Saturday, 4 July 2015

A quick update...

It's been a couple of months since I last updated this blog and I thought I should write a quick post to keep people up to speed.

In April and unexpected job offer prompted me to move to the UK for work, which of course temporarily put the brakes on this blog.

The good news is that I still have a sizeable 'backlog' of posts to write up, including a few new cruise ship photo tours, and a great selection of photos I have been sent by friends and readers since I left Bergen. I will continue to keep this blog live with these submissions and with any photos I take during visits to Bergen, so please keep sending me any photos if you are happy for them to be shared on the blog.

So Ships in Bergen goes on, albeit as a slightly lighter version for the forseeable future. You should see new content starting to go up over the next few days. Thanks all for your continuing support!

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

MV Voyager - Ship Visit and Photo Tour (Part 1)

Last Friday morning I went on board MV Voyager as she was alongside in Bergen, to complete a full interior photo tour. To find out a little bit about her history, take a look at our post with pictures of her departure later in the afternoon. Otherwise, keep reading to have a look around her public spaces...

On Board Voyages of Discovery's Cruise Ship MV Voyager - Gangway
Passengers head down the gangway to enjoy a day in Bergen
Voyager looked good alongside at Bontelabo, helped by the spring sunshine in Bergen. I stepped on board and was greeted at reception by a very friendly crew before being taken for a look around. My guide was Voyager's Deputy Entertainment Director Jamie Leeke.

On Board Voyages of Discovery's Cruise Ship MV Voyager - Reception
The smart reception desk is right beside the embarkation area
The first stop on the tour was Discovery Deck (Deck 5), which is the location of many of Voyager's public rooms. For a ship of her size Voyager has an impressive selection of bars and lounges; perhaps a happy leftover from her previous life as a casino ship in Asia.

On Board Voyages of Discovery's Cruise Ship MV Voyager - Lookout Lounge
Forward facing windows in the Lookout Lounge
At the forward end of Deck 5 is the Lookout Lounge. This is a comfortable room, and serves a variety of purposes, with plenty of seating, a fully stocked bar, and a reasonable stage area for live music and other shows.

On Board Voyages of Discovery's Cruise Ship MV Voyager - Lookout Lounge
The Lookout Lounge
The forward corner of the room is used as an Internet centre. It is certainly not the most cohesive space on board Voyager, but does provide a pleasant environment, and some nice views out over the ship's bows.

On Board Voyages of Discovery's Cruise Ship MV Voyager - Darwin Lounge
Ready for an audience; Seating in the Darwin Lounge
On Board Voyages of Discovery's Cruise Ship MV Voyager - Darwin Lounge Stage and Dancefloor
The stage area and dance floor
Just aft of the Lookout Lounge is the Darwin Lounge; Voyager's main entertainment venue. The room is light and airy, and the stage area is used for live music and production shows by Voyager's resident troupe of performers.

On Board Voyages of Discovery's Cruise Ship MV Voyager - Darwin Lounge
Light floods into the booth seating along either side of the Darwin Lounge
The Darwin Lounge spans the full width of the ship, so passengers need to use this space to move between the Lookout Lounge and forward stairwell. Plans are in place to add an enclosed walkway along one side of the room during her upcoming April 2015 drydocking and refurbishment in Germany. This will also include an upgrade to the sound and lighting rigs, allowing more ambitious shows to be staged.

On Board Voyages of Discovery's Cruise Ship MV Voyager - Dancers
Keeping perfect time; performers rehearse for the evening's show
On Board Voyages of Discovery's Cruise Ship MV Voyager - Darwin Lounge
Sight lines for the stage are good, despite a few slim pillars
After a taste of the shows in the Darwin Lounge, we moved aft through Deck 5 to Scott's Lounge. This is Voyager's largest bar, and has plenty of attractive seating throughout. Another small stage area sits at the forward end of the room. In total Voyager has 4 live music venues, which is well above the usual for a ship of her size.

