Gracing the Seas
Ice hockey, Formula 1, classical music, computer games, the Finns have a knack for fostering talent among its 5 million inhabitants. The shipping industry has not been left behind in this quest for excellence and indeed, has reached new heights of achievement in the ferries that are cutting their way through the Baltic Sea in 2013.
Viking Line’s brand new M/S Grace, in all its majestic stature, is a groundbreaking vessel from the STX Finland boatyard. Project leader Kari Granberg reports, “Our goal has been to find the best possible environmental solutions and that has lead other leaders in the field such as Royal Carribbean Lines and Carnival Lines, to visit the boatyard during construction and book another meeting in the near future.” It’s the first passenger ship that uses liquefied natural gas (LNG) for fuel, thereby reducing nitrogen exhausts and particles by 85% and greenhouse gases by 15% while the sulphur exhaust level is practically zero. The Baltic Sea is a heavily trafficked stretch of water and hence, is in a highly delicate state. Grace moves quietly and gently through this sensitive archipelago minimizing wave and noise formation by means of its hydrodynamic hull and STX Finland’s patented Wave Damping Afterbody technology. Seawater is purified and recycled while windows with high insulation capacity contain heat and create energy efficiency. The restaurants and the kitchens utilize a GEM system that lowers energy by 20% and no aspect of recycling, reusing and optimization of resources has been left out.
Cruising without Conscience
‘Grace’ does her name justice. In keeping with its Scandinavian roots, it’s a gracious vessel with not a hint of garishness or vulgarity, using clean, natural colours on floors and walls while emphasis has been placed on mood lighting that changes colour according to the time of day and features that are reminiscent of the spectacular Finnish archipelago outside. The light and scenery pour in through the profusion of large windows and one can only muse at the genius of designers Vertti Kivi & Co. “We chose them because they came with fresh ideas, new ways of looking at the interiors of ships, inviting the view to come inside,” Taru Kauppinen, product manager, explains.
All palates and wallet sizes have been catered for. From the cosy Frank’s Casual Diningto the elegance and splendor of Oscar’s and everything in between, it’s all there for the gourmet, wine connoisseur, burger lover and famished family. Locally produced ingredients are used and bottled water comes in recyclable plastic. Nightclubs and dance venues abound with sound and light technology that is the best in the field. You can practice your moves to the schlager sounds at Café Retro, get in step with the talented Elixir Show Band from Hungary at Club Vogue, jiggle your hips at the Rockmore Bar where they invite you to dance on the tables if the mood should take you! And when it’s time to take a break and have a quiet glass of champagne in the Seamore Bar, you’ll be soothed by the soft tones of piano music.
Pampering yourself is what cruising’s all about and the spa and wellness area realigns your body and mood by offering a huge range of treatments using biodynamic products. Jacuzzis are flush with the windows, once again pulling in that jaw-dropping view of the islands. Since you’re in Finland, you can’t miss out on the special snow cave for just a taste of what winter might be like. And if it’s the kids you’re worrying about, don’t! They have thought of everything and provide 3 play areas for babies to teenagers, all well equipped with baby-sitters and cutting edge games. To round off the entire luscious experience, the biggest floating duty-free shopping mall is at your service, sporting brand-name clothing, booze, food, candy and yes, you’ve guessed it, cosmetics and perfumes galore.
This is unequivocally the greenest, most eco-friendly passenger ship on the seas to date. Revive your spirit in full knowledge of the fact that everything’s been done to maintain your sustainable lifestyle. Viking Line’s Grace operates between Turku Harbour and Stockholm with crossings departing every evening at 9 pm returning at 7.50 pm. Bookings can be made