Tallink Charters Out Their Largest Ship

by Kalle Id

The Estonian ferry operator Tallink Grupp made public on Monday 21st July an agreement to charter out their largest vessel, the 1993-built SILJA EUROPA, to Bridgemans Services Ltd of Canada for 14 months (with the option of extending the charter to 48 months) from August 2014 onwards. The charterers will use the ship as an accommodation vessel for a project related to liquidised natural gas in northern Australia.

The SILJA EUROPA departing Helsinki in summer 2013, recently repainted with Tallink hull and funnel markings. Photo copyright © 2013 Kalle Id.
The SILJA EUROPA departing Helsinki in summer 2013, recently repainted with Tallink hull and funnel markings. Photo copyright © 2013 Kalle Id.

At just shy on 60,000 gross tons and a capacity for over 3,100 passengers, the SILJA EUROPA is the largest ferry to have operated in regular service on the northern Baltic Sea. Although she spent most of her career in the waters sailing for Silja Line, she was originally ordered by the Sweden-based Rederi AB Slite for service with Silja’s biggest competitors Viking Line. Acute financial difficulties of the Slite company, combined with questionable conduct by their main funders Nordbanken (who also funded Silja Line’s then-owners EffJohn), resulted in the EUROPA, as she was originally named, being chartered to Silja Line on completion as the SILJA EUROPA. She remained in the Silja Line fleet until 2013, sailing on the routes from Helsinki and Turku to Stockholm, when she was transferred to the fleet of Silja’s current parent company Tallink for service on the Helsinki-Tallinn 22-hour cruise route. Unusually, she retained her Silja-prefixed name.

The then-brand new SILJA EUROPA departing Helsinki in summer 1993, still in the original white-funneled Silja Line livery. The funnel was repainted blue after only a few years in service. Photo copyright © 1993 Jukka Huotari.
The then-brand new SILJA EUROPA departing Helsinki in summer 1993, still in the original white-funneled Silja Line livery. The funnel was repainted blue after only a few years in service. Photo copyright © 1993 Jukka Huotari.
The SILJA EUROPA's place on the lucrative 22-hour cruise service from Helsinki to Tallinn will be taken over by Tallink's flagship, the 2009-built BALTIC QUEEN. Photo copyright © 2014 Kalle Id.
The SILJA EUROPA’s place on the lucrative 22-hour cruise service from Helsinki to Tallinn will be taken over by Tallink’s flagship, the 2009-built BALTIC QUEEN. Photo copyright © 2014 Kalle Id.

Now, citing the need for fleet optimisation due to the sulphur emission control area regulations coming into effect in the beginning of 2015, Tallink have chartered out the SILJA EUROPA. Her departure from the Tallink fleet will result in a fleet reorganisation: the BALTIC QUEEN will move from the Stockholm-Tallinn route to the Helsinki-Tallinn route, replacing the SILJA EUROPA. The BALTIC QUEEN’s place on the Stockholm-Tallinn route will be taken over by the ROMANTIKA transferring from the Stockholm-Riga route. The latter will not be replaced on the Stockholm-Riga route, which means the service will be downgraded to a single ship operation with departures ever other day, instead of the current daily overnight service.


Editor’s Note from Martin Cox: Kalle Id is MaritimeMatters’ Helsinki correspondent with his own Blog at: http://kships.blogspot.com/ and author of the 2014 book Silja Line: From De Samseglande to Tallink SiljaBookpages 1 From Ferry Publications web shop at ferrypubs.co.uk

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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