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.
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 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.