Posts tagged: marseille

To Tunis on the Carthage

Between 1995 and 2001 the Fosen shipyard in Norway delivered a sequence of six large overnight ferries to Southern European operators, five of which were for Adriatic use by Minoan Lines and ANEK. The one other ship of the series was the 1999-built Carthage of COTUNAV (Tunisia Ferries) and, whilst there has been decent amounts of coverage of her Fosen half-sisters, this vessel has received scant attention, largely due to her less mainstream, by North European standards, area of operation.

The ship seen at Genoa in September 2004, still in her original livery.

The ship seen at Genoa in September 2004, still in her original livery.

The Carthage, alongside the veteran Habib and long-term Summer charter the El Venizelos, maintains COTUNAV’s services between Tunisia and Genoa and Marseille. The French operations are pooled with SNCM whose Danielle Casanova and Méditerranée are regular visitors to Tunis. In June 2010, before the revolution which led to the overthrow of President Ben Ali, I travelled with the Carthage from Marseille to Tunis on a sailing busy with migrant workers returning home for the Summer. The ship’s evening departure was delayed both by a late arrival of the incoming sailing from as well as some difficulties in embarking the full load.

A full load waiting to embark.

Vehicles waiting to embark in Marseille.

The late arrival of the Carthage.

The late arrival of the Carthage.

Going aboard as foot passengers.

Going aboard as foot passengers.

Time for a look around; this deckplan photograph shows the decks with the main passenger saloons: Decks 9, 8 and 7. Decks 6 and 5 are given over to cabins. Note that this plan shows the original use of the restaurant facilities on Deck 8.

Time for a look around; this deckplan photograph shows the decks with the main passenger saloons: Decks 9, 8 and 7. Decks 6 and 5 are given over to cabins. Note that this plan shows the original use of the restaurant facilities on Deck 8 with a buffet forward and self service to port; these have now been effectively switched roles.

Amidships on Deck 7 is the main lobby, with information desk and boutique shops.

Amidships on Deck 7 is the main lobby, with information desk and boutique shops.

Reception desk.

Reception desk.

Lobby art.

Lobby art.

Builder's plate.

Builder's plate.

Also on display in reception are the Shippax awards the Carthage won for Outstanding Ferry Exterior and Outstanding Ferry Saloons in 1999. As with the five other Fosen-built Mediterranean ro-paxes, the ship's interior and exterior were crafted by Falkum Hansen and on all of the ships there is a hint of Norwgian folksiness in some of the designs.

Also on display in reception are the Shippax awards the Carthage won for Outstanding Ferry Exterior and Outstanding Ferry Saloons in 1999. As with the five other Fosen-built Mediterranean ro-paxes, the ship's interior and exterior were crafted by Falkum Hansen and on all of the ships there is a hint of Norwegian folksiness in some of the designs.

Deck 7 midships stairwell

Deck 7 midships stairwell.

Astern of the lobby area on the port side is this cafe bar.

Astern of the lobby area on the starboard side is this cafe bar.

A view looking forward.

A view looking forward.

RIght aft on Deck 7: the Hannibal nightclub and bar.

Right aft on Deck 7: the Hannibal nightclub and bar. The round windows behind the stage area look directly into the swimming pool.

Port side of the Hannibal showlounge.

Port side of the Hannibal showlounge.

As with her earlier fleetmate the Habib, the Carthage features throughout examples of contemporary work from local artists.

As with her earlier fleetmate the Habib, the Carthage features throughout examples of contemporary work from local artists, such as this stylised elephant in the Hannibal bar.

Bar area.

Bar area.

Hannibal lounge - starboard side.

Hannibal lounge - starboard side.

Right aft on Deck 7 is this small area of outside deck whose staircases lead up to the lido area on the deck above.

Right aft on Deck 7 is this small area of outside deck whose staircases lead up to the lido area on the deck above.

The swimming pool, aft on Deck 8.

The swimming pool, aft on Deck 8.

Moving back inside, on the starboard side aft of Deck 8 is the Amilcar Bar.

Moving back inside, on the starboard side aft of Deck 8 is the Amilcar Bar.

Looking aft with the raised section of seating to the left.

Looking aft with the raised section of seating to the left.

One of the raised sections.

One of the raised sections.

Forward on this deck are the ship's restaurants, accessed via an arcade which cuts through from amidships to the starboard side. To the left in this view is another shop whilst to right is an annex to the Tanit restaurant. The entrance to the play area is just out of view.

