Drotten | DFDS / Destination Gotland

By: Steven Tarbox
Last updated:
Official image of DROTTEN wearing her previous name GOTLAND. Rederi AB Gotland.
Official image of DROTTEN wearing her previous name GOTLAND. Rederi AB Gotland.

Drotten Fast Facts

Current Name: DrottenPrevious Names: ex Gotland
Shipyard: Guangzhou Shipyard International Co. Ltd. (GSI) [CN], #9130005IMO Number: 9223796
Current Operator: DFDSCurrent Route: Dunkerque [FR] - Rosslare [IE]
Length Overall: 175.8mBeam: 25m
Passenger Capacity: 1500Vehicle Capacity: 1,800 lane metres of freight
Tonnage: 29,746Sister-ships: Visby

Design and Delivery

DROTTEN is the second of two fast-Ro-Pax sister-ships built in China for Rederi AB Gotland for operation by its subsidiary Destination Gotland. She was delivered in October 2003 as GOTLAND by Guangzhou Shipyard (GSI) to a design by Knud E. Hansen.

Both ships had been heavily delayed, with delivery having originally been contracted for 2001 delivery1. However, the contract price was just US$51.7m (SEK 550m) each, reportedly much lower than the cost for an equivalent vessel from a European yard.

GOTLAND (2003).  Image: Destination Gotland.
GOTLAND (2003). Image: Destination Gotland.

Swedish Service

The 2003-built ships replaced older and slower tonnage on routes from the main town on Gotland, Visby, to the Swedish mainland ports of Oskarshamn and Nynäshamn. Their introduction also considerably reduced the crossing time on both routes.

GOTLAND (2003), now VISBY. Image: Destination Gotland.
GOTLAND (2003), now VISBY. Image: Destination Gotland.

In late-2014, Rederi AB Gotland placed an order for the first of two of larger fast-Ro-Pax ferries. Designed to replace GOTLAND and VISBY in year-round service, these larger ferries would also be more efficient and powered by LNG rather than diesel. Their arrival in 2019 and 2020 meant that the now renamed DROTTEN and her sister were surplus to requirements for much of the year. Destination Gotland requires only a maximum of three large ships for the summer peak. This allowed both ships to be chartered to DFDS.


During February 2020, GOTLAND was renamed DROTTEN ahead of the official naming ceremony of the first of the two new ships, THJELVAR, which became the new GOTLAND (8). The renaming occurred because GOTLAND and VISBY are the traditional names for the main ships on Destination Gotland’s routes.

GOTLAND (2003) undergoing renaming to DROTTEN in late-February 2020. Image: Destination Gotland.
GOTLAND (2003) undergoing renaming to DROTTEN in late-February 2020. Image: Destination Gotland.


On Thursday July 23, 2009, GOTLAND collided with fleet-mate HSC GOTLANDIA II outside Nynäshamn in heavy fog. Some 1,338 passengers were onboard GOTLAND and 579 onboard GOTLANDIA II. Five people were seriously injured and at least ten sustained minor injuries according to a Reuters report at the time. Following the incident, the master of GOTLANDIA II was charged with negligence and put on trial.

DFDS charter

During January 2021, it was confirmed that DROTTEN would be joining her sister-ship on charter to DFDS for the “Brexit Buster” Dunkerque to Rosslare service. This route had been started at short notice on January 2, and was announced just over a month before the UK fully left the European Union.

DROTTEN replaced DFDS’s own vessel OPTIMA SEAWAYS on the route in late-January 2021 with the latter having spent less than a month on the Ireland – France route. OPTIMA SEAWAYS had always been intended to be a short-term deployment, and was required back on her usual Baltic Sea route.



The choice of VISBY and DROTTEN to operate such a lengthy route surprised many. Destination Gotland only operates domestic Swedish routes, and so their bespoke ships have no need for large shops or extensive onboard services.