On Board Voyages of Discovery's Cruise Ship MV Voyager - Scott's Lounge
Scott's Lounge
On Board Voyages of Discovery's Cruise Ship MV Voyager - Scott's Lounge
The stage is ready for Voyager's resident pianist
The fully stocked bar offers an appealing range of drinks, from coffee to cocktails. The staff here were incredibly polite and friendly - something true of every one of the ship's employees I met during my tour.

On Board Voyages of Discovery's Cruise Ship MV Voyager - Scott's Lounge
Sit back and relax in a comfortable armchair...
On Board Voyages of Discovery's Cruise Ship MV Voyager - Scott's Lounge
...or prop yourself at the bar to work your way through the cocktail menu
Tucked into one corner of Scott's Lounge is the future cruise sales desk, offering guests special offers and incentives to book their next trip before they even disembark.

On Board Voyages of Discovery's Cruise Ship MV Voyager - Future Cruise Sales Desk
The future cruise sales desk
Also in this area is a small shop, situated in the centre of the deck between the entrances to Scott's Lounge. This stocks the usual range of clothing, gifts and travel essentials.

On Board Voyages of Discovery's Cruise Ship MV Voyager - Shop
The small but well-stocked shop
Voyager's Library was next on our tour, and unfortunately serves a dual purpose as the corridor to the main restaurant. This turns what should be a tranquil, tucked-away space into one of the busiest thoroughfares on the ship around meal times.

On Board Voyages of Discovery's Cruise Ship MV Voyager - Library
The Library/Passageway
The room itself is pleasant, with large picture windows and inviting leather sofas, but it certainly feels like this would be better positioned elsewhere on board.

On Board Voyages of Discovery's Cruise Ship MV Voyager - Library
A good  range of books is provided for passengers to enjoy throughout the voyage
The main dining venue on Voyager is the Discovery Restaurant, and it would be fair to say that the decor here is disappointing, considering the pleasant interiors found throughout the rest of the ship.

On Board Voyages of Discovery's Cruise Ship MV Voyager - Discovery Restaurant
The uninspiring Discovery Restaurant
Of course this room will feel much more lively with the tables laid and a room full of passengers, but it's hard to see this space ever really buzzing. Let's hope the drab colour scheme, dated furniture and nauseating mirrored walls meet their end during the upcoming refit.

On Board Voyages of Discovery's Cruise Ship MV Voyager - Discovery Restaurant
There is not much in the way of interior design to breathe any life into the space
The main focus of the dining room on any cruise, of course, is the food, and a group of passengers I spoke with later in the day were full of praise for the meals they had enjoyed so far on their trip.

On Board Voyages of Discovery's Cruise Ship MV Voyager - Discovery Restaurant
Tables in the Discovery Restaurant
The last public space on Discovery Deck is the small 'overflow' room for the adjacent restaurant. The design of this area has obviously been given consideration, and it is a very attractive and nicely furnished space. Hopefully this will be the template for any updates made to the main dining room!

On Board Voyages of Discovery's Cruise Ship MV Voyager - Dining Room
The overflow for the Discovery Restaurant is a marked improvement on the main room
Things really took a turn for the better when we headed up to explore Voyager's upper decks, with expansive open spaces and additional lounges and dining options. These are featured in part 2 of this tour, which will be added over the coming days. Be sure to check back soon!

On Board Voyages of Discovery's Cruise Ship MV Voyager - Swimming Pool and Open Decks
The tour continues soon, with Voyager's beautiful upper decks...

Monday, 16 March 2015

Oriana

Also calling into Bergen over the weekend was P&O's Oriana. Currently mid-way through her livery change to bring her in line with the company's new branding, she is sporting the new royal blue funnel but is yet to receive the enormous stylised Union Jack across her bows.

P&O Cruise Ship MV Oriana in Bergen, Norway
Oriana looked fantastic in the morning sun
The sun shone as she made her way into town in the morning, giving some great views of her gliding in towards her berth at Bontelabo.

