Luxury cruiser for the Baltic Sea
Like her predecessor Birka Princess, Birka Paradise
is a true cruise vessel with no car deck. Purpose-built for short
cruises between Stockholm and Mariehamn, her main attraction is
a floating spa with a tropical beach and a covered sun deck.
In the 1990s the era of continuous expansion within the passenger
ferry traffic across the Åland Sea came to a halt. There was
a row of coincidental factors leading to this, of which the foremost
were the economic recession in Finland and Sweden at the turn of
the decade, the expansion of the EU threatening the tax free trade
and finally the Estonia-disaster. As a consequence of
that, the ferry companies were no longer willing to invest in newbuildings.
The Birka Paradise is the first new-built large passenger
vessel within the Finnish and Åland merchant fleet in more
than ten years. The owner Birka Line ordered another cruise vessel
newbuilding in 1988, but she was never delivered to the original
owner due to the bankruptcy of the builder Wärtsilä Marine
in 1989. Now, fifteen years later, Birka Line has finally taken
delivery of its second newbuilding ever. The companys first
newbuilding Birka Princess, built in 1986, still remains in the
Birka Line started working on a new cruise concept for its Åland
cruises at the end of the 1990s. In June 2002 the project
had reached a stage where Birka Line in Mariehamn and Aker Finnyards
in Rauma signed a letter of intent to develop a new cruise vessel.
A firm building contract followed in November the same year. According
to a press release of Aker Finnyards, 14 shipyards had been competing
for the order.
Since then the project has advanced fast. The production started
on June 18, 2003 and the keel was laid on October 20. At the keel-laying
ceremony it was revealed, that the name of the vessel would be Birka
Paradise. It was a result of a contest, where 3,500 people had left
their suggestions. Of these, more than 50 had proposed the winning
Birka Paradise was launched on April 16, 2004 and the
EUR 155 million vessel was handed over to the owner on November
8. In the evening she left the shipyard for Mariehamn, where she
was open to the public the following day. After a transfer across
the Åland Sea, Birka Paradise sailed on her official
maiden voyage from Stockholm to Mariehamn on November 10. Before
that the vessel had been named by the singer Arja Saijonmaa at the
Skeppsbron quay in the centre of Stockholm. In addition to the invited
guests, a large crowd witnessed the occasion.
The Birka Paradise is purpose-built for Birka Lines
short cruises between Stockholm and Mariehamn. The traffic is operated
under the brand Birka Cruises, which is Birka Lines wholly
owned Swedish subsidiary. Birka Cruises handles the bookings and
the marketing of the cruises on Birka Princess and Birka
With the new vessel Birka Cruises wants to attract the large generation
born in the 1940s better than before.
This generations financial position is good and they
are experienced travellers. They also often have the possibility
to travel any day of the week. This market segment has great potential,
states Birka Lines President and CEO Wiking Johansson.
Birka Paradise replaces Birka Princess on
the Mariehamn-route. For Birka Princess Birka Cruises
has launched new two-day cruises from Stockholm to Turku (Åbo),
Helsinki (Helsingfors) and Tallinn with departures on Mondays, Wednesdays
and Saturdays respectively. In addition to that, she makes a short
cruise to Mariehamn on Fridays.
The port of Stockholm has upgraded the Stadsgården-terminal
and the quay for the new vessel. In the terminal, the area of the
passenger transit hall has been increased to house larger volumes
of passengers and there are new gangways leading directly to the
vessel. Birka Cruises has also opened a travel shop in the building.
||The artificial sun is always warm
at the Paradise Beach.
PHOTO: PÄR-HENRIK SJÖSTRÖM
With Birka Paradise Birka Line introduces a new cruise
concept on the Åland Sea. On a cruise vessel the sun deck
is one of the central parts. However, the climate in the Nordic
countries makes a traditional sun deck useless for most of the year.
Birka Line has therefore developed a closed sun deck, which brings
the warmth and the sun to the North.
The sun deck is called Paradise Beach and it is covered by a glass
roof. An artificial sun provides the beach with a light, which except
for one thing is identical to that of the real sun: Most of the
harmful UV-radiation has been filtrated to keep it within Swedish
norms. It is indeed possible to get a tan, but it takes longer than
in real sunlight or in a solarium. The system has been developed
by the Swedish company IMN-Suntech AB.
The temperature inside is kept at some 30 degrees C. The roof of
the sun deck can be opened during the summer to let the real sun
in. Paradise Beach has a swimming pool, which is covered at night,
when the 850-sqm-pool area turns into an exotic nightclub. There
are also two Jacuzzis. The tropical environment also includes a
light breeze and sound effects.
