Posts tagged: belfast

The ‘new’ Stena Navigator

. . .

The Seafrance Manet in Belfast before being renamed.

The Seafrance Manet in Belfast before being renamed.


The Seafrance Manet at Calais, September 2002.

The Seafrance Manet at Calais, September 2002.


All 2009 & Stena Navigator images courtesy & © Scott Mackey

Less than twelve months ago the newly refurbished Stena Caledonia re-entered service on Stena Line’s Stranraer-Belfast service, operating in tandem with the HSS Stena Voyager. This appeared to be part of a move to re-establish the conventional ferry operation at the expense of the costly HSS, but the acquisition of the 1984-built Seafrance Manet in July to become the route’s second conventional ship was still slightly surprising. Since the sale of the Stena Galloway in 2002, the ‘Caledonia’ had soldiered on alone in support of the ‘Voyager’ which dominated passenger traffic. Whilst freight could and is carried to a degree on the fast craft, before her refit this seemed to be the main role of the former St David. That said, P&O up the coast at Cairnryan and Larne however had achieved a near two-to-one dominance in this market which would have been unthinkable twenty years ago.

The Seafrance Manet was duly repainted in full Stena colours in Dunkerque, sailed to Belfast and formally renamed Stena Navigator; a comprehensive internal refit followed. This is not however the ship’s first time operating for Stena – completed for SNCF-Sealink’s Dover Straits operations in 1984 as the Champs Élysées she was transferred to the Dieppe-Newhaven route in 1990 and, when SNCF’s successors SNAT finally ran out of patience and closed the operation in 1992, the ship passed under charter to Sealink Stena Line under whose guidance the Dieppe link saw a brief resurgence. As the Stena Parisien, latterly in full Stena Line livery, the ship stayed at Dieppe until the end of 1996 when she was returned to her owners, by now Seafrance. She received a complete refit, acquired the name Seafrance Manet and saw a further eleven years service, latterly in a freight only mode, before finally retiring from Seafrance’s active fleet in April 2008. Thereafter she was laid up at Calais and then Dunkerque.

The Côte d'Azur (left) and the Champs Élysées in Dover harbour in the mid-1980s.

The Côte d'Azur (left) and the Champs Élysées in Dover harbour in the mid-1980s.



Stena’s interest in the ship is doubtless due to her size – the tight requirements of Stranraer limit the vessels which can berth there and, with the port’s future uncertain, ‘Stranraer-max’ newbuilds are out of the question. It does not therefore seem likely that this will be a truly long-term purchase, but the ship is still slightly more modern and more capacious from both a passenger and a freight perspective than the Stena Caledonia so she may yet outlast her Belfast-built partner.

Scott Mackey was on board the ‘Navigator’ during her maiden crossing from Belfast to Stranraer on 12 November and has sent a selection of on board photographs. Paired with equivalent images from the ship during her Seafrance Manet days, it is clear that the refurbishment has been comprehensive – although the change is perhaps not as overwhelming as was the case on the Stena Caledonia, it is still perhaps the largest interior upgrade the ship has had in her 25 year career, erasing almost all trace of the three previous thorough refits by SNCF (1990), Stena (1992) and Seafrance (1996).

The interior designers for the Stena Navigator refurbishment were, once again, Figura and the project was managed by MJM Marine.

The Stena Navigator in full Stena livery, late October 2009.

The Stena Navigator in full Stena livery, late October 2009.

champselysees_1986profdpx

sfmanet_dpx
Click above for Champs Élysées (1986) and Seafrance Manet (2002) deckplans and below for a Stena Navigator plan.

The main vehicle deck on the Seafrance Manet (Seafrance image)

The main vehicle deck on the Seafrance Manet (Seafrance image)


Looking forward on the upper vehicle deck (Seafrance Manet, December 2005)

Looking forward on the upper vehicle deck (Seafrance Manet, December 2005)


The same area on the Stena Navigator. In this image the ramp connecting the two vehicle decks is visible - this was installed prior to the ship's transfer to the Dieppe service in 1990.

The same area on the Stena Navigator. In this image the ramp connecting the two vehicle decks is visible - this was installed prior to the ship's transfer to the Dieppe service in 1990.


Looking aft on the upper vehicle deck.

Looking aft on the upper vehicle deck.