P&O Cruise Ship MV Oriana in Bergen, Norway
Oriana turns as she comes alongside her berth
Oriana was built by Meyer Werft in Papenburg, Germany, and entered service in 1995. She was the first purpose-built cruise ship specifically for the British market, and with a tonnage of 69,000 was one of the largest in the world at the time. As such, she attracted considerable attention during her launch and the related celebrations, and was named by Queen Elizabeth II in Southampton.

P&O Cruise Ship MV Oriana in Bergen, Norway
The sun catches the side of Oriana's new royal blue funnel
She can carry 1,900 passengers served by a crew of around 800. Her designers ensured she was suitable not only for short cruises in warmer climes, but also that she could stand up to rough ocean crossings, and provide a comfortable and spacious environment on the world cruises she undertakes each year.

P&O Cruise Ship MV Oriana in Bergen, Norway
Berthed at Bontelabo later in the afternoon
Oriana proved immediately to be a very popular ship, and has remained well-loved by many throughout her 20 years of service to date.

P&O Cruise Ship MV Oriana in Bergen, Norway
Oriana's imposing superstructure towers over the quayside
An extensive £12million refit in 2006 brought her facilities up to speed with the rapidly developing and demanding tastes of the British cruise market, but she has retained her reputation as a beautiful but comfortable ship.

P&O Cruise Ship MV Oriana in Bergen, Norway
Reflections in the buildings at Bontelabo
There were large numbers of passengers taking in the impressive views of their ship in the sunshine at Bontelabo before boarding. Those that we spoke to were full of praise for the interiors, the crew and (perhaps most importantly) the food. It was hard not to envy those stepping on board to get ready for another night of relaxation.

P&O Cruise Ship MV Oriana in Bergen, Norway
Oriana may be small by today's standards, but she still makes quite an impact
Oriana has not escaped without incident in her career so far. A string of propulsion problems caused havoc at times during her first years in service, and in 2000 she was hit by a freak 40-foot wave during a transatlantic crossing between New York and Southampton. In this instance, despite sustaining considerable damage, with smashed windows and flooded rooms, she rode the storm well, and was able to return all of her passengers and crew safely to Southampton under her own power.

P&O Cruise Ship MV Oriana in Bergen, Norway
The sea casts some nice reflections on her white hull
Despite now being the oldest ship int he P&O fleet, Oriana has an attractive, well-balanced profile, and seems overall to be in a good state of repair.

P&O Cruise Ship MV Oriana in Bergen, Norway
A tender being tested that afternoon came alongside to pick up a crew member
Oriana's sailaways from Bergen (and I assume other ports) are marked by festivities on deck, with a lot of music, singing, dancing and flag waving. Though perhaps a little tacky, these events bring a smile to many faces, and add a sense of occasion to her departure.

P&O Cruise Ship MV Oriana in Bergen, Norway
Oriana's tiered aft superstructure makes her instantly recognisable
Unfortunately Oriana was around 45 minutes behind schedule, and we had to leave before she pulled away from her berth. Bergen was the final call on her Norwegian Fjords cruise, so it was back across the North Sea for her passengers, who would be disembarking in Southampton after one last day at sea.

MV Voyager

The 2015 cruise ship season in Bergen has now started to pick up pace, marked by a weekend with 4 ships calling. On Friday, Voyages of Discovery's MV Voyager was in the city.

I was lucky enough to go on board Voyager to be shown around her interiors. The full tour will be added soon. The following photos were taken of her alongside at Bontelabo, and of her departure later in the afternoon.

Voyages of Discovery cruise ship MV Voyager in Bergen, Norway
MV Voyager alongside at Bontelabo, Bergen
With a length of 152m and a gross tonnage of 15,400 she carries just 540 passengers.

Voyages of Discovery cruise ship MV Voyager in Bergen, Norway
Stores are taken on board for the final leg of the voyage
Laid down in 1988 and completed in 1990, Voyager has had a long and varied career. After several years sailing for cruise lines in the US, and a stint with Cunard, she was bought for use as a casino ship, sailing short gambling cruises from Singapore, and later Hong Kong.

