Overview of Stena Europe
Stena Europe was christened as the Kronsprinsessan Victoria on 1st September 1980 at the Götaverken Arendal shipyard in Sweden. She was christened by H.M Queen Silvia of Sweden, who gave the new ferry the name of her (then) four year old Kronprinsessan (Crown Princess) Victoria. Stena Europe and her sister Prinsessan Birgitta (later Sealink's St. Nicholas, Stena Normandy, and Irish Ferries' Normandy) are notable in the fact that they were not ordered by Stena Line but by a direct competitor, Rederi AB Göteborg - Frederikshavn Linjen (who traded as Sessan Line), yet were delivered new to Stena.
Kronsprinsessan Victoria and her sister were ordered by Sessan Line for their Gothenburg to Fredrikshavn service on 15th February 1979 in order to replace much smaller vessels so the company could compete better with Stena Line who also operated the same route.
A few months after the official announcement that Sessan Line had ordered the two ferries, Stena responded by placing an order for 2 large ferries of their own with Chantiers du Nord et de la Mediterrane in Dunkirk, France for the same route. Unlike the Sessan Line ships, the two Stena Ships (which would become Stena Danica (4) and Stena Jutlandica (2)) where designed by Stena purely as 'day' ferries and optimised for the Fredrikshavn route, whereas the Sessan ships had been designed from the outset to be easily redeployed elsewhere such as the overnight Travemünde service as Sessan did not have the financial resources to build new ships for both routes. An example of this was the provision of over 600 cabin berths (over 200 of which were below the freight decks), yet the Fredrikshavn - Gothenburg crossing only took a few hours. Stena in contrast had the resources to order 4 huge overnight ferries from a Polish yard in addition to the 2 day ferries from France.
In 1981 while Kronsprinsessan Victoria was still undertaking sea trials and months before her delivery, Stena took a majority share in Sessan Line and formed a new company ‘Stena Sessan Line’.
Early career - Scandinavia
Unlike her sister, Stena Europe has only served with Stena owned companies throughout her career - namely Stena Line/Stena Sessan Line and Lion Ferry. For the first 11 months of that career, almost to the day, Kronsprinsessan Victoria served the Fredrikshavn - Gothenburg route for which she was built. In March 1982 she entered the dry dock at Gothenburg's Cityvarvet shipyard for the first of a number of rebuilds, in this case to a night ferry for the Gothenburg to Kiel service, though she also provided extra sailings on the route for which she was built in peak seasons. Following the introduction of the second of Stena's much delayed Polish built night ferries, Stena Scandinavica (now renamed Stena Spirit), Kronprinsessan Victoria returned to CItyvarvet for even more cabins to be added. This was to make her more suitable for the Oslo - Fredrikshavn route, which she joined in mid-May 1988 named Stena Saga, replacing the previous vessel to carry that name.
Stena Saga becomes Stena Europe for the first time
By 1994 Stena management had decided that they needed a larger and more luxurious vessel to further grow the Oslo - Fredrikshavn route, and so the decision was taken to swap Stena Saga with the Harwich - Hook of Holland vessel Stena Britannica (previously Silja Line's Silvia Regina which when launched in 1981 was together with her sister Finlandia the largest ferry in the world). As the Harwich - Hook of Holland service didn't require as many cabins but was a busier route for freight, the decision was taken to remove the additional cabin block which had been added to Stena Saga's top deck in the previous rebuild. This reduced the ships overall weight and so allowed more cargo to be carried. As it was now traditional for the Oslo - Fredrikshavn ship to be named Stena Saga, Stena Britannica took that name and the outgoing Stena Saga was given a new name - Stena Europe.
Stena Europe was a successful ship on the Harwich - Hook of Holland run, which isn't surprising considering the route had previously been successfully operated by her sister ship St. Nicholas (the former Prinsessan Birgitta) before Stena took over the route which had previously been a joint Dutch and British venture. Stena Europe continued on the England to Holland route until the arrival of the new Stena HSS 1500 vessel Stena Discovery in 1997, when Stena reallocated Stena Europe and her operating partner Koningin Beatrix (which had been acquired as part of the takeover of the Hook of Holland route) elsewhere in their network. Koningin Beatrix went to the Fishguard to Rosslare route to replace another former Scandinavian ferry, Stena Felicity, which was returned from charter to her owners. Meanwhile, Stena Europe was sent for refurbishment and renamed Lion Europe and repainted to operate for Stena's Lion Ferry subsidiary between Karlskrona (Southern Sweden) and Gdynia. However, in 1998 Stena integrated the Lion Ferry brand fully into Stena Line, and Lion Europe became Stena Europe again after little more than 6 months!
Stena Europe returns to UK waters
In 2002 the Karlskrona - Gdynia route was continuing to grow, and it was decided yet again to swap Stena Europe, this time with her former Harwich to Hook of Holland running mate Koningin Beatrix (which then became Stena Baltica after her own rebuild). In order to make her more suitable for the shorter Fishguard to Rosslare route, Stena Europe was sent back the same yard that converted her to a night ferry, Cityvarvet Gothenburg, for conversion back to a day ferry. This involved removing cabin accommodation which had been placed on the upper vehicle deck in her previous rebuild and refurbishing the passenger spaces.
Apart from periods where she has been required to go for maintenance or cover refit periods, Stena Europe has remained on the Fishguard - Rosslare route almost unbroken since 2002. In a further twist, she was reunited with her sister ship Prinsessan Birgitta in Rosslare between 1998 and 2007, which having been operated by Stena again as Stena Normandy between Southampton and Cherbourg was sold to Irish Ferries for operation between Cork/Rosslare and Cherbourg/Roscoff as Normandy. However she would also sail opposite Stena Europe on the competing Rosslare - Pembroke Dock route when the regular ship was unavailable. Normandy was was replaced by Oscar Wilde, and sold on for use as an accommodation ship in 2008 following a brief charter to Ferrymaroc, ending the reunion of the 2 sisters at Rosslare. However Normandy would never see service again and having been renamed ARV2 and abandoned in Singapore for 4 years was beached at Alang at the end of November 2012.
During her time operating on the Irish Sea, Stena Europe has been quite a regular visitor to Belfast's Harland and Wolff shipyard. She arrived there for her latest refit on 4th January 2017.
Title image: Stena Europe in Rosslare showing off her new livery following her 2017 refit at Harland and Wolff, Belfast. Stena Line.
Gotaverken Arendal, Gothenburg, Sweden
DNV-GL 1A1 Car ferry A Ice(1C) MCDK
|Conversion – Yard (month/year)|
|In service (original)|
|In service (Current route)|
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|Capacity (As built)|
|Vehicle deck configuration|
Twin vehicle decks accessed via 3 stern doors and one bow door. Single level loading and unloading through bow.
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