WASA EXPRESS is a 1981-built Ro-Pax ferry which is owned and operated by United Marine Egypt (UME). The ship previously carried the same name for Wasaline in service between Vassa and Umeå. She was replaced on that route by the new-build AURORA BOTNIA.
Originally named TRAVEMUNDE, Wasa Express was designed and built by Wärtsilä’s Helsinki yard for Gedser-Travemünde Ruten. She has the distinction of being the ferry Wärtsilä-built passenger vessel to be powered by main engines designed by the company.
WASA EXPRESS has had a varied career taking in much of Europe. This includes The Baltic, English Channel, Skagerrak, Mediterranean, and even the Canary Islands. She has also carried a number of different names during her career including SALLY STAR, COLOR TRAVELLER, and THJELVAR.
The design of WASA EXPRESS was loosely based on Viking Line’s TURELLA. Passenger accommodation is spread out over three decks, and there are two full vehicle decks for carrying freight and passenger cars. As-built she had drive-through loading on both levels. Upper bow loading is via side doors while lower the lower level is accessed via a visor. Stern access is via two shore to ship ramps.
During 1997, the then SALLY STAR went to Lloyd-Weft for rebuilding work. This included the addition of stern “duck tail” sponsons for improved stability, fitting additional cabins, interior refurbishment, and mechanical upgade work. Following this she entered service for Rederi AB Gotland as THJELVAR. Rederi AB Gotland had actually owned the vessel since 1988 but having lost the concession to operate ferries to Gotland had chosen to charter her out until required. Another significant modification made from her as-built configuration was the addition of a bulbous bow in 2004 before she entered service with Color Line as COLOR TRAVELLER.
In 2020 a battery system was fitted so that the ship could run on only one generator instead of two.
Veteran Northern European ferry Wasa Express will soon sail south for Egypt and a new career in the Red Sea with UME.