As with her half sister (the former Côte d'Azur, now Seafrance Renoir), the Champs-Élysées had side lounges on either side at mezzanine level on the upper vehicle deck. This was filled with reclining seats for use on the Dieppe service but was closed off under Seafrance. The starboard lounge is seen here (through a locked door!) on the 'Manet' in May 2000.

As with her half sister (the former Côte d'Azur, now Seafrance Renoir), the Champs-Élysées had side lounges on either side at mezzanine level on the upper vehicle deck. This was filled with reclining seats for use on the Dieppe service but was closed off under Seafrance. The starboard lounge is seen here (through a locked door!) on the 'Manet' in May 2000.


On the 'Navigator' this area, pictured, is now a truckers' lounge. A similar space on the port side, aft, has become the truckers' restaurant.

On the 'Navigator' this area, pictured, is now a truckers' lounge. A similar space on the port side, aft, has become the truckers' restaurant.


Moving upstairs, on Deck 7 aft is the new 'Met Restaurant' in the location of what was previously the self service on the Seafrance Manet. Although latterly and originally a self service, when the ship was with Stena the first time around, this area was the Monet Restaurant, with the self service on Deck 8.

Moving upstairs, on Deck 7 aft is the new 'Met Restaurant'. Although latterly and originally a self service, when the ship was with Stena the first time around, this area was the Monet Restaurant, with the self service on Deck 8.


Looking across to starboard in the aft section of the self service ('Le Relais') - Seafrance Manet, December 2005.

Looking across to starboard in the aft section of the self service ('Le Relais') - Seafrance Manet, December 2005.


The same area today.

The same area today.


Looking aft on the starboard side (January 2003).

Looking aft on the starboard side (January 2003).


Looking aft on the starboard side (November 2009).

Looking aft on the starboard side (November 2009).


Moving forward, this view is of the aft lobby, looking across to port, on the 'Manet', August 2004.

Moving forward this view is of the aft lobby, looking across to port, on the 'Manet' in August 2004.


The same area today, this time seen from the port side with the entrance to the new childrens' play area visible.

The same area today, this time seen from the port side with the entrance to the new children's play area visible.


Running up the centre line of the ship on Deck 7 for the ship's entire English Channel career was the shopping centre (seen from astern in December 2004).

Running up the centre line of the ship on Deck 7 for the ship's entire English Channel career was the shopping centre (seen from astern in December 2004).


This has now been split into four, with a new childrens' play area (aft), a smaller shop (forward) and two cinemas in between. This is a view of the former, taken from the same angle as the shop picture above.

This has now been split into four, with a new children's play area (aft), a smaller shop (forward) and two cinemas in between. This is a view of the former, taken from the same angle as the shop picture above.


One of the two new cinemas.

One of the two new cinemas.


The remaining shop area on the 'Navigator'.

The remaining shop area on the 'Navigator'.


On either side of the shop, amidships, were a pair of almost classic-style seating lounges. The starboard-side of the pair is seen here in April 2004.

On either side of the shop, amidships, were a pair of almost classic-style seating lounges. The starboard-side of the pair is seen here in April 2004.


The same area today.

The same area today.


The forward lobby, looking across to port, with reception desk (nearest) and bureau de change (background).

The forward lobby on the Seafrance Manet, looking across to port, with reception desk (nearest), bureau de change (far side) and entrance to the shop in between.


The same area in November 2009, with a new 'Guest Services' counter. An internet station has replaced the bureau de change.

The same area in November 2009, with a new 'Guest Services' counter. An internet station has replaced the bureau de change.


Forward on the ship, as built, was the Bar Étoile. It's function as the primary bar on board was consistent through subsequent guises as Bar Saint-Michel (Sealink/Stena) and 'Le Pub' (Seafrance - photographed August 2004).

Forward on the ship, as built, was the Bar Étoile. It's function as the primary bar on board was consistent through subsequent guises as Bar Saint-Michel (Sealink/Stena) and 'Le Pub' (Seafrance - photographed August 2004).


Another view of 'Le Pub', December 2005.

Another view of 'Le Pub', December 2005.


On the Stena Navigator this area has become the Barista Coffee House.

On the Stena Navigator this area has become the Barista Coffee House.


The forward part of 'Le Pub'.

The forward part of 'Le Pub'.


Looking aft towards the bar counter, March 2001.

Looking aft towards the bar counter, March 2001.


A similar view on the Stena Navigator.

A similar view on the Stena Navigator.


