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MS Gabriella is a cruiseferry sailing on a route connecting Helsinki, Finland and Stockholm, Sweden for Viking Line. She was built in 1992 in Brodogradiliste Split, Croatia as MS Frans Suell for service with Euroway. Between 1994 and 1997 she sailed as MS Silja Scandinavia for Silja Line.
Concept and construction
The order for the first ship, Frans Suell, was placed on 28 September 1989, with the delivery date projected in mid-1991. The ship was launched on 23 January 1991, but due to the civil war in Yugoslavia her construction was severely delayed, and she was not ready for her first sea trials until January 1992. Following her second sea trials in March 1992 the Frans Suell sailed to Rijeka—in what was now independent Croatia—for finalization of her construction and to receive the Euroway livery. The ship was finally delivered to her owners on 4 May 1992 and left Split for Malmö.
1992–1994: Frans Suell
From 1 September 1992 onwards the Frans Suell's route was extended to Lübeck for the duration of the northern hemisphere winter season. The call at Travemünde was maintained as the city of Lübeck did not allow cars to be unloaded in the city. Due to the longer crossing times the timetable was altered with departures from every second day from Malmö and Lübeck, with overnight crossings.
On 1 June 1993 Sea-Link Shipping entered an agreement with Silja Line, with the latter assuming marketing and operational responsibility of the Euroway service and ships. The service now became marketed asSilja Line Euroway, with MS Silja Festival joining the Frans Suell as the second ship on the service (the original planned second ship, MS Frans Kockum, had been even more severely delayed than the Frans Suell, and eventually Sea-Link cancelled the order). From the beginning of June 1993 the Frans Suell (and Silja Festival)'s route was again shortened to Malmö—Travemünde, with two daily departures from both ports.
With hopes of attracting more passengers, for the 1993-1994 winter season the route was extended into Copenhagen–Malmö–Travemünde–Lübeck from 1 September 1993 onwards, with daily departures from Copenhagen and Lübeck. Due to the low passenger figures on the service and the poor financial situation of Silja Line, the decision was made to terminate the Euroway service on 12 March 1994.Silja Linewished to charter the Frans Suell for use on their Turku–Stockholm service, and already on 2 March 1994 she had been chartered to Silja.
1994—1997: Silja Scandinavia
As Silja Line's charter agreement for the Silja Scandinavia was drawing to a close in 1996, the main funders of Sea-Link demanded that instead of continuing the charter the ship should be sold to the highest bidder. AlthoughSilja Linewould have wanted to continue operating the ship, the company was in such a poor financial condition that it could not pay the price asked for the ship. Instead, she was sold to Viking Line on 11 November 1996, with the delivery date planned in April 1997. On 4 April 1997 the Silja Scandinavia arrived for the last time in Turku inSilja Linecolours.
1997 onwards: Gabriella
Between 2008-05-05 and 2008-05-27 the Gabriella was rebuilt at Öresundsvarvet in Landskrona, Sweden, as a part of Viking Line's fleet rebuilding programme. The refit included the removal of the original cafeteria from deck 7 in favour of expanding the tax-free shop, the addition of a games room on deck 7, the addition of a Tapas & Wine restaurant on deck 8, the conversion of the former BBQ-restaurant into an Ella's restaurant, the conversion of the two-storey discothèque on decks 9 and 10 into a new cafeteria, the addition of new cabins in place of the former conference rooms on deck 11, and redecoration of the majority of passenger cabins.
Decks and facilities
The layout and functions of different spaces were maintained with only minor changes through-out the ship's career as Silja Scandinavia and the first decade of her career as Gabriella.
As Gabriella, 2008
Royal Viking Line
Royal Viking Line Former type: Cruise Line
The Royal Viking Line was an upmarket cruise line that operated from 1972 until 1998. The company was the brain child of Warren Titus and had its headquarters at One Embarcadero Center in San Francisco.
The ships were all built by Wärtsilä Helsinki New Shipyard, Finland, and were each approximately 21,500 gross register tons (GRT) and nearly identical in appearance, with a tall superstructure and a single, scooped funnel. However, the Star was two feet shorter (581 feet), and her interior arrangement differed slightly from her two fleet-mates. Each ship featured a double-height theatre occupying an interior space on the two lowest passenger decks; however, on the Star the space just forward of the theatre on the higher of these decks was occupied by a chapel, a feature not found on either of her fleet-mates, nor any of the Scandinavian-built cruise ships of that generation. Other differences included the placement of small lounges and facilities such as the library.
These vessels were intended for longer voyages to exotic destinations, and a significant percentage of the line's passengers were wealthy retirees. As such, they featured numerous single staterooms and suites, and thus their capacity was only about 550 compared to 750-850 on similarly-sized ships of other lines. Royal Viking Line prided itself on single-seating dining, and the restaurant was situated unusually high in the ship, with large windows. Another popular feature was a glass-enclosed lounge high atop the bridge, which afforded excellent views.
On May 1 1976 the Royal Viking Sky and Royal Viking Star became the first sister ships to have transited the Panama Canal simultaneously in different directions, the Sky sailing westbound and the Star eastbound.
The line's management had determined the expansion was more economical than building a fourth ship; however, the plan backfired, because many of their loyal passengers felt the larger ships had lost their intimate appeal.
Purchase by Kloster
In 1990, Kloster moved the Royal Viking Sea to its Royal Cruise Line brand, where she took the name Royal Odyssey, and the Star to its Norwegian Cruise Line brand, where she became the Westward.
In 1991, the Royal Viking Sky was transferred to NCL and renamed Sunward.
In 1993, the Westward ex Royal Viking Star became the Star Odyssey for Royal Cruise Line. The passenger capacity on each of the original three ships had been increased to 850, mainly with the addition of staterooms amidships on the Bridge Deck, in what used to be officers' quarters. A buffet was also added in the lounge on the top deck, since the ships did not have the casual indoor/outdoor dining area (often called a Lido) that was becoming de rigueur.
In 1994, as part of Kloster Cruise's bankruptcy, the Royal Viking Line was dissolved. Royal Viking Queen was transferred to Royal Cruise Line as Queen Odyssey, while Royal Viking Sun and the Royal Viking brand were sold to Cunard Line Ltd. Cunard combined the Royal Viking Sun with four of its other ships, Sagafjord, Vistafjord, Sea Goddess I, and Sea Goddess II to form the reorganized "Cunard Royal Viking Line", which lasted until 1998. In 1998, all of Cunard Line Ltd.'s ships were merged under the Cunard Line brand, following the company's takeover by Carnival Corporation.
The Royal Viking ships today
After several more changes of name and ownership, the former Royal Viking Star and Royal Viking Sky sail with Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines, the Royal Viking Star as the Black Watch and the Royal Viking Sky as the Boudicca. Aboard both ships, the lounge/buffet on the top deck has been replaced with additional passenger cabins, while the observation lounge above the bridge remains. The length of Bridge Deck is now occupied by passenger cabins (with the ship's officers scattered around the ship). Aboard the Black Watch, the aft portion of the formerly vast main dining-room has been converted to two smaller restaurants and an additional lounge. A spacious, glass-lined space on the top deck hosts the fitness center and spa. The former chapel has been carved into three additional staterooms. The changes on Boudicca are even more radical, where the dining-room space was broken up into no fewer than four separate restaurants and the space formerly occupied by the theatre has been converted into additional staterooms and a fitness centre.
The former Royal Viking Sea sails for the German company Phoenix Reisen as the Albatros. Layout-wise, she has probably changed the least, with the majority of public rooms remaining in their original configuration.
This webpage was updated 20th May 2009
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