In February 2018 Moby Lines announced a joint Letter of Intent with GNV for four new Ropax ferries from the Guangzhou Shipyard International (GSI) shipyard in China. Each company was to receive two vessels, with options for a further two each.
Following that LOI, a prolonged period of negotiation saw Moby Line finalise their portion of the order in June 2019.
Moby used OSK Shiptech as their naval architects and designers, to produce a design which would see each new vessel replace a ferry and a roro freighter. At 237 metres, and 69,500gt, these vessels can accommodate 2,500 passengers and 3,800 lane metres.
GNV ultimately decided on a different approach and placed a separate order for four vessels of a different design, though also from GSI.
In June 2023 the first ship in the order, MOBY FANTASY entered service on the Livorno – Olbia route. MOBY LEGACY will follow later in 2024.
Vast vehicle deck space
On MOBY FANTASY, vehicles are carried on several levels. Deck 3 and 5 are a pair of full height trailer decks. Passenger cars are carried on Deck 7 and 8.
Vehicle access is stern only, via a trio of ramps. The centre ramp takes vehicles to the main Deck 3, with the outer ramps leading directly to Deck 5, from where the cars continue to 7 and 8.
The design also has a Deck 1 tank top space which would be sacrificed for LNG tanks if the ships were converted to LNG with this possibility built in from the outset.
The port side ramp incorporates the foot passenger access, including an escalator in 2 sections which takes foot passengers from Deck 3 up to the reception area on Deck 9.
Deck 9 Aft
The main public rooms are all to be found on Deck 9.
Starting at the aft end, a pair of reclining seat lounges fill the width of the stern space.
Moving forwards, to port is the reception desk and space, with the escalators and a trio of lifts from the car decks. The same space to starboard houses cabins, mostly wheelchair accessible. By placing those cabins here, the company have cleverly eliminated the need to travel between decks for those with limited mobility.
Huge Sports Bar
The next part of the ship contains a full width sports bar. This is the biggest public room on the ship.
At the aft end of the Sports Bar is a smallish children’s play area to starboard, and a shop to port. For anyone more used to seeing the shops on Northern European ferries, and especially cruise ferries, this shop seems tiny. But it is a reflection of the trade available on a domestic route.
The Sports Bar contains an extensive n shaped counter at the forward end, and it is here that Moby have brought the biggest innovation to the ship.
Moby have introduced the Gusti Giusti concept for the onboard catering. Designed to offer quality and variety, it means passengers have a choice of snack style counters. Each is designed in a way to accentuate the visual appeal of what is on offer and the overall effect both here, and in the self-service Bistro, is a presentation which looks like a very upmarket Patisserie and Deli counter in Paris or Milan.
As with other Moby vessels, the provision of the catering is done by Ligabue, who also provide catering on some cruise ships.
More dining options
Moving forwards, in the centre of the ship is the kitchen. To starboard is a lounge. To port is the A.O Grill a la carte restaurant, and further seating.
The A.O. Grill space is inboard, adjacent to the kitchen with large windows into it to make a kind of show kitchen effect. To let in some natural light to the restaurant, the wall to the adjacent corridor has large openings. At the entrance to the A. O. Grill is a meat locker enabling passengers to see the different cuts and quality on offer.
The final internal public space is the Bistro. It too is based on the Gusti Giusti concept, and offers a similarly visually appealing selection.
Cabins and Deck Space
Deck 10 is given over to cabins.
Moving on to Deck 11, amidships is an outdoor bar It has extensive windbreaks, meaning it can be used even when the vessel is travelling at her full service speed.
Onboard MOBY FANTASY feels vast and well built. But she is also very different from the Moby newbuilds of the recent past such as ‘Aki, ‘Wonder and ‘Freedom. Gone are the Looney Tunes themed areas and characters, and the ship is almost devoid of artwork. This is also reflected on the hull, where the livery has reverted to the “blue whale” and giant word Moby which was used prior to the cartoon liveries.
Whilst each public space is large, there is nothing as spectacular as the forward lounge on the ‘Aki, ‘Wonder and ‘Freedom.
The economic rationale of new, more efficient vessels, replacing two with one seems clear. Moby has also been explicit in recognising that off season, some of the facilities on MOBY FANTASY will not be open, further reducing cost. The hull design of the new ships, and overall improvements in efficiency mean that Moby anticipate fuel consumption will be reduced by 30% compared to the earlier generation of ships. The anticipated service speed is 23.5kts with the ships being capable of 25kts.
Once Moby Legacy enters service on the Olbia route, she will displace the second of the former large Tirrenia vessels, the recently rebranded MOBY VINCI. Ultimately Moby may then accelerate the disposal of some fleet members.
With special thanks to Shipadvisor without whom this article would not have been possible.