The adjacent area on deck 10 houses the Relax & Spa compartment,
which is operated by Scandinavian Beauty Line. There are 3 saunas,
an outside Jacuzzi and five rooms for different spa-treatments.
Outside on the deck a jogging track runs round the Paradise Beach.
|From left to right: The á la carte restaurant
Four Seasons, Café Brazil and Yacht Club Bar.
Three in one
The general idea is to offer the customers a voyage in three parts
with their own profile. Part one is the outbound voyage, focusing
on food, entertainment, sun and bath. Part two is the arrival with
sunset and a rising tempo. The return voyage is called a day
in Paradise, including relaxation, pleasure, shopping, bath
The interiors have been designed by Yran & Storbraaten, Lasse
Heikkinen and Partner Ship Design. In addition to Paradise Beach,
there are two other centres for entertainment on board. The Torget
is like a plaza in the middle of deck 5 with a piano bar, Pub Pacific
and Café Brazil. The show lounge Club Copacabana in the aft
part of deck 5 has a stage, two bars, dancing floors both inside
and outside on the aft deck, as well as a casino operated by Ålands
Birka Paradise has a large conference area for 400 persons
in the forward part of deck 6.
The passenger cabins on Birka Paradise are spacious.
There are 734 passenger cabins for 1,800 passengers, located on
decks 2, 4, 7, 8 and 9. In all categories the standard is high,
including two lower beds, shower/toilet, air conditioning, radio/TV,
telephone and hair dryer. 224 cabins are of Birka Class, which are
also equipped with a safe and a refrigerator. The most luxurious
suite on board is in two levels with a separate living room and
bedroom and a two-deck high panorama window facing forward.
The prefabricated cabin modules have been manufactured and installed
by the Finnish company Shippax Ltd.
The complement of Birka Paradise consists of 21 officers
and 160 crewmembers. The total number of crew cabins is 181.
|Birka Paradise for the
first time in the home port Mariehamn.
PHOTO: PÄR-HENRIK SJÖSTRÖM
Clean and silent
Birka Paradise is said to be the most environmentally
friendly vessel on the Baltic Sea. She fulfils two new class criteria
from Det Norske Veritas: Clean Design and Comfort Class 1.
The Clean Design rule has a technical approach and defines several
environmental solutions for ship structures, such as prohibiting
the carriage of oil in the double bottom. Comfort Class 1 means
that the noise and vibration level is extremely low, ensuring a
pleasant environment for the passengers.
The hull form is optimised for the route and its speed profile,
minimising swell and suction in the archipelago. Further, there
are closed sewage treatment systems, no chemicals are used in the
cooling water and the bottom painting is non-toxic. All diesel engines
are equipped with catalytic converters for minimising emissions
in the air.
Four main engines
Propulsion is provided by four Wärtsilä 6L46B medium speed
engines with an output of 5,850 kW at 500 rpm. They are coupled
in pairs to two Renk gearboxes, reducing the speed to 153 rpm. The
two stainless steel CP propellers are manufactured by Rolls Royce
and have a diameter of 4.6 m.
Two thrusters in the bow and one in the stern ensure excellent manoeuvrability.
The vessel has two rudders with a max rudder angle of 60 degrees.
For generating electrical power there are four generator sets, each
generator driven by a Wärtsilä 6L32 diesel. The diesels
develop 2,760 kW each at 750 rpm.
Birka Paradise is equipped with two pairs of heeling tanks and one
pair of foldable fin stabilizers by Blohm & Voss.
The integrated bridge is built around the latest version of the
Atlas Nacos system. There are three seats for the navigators in
the cockpit, which is situated in the centreline of the vessel.
Birka Paradise has a broadband satellite connection
to the head office in Mariehamn supplied by SatPoint. The telephone
lines on board are connected via the satellite link to the switchboard
in Mariehamn. Also the computer network on board is connected to
the head office through the same link.
Xantic has supplied the AMOS Business Suite application on board
the Birka Paradise. It consists of AMOS M&P for
the maintenance, spare parts and purchasing and AMOS Mail for communication
shipshore. The system ensures efficient running of engineering
and hotel equipment. In addition to main and auxiliary machinery,
the AMOS Business Suite system also organises and tracks the broad
array of equipment surveys and regulatory certificates. The database
includes technical, hotel and vessel equipment, suppliers, manufacturers
and spare parts. Integrated and combined with an extensive office-based
AMOS M&P system, Birka Paradise is operated as part
of the overall fleet of Birka Line-vessels.
The vessel is fire-protected by a hi-fog sprinkler system from Marioff.
In the engine room a CO2 fire extinguishing system has been installed.