02 November 2014

Will I Fit?

Will I Fit?

   The clearance between the deck of the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the waters underneath is 49 metres. This was more than adequate to allow all but the largest ocean liners to fit under it however with the recent rapid growth in cruise shipping, only small to medium cruise ships (and the occasional tanker) steam under its graceful arch. 

Amadea departing Sydney with the help of a tug.

The former Royal Princess, now cruising as Artania passing under the bridge.

Astor easily passing under the bridge.

The Dawn Princess and its sisters, Ocean & Sea Princess are the largest ships to regularly sail under the bridge however they can only do so at low tide when the clearance between the bottom of the deck and the top of the mast is 2 metres. 

With the assistance of a tug, the Silver Shadow  departs Sydney. This view was taken from under the North pylon, the first three photos were taken from under the South pylon.

18 October 2014

Similar Sisters

Pacific Venus docked at Darling Harbour, the old terminal for smaller cruise ships.

For two consecutive years, Sydney was visited by the Pacific Venus, a 26,518 ton cruise ship built in 1998 in Japan. Operated by a consortium of 2 ferry companies, the ship runs on a variety of cruises, mainly within South-East Asia and has voyaged as far as Amsterdam. The design is utilitarian with 696 passengers being catered by 180 crew.

Delphin Voyager docked at Circular Quay, Sydney Harbour.
Delphin Voyager bears a striking similarity to the Pacific Venus, this is because the ship started life as the Orient Venus, built in 1990 in the same shipyard and for the same owners as the above ship. Slightly smaller, at 21,906 tons and accommodating 606 passengers, the Orient Venus was sold and refitted in 2006. The observation lounge around the funnel was enlarged and additional passenger accommodation was built into the after decks. The ship currently operates in the Mediterranean as the Aegean Paradise.

27 December 2013

Spotting a Diamond...

I had the good fortune to witness both, the arrival and departure of the Diamond Princess on one of her routine visits to Sydney during this cruise season. A couple of days later, while travelling in Tasmania I came across her again, docked in Hobart at the new cruise terminal. Below are a few photos of our recent encounter.

The Diamond Princess and her sister, Sapphire Princess, were the first cruise ships built in Japan since the Orient Venus was launched in 1990. Diamond Princess was originally slated to be called Sapphire Princess but was damaged by a fire while still under construction, due to the delays caused by the resulting repairs, the names were swapped and the second ship was completed as the Sapphire Princess.

Diamond Princess entered service in 2004 and first visited Australian shores during the 2005-06 cruises season and has been coming ever since, occasionally alternating with her sister ship.

Diamond Princess passing the Sydney Opera House and about to round the Quay to dock at the Overseas Passenger Terminal.

An evening departure from Sydney, Diamond Princess is slowly nursed away from her berth.

Free of tugs and in the deep water channel, the Diamond Princess is ready to swing out towards the Heads.

A few days later, Diamond Princess is docked in Hobart and basking under the Tasman sun.

An otter and a Princess. A reflective final look at Diamond Princess.

09 February 2013

Australia Day harbour scenes

Australia Day is, as you would expect for Australians, a day to celebrate everything that is awesome about this country. On Sydney Harbour, after the Tall Ship parade and ferry race there was the obligatory fireworks display and a great deal of activity...of the ship variety. Below is a selection of the vessels seen that evening:

Fishburn turning to depart Darling Harbour as the sun sets behind.

Fishburn unloading passengers in the foreground while the Pacific Pearl maneuvres to dock in the distance.  The bunting is suitably patriotic....

Pacific Pearl nudging towards her berth.

A Parramatta Rivercat speeds past while the Pacific Pearl slowly docks.

Almost there....

A flotilla of craft in Darling Harbour, the black hulled vessel in the foreground is the historic steam tug Waratah.

Flags flying, the steam tug Waratah joins in the festivities on the harbour. In the background from left to right are Young Endeavour, James Craig and the steam launch Lady Hopetoun. 

26 January 2013

Celebrity Solstice sailing Down Under

In 2009 I had the pleasure of cruising aboard the Celebrity Solstice and published a cruise review here: http://monoships.blogspot.com.au/2010/01/cruise-ship-review-celebrity-solstice.html

For the 2012-13 cruise season the Celebrity Solstice has been sent down under to join the Celebrity Millennium in a bid to lure Australian cruisers from the Carnival controlled cruise companies that frequent the antipodes during the southern summer. It's part of a larger strategy that acknowledges the growth of the Australian market and showcasing some of the larger ships that are normally stationed either in the Caribbean or the Mediterranean. The Solstice joins other big ships including Voyager of the Seas, Carnival Spirit, Costa Deliziosa and Queen Mary 2 who will all make an appearance this season.