The forward stairwell, seen from Deck 8 in December 2002. This originally featured one of the pair of Parisien scenes by the artist Hervé Loilier but latterly was adorned by this copy of Manet's painting, 'Argenteuil'.

The forward stairwell, seen from Deck 8 in December 2002. This originally featured one of a pair of Parisien scenes by the artist Hervé Loilier commissioned for the ship by SNCF but latterly was adorned by this copy of Manet's painting, 'Argenteuil'.


On the Stena Navigator this has been replaced by a sign promoting the Sports Bar (forward on Deck 8).

On the Stena Navigator this has been replaced by a sign promoting the Sports Bar (forward on Deck 8).


The Deck 8 forward lobby at the head of the stairwell, seen in April 2004. To the right (aft) the video games area retained the former Stena 'Video Warp' branding throughout the Seafrance era.

The Deck 8 forward lobby at the head of the stairwell, seen in April 2004. To the right (aft) the video games area retained the former Stena 'Video Warp' branding throughout the Seafrance era.


The video games space is now 'Teen Town'.

The video games space is now 'Teen Town'.


To port off the forward lobby under Seafrance was 'Playzone Le Cirque'. With a new play area downstairs, this has been closed off on the Navigator.

To port off the forward lobby under Seafrance was 'Playzone Le Cirque'. With a new play area downstairs, this has been closed off on the Navigator.


As built the forward saloon on Deck 8 was a 'Buffet Express' but this soon became a wine bar with an interesting choice of decor (as pictured in the late 1980s - note the oddly out of place fixed seating from its original incarnation).

As built the forward saloon on Deck 8 was a 'Buffet Express' but this soon became a wine bar with a slightly clichéd choice of decor (as pictured in the late 1980s - note the oddly out of place fixed seating from the area's original incarnation).


In the Dieppe days this space became the self service Cafe Champs-Elysées. With Seafrance (as pictured in April 2004), it was La Brasserie Bar with a waiter-service restaurant area at the forward end.

In the Dieppe days this space became the self service Cafe Champs-Elysées. With Seafrance (as pictured in April 2004), it was La Brasserie Bar with a waiter-service restaurant area at the forward end.


Stena have completely refurbished this area and it is now a Sports Bar.

Stena have completely refurbished this area and it is now a Sports Bar.


The forward restaurant part of La Brasserie, December 2004.

The forward restaurant part of La Brasserie, December 2004.


The bar counter in the Sports Bar on the Stena Navigator.

The bar counter in the Sports Bar on the Stena Navigator.


The ship's builders' plate survived in one of the lobby areas into the Seafrance era - it is seen here in May 2000.

The ship's builders' plate survived in one of the lobby areas into the Seafrance era - it is seen here in May 2000.


The aft stairwell on the Champs Élysées featured the second of the Hervé Loilier paintings, a street scene of the ship's namesake Parisien avenue. Unlike the matching painting in the forward stairwell, this survived throughout the ship's English Channel service.

The aft stairwell on the Champs Élysées featured the second of the Hervé Loilier paintings, a street scene of the ship's namesake Parisien avenue. Unlike the matching painting in the forward stairwell, this survived throughout the ship's English Channel service.


The replacement on the Stena Navigator, outside what is now Stena Plus, is quite a contrast to its predecessor!

The replacement on the Stena Navigator, outside what is now Stena Plus, is quite a contrast to its predecessor!


The Deck 8 aft lounge was originally the dark and subdued Bar Concorde. Under Sealink Stena this became the Bar Pigalle and with Seafrance the Parisien Cafe (as pictured, January 2003).

The Deck 8 aft lounge was originally the dark and subdued Bar Concorde. Under Sealink Stena this became the Bar Pigalle and with Seafrance the Parisien Cafe (as pictured, January 2003).


The same area is now Stena Plus.

The same area is now Stena Plus.


Looking across to port in La Parisien.

Looking across to port in La Parisien.


An overall view of the new Stena Plus lounge.

An overall view of the new Stena Plus lounge.


Le Parisien, August 2004.

Le Parisien, August 2004.


A corner of Stena Plus, November 2009.

A corner of Stena Plus, November 2009.

Deck 8 aft, December 2005.

Deck 8 aft, December 2005.






Thanks again to Scott Mackey for the Stena Navigator pictures, and to Richard Seville for some background details on the Stena Parisien’s Dieppe-era layout.

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.

WordPress Themes