Back in 2004, I had just started as a maritime reporter. One of my first assignments was to write an article about the then new ISPS (International Ship and Port Facility Security Code), which was made by the IMO (UN’s International Maritime Organization) after the 9/11 attack in New York three years earlier.
The article should describe how ISPS would work in practice when e.g., a Danish port was called at by a cruise ship. As a part of my research, I was on the morning of 16 June with the Port of Aarhus’s pilot boat out in The Bay of Aarhus to “pick up” P&O’s AURORA.
I stayed on board the pilot boat though, but then got extra opportunities to photograph this very beautiful cruise ship. Unfortunately, P&O changed the lovely classic colour scheme many years later. I have not yet managed to sail with AURORA but was on one of the very last cruises onboard the slightly older half-sister ORIANA a few years ago before she left Europe.
About this entry: A handful of selected photos from my archive. I pick out photos that are older than 10 years and tell the story behind. Something that evokes fond memories of travel and the ship friends I travelled with.
See, those were the days! We are in the middle of the North Sea on August 18, 2002, late in the afternoon. I was on my way to Newcastle on board PRINCESS OF SCANDINAVIA from Kristiansand. It was six years after Stena Line introduced the STENA JUTLANDICA (III) on the Kattegat – and, as far as I remember, I was first introduced to the term “ro/pax ferry”.
A term that unfortunately would turn out to do away with many of the features that designers of large ro/ro ferries had used over decades to create beautiful ships that gave the travellers a positive experience. For me, the first pictures I saw of the two Tor Line sisters (which of TOR BRITANNIA later became PRINCESS OF SCANDINAVIA) in the late 1970s, strongly contributed to my lifelong passion for ferries and passenger ships. PRINCESS OF SCANDINAVIA and her sister PRINCE OF SCANDINAVIA were, in the quarter of a century they sailed for DFDS, an increasingly rare and exclusive pair from the pre-ro/pax era.
I clearly remember the sight of them in Gothenburg during their last years in Scandinavia.
Especially the return crossing five days later, on the leg from Kristiansand to Gothenburg, where the summer weather was just as beautiful, is vividly clear in my memory; To view Skagen from the lido deck and the long North Sea crossings final approach up the Göta Canal seen from the top of the four terraced sun decks aft.
The actual purpose of the trip was to sail on and photograph interiors on the back then brand-new PRIDE OF HULL and a visit on AFRICA MERCY at the Cammell Laird shipyard together with a friend.
In August 2003 I had a visit from a good friend from the UK. He had arranged for us to visit Holland America Line’s newbuilding OOSTERDAM during a call in Aarhus on the ship’s first cruise after delivery from Fincantieri a few weeks earlier.
I had never been on a cruise ship before, but it was my third visit on a newbuilding in just 12 months. I remember that I was very impressed with the size – and overwhelmed with what the ship’s interior looked like. I would not exactly say overwhelmed in a positive way but overwhelmed by how many impressions were thrown in my head.
I had brought a tripod so I could make interior photos by using only the natural light. It was only the third time I did that. The previous two times were on board the newly built ro/pax ferry PRIDE OF HULL and the likewise newly built coastal passenger ship MIDNATSOL. Although I preferred the interior design of the first two newbuildings, it was still interesting to document the bombardment of impressions aboard the cruise ship.
Interior photography on passenger ships has always been a niche for me, but I have the deepest respect for the maritime photographers who have immersed themselves in the genre and master it to perfection.
I photographed the somewhat odd-looking COSTA VICTORIA for the first time in Piraeus in 2004.
Of course, I knew about the ship’s existence, but it was not a cruise ship I as such dreamed of having to sail on at some point. Back then, Costa’s two rebuilt container ships, COSTA MARINA and COSTA ALLEGRA, not to mention COSTA CLASSICA and COSTA ROMANTICA, were far higher on my wish list. Four ships that I have always thought had a beautiful exterior – later I found out that COSTA CLASSICA and COSTA ROMANTICA in their original form also had a fantastic interior.
However, I never managed to sail with these four beautiful ships, I did in return with the ugly duckling, COSTA VICTORIA. It happened in the spring of 2011, where I was invited by some English ship friends on a five-day voyage in the western Mediterranean. We had a wonderful trip together.
I liked parts of COSTA VICTORIA’s interior. The atrium in particular, the cabin corridors with their night blue bulkheads and doors – and the show lounge aft, were in my opinion of high quality. The outdoor areas were also good. However, we fell a lot outside Costa’s target group, I think. But we had fun and appreciated the sea trip and the nice destinations.
COSTA VICTORIA became one of the first and youngest cruise ships to be sold for scrapping as a result of the pandemic. The COSTA VICTORIA is still the first and only Costa ship I have sailed on.
As a photographer you must make sure to respond as quickly as possible, as newly established ferry routes sometimes seem to be short lived. I am fully aware of that today with my 30 years of experience as a maritime photographer and my lifelong interest in ferries. The last time I did it was earlier this year when I was in Kristiansand on two occasions to photograph Holland Norway Lines’ chartered Tallink ferry ROMANTIKA, introduced on at new route to the Dutch port Eemshaven. Fortunately, the route still exists, but there are always many uncertainties associated with such ventures.
In 2004 I also managed to get to Skagen, which that year got a ferry route to Moss in Norway. A major and important event in Danish ferry history. And it wasn’t with just any ferry, it was with the deeply charming 1965-built SAGAFJORD – a ferry I had sailed with several times as SANDEFJORD across the outer Oslofjord in the years before.
According to http://www.faktaomfartyg.se, SAGAFJORD was introduced between Moss and Skagen on 15 May 2004. In the image file’s data, I can see that I photographed SAGAFJORD on arrival in Skagen on 23 May – i.e., a good week later. The route only survived until the beginning of October that same year. Unfortunately, I did not manage to photograph SAGAFJORD again in Skagen during that summer. By the way, the ferry still exists, now under the name STAR N, here 18 years after its little six-month intermezzo between Skagen and Moss.