Saturday, 23 November 2013


The former Song of Norway has been sold for scrap in China, ending a long career which began in 1970 when she was built in Helsinki as Royal Caribbean International's first ship. Since then she has had quite a few names: Sundream, Dream Princess, Dream, Clipper Pearl, Clipper Pacific, Festival, Ocean Pearl and, her final name, Formosa Queen. I saw her, as Sundream, during the summers of 2003 and 2004, when she visited Southampton.

Here are some photos from then, which are all scanned prints. She's seen passing Calshot on 31st August 2003

At Southampton on 8th May 2004

And again on 22nd May 2004, with The World and Pride of Bilbao in the background

Saturday, 16 November 2013

Commodore Clipper

Moving swiftly on from the sad events of late, I was in Portsmouth today and photographed Commodore Clipper, a cute little ship I am quite fond of, as she left Portsmouth this morning.


After photographing her I went to the South Coast Ship Show at the Holiday Inn, just up the road and got three more models to add to my collection, a QE2, Queen Elizabeth (1940) and Hamburg (ferry).

I managed to do a 'random gravity check' on my way there which meant a trip to A&E when I got home, luckily there's nothing broken but I do have a badly bruised elbow bone and nerve - and a bruised ego to go with it - meaning I have to keep my arm in a sling for a few days. There's nothing like going A over T to make a person feel like a complete prat, especially when sober!

Thursday, 14 November 2013


On Wednesday 13th November 2013, the evil deed was done. Ostend Spirit, better known as Pride of Calais, was beached at Aliaga at 1200 GMT, hitting the beach at the second attempt at an incredible 19.4 knots. Her final destination on AIS was 'NIRVANA', a nice touch by her final crew.

With her passing, the wonderful Pride Twins, the 'Chunnel Beaters', the best ferries ever to sail on the Dover Strait (in my completely unbiased opinion), are gone and it's unlikely their replacements - Spirit of Britain and Spirit of France - will ever match them, either in the affection of the travelling public and ship enthusiasts or in their overall success. They are without question magnificent ships but completely soulless.
When I was a teenager - I was 17 when the twins were built - I saw Pride of Dover's photo in Ships Monthly and Sea Breezes and it had an effect on me. I was impressed by the ship's looks and immediately resolved to go to Dover and see and sail on the twins, which I did a year later. Few ships have had the same profound effect on me and, to be honest, the 'New Spirits' (I have sailed on Spirit of France) leave me cold; they can be summed up by my favourite internet word 'meh'. This might just sound as if I am pissed off because they displaced my favourites, and I am the first to admit that there is an element of that, but it also happens to be true.
I was talking with my friend Dave, who kept me updated via text when she was beached as I was at work with no internet access (and no data signal, Vodafone on the Isle of Wight are useless but I still have to pay for it!), and we said we'd wished we'd done a trip on her when she was with TEF when we had a chance, but none of us have a crystal ball of course, and the TEF collapse came almost out of the blue. There's also not having visited Dover between 2005 and when both twins were discarded, Pride of Dover in 2010 and Pride of Calais in 2012...I suppose it's a feeling akin to regretting not visiting that deceased relative or friend as often as you should have when they were alive, but life does have that unfortunate habit of getting in the way.

Here's Pride of Calais in happier times

I'll knock up a tribute photo to her, as I did for Pride of Dover last year, sometime this weekend. In the meantime you can see more about the Pride Twins here.

Edit: Here it is (click on it for full-size version)

If you're so inclined, there are some cracking, but very sad, photos on Dover Ferry Enthusiast Forums, of Ostend Spirit approaching the beach, taken by well-known local photographer Selim San. Click on the link, go to the Ostend Spirit thread (under Dover Ferry News) and they're on page 58. However, you might have to join to view the forum.

I don't know how many death metal fans are in the ranks of ship enthusiasts, but I am a fan of Swedish death metal band Amon Amarth and I think their song 'Valhall Awaits Me' ought to be dedicated to Pride of Calais/Ostend Spirit...

Saturday, 2 November 2013

Other ships on the Thames, 30th October 2013

Here are the other ships we saw on Wednesday.

Norstream leaving Tilbury docks for Zeebrugge.

Straitview on her way in.

Cymbeline departing for Vlissingen.

Small tug SWS Breda with barge.

Melusine arriving from Zeebrugge

And, finally, the tug Svitzer Laceby, which had been assisting Ostend Spirit before the departure was put back until the evening because of problems.