While VISBY and DROTTEN are suitable for a freight-only route, DFDS has not ruled out accepting passengers on Rosslare – Dunkirk at a later date. It would seem likely that DFDS would replace the vessels with ships with more extensive passenger facilities should a passenger service be offered, however.

Like VISBY, DROTTEN is supplied to DFDS with her Swedish deck and engine crew, while the onboard services crew is supplied by DFDS. Unlike her sister, which is chartered utill May 2021, DROTTEN has been chartered by DFDS for a period of three months.

While designed to sail at 28.5 knots, the DFDS timetable allows 24 hours to complete the crossing between Ireland and France. This allows DROTTEN and VISBY to usually sail at considerably less than their design speed. That said, the vessels have been noted making use of their speed on delayed sailings

Vehicle access issues

Another quirk of the design of DROTTEN and VISBY is their vehicle access arrangements. Neither ship is fitted with any internal ramps. Consequently, access to the upper vehicle deck is only accessible via a port-side door forward or stern ramps on either side of the main deck ramp.

This access arrangements of the ships has caused issues on the Dunkerque – Rosslare route with both ships only able to operate as stern-loaders. Due to ramp incompatibility2 only one of the ramps to the upper vehicle deck can be deployed at Rosslare. In both ports, vehicles are required to either turn onboard the ship or reverse on.

First Crossing to Ireland

DROTTEN joined her sister on the Rosslare route in place of OPTIMA SEAWAYS from Wednesday January 29. Her maiden sailing to Rosslare scheduled for 10am local time was delayed by around 3.5 hours. DROTTEN had arrived at Dunkerque from Sweden on the morning of January 25. OPTIMA SEAWAYS also left Dunkerque on January 29, returning to her usual Klaipeda Karlshamn route.

At least initially, the route is for freight-only and aimed at hauliers wishing to avoid additional paperwork to re-enter the European Union. The first month also benefited from non-U.K. living drivers on routes from Ireland not requiring a Covid-19 test. However, from 27 January a test was required for all Irish traffic entering France too.

At the time of writing, it looks likely that DROTTEN will return to service with Destination Gotland on March 31. This will allow Destination Gotland to fulfil their contractual frequency as required by their public concession.

Passenger facilities onboard Drotten

Unlike a typical Ireland – France Ro-Pax or cruise ferry, DROTTEN is very much orientated towards a short high-density domestic passenger service,. That said, she does have 92 passenger cabins available on Deck 8. As a result of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, DFDS has a one driver per cabin policy on the Rosslare route.

Onboard Facilities

  • Food market restauarant
  • Bistro
  • Shop
  • Three Children’s Play Area’s
  • A variety of different lounge spaces providing a total of 1,500 seats
    (Forward lounge, Economy lounge, Food Market lounge, and Aft lounge)
  • Outside “sun deck”
  • Passenger Cabins

Visby / Drotten Deck Plans

Deck 7

Side view of the deck layout onboard VISBY and DROTTEN.  Image: Destination Gotland.
Side view of the deck layout onboard VISBY and DROTTEN. Image: Destination Gotland.

The public accommodation of DROTTEN is on Deck 7. This is designed around her intended routes to Gotland which have a crossing time of around three hours, and consists mainly of lounge space and “airline” seating.

Deck 7 layout plan for VISBY and DROTTEN. Image: Destination Gotland.
Deck 7 layout plan for VISBY and DROTTEN. Image: Destination Gotland.

Deck 8

Deck 8 is the passenger cabin deck and also houses a conference room. Destination Gotland refers to the cabins as “Day Cabins“. The “sun deck” is also located on Deck 8. This includes a sheltered area aft for smokers.

Deck 8 layout plan for VISBY and DROTTEN. Image: Destination Gotland.
Deck 8 layout plan for VISBY and DROTTEN. Image: Destination Gotland.

The navigation bridge and crew accommodation are situated on Deck 9.

A small selection of photographs taken onboard VISBY by Gary Andrews during 2019 follows. DROTTEN is virtually identical inside to her sister.

