The Superstar leaving Tallinn.
The Moby Aki.
It is unusual in the ferry industry for sisterships to be ordered from the same shipyard by unrelated operators. Whilst there is often a degree of plagiarism in design and the same yard or naval architects may return to previously-used solutions or styles time and again, by and large new passenger ships are so expensive and relatively risky an investment that to buy a generic design is unusual. This did not, however, dissuade Tallink from picking out the successful Moby Lines speedy ro-pax design and ordering their own green-painted version, the 2008-delivered Superstar.
Moby Lines already had a trio of ships in the class, the Korean-built Moby Wonder and Moby Freedom of 2001 and the subsequent Moby Aki, derived from the same plans and built, like the Superstar, at the Ancona shipyard of Fincantieri. Whereas the Superstar was destined for the relatively brief two hour hop from Tallinn to Helsinki, the Moby ships operate on a variety of routes, from the 4.5 hour duration Olbia-Piombino or Genoa-Bastia links to 10 hour overnight sailings from Olbia to Genoa and back. The Moby vessels are therefore dual function day/night ships with plenty of cabin berths but also with enough public spaces to cope, just about, with a full load on a day sailing.
The Superstar under construction in Ancona, July 2007.
The Superstar at Tallinn.
The Moby Aki leaving Olbia on a day sailing to Piombino.
A quick perusal of the General Arrangement plans for the ‘Aki’ compared to the ‘Wonder’ and ‘Freedom’ reveals almost identically laid-out passenger spaces – the only difference of note being approximately 15 additional cabins where the first pair had an extended lower level to the signature three-deck forward lounge; this change was subsequently incorporated into the earlier sisters. More significant differences can be found in the engine arrangements, where the ‘Aki’ and the Superstar have their Wartsila engines arranged four abreast whereas, whilst similarly-specified, the Korean sisters have theirs in pairs fore and aft of each other.
As built, the Moby Aki had a significantly greater incorporation of the Looney Tunes theme throughout the ship – again the ‘Wonder’ and ‘Freedom’ have had this overlaid in subsequent refits. The interior design of the original pair was prepared by Figura, best known as the house designers for Stena Line, and this formed the basis for the ‘Aki’ but the work on this ship was instead co-ordinated by Carlo Ciribi. Intriguingly, this architect was retained by Tallink to work on the Superstar but, although there is a general Italian theme in decor which one might expect to be somehow traceable to her Moby sisters, in fact this is a nod to the country of her build and the ship bears no resemblance in decor to her Moby sisters. The general arrangement has, however, largely been carried over intact save for Deck 6 where the bulk of what is primarily a cabin deck in the original design instead houses a large shopping centre and a Business Lounge.
The Moby Wonder at Genoa in September 2004, in her original livery - inside and out there was at this stage still minimal reference to Looney Tunes.
The Superstar on her berth in Helsinki.
The Moby Wonder in her current livery at Civitavecchia.
Moby Freedom leaving Bastia.
The images below show how Tallink have taken the bare bones of the original design, dispensed with anything cartoony, and created a pleasant if very slightly austere ship. Whilst she perhaps lacks the higher build quality and interior flourishes of her more bespoke Helsinki-built fleetmate, the Star, the Superstar is still an efficient and pleasant way to cross the Gulf of Finland. The Moby trio meanwhile are busy, hard working ships which overtly cater to a family market with all the positive and negative aspects that involves. On board, the ships are somewhat unsubtle in design but – at least when not totally full and on a sunny day – they are comfortable, speedy and popular.
Starting on Deck 10 the Moby ships feature a small whale-shaped swimming pool aft of the deck bar (seen on Moby Aki).
This image of the same area on the Superstar shows painted steel deck only, the swimming pool being one of the more notable features not carried over from the Moby vessels; the arrangement of the outside decks is otherwise essentially identical.
Deck Bar (Moby Freedom)
Outside deck - starboard side (Moby Aki).
Superstar - which sometimes has the look of a ship whose funnel was installed the wrong way around.
Moving inside, right aft on Deck 10 is the upper level of the aft bar. On the Moby ships this is a Sports Bar, as pictured on Moby Wonder.
Aboard the Superstar this is the Leonardo da Vinci Bar.
The lower level of the Sports Bar on the Moby Aki.
On the port side, just forward of the aft bar, is the self service restaurant, seen here on the Moby Aki.
The same area on the Superstar is the Buffet Toscana and has slightly more sophisticated detailing.
Superstar - which has enclosed booth seating inboard of the main open-plan space.
To starboard is a lengthy open-plan space stretching forward along which a variety of facilities are laid out. At the aft end of can be found the children's play area - seen here on the relatively Looney Tunes free Moby Freedom.
Adjacent to the play area, the Moby ships have a modest-sized shop, as seen on the Moby Freedom.
The Superstar has a much larger shopping complex down on Deck 6 leaving the equivalent space free for this Hamburger bar.
Forward again is this coffee bar (Moby Aki).
The equivalent area on the Superstar.
The same area on the Moby Aki looking aft.
Just aft of the forward bar, on the starboard side, is the 'ACME Pizzeria' (Moby Aki).
On the Superstar this space is 'Pizza Roma'; the pizza counter has been relocated out of shot to the left.
Amidships stairwell at Deck 8 level (Moby Aki).
On the opposite side of the ship to the pizzeria is the small formal restaurant - what was the 'Time Out Restaurant' on the 'Wonder' and 'Freedom' (as pictured) became the 'Grand Prix Restaurant' on the Moby Aki but the decor was little changed.
Superstar's equivalent, the Fellini a la carte.
The signature facility aboard this class of ships is the three-tier forward lounge, seen here on the Moby Aki.
The bar area at the top level of the forward lounge (Moby Freedom).
Accessed from the lower level (Deck 6) of the Superstar's forward lounge is the somewhat remote information desk; aft of this are a series of passenger spaces, which replace cabins and a small aft reclining seat lounge on Deck 6 of the Moby ships.
Aft of the reception area is the Business Lounge.
Deck 6 - adjacent to the lifeboat recess (Moby Freedom).
Aft of the Business Lounge on the Superstar are arcades port (seen here) and starboard inboard of which is part of the shopping complex.
Superstar - starboard side arcade.
On the Moby ships the aft lobby on Deck 6 connects to the escalator used by foot passengers boarding over the stern and a perfunctory reception desk can be found here.
The equivalent space on the Superstar, seen from the starboard side.
Countering both the remoteness of the shopping centre's Deck 6 location and the low deck height of what was designed as a cabin deck, the Superstar features cut away sections in the deckhead to create these mini-atria.
Standard four-berth outside cabin on the Moby Freedom - designed by Figura, this shares recent Stena practice of having an oversized lower bed.
A similar room on the Superstar.