Below are several photos of the Solstice in her temporary home berth in Sydney. Enjoy!!!

A sunny summers day for the Solstice.

Ready to depart on another cruise...

Docked at the Overseas Passenger Terminal for the first time.

A spotless ship departing on a spotless harbour.

With a little help from the side thrusters, the Celebrity Solstice pulls away from the  dock.

25 February 2012

Millennium memories

Each cruise season brings a greater variety of ships visiting Sydney, some are frequent visitors but others are pawns to the re-positioning movements of Head Office. One such ship is the Millennium which visited briefly between 2008-2009 and has since never returned. Below are a selection of videos and photos taken on two separate occasions (and two vastly different cameras!)

Stormy skies gather over the Millennium.

Millenium was the largest ship positioned in Australia for Celebrity cruises at the time, she replaced Century which returned for the 2011-2012 season and will be superseded by the Celebrity Solstice when she arrives in November 2012.

Storm clouds gather but the summers sun still shines its rays on the Millennium.

An evening departure and unusually - for a modern cruise ship - assisted by tugs.

The Millennium has rounded the Opera House and under the guidance of the Harbour Pilot heading towards Sydney Heads and then out into the Pacific.

A last look as the sun fades and the Millennium sails further away....

15 January 2012

Costa Concordia: In Memoriam


The successful salvage of the Costa Concordia was a triumph of engineering and now the shattered, compressed and semi submerged hull lies in Genoa awaiting the scrappers torch. The fate of the ship is now sealed however many questions regarding the behaviour of the Captain, his officers and the integrity of the ship still need to be answered.
The ship may have sailed for the last time, but the Costa Concordia will continue to haunt the maritime community for years to come...


The circumstances leading to the disaster are still mired in rumour and controversy and the wreck remains at Giglio slowly rusting. Plans are well underway to remove the wreck in what's looking to be an impressive salvage operation, already the magradome roof and funnel have been removed while the port side of the ship has been reinforced in preparation for righting. The salvage can also be followed on this site:

The ship is destined for the scrapyard but the questions first asked last year when the disaster occurred are still unanswered, it's hoped that with the upcoming trial and inquiry, some clarity can be reached. 32 people needlessly died that night and 2 of those victims have yet to be recovered, for all their families it is hoped the trial will reveal all the deficiencies that took place on that fateful night and implement recommendations to ensure a disaster of this magnitude never ever happens again.

Salvaging the Costa Concordia has been progressing and heavy machinery can be seen surrounding the hulk of the ship.
The rock lodged in the port side of the hull has now been removed and in June it was announced that it will be incorporated into a memorial on the island of Giglio to commemorate the disaster and the loss of 32 lives.

The salvage can be followed via the Giglio webcam:

And via this site:

With the investigations well and truly underway, it is hoped that some big questions surrounding this disaster will be answered, including:
 - Was the disorganised evacuation due to a lack of training and a disregard for safety procedures rather than a lack of leadership and communication?
 - How could the Costa Concordia lose ALL power? The ship had 6 engines - could they all be incapacitated at the same time? What happened to backup systems? Some power was restored as images show the ship was well lit as she listed outside the Giglio's harbour...
 - Why did the Costa Concordia roll over onto her starboard side? This is the side away from where the visible damage occurred. Was the bottom torn out more badly than initially thought?
 - Does the capsize of the Costa Concordia represent a fatal loss of stability? If so, why? Do cruise ships have stability tables that allow officers to discern at which angle is dangerous for their ship to be in? Do maritime architects factor in only enough stability to ensure the ship remains upright in a stormy sea?
 - The design of the Costa Concordia is an adaptation of the Carnival Destiny, a ship whose design is copied on Carnival Triumph and Carnival Victory, as well as on Costa fleetmates Costa Fortuna and Costa Magica. The Costa Concordia is also the basis of the following ships: Costa Serena, Costa Pacifica, Costa Favolosa, Costa Fascinosa and Carnival Splendor (this ship suffered an engine room fire which disabled the ship in 2010. The cause of the fire and subsequent total power outage remains unknown). Were all these ships built to a flawed design?

The carcass of the Costa Concordia as seen from space. Image courtesy of gCaptain and DigitalAge.

