Voyage report part 4 Monday June 13th
I spent Monday 13th in Gdynia. I went down to see the passenger ship promenade, and found out that there were a lot of sailing ships around. Not only the MIR and DAR POMORZA, but also KRUZENSTERN and DAR MLODZIEZY. On the promenade there were some stones with passenger ships on them – these being a memory of the first visit to Gdynia by certain vessels. Among them I remember BIRKA PRINCESS, VISTAMAR and several of the PRINCESS CRUISES vessels.
This type of ship you can find everywhere - in Turku for instance is the LILY. Here her Polish sister SMILTYNE.
The dinner cruiser DRAGON - she is so ugly I had to picture her. She might be a lot better if the masts where just a little higher. In front of her the DAR MLODZIEZY
There is also a naval museum, where one can board a destroyer that was built before World War II, and there is also an exhibition that includes World War II and Cold War equipment, like helicopters, planes and so on.
I found Gdynia ok, but as with the rest of the Polish tourist experience, they could invest a bit more in tourism. I am not talking lack of hardware, it is the software that is faulty. Most people do not speak German or English so communication was a problem. And this brings us to the next part of the trip, Polferries.
Wiser from the long walk of Saturday I decided to take a taxi to the terminal. This was surprisingly cheap. Took a few pictures on the road. Here a tram. Notice the truck ahead, he was in a minute or so to be crowned either idiot of the day or just bored.
There can not have been more than a few centimeters between the truck and the power lines. Even the taxi driver kept a respectful distance as he said he was sure it was gonna hit...
I see the goal is near.
The SCANDINAVIA has had a rather vide career, starting her life as the VISBY of Gotlandsbolaget. She spent the ten first years of her career serving mostly Visby-Nynäshamn, so in a way she was not very far from home. After those years Gotlandsbolaget lost their concession for the Gotland traffic and she ended up on different charter works. She sailed as FELICITY and STENA FELICITY in British waters before returning home to Gotland services again. After the delivery of a new Visby she was sold to Polferries and renamed SCANDINAVIA.
This is a ship for a ferry enthusiast. There is much original in her, and in a way I found her being a combination of a floating museum and a labyrinth. In fact, one can never be sure if this is a ship belonging to Polferries or Destination Gotland/Gotlandsbolaget... Another photo later on will give another example of this.
SCANDINAVIA deck by deck.
The VISBY was built with the FINNJET-inspired idea with cabins forward and public rooms aft.
There are no less than six different decks with public rooms and cabins for passengers
On deck 2 there are the cheapest cabins, those without private facilities.
There is also a large auditorium/cinema, which was not in use on this trip. One could only get to the lobby.
These are the car decks.
On deck 6 there are cabins in the forward two thirds, and aft of them first a lobby and reception area, then three separate shops and aft a cafe/disco with cinema. Here a cabin corridor on deck 6. The colours are in many places 1980ies, and the cabins and cabin corridors are a good example of this.
Her cabins are actually a prime example of standardisation. Almost all inside cabins are standard four-berth cabins with shower and toilet, and it was one of them, 6119, that I had. It was dark in colours, with two orange and brown sofa-beds and two pullman-beds.
The beds are peculiarly not situated evenly, but to provide room for the toilet door, in my cabin the beds on the right-hand side were situated right next to the door, where as on the left-hand side there was a space that originally had some kind of lockers, but now contained just an empty space to hang clothes and store your luggage. On the other hand, the left-hand side bed was placed right next to the toilet wall, where as on the right-hand side there was a writing desk and a mirror. This was rather peculiar, I have never seen anything like it, but it was a smart way of maximising the space.
The toilet unit was therefore not situated right next to the entrance, but on the back wall. The toilet and shower unit were very dark brown. These were original, and they had the toilet on the left hand side of the door, and the shower on the right-hand side. In between was a sink and waste bin installed in a small cupboard. This was roomy, and although dark and gloomy, by use of space among the best I have ever seen. I liked it, even if the colours make it very dark and gloomy, but still, the lay-out was good.
Deck 6 reception area just aft of midships. View aft.
View to port.
The corridor in the above picture is actually a part of the shop, which can be sealed of without closing the corridor. In this picture below are pictures showing the history of the vessel. They are all printed out from Fakta om Fartyg.
There are three shops on SCANDINAVIA. The first is the usual shop with alcohol, candy and tobacco. This one was in my opinion about 100 -120 square meters. Here one could easily have put in more shelves. The second shop was the perfume shop. My guess that it was about 60 square meters or so, and almost a third of it was empty, so the main thing to look at was the red carpet. Very strong red colour it was... I never take direct photos in shops, as this usually leads to protests. In this rather shaken picture is the corridor aft to the Lewis shop and aft staircase. The perfume shop entrance seen on the left.
... and from this staircase into the cafe/disco/pub/bar/whatever which is at the stern on deck 6. View looking stern, the bar counter to the left.
The cafe bar counter.
The cafe looking to starboard.