Forward on this deck are the ship's restaurants, accessed via an arcade which cuts through from amidships to the starboard side. To the left in this view is another shop whilst to right is an annex to the Tanit restaurant. The entrance to the play area is just out of view.

The children's play area.

The children's play area.

Looking forward on the main port side arcade with the stairway leading up to the upper Bar Carthage and the waiter-service restaurants to the left.

Looking forward on the main starboard side arcade with the stairway leading up to the upper Bar Carthage and the waiter-service restaurants to the left.

The entrance to the restaurants.

The entrance to the restaurants.

The main Tanit restaurant on the port side - originally this area was a self service with the large space right forward a buffet restaurant, but the roles were subsequently effectively reversed. The old servery area can be seen in the background.

The main Tanit restaurant on the port side - originally this area was a self service with the large space right forward a buffet restaurant, but the roles were subsequently effectively reversed.

Another view of the Tanit Restaurant, showing the artwork on the aft bulkhead.

Another view of the Tanit Restaurant, showing the artwork on the aft bulkhead.

This side area was mostly out of use, occasionally being used for crew meals.

This side area was mostly out of use, occasionally being used for crew meals.

The forward self service Elyssa restaurant, looking aft on the port side.

The forward self service Elyssa restaurant, looking aft on the starboard side.

The forward area, with its excellent views over the ship's bow.

The forward area, with its excellent views over the ship's bow.

Moving up to Deck 9, amidships is the Carthage Bar.

Moving up to Deck 9, amidships is the Carthage Bar.

Bar Carthage.

Bar Carthage.

The port side of the Bar Carthage.

The port side of the Bar Carthage.

The separate private room forward of the Bar Carthage.

The separate private room, forward.

Deck 9 stairwell just aft of the Bar Carthage.

Deck 9 stairwell just aft of the Bar Carthage.

Accessed from the Deck 10 open deck are the ship's kennels.

Accessed from the Deck 10 open deck are the ship's kennels.

Deck 10, forward of the funnel.

Deck 10, forward of the funnel.

Standard four berth inside cabin.

Standard four berth inside cabin.

Cabin radio detailing.

Cabin radio detail.

Rules and regulations for cabin use.

Rules and regulations for cabin use.

Cabin corridor.

Cabin corridor.

Reclining seat lounge, forward on Deck 7.

Reclining seat lounge, forward on Deck 7.

The ship finally sailed a couple of hours later than the scheduled 1700 but no one seemed in the least bit concerned as the busy load of passengers prepared for a first meal at sea whilst the hundreds of children running around the ship leant the ship quite a happy holiday air. We bought the three-meal package (evening dinner, breakfast and lunch waiter served in the Tanit restaurant) for 28 Euros and this turned out to be excellent value with food of a good standard, certainly when compared to some of the other North African ships.

The Maghreb terminal at Marseille in the background and vehicle waiting lanes ahead; with the scheduled departure time having passed, loading continues to be slow.

The Maghreb terminal at Marseille; with the scheduled departure time having passed, loading continued to be slow.

A meal on the Carthage, all served on the ship's own crockery and with CTN monogrammed cutlery.

A meal on the Carthage, all served on the ship's own crockery and with CTN monogrammed cutlery.

On deck at dusk.

On deck at dusk.

Evening entertainment in the Bar Hannibal.

Evening entertainment in the Bar Hannibal.

An evening wander down to the vehicle decks showed just why we had been late leaving.

An evening wander down to the vehicle decks showed just why we had been late leaving.

The following day was a lazy one spent at sea; the ship seemed to lose more time on passage and we finally arrived in Tunis some five hours late, just after the departures of the northbound Sorrento and Daniele Casanova with the Splendid, MSC Splendida and the Habib all in port. Quayside, we were given a very warm reception, with TV crews, a band, flag wavers and assorted giant Disney characters waiting to celebrate our arrival.

Passing the Daniele Casanova off Tunis.

Passing the Daniele Casanova off Tunis.

Pilot boat.

Pilot boat.

The Splendid and the Habib alongside.

The Splendid and the Habib alongside.

The welcoming party.

The welcoming party.

The Carthage is a superb ship – certainly amongst the very finest sailing to North Africa, and this was a memorable and very happy crossing. The subsequent uprising and governmental overthrow has had a significant effect on both tourism and migrant traffic with SNCM recording as much as a 50% reduction in traffic compared to 2010. Nonetheless, all the ferries are still scheduled to resume their hectic Summer schedules even including the veteran Habib. The impact of the unrest on the financing and delivery of that ship’s intended 2012 replacement, the new Hannibal, has still to be clarified.

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