There remains conflicting evidence regarding what actually happened and it will be months before a reasonable idea of the sequence of events which led to this disaster is revealed. I will not conjecture on who was at fault however it seems there are a variety of factors that tragically combined to create this catastrophe. My initial goal in writing this article is to ponder for a moment on our fallibility and the relative fragility of the machinery which we build and use.

A leviathan built by the hands of man and now laid low by their actions....
Image courtesy of the New York Times.

Late yesterday evening (Saturday 14th January, Sydney time) it was announced that the Italian cruise ship Costa Concordia had run aground and was listing badly, images this morning revealed the ship had rolled over on its side, a large gash in its hull and up to 40 missing people and sadly - 3 fatalities.

Early photos showed the ship brightly lit but listing dramatically to starboard:
Image courtesy of  http://amateurphotographer.ru   
The morning revealed the true extent of the disaster. The ship lay at an 80 degree list just outside the harbour of the small island of Giglio.

Image courtesy of 1x1 News & Pictures:  http://1x1.fi/en/1990
It beggars belief that such a large cruise ship with state of the art equipment should suffer a complete power failure and smash into rocks with enough ferocity to wrap whole boulders within its hull plates! See below:

Image courtesy of Wikipedia

As more information comes to hand and as our prayers go out to those who those who have been affected by this disaster, we reflect on the loss and the all too brief life of the Costa Concordia.

Costa Concordia: 2006-2012?

Built by Fincantieri in Genoa, at the time of her completion she was the largest Italian cruise ship to have been built. Since her handover to Costa on 30 June 2006, the Costa Concordia has been a frequent visitor to Mediterrean ports, running a series of well defined 7 and 10 day cruises across the western portion of that sea.

Builder plate from the Fincantieri shipyard. The Costa Concordia was completed in 2006 and her job number was 6122.
From her entry into service until the completion of the Costa Serena in 2007, the Concordia was the flagship of Costa Cruises.
At the time of her completion, the Costa Concordia created waves of interest and excitement regarding the new features she introduced. These included the exclusive Samsara Spa complex which centred around a 2 deck spa with 58 cabins conveniently located nearby. Also aboard was the first Formula One simulator which included three different tracks and five different language options. Fine dining and watering holes abounded with five restaurants and 13 bars, one of which included a chocolate fountain.

This view from Valletta highlights the immense girth of the Costa  Concordia, she weighs 114,500 tons and is 290 metres long with a beam of 35 metres. (952 x 35ft).
The Formula One simulator can be seen through the windows from this top deck view.
The chocolate fountain in action!

In 2008, my family were fortunate to embark on a 7 day cruise (19-25 May) that encompassed the cities of Savona, Barcelona, Palermo, Valletta and Tunis. Below are several photos of our time aboard the Costa Concordia, it's hard to believe that this impressive ship now lies half sunk and shattered on the rocks at Giglio...

Passengers resemble ants as they board the ship. This was photo was taken  later in the cruise at Palermo.
The Atrium decked out in preparation for departure.

Lighting detail above the Atrium, these lights would constantly change colour.

The Atrium extended through ten decks.

Another view looking down as the panoramic elevators shuttle passengers up and down
The decor onboard the Costa Concordia, designed by Joe Farcus, was designed to  have all the garish flash of Los Vegas mixed with references to the Renaissance and Art Deco.
The Atrium in its current status. The painting on the right side of the photo is the same as the one  in the above photo.

Our cabin to the left and it's adjoining corridor. All this is currently underwater...

An elaborate chandelier under which an art auction is about to take place.

The stern of the Costa Concordia while docked in Savona.
The stern as it now lies half submerged. Image courtesy of Huffington Post.

Costa Europa departing from Savona. This view was taken from the balcony of our cabin.  The Costa Europa  collided with a dock on 26 February 2010 at Sharm El-Sheikh in Egypt which caused the death of three crewmenbers and injured 4 four people.  The ship has since left Costa Cruises and now operates as the Thomson Dream.
Costa's trademark stovepipe funnel standing tall.
The same area of decking can be seen here lying at a crazy angle:
Image courtesy of media.ia.com
Top deck frivolity before departure in Rome.

The waterslide was a popular feature, along with the swimming pools.

The ironies abound with this tragedy, this ship celebrated the concord of nations that comprised the European Union and now she lies broken and half sunk just as the EY is buckling under the stresses of economic hardship. Seafarers are known to be superstitious and many will observe that the date on which this disaster took place was Friday, 13th January 2012.