On deck 7 again the first two thirds are occupied by cabins, and then aft of these a large cafeteria, which somehow seemed very naked, and then on the port side the two restaurants, Zorba and Vivaldi. On the starboard side the galley is located.
First the cabins. The outside cabins are almost all four-berth as well, but they are larger and more traditionally built. In fact, they are so large that there would have been space for more furniture as well. Down on deck 2 there are also four- and six-berth cabins without toilet and shower. This area seemed to have quite a lot of passengers. Also the air-plane chairs on decks 9 and 10 seemed to have a lot of occupants. Most cabin doors on deck 7 were open and empty. Some where unmade like this one.
Others were clean and ready to take on the next guests.
The cabins were roomy. I still wonder what the brown little cupboard like thing on the left is. I tried to open one, but in wain.
Then you enter the Cafeteria. This is port side looking forward.
The Cafeteria view to starboard.
And Cafeteria looking port side aft. Behind the curtains is the Zorba.
Restaurant Zorba is the next room. Here facing forward.
Here also facing forward, this is the other side of the Zorba. The area is divided by a corridor in the middle.
Zorba facing aft.
Aft of the Zorba is the staircase.
And aft of the staircase Restaurant Vivaldi.
Deck 8 has cabins forward and midships, and the rest of the deck is for crew cabins and aft the containerised provision system.
A large four bed cabin on deck 8.
A disabled cabin on deck 8.
Deck 9 has first the bridge, then crew cabins, then a sun deck midships, and then aft of this two rooms with reclining chairs and the childrens playroom between these two – quite a smart solution.
Sitseria aft on deck 9. This one on the port side, with the playroom to the left.
Part of the playroom.
Deck 10 has on the port side and forward a bar with wonderful views, and rather colourful atmosphere.
Looking forward port side.
Looking to starboard.
On the starboard side there are even more reclining chairs.
Peeling paintwork. The crew were busy repainting.
The SCANDINAVIA sailed 1800 hours from Gdansk.
I soon found out that the restaurant staff spoke good English, as well as at least one lady in the cafeteria, and one in the reception. However, the personnel in the shop and perfume shop, as well as the two bars did not. As for the shops this did not affect, I still bought what I was supposed to. There is not much to buy anyway. But for the bars this resulted in me not buying anything. Personnel on ships are supposed to handle the languages of the passengers, or if not that, then English.
Dinner. Oh yes, the dinner. This I do not think I will forget in a hurry, and I can assure you, it was not taken in a hurry, not by me or by the crew. Especially the crew. From order to payment one hour and 45 minutes! I took the dinner in the a la carte restaurant Vivaldi, with perhaps 140 seats. There were maybe 40 other passengers dining, but most of them was a group. There is also another restaurant, a Greek restaurant named Zorba, but on this sailing it was sealed off with rope. Maybe it always is? Anyway, I ordered a cola for drink, cream potatoes, a steak with boiled vegetables for dinner and as a dessert I ordered apple pie with vanilla ice-cream. All ordered at once. And then I waited. And waited. And waited. Eventually, maybe after 20 minutes the steak arrived, this time with another waiter. But I had to wait a bit more, as there was no cola. After about 15 minutes I eventually got it after almost literally grabbing a waiter and receiving help from the next table where another group, some seven mopedists (everything with less than two 3000 hp diesels is a moped to me) gave me unexpected help. So another cola arrived – and it was discovered this was not the first cola... Well, anyway I ate, and the food was VERY GOOD. I have to give them that much credit, you can not complain about the food. Well, after about 1 hour from ordering the plates were taken away and I started to wait for the dessert. Surprisingly enough, suddenly the first waiter comes smiling with my cola. This was one hour and 10 minutes after ordering! Impressive, isn´t it? Anyway, I managed to explain that I had got my cola and was waiting for my dessert. It took a while to make him understand that I did not need more cola, though. My dessert arrived one hour and 20 minutes after ordering and at that point I immediately ordered the check, realising this might take a while. Actually, it did. The plate was taken a way after maybe ten minutes, and I had to wait until 1 hour and 45 minutes from ordering had passed before the check arrived.
So what can I say. The food was good, and the waiters were very friendly, but the service was so slow that there is no way you can call the service good. Another interesting thing about the zombies they have for waiters is that I noticed they had the habit of carrying their load almost a full circle around the room, instead of going straight to the table in question. Why? To make them appear more busy? Beats me.
So, what did I make of the SCANDINAVIA? She is not a cruise ferry, she is certainly dated and looks in parts very much so. But, she is clean, has some personality and a not too small capacity.
On this crossing the car decks were full, and still there was more than a hundred empty cabins. So, what they would need is perhaps the STENA BALTICA? There is essentially nothing wrong with the Polferries-product, but somehow I got the feeling that it is not used to full potential. Then, most of the Polish passengers spent their time in their cabin or their reclining seat and appeared to use little money during the crossing.
SCOTTISH VIKING in Nynäshamn