Drotten Technical Data

IMO Number92237963


ClassSF1500 fast Ro-Pax ferry
Building YardGuangzhou Shipyard International Co. Ltd, Guangzhou, China
Hull Number#91300053
Naval Architect Knud E. Hansen, Denmark4
Interior designer and architect Klaus P. Horn, Denmark4
Contract Date 24.06.19993
Keel Laid#91300053
Completion / Delivery
Hull Number#9130005


Lloyds Register of Shipping (on delivery)

DNV-GL (since September 2005)3

Type: 410 Car Ferry
Additional Class Notations1A1 Car ferry A BIS E0 Ice(1A) TMON3
OwnerRederi AB Gotland3
Current Operator DFDS
Vessel Management Destination Gotland AB3
In service (Destination Gotland) 01.12.2003 (Visby - Nynäshamn / Oskarshamn
Usual RouteDunkerque [FR] - Rosslare [IE]
Length Overall195.8 m3
Length B.P.176 m3
Beam25.00 m3
Draught6.413 m3 (design)

Gross Tonnage

Number of Decks10


4 x Wärtsilä 12v 46c marine Diesel engines, each outputting 12,600 kw at 500rpm5. Each pair of engines turns one of two KaMeWa propellers through a Flender reduction gearbox at 150 rpm

3 x Wärtsilä 9L203 auxiliary engines

2 x 1,800 kW shaft generators5

2 x Kamewa TT2400 cp3 1,700 kW transverse tunnel bow thrusters
Exhaust Gas Emissions ReductionSiemens Sinox SCR (Selective Catalytic Reduction)
(maximum emission of 2g NOx/kWH) (gotlandsbolaget.se. 2020. M/S Visby. [online] Available at: <https://gotlandsbolaget.se/en/publikationer/ms-visby/> [Accessed 27 January 2021].))
Power (Max)50,400 kW (68,525 BHP)4
Design Speed 28.5 knots4
Fuel Consumption200t/24h at design speed (730 cst)4
Stabilisers Rolls-Royce fin stabilisers4
Access EquipmentTTS4

Passenger Capacity

Passenger Cabins 80 x two-berth outside cabins4
39 x four-berth inside cabins4
(The above figures are as-built. According to Destination Gotland, there are presently only 112 passenger cabins available. DFDS states that there are only 92 passenger cabins.)

Vehicle capacity

1,800 lane metres of freight or 520 passenger cars or a mix of both
Lane Metre BreakdownUpper vehicle deck: 900 lane metres / 270 cars (4.85m free height)4
Main vehicle deck: 900 lane metres / 250 cars (4.85m free height)4
Vehicle accessAccess through the stern at a single level using fixed ramps to the upper vehicle deck
Twin level bow access via a clamshell-type bow door and ramp to the main deck, and a side door leading to the upper deck.

Flag state (port)

Sweden (VISBY)
As-built sister-shipsVisby
Technical data for Drotten. These details are believed to be correct at the time of publication, but may be subject to change.

Further Reading

There is a detailed feature on VISBY in Shippax Guide 04 in which she is the theme vessel.

References and Further Reading
  1. Brogren, K. (Ed.). (2003, Nov). Visby. Cruise and Ferry Info, (Nov 2003).[]
  2. Hotloff, P. (Ed.). (2021, Jan). Ro-Ro News. Cruise and Ferry Info, (January 2021).[]
  3. Vesselregister.dnvgl.com. 2020. DNV GL Vessel Register. [online] Available at: <https://vesselregister.dnvgl.com/vesselregister/vesselregister.html> [Accessed 26 January 2021].[][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][]
  4. Brogren, K. (Ed.). (2003, Sept). Visby. DESIGNS 03, (Sept 2003).[][][][][][][][][][][]
  5. Brogren, K. (Ed.). (2003, Sept). Visby. DESIGNS 03, (Sept 2010).[][]

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