Making her maiden sailing on the evening of 23 January 2022, AURA SEAWAYS marked a big day for DFDS’ Baltic operation.
Operating on the Klaipėda, Lithuania, to Karlshamn, Sweden, route, the ship is now DFDS’ largest RoPax ferry. She boasts a capacity of 4,500 vehicle lane metres and 600 passengers.
Jonas Nazarovas, Managing Director of DFDS Seaways, Lithuania said;
“We have never had a ferry of this size in Klaipėda before. In terms of cargo capacity, it is probably the largest ro-pax ferry in the Baltic Sea at the moment, capable of carrying a 4.5 km long line of cars. Its rear ramps for car entry, cargo decks and passenger public areas look impressive.”DFDS Press Release 24 January 2022.
AURA SEAWAYS’ first voyage to Karlshamn carried more than 3,000 lane metres of cargo and 330 passengers (including truck drivers). They were looked after by her 49 Lithuanian crew members. The ferry will sail daily between Sweden and Lithuania, a trip of around 11 hours.
Significantly enhanced customer experience
As with many of the latest ropax designs, AURA SEAWAYS moves far past the perception of rather utilitarian design and offers a style closer to a cruiseferry interior.
For the first time on DFDS Baltic routes, separate facilities are provided for freight drivers.
Jonas Nazarovas comments
“Freight transport is one of our core services. Our ferries are used by many drivers, and we are very happy to be able to offer them even more comfortable journeys. For the convenience of our drivers, the ferry has a separate dining and rest area. So, I hope that both drivers and passengers will welcome the new vessel’s facilities.”DFDS Press Release 24 January 2022.
There are spacious public areas including three restaurants, three bars, a shop and a children’s play area. For passengers this includes the a la carte Mare Balticum Restaurant, the Lighthouse Café and Captain’s Bar.
Significantly, the ship does not offer reclining seats and instead all passengers will travel in 2 or 4-berth cabins.
Improving the carbon footprint
Anders Refsgaard, DFDS Vice President and Head of the Baltic Region commented;
“This is an extraordinary day for all of us. Aura Seaways is the first newbuild passenger vessel contracted by DFDS since 1982. We will finally be able to offer our customers increased capacity, more comfortable and quality journeys for passengers and truck drivers, more services and modern facilities, which will make for an even better travel experience. The new ferry also better reflects our sustainability ambition to reduce CO2 emissions by 45% by 2030. Aura Seaways complies with EEDI (Energy Efficiency Design Index) standards. The ferry’s CO2 emissions per semi-trailer moved will be 20% lower than those of our current ferries”DFDS Press Release 24 January 2022.
The ship is also fitted with seven hybrid scrubbers.
An 11,000 mile journey to Lithuania
The ferry’s journey from the shipyard in China to Klaipėda took 28 days. She departed her builders Guangzhou Shipyard International Co Ltd (GSI) on 20 December 2021.
After leaving China, the ferry had to make a 120 nautical mile detour to avoid a typhoon that was raging there. A call at Singapore followed on 24 December. On its way to the Suez Canal, along the Somali coast, AURA SEAWAYS sailed with armed guards to protect itself from terrorist and pirate attacks. At the time, the ship was under a special self-security regime with strict procedures.
Completing the journey through Suez on 5 January, she then made a stunning sight at Grand Harbour Valletta 7 – 8 January. She also picked up additional crew there.
The next stop was to be Karlshamn on 16 January. The AURA SEAWAYS called at the new berth and linkspan, (No. 3) specially constructed by Port of Karlshamn for the new vessel type. Additionally, Berth no. 2 has been reconstructed with a wider linkspan to allow it also to be used by the new class of ship. Port of Karlshamn has invested SEK 250 Million (approximately 25 Million Euro). This is a project is co-financed by the EU.
After covering 11,000 nautical miles, AURA SEAWAYS docked at her Lithuanian homeport on the night of 17 January 2022.
Another week of preparatory work and inspection by the Lithuanian and Danish maritime administrations followed before she was to enter service.
Vytautas Valteras, captain of Aura Seaways and a long-time DFDS employee, shared his impressions of this extraordinary journey:
“The voyage from China to Lithuania was very exciting as such a long ferry journey is not something you are used to. The Gulf of Aden, the Suez Canal, the Strait of Malacca are places that excite every sailor. All in all, it was a smooth journey, and minor technical issues are to be expected, especially when the ship is fresh from the shipyard.”
Another to follow
An identical sistership, LUNA SEAWAYS is currently nearing completion and should be in service during the Spring. She is also to serve the Klaipėda – Karlshamn route.
The arrival of the ‘Aura allowed the charter of the KERRY to come to end. Initially, the ‘Aura is sailing alongside the PATRIA SEAWAYS. Previous indications suggest that the PATRIA SEAWAYS will return to the Paldsiki – Kapellskär route to join SIRENA SEAWAYS.
The Kiel – Klaipėda route is expected to continue to be served by VICTORIA SEAWAYS and ATHENA SEAWAYS. BELGIA SEAWAYS has started sailing on this route today too, due to demand for capacity.
Of the other DFDS Baltic ropaxes, REGINA SEAWAYS is on an internal charter to the Dunkerque – Rosslare route and the fate of the OPTIMA SEAWAYS has not been declared so far.
DFDS also has roro vessels from Klaipeda to Køge and Fredericia. The current vessels on these services are ARK DANIA and BOTNIA SEAWAYS, these vessels also regularly operate additional sailings on the Kiel and Karlshamn ropax routes.
The ship at a glance
- Year of construction: 2021
- Vessel length: 230 m
- Vessel width: 32 m
- Cargo capacity: 4500 lane metres
- Passenger capacity: 600
- Deadweight: 12750 t.
- Engines: Four main engines with a total installed power of 33600 kW. Two of the engines are 6 cylinder type and two are 8 cylinder type. All main engines are from Wärtsilä 46F-series and produced in Trieste, Italy.