e-mail: matt@hhvferry.com
Part One continued: Apollo
St Barbe - Blanc Sablon
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Moving aft from the forward restaurant, the open-plan central section on D Deck retains its cafeteria servery from where very reasonably-priced hot meals were available. At the aft end, a bank of reclining seats to starboard are adjacent to the current childrens’ play area with wooden slide and sea of balls; although not original (there was a small kiosk here when the ship was built) this area does seem to have been added fairly early on in the ship’s career. Right aft, a further bar area can be found in a space which was originally a covered deck shelter before being enclosed early on by Viking Line. Pictures of Tallinn could be found adorning the walls of this space, but the original windows to either side had been mysteriously filled in: a similar thing had happened to the aft lounge on the Queen of Prince Rupert later in the trip and this was explained as being due to the Canadian authorities insisting on the replacement of the window panes at a cost of several thousand dollars each – it was more cost effective to lose the windows altogether. Back on the Apollo, upstairs the main bar forward remained a timewarp with comfortable if somewhat battered leather-covered chairs and perimeter sofa bays. A pair of conference rooms were out of use just aft (these were originally further reclining seat lounges); in one of them could be found a rather interesting relic in the form of what appeared to be one of the distinctive restaurant chairs from one of the 1960s Swedish Lloyd trio Saga, Svea and Patricia. The only explanation we could come up for this one was that it somehow got moved over when the Apollo, as Olau Kent, operated alongside the Saga (as Olau Finn) in the early years of the Sheerness-Vlissingen route between 1976 and 1980. In terms of unlikely finds however it ranks with the chair from the Second Class lounge of Sealink’s St George which sits today in the purser’s office on board Ventouris Ferries’ Siren. [continued below]
Top: The Apollo in the fog at Blanc Sablon.
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Above: Just aft of the restaurant, looking back down the port-side of the ship into the cafeteria area. The stairs to the left lead up to the bar on E Deck.
Above & below: The cafeteria seating area (above) and servery (below).
When we made it over to Blanc Sablon the fog had closed in such that from the terminal at the top of the hill one could barely make out the Apollo. Crossing back the ship’s friendly crew came into their own and we were pretty much given the run of the ship. From forecastle to crew mess beneath the car deck, we saw it all: signs that still referred to her as Corbiere, a Channel Islands Ferries GBG sticker, a Brittany Ferries’ cabin key holder, a Tallink deckplan, an Eestin Linjen deckplan, her bell which bears the name “GELTING NORD”, an advertising sticker for Eestin Linjen with an image of the ship passing the Alandia, paintings of Fåborg where the ship ran for Nordisk Færgefart. This ship has amassed layers and bits and pieces from all of her operators down the years, none of whom seem to have shown any great interest in firmly placing their own corporate image onboard. She has instead accumulated her own identity: idiosyncratic certainly but manna for the ferry archaeologist and rather charming in its own way.

That evening we had a post-dinner walk down to the ship’s berth where she was lying overnight. With no-one around we could easily have walked back on board and very probably settled down in one of the cabins for the night. Instead we just sat for a while and silently watched her: this handsome veteran quietly humming herself to sleep before another busy day’s useful service. She may be thirty-six years old now but she is still eminently fit for purpose and looks well set for a good few more years yet. We enjoyed the
Apollo so much that we squeezed in another round trip the next morning – she was just as much fun and Blanc Sablon just as foggy the second time around. Unfortunately upon return to St Barbe our schedule intervened and, most reluctantly, we bade the ship farewell and headed back down the eastern coast of Newfoundland. It was perplexing how much this old and little ship had caught the imagination but I found myself peering into the rear view mirror to catch final glimpses of her as we drove away; sadly she soon disappeared from view behind the Dockside Motel. [text continued on next page]
Above: Looking forward from the cafeteria seating, with the entrance to the restaurant visible in the background.
Above & below: Aft of the cafeteria is this section of reclining seating and an adjacent play area.
Above: Right aft on D Deck is the aft bar, originally an open deck shelter before being enclosed early in the ship's career. Pictures of Tallinn still hang here although the windows on either beam have now been covered over.
Above: Forward on E Deck is the main bar, relatively little changed since the ship entered service.
Above & below: Two more views of the main bar.
Above: The port-side outside deck on E Deck.
Above & below: The view from the forecastle (above) where the ship's bell dates from her 1980-1984 period as Gelting Nord.
Above: The crew mess beneath the vehicle deck.
Above & below: If one looked hard enough, there were several reminders of the ship's UK service, including the Brittany Ferries logo and a Channel Island Ferries GBG sticker.
Above: Another load of freight squeezes out of the Apollo's little car deck in St Barbe.