Friday, 1 April 2016

Random Ship Spotting - Part 2

The second in the series taking a closer look at ships we have seen whilst not actually travelling on them.

25 August 2008. We sailed into the port of Ajaccio, Corsica and found ourselves overlooking Thomson Destiny. We would take a cruise on her ourselves three years later. She was built in Helsinki, Finland in 1982 as Song of America for Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines.

From 1999-2005 she sailed as MS Sunbird for Sun Cruises before coming under the ownership of Louis Cruise Lines who chartered her to Thomson Cruises by whom she was renamed Thomson Destiny. She is remembered with great affection by many passengers from this period.

She returned to Louis Cruise Lines in April 2012 and became Louis Olympia. In 2014 she acted as a floating hotel for the Winter Olympics in Russia. With Louis Cruise Lines re-branding to Celestial Cruise Lines she now operates as the Celestyal Olympia.

The tall ship Signora del Vento, a three-masted schooner seen here in the Italian port of Civitavecchia was built in Poland in 1962. She has been a training vessel since the 1990s and was bought in 2006 by the Italian Society of Navigation. Apart from her training vessel duties, as part of which she partakes in many rallies of tall ships around the world, she can be hired for private and corporate events, offering meeting space and fine dining.

"What big eyes you have, Grandma..." Every decent sailing ship should have a figurehead carving gracing the bowsprit and the Signora del Vento's figurehead was carved by Birgit and Claus Hartmann.

The Aida Cara in Palma, Majorca, 30 August 2008. The paintwork of the Aida ships make for a real fun sight. When seen head on, there's a full set of lips and two seductive eyes approaching you. But you really do not want to be on the receiving end of a kiss... She was built in 1996 in Turku, Finland for Deutsche Seetouristik/Arkona Reisen as a "club ship" (think Club 18-30 afloat...). In 1999 Arkona Reisen came under control of P&O Cruises who acquired a 51% stake in the company. Originally named Aida, the ship had been successful enough for the new Aida Cruises to build two sister ships. The original was renamed Aida Cara with the two new ships being Aida Aura and Aida Vita.

We joined a cruise on Ocean Village II at Heraklion in Crete at the end of April 2009 and found ourselves moored for the day next to the Festos Palace, part of the fleet of Minoan Ferries. She is named after the ancient Palace of Phaistos, her sister ship being Knossos Palace.

She was built at Sestri Ponente shipyards in Genoa, Italy, in 2001. Carrying up to 2,500 passengers and 700 cars it has an impressive power plant of four diesel engines that can throw it over the sea at over 31 knots. In 2013 she whacked the dock at Heraklion rather harder than expected when trying to dock in high winds and waves.

Another ship from the Sestri Ponente shipyards in Genoa was Costa Serena, seen here approaching Dubrovnik, Croatia on 2 May 2009. We have seen her several times on different cruises but on this particular one we seemed to be following her around the Adriatic. She was built in 2006 and came into service the following year with Costa Crociere. She featured in a six-part documentary for the National Geographic Channel. She has three sister ships: Costa Pacifica, Costa Favolosa and Costa Fascinosa. Since 2015 she has been catering for the Chinese cruising market visiting Japanese and South Korean ports.

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