The ‘new’ Stena Caledonia

. . .

In January 2009, Stena Line confirmed they were continuing their recession-busting modernisation programme by investing £1.8m in a thorough upgrade of the Stranraer-Belfast route’s single conventional vessel, the Stena Caledonia (ex-St David of 1981). This followed on from a not dissimilar amount spent on the route’s HSS Stena Voyager in 2008. The plan appears to have been to move the ‘Caledonia’ back into primary use for passengers, rather than the reserve/freight/night ship she had tended to become by default with the Voyager taking most passengers. Falling oil prices since the decision to invest was made however seem to have changed things – the refit went ahead, but in the event the HSS has remained in full use and so the Caledonia’s new facilities have, in the brief period since she returned from refit, been largely underused.

For anyone who has sailed on the ship before, upon boarding it is quite hard to orientate yourself as the entire centre section of the ship has been swept away – of all of the four ‘Saint’ class ships, the main deck of the former St David perhaps most lived down to billing with a predomination of fairly uninspired fixed seating. Save for the cinema and shop at the stern (largely unchanged) and the cafeteria forward, this has now all gone, replaced with a very open plan Barista Coffee House with a small Stena Plus lounge to starboard in the area formerly housing part of the Motorists’ Lounge.

The effect is a little overwhelming but certainly, given the ship is destined to remain on the North Channel for a few more years yet, she was overdue a refurbishment. Stena, and their house interior designers Figura, have been stung by criticism in the trade press recently concerning some of their more recent refurbishments and, as in parts of the refitted Stena Nordica, a determined effort has been made on the ‘Caledonia’ to allow quiet spaces where one can simply sit and read, snooze or work on a laptop. Although the open-plan nature of the Barista Lounge mitigates this to an extent, areas have been notionally designated for families and as a quiet lounge although this may take some policing if it is to be effective on a busy sailing.

In summary however, it was great to see the Stena Caledonia revitalised. Even if the ship is going to have only a relatively short future in her present operation, it is clear that Stena don’t intend to let the ship be run down before retirement. The refurbishment is certainly fairly dramatic and doubtless not to everyone’s taste – I’ll let you draw your own conclusions and below are some recent images from on board the ship, with a few pictures of the same spaces interspersed as a reminder of what used to be. Click on the pictures for larger versions.

Click here for a main deck plan photograph of the ‘new’ Stena Caledonia. Fakta om Fartyg has a mid-90s deckplan here (the ship was essentially unchanged up to the recent refit. A plan of the ship as St David can be found here.

Starting forward, the former Pantry self-service has become Food City, although the layout is essentially unchanged.

Starting forward, the former Pantry self-service has become Food City, although the layout is essentially unchanged.


Before....

Before....

... and after.

... and after.

Looking across from the starboard side, pre-refit.

Looking across from the starboard side, pre-refit.


The same scene today.

The same scene today.


The small Ro-Ro drivers' lounge adjacent to the self-service has so far not been refurbished.

The small Ro-Ro drivers' lounge adjacent to the self-service has so far not been refurbished.

The location of the previous information desk...

The location of the previous information desk...

... now a seating area.

... now a seating area.

The forward section of the old Motorists' Lounge, amidships to starboard.

The forward section of the old Motorists' Lounge, amidships to starboard.

The scene now is virtually unrecognisible as the partitions have been stripped away and the space completely opened up.

The scene now is virtually unrecognisible as the partitions have been stripped away and the space completely opened up.

Another view of the pre-refit Motorists' Lounge.

Another view of the pre-refit Motorists' Lounge.

The same area today.

The same area today.

The amidships/forward port side lounge, pre-refit.

The amidships/forward port side lounge, pre-refit.

This is now the Barista Lounge Quiet Area.

This is now the Barista Lounge Quiet Area.

The new, centrally located, Barista Coffee servery - this only seems to be used on busier sailings.

The new, centrally located, Barista Coffee servery - this only seems to be used on busier sailings.

The Barista 'black' area, formerly part of the Motorists' Lounge.

The Barista 'black' area, formerly part of the Motorists' Lounge.

An overall view, looking forward (on the starboard side).

An overall view, looking forward (on the starboard side).

An overall view, looking forward (on the port side).

An overall view, looking forward (on the port side).


The aft section of the old Motorists' Lounge...

The aft section of the old Motorists' Lounge...

... is now Stena Plus.

... is now Stena Plus.

Another view of the new Stena Plus Lounge.

Another view of the new Stena Plus Lounge.


Adjacent to what is now Stena Plus was previously further fixed seating.

Adjacent to what is now Stena Plus was previously further fixed seating.

This is now home to the new Information desk and the Barista Lounge 'family area'.

This is now home to the new Information desk and the Barista Lounge 'family area'.

Before...

Before...

... and after.

... and after.

An overall view looking forward before the refit.

An overall view looking forward before the refit.

A view from a similar location now.

A view from a similar location now.

The old tea bar.

The old tea bar.

This is now the location of the compact Childrens' play area.

This is now the location of the compact Childrens' play area.

Another view aft.

Another view aft.

Right aft, the video games area has also been somewhat refitted - here it is before refurbishment.

Right aft, the video games area has also been somewhat refitted - here it is before refurbishment.

The same area after refit.

The same area after refit.

Looking across to the small shop on the port side, pre-refit.

Looking across to the small shop on the port side, pre-refit.

The same space now.

The same space now.

At the stern, the cinema area is largely untouched.

At the stern, the cinema area is largely untouched.

Upstairs, the two promenade deck lounges have been slightly tidied up but there has not yet been significant refurbishment. This image shows the aft lounge.

Upstairs, the two promenade deck lounges have been slightly tidied up but there has not yet been significant refurbishment. This image shows the aft lounge.

The smaller forward Promenade Deck saloon.

The smaller forward Promenade Deck saloon.

The outside decks were not significantly attended to during the refit.

The outside decks were not significantly attended to during the refit.

However, new doors leading to the main passenger deck have been installed througout.

However, new doors leading to the main passenger deck have been installed througout.

At the top of one of the cardeck stairwells.

At the top of one of the cardeck stairwells.

On Deck C, these couchettes are still available for use by freight drivers.

On Deck C, these couchettes are still available for use by freight drivers.

Lastly, an overall view of the upper vehicle deck.

Lastly, an overall view of the upper vehicle deck.

1 Comment

  • By Neil Tierney, March 6, 2009 @ 3:16 pm

    OH WOW !!! how different she looks. i worked on the Caledonia as a student when she sailed Larne to Stranraer. Remember the old lounges very well. its been a while since i last sailed on her. its kinda difficult getting a sailing that allows you to travel on foot. maybe take the car over and see her for myself. not sure if at first look i totally love the changes… but i must wait and see. i commented on the Romilda recently and love the classic ferries with lots of nooks and quiet lounges. GREAT PHOTOS. I must send some photos of her that i have in my collection. Neil

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