errors - but I suppose if something in here is wrong (which it's likely to be), our resident Finn will correct me!

Doug Newman
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  #5  
Old June 6th, 2004, 10:20 PM
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wow, that was a very comprehensive answer. Thanks for the info on the ship that started the obsession for me.

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  #6  
Old June 7th, 2004, 08:14 AM
AJL AJL is offline
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Amazing Doug! Thanks for the long and interesting story, new things came up for me too! There used to be some photos on the Finnish salvage company Alfons Håkans' website, but now they are gone. I found some pics, though, on a pdf-file by the Accident Investigation Board Finland, the document can be found here.

The file contains 164 pages, so it may take a long time to load. The file is only available in Finnish, but anyways, the pics are there and are worth looking for!

AJL
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Old June 7th, 2004, 01:39 PM
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<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by DeckCadet:
wow, that was a very comprehensive answer. Thanks for the info on the ship that started the obsession for me.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>
You're quite welcome. As you can probably tell I'm afflicted by a ship obsession too so it's really no trouble at all... I like writing this stuff .

<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by AJL:
Amazing Doug! Thanks for the long and interesting story, new things came up for me too!<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>
I just hope that none of these "new things" turn out to not be true. Sometimes I wish I could afford a fact-checking staff !

Thanks for the link to the Finnish report, there are some great photos in there, though different from the ones I was thinking of. The photos I was thinking of were, now that I think of it, posted on Landgången some time ago. Unfortunately even I haven't got the patience to wade through months' worth of posts (in Swedish no less) to find them. (I don't think Landgången has a search function?)

Anyhow the Finnish report was very interesting - and you're certainly right about it being long! As someone who is used to reading US Coast Guard or UK MAIB reports the length of the Finnish one is quite surprising. Too bad I can't read a word of Finnish (OK, I do know "suomi" and "laivat")!

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Old June 25th, 2004, 10:36 PM
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Default Viking Princess?

Doug,
You seem to have some knowledge of the Viking Line. Have you heard of, or know of, the history/disposition of the Viking Princess?
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Old June 26th, 2004, 01:46 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pumbaamd
You seem to have some knowledge of the Viking Line. Have you heard of, or know of, the history/disposition of the Viking Princess?
Yes, though she had nothing to do with Viking Line.

This very interesting ship was built in 1964 by Helsinki's Wrtsil shipyard (she was their first ever passenger ship; the yard is now now Kvaerner Masa-Yards Helsinki and most recently they have built the Carnival SPIRIT-class ships) as the ferry ILMATAR for, of all companies, Effoa, one of the partners in Silja Line (see above post for explanation of Effoa/Silja/Effjohn history). In 1973 she was stretched and rebuilt at Hamburg by Howaldtswerke Deutsche Werft. After a charter to Finnlines from 1974, she began cruising in Europe from 1977 and in 1979 she returned to the builders' yard for a major refit for full-time cruising, removing her car decks. However in 1980, less than two years after the refit, she was sold to Norway's Vesteraalens Dampskibselsskap (VDS). (VDS is best known as one of the operators of the Hurtigruten or Norwegian Coastal Express; in 1988 they merged with Ofotens Dampsibsselskap, known as ODS, to form Ofotens og Vesteraalens Dampskibsselskap, or OVDS.) She was painted in VDS colors and marketed under the Norwegian Cruises name. However this was not a success and she was laid up at Toloun in 1982.

In 1984 she was bought by the Norwegian entrepreneur Otto Grunstad, who renamed her VIKING PRINCESS, and became the first ship of his new Crown Cruise Line. (Ironically, Crown Cruise Line would later be bought by Effjohn, the successor to her original owners Effoa.) Initially she operated on day cruises and short overnight cruises from Los Angeles to Mexico. In 1988 they moved her to Palm Beach from which she operated short cruises to the Bahamas. She was such a success that they soon chartered another ship, CROWN DEL MAR, and ordered a newbuild, CROWN MONARCH. The newbuild attracted the attention of none other than our old friend Effjohn who bought Crown in 1991, sent CROWN DEL MAR back to her owners in Spain, and sold VIKING PRINCESS to a local Palm Beach company. In 1995 this operation (whose name I can't find) folded and she was laid-up. However in 1997 she was bought by a new company, Palm Beach Casino Crusies who renamed her PALM BEACH PRINCESS and operated her on day cruises manly for the casino market. She continues to operate for them today.

You might also want to look at photos and history (in Swedish) here from Fakta om Fartyg or more photos and a brief history (in English) here from Simplon Postcards. Note that both histories have a few omissions and/or errors; my history above has been patched together from many sources (web sites, books, and friends) and hopefully it's pretty much complete and accurate. As with everything having to do with Effjohn, there is no simple answer. (Over the past few years for this site as well as my own curiosity, I've wound up doing so much research on them I'm beginning to think I should write a book!)

Hope that helps and that the errors (there must be a few) aren't too egregious!
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Old June 27th, 2004, 10:17 AM
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Great informative reply! Thanks!
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MST USNS GenWalker 9/66,Chandris"X"Amerikanis 2/78,Viking Princess 1/89, Nordic Empress 12/94, Nordic Empress 8/95, NCL Leeward 8/98, DCL Magic 1/99, NCL Sun1/02, Sky1/03,CCL Triumph 11/03,Brilliance1/3/05,BR 1/2/06,GR repo to NOLA 11/19/06,MJ 1/8/07,EM 10/6/07, JW 1/6/08, EN 10/23/08(B2B)EN 10/27/08, MN 1/9/09,VY 2/22/09, MJ 5/22/09, MJ 9/18/09, OS 11/30/09(B2B)OS 12/01/09, MR 2/14/10, MJ 05/14, MJ 08/27, RD 10/16/10, AL 12/5/10, MR Cape Horn 2/1/11, FR 5/8/11, MJ 8/22/11, MN 9/5/11,VY 10/22/11(B2B)VY TA 10/30/11, JW 1/12/12, MJ 4/23, MN 7/6, MN 8/24, FR 12/16 (B2B) MN 12/24, NV 1/26/13,MN 2/18(B2B)MN 2/22, MN's Final cruise 3/29, EN 6/21(B2B)6/24, EN 7/26, EN 8/23/13(B2B)8/26/13, EN 12/23 (B2B2B2B) 1/3/14, RH 5/30/14, EN 7/25/14, VS 8/18/14 (B2B) 8/28, JW 12/20/14 (B2B) JW 12/27/14, SR 12/23/15, MJ 4/25/16 (B2B) 4/29/16.
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Old June 27th, 2004, 11:06 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pumbaamd
Great informative reply! Thanks!
Glad I could help.
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