Dark Clouds For BIRGER JARL — Updated

Dark Clouds for Birger Jarl

by Kalle Id

The on-again, off-again saga of the classic cruise ship BIRGER JARL took a new turn in late June, when her owners Rederi AB Allandia (who trade as Ånedin Linjen) made it public that they would cease trading on 1st July 2013. This leaves the future of the 60-year-old pocket liner BIRGER JARL in jeopardy.

The BIRGER JARL seen departing Mariehamn in Midsummer 2012. Photo copyright Kalle Id.
The BIRGER JARL seen departing Mariehamn in Midsummer 2012. Photo copyright Kalle Id.

The BIRGER JARL has been making one-night cruises out of Stockholm since 1979. This market has been experiencing steady decline during the past years, with all three opeators in it – Viking Line, Birka Cruises and Ånedin Linjen – struggling to make ends meet. Ånedin, a one-ship company with more limited resources than its competitors, was the first to succumb to the pressure and in December 2012 applied for a debt restructuring process at the Stockhoml district court. The BIRGERL JARL continued sailing on a reduced schedule while the restructuring was ongoing, but passenger numbers for the summer season did not grow as expected. On 25 June Rederi AB Allandia stated they would cease trading from the beginning of July. According to the company managing director Magnus Strauch, operating on the Baltic Sea is simply not profitable in the current economic situation.

The end of Ånedin Linjen leaves the future of the BIRGER JARL in the dark. It seems unlikely that a new operator can be found to continue operating her in cruise service – at least not without a radically different business model. The ship has been included in Sweden’s registry for historically and culturally important ships since 2010, which should make it more difficult to sell her to scrap outright – but it will also make it more difficult for the ship to be sold outside Sweden for further serive. Things are not helped by the fact that since 2010 the BIRGER JARL has been operating under a special SOLAS exemption and there is no guarantee a possible future operator would be granted such an exemption.

Update: July 2, 2013: The latest news on the Birger Jarl is that while Ånedin Linjen have stopped trading, the restructuring process is still ongoing and currently the company are working on a plan to turn the BIRGER JARL into a hotel ship in Stockholm.

Update: July 11, 2013:  Things have been moving very fast for the BIRGER JARL since the last update. Earlier this week, the ship opened as a floating hostel. She is still moored by the Ånedin Linjen terminal, right at the center of Stockholm’s Old Town, a near-ideal location for a hostel. According to Ånedin Linjen’s webiste, the ship’s restaurants and bars will also open to the public at a later date.

For more information, visit Ånedin Hostel’s website at www.anedinhostel.com

 

For more photographs by Kalle Id, including additional images of the BIRGER JARL, please visit kships.blogspot.com.

Kalle Id

Kalle Id

Kalle Id, MaritimeMatters' Helsinki correspondent, is a Finnish maritime historian, photographer and journalist, with a Master's Degree in history from the University of Helsinki. His early-age exposure to ferry travel led to a lifetime fascination with passenger ships, both the cruise ferries of his home waters and the cruise ships and ferries of further afield. Kalle maintains his own ship photography blog at kships.blogspot.com. Contrary to the popular belief, he writes under his real name.
Kalle Id
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