MISSION ACHIEVED?
Tracing Fantasia and Fiesta from architects' impressions to reality
Above and below: The very earliest renderings of the Fantasia and Fiesta (above) gave few clues as to how ultimately radical they would appear when finally delivered. A near-standard implementation of the Sealink British Ferries livery and, cruicially,  the apparent absence of sponsons (likely to be artistic licence as the addition of these were determined at a very early stage) make the ship visualised here look almost 'ordinary'. That said, clearly the design was at a fairly advanced stage as the window arrangements match almost exactly the reality (below). Is that a hint of additional superstructure hiding behind the extra lifeboats forward of the funnel? (Picture below courtesy Roy Thornton Collection)
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Below: This final external impression appeared on early editions of the 1990 Sealink British Ferries brochure and was notably accurate - the main exception being the non-appearance of the ship's banner between the dome and forward mast. This appeared on all pre-service mock-ups, as well as the on-board deckplans and it would appear that these were indeed planned to be put in place, but in the event never actually made it. In many ways it was a shame that the crowning glory of these vessels were never actually fitted. In all other respects, Fantasia and Fiesta simply screamed "look at me"; with the attention caught, the completed Platner design would have instantly made the viewer aware of exactly what ship it was they were looking at.
Above and below: The aft bar as imagined (above) seems a notably darker place than as built (below).
Above and below: The bright centrepoint of the new ships was the central lobby and this was visualised as the main orienteering point with an over-abundance of signage. In reality, the deckplans slung from the deckhead on either side were felt to be adequate in the lobby itself, with the large 'Shops' logotype appearing as planned above the entrance to the shopping centre, just up the first flight of stairs. (Picture below courtesy Guy Blanchout)
Above and below: The Motorists' Haven bore a pretty clear resemblance to the artist's impression.
Above and below: In later years, P&O Stena Line issued this impression of how the new Silverstones Bar on the P&OSL Canterbury (ex-Stena Fantasia) would appear after refit. This occupied the space formerly take by Stingers and before that the Samba Bar, but the impression bore only modest similarity to the reality (below, minus the racing car which was actually slung from the deckhead beneath the skylight (see subsequent picture) rather than being mounted at floor level). The colour scheme finally employed was significantly different.
Above and below: The childrens' play area, located between the aft bar and the amidships shopping centre. The windows visible on the right hand side in the impression (out of shot but extant in the photograph) belonged to the latter, enabling passengers to view goings on in the play area whilst buying their duty free. After the image on Fantasia below was taken, the room was completed with the images of Commodore Club mascot Sammy Sealink on the far bulkhead, as visualised.
Above and below: After acquiring the Alkmini A from GA Ferries, Polferries rushed out the above doctored image of the ship in her Greek guise, purporting to be one of her as the Wawel. The ship has yet to have the window re-arrangements caused by the installation of more cabins on the main passenger deck and also retains the awnings over her sun deck to shelter deck passengers in Adriatic service. The main give-away however, is the just-about legible sign over the stern door: "F/B ALKMINI A". The second picture shows the Wawel as she was when she entered Polish service.
Above and below: Lastly, a look back to the ships when they were first conceived as ro-ro freighters. Above is the pre-building publicity image produced for the Challenger class, bearing the working name 'Hellas' at the stern. Other than what appear to be small openings in the forward superstructure at upper freight deck level, the resemblance to the still unrebuilt Channel Seaway (below) is clear.  (Picture below courtesy Bruce Peter)