Voyages of Discovery cruise ship MV Voyager in Bergen, Norway
Voyager's smart superstructure contrasts with the clear blue sky
Following a period of uncertainty she underwent a major refurbishment and reentered service as a fully-fledged cruise ship as Alexander Von Humboldt for German-based Phoenix Reisen. Sadly this was short lived, and she found herself laid up and searching a new owner.

Voyages of Discovery cruise ship MV Voyager in Bergen, Norway
Passengers disembarked via a short gangway
Finally, in 2012, she began sailing again, now as Voyager, for specialist cruise line Voyages of Discovery. Having been on board to take a look around, I can see that she is being well looked after by her current owners, and I hope she has many years of successful service ahead of her.

Voyages of Discovery cruise ship MV Voyager in Bergen, Norway
Voyager seen departing Bergen, with Teisten (the Bergen-Kleppestø ferry) in the foreground
Voyages of Discovery cruise ship MV Voyager in Bergen, Norway
Voyager seen from the bathing platform at the tip of Nordnes
Voyages of Discovery cruise ship MV Voyager in Bergen, Norway
Voyager sails out through byfjorden and into the North Sea
Passengers on board Voyager were lucky to see Bergen on a fantastic sunny afternoon (especially as they had encountered some serious storms earlier in the cruise in the north of Norway). After passing the Nordnes peninsula she headed out towards the north sea to return to the UK.

Sunday, 1 March 2015

Costa Pacifica

It was an absolutely stunning day in Bergen last summer when Costa Pacifica docked at Bontelabo. The following photos were taken as she made her departure from the city on 08/07/14. 

I have now updated this post with additional photos and information, as I work to refresh the archive of photos taken before this blog was up and running. 

Cruise Ship Costa Pacifica in Bergen, Norway
Close-ups of Costa Pacifica alongside in Bergen
Costa Pacifica was built in Italy in 2008/09. She is the third of Costa's Concordia-Class ships, following on from her ill-fated sister Costa Concordia.

With a length of 290m and a gross tonnage of 114,500 she can accommodate up to 3780 passengers, served by a crew of 1100.

Cruise Ship Costa Pacifica in Bergen, Norway
The sun cast some wonderful reflections on her hull
With little to distinguish between the majority of large ships in Costa's fleet, Costa Pacifica settled easily into her service role, and has had a reasonably successful career to date.

Cruise Ship Costa Pacifica in Bergen, Norway
Deck workers stand by as Costa Pacifica swings away from her berth
Probably the only significant incident was a collision with a piling whilst docking in Marseille in December 2012. This cut an 8-foot gash in the side of her hull (see a photo in the Cruise Law News article here). Thankfully the damage was superficial, and Costa Pacifica was able to continue without serious delay.

Cruise Ship Costa Pacifica in Bergen, Norway
Also in port was Phoenix Reisen's cruise ship Albatros
Despite being modern and 'blocky' in design, Costa Pacifica is (along with her many sisters and near-sisters across the brands of parent company Carnival) a reasonably attractive ship, with her smartly angled superstructure going some way to disguise and soften her apartment-block-like features.

Cruise Ship Costa Pacifica in Bergen, Norway
Costa Pacifica's imposing bow towers over the quayside
As she pulled away from her berth at Bontelabo the bright sun was reflected back up onto her hull, making for some great shots of her turning ready for departure.

Cruise Ship Costa Pacifica in Bergen, Norway
The dark shadows and clear skies emphasise Costa Pacifica's smart profile
Cruise Ship Costa Pacifica in Bergen, Norway
The glass on the balconies catches the light
After putting her bow in the right direction, she slipped smoothly out into byfjorden, passing under the Askøy bridge before continuing on to her next port of call.

Cruise Ship Costa Pacifica in Bergen, Norway
Costa Pacifica eases her way into the fjords
Costa Pacifica is scheduled to call into Bergen five times during the 2015 season, so expect to see her featured on this blog again soon.