Tallink has announced that VICTORIA I will be used on the Helsinki to Tallinn cruiseferry trade. The vessel recently completed a charter to the Scottish Government housing Ukrainian migrants.
The ferry will connect the two Nordic capitals starting from Thursday 12 October 2023.
The Estonian ferry company has announced that tickets for VICTORIA I will go on sale from 12 September. Bookings can be made at tallink.com.
VICTORIA I will depart Helsinki at 1830, taking a leisurely cruise to Tallinn, arriving at 2200. The ship’s return journey departs Tallinn at 1230, arriving at 1600. The ship is available to three types of passengers;
- Cruise passengers from Helsinki who will enjoy the roundtrip cruise and are allowed to spend time in Tallinn after breakfast.
- One-way passengers from Helsinki who spend the night onboard and disembark after breakfast.
- One-way passengers and their vehicles from Tallinn and Helsinki who use the ship purely as a ferry.
Not normal service
The introduction of the VICTORIA I marks a return to Tallink’s pre-pandemic presence on the Tallinn to Helsinki route. There will be 7 sailings each way between Finland and Estonia. MEGASTAR and MYSTAR provide the bulk of the service with their ‘Tallink Shuttle’ crossings.
Prior to the Covid pandemic, the Helsinki to Tallinn cruise role had belonged to the SILJA EUROPA. This is a role she fulfilled from 2013 to 2014 and from 2016 until the March 2020 health crisis. Lay-up was followed by charters in 2021 for the G7 Summit in Falmouth and COP26 event in Glasgow. Although the cruise trade from Helsinki to Tallinn resumed in late 2021, reduced demand during the pandemic seen regular periods of service suspension. Although a regular cruise pattern was offered during summer 2022, the service came to an end that August when the SILJA EUROPA was chartered to house migrants in the Netherlands. SILJA EUROPA is due to remain in that trade until the end of 2023.
Victoria I charters
Pre Covid, since being built in 2004, VICTORIA I had spent most of her career on the Stockholm to Tallinn route. Withdrawn from her normal route at the start of the Global Pandemic, VICTORIA I was initially laid up, followed by spending the summer period on the Helsinki to Tallinn cruise trade. She also operated on both the Stockholm to Riga and Stockholm to Tallinn routes in the last quarter of 2020.
VICTORIA I was laid up for the first half of 2021 before being chartered to the Moroccan Government. Marketed by Intershipping, she sailed Tangier Med – (Tarragona) – Sète during summer 2021. Apart from some occasional periods on the Helsinki to Tallinn cruise trade during the first half of 2022, VICTORIA I was to see no further Tallink service.
In July 2022, the Scottish Government chartered VICTORIA I to house Ukrainian migrants at Leith, Edinburgh. The charter was initially for six months but eventually lasted a year. A plan by the UK Government to then use the ship failed when it was unable to secure a port willing to host the vessel.
Following an overhaul on the Tyne, VICTORIA I arrived back at her Tallinn homeport on 31 July. Tallink said that an announcement would follow on her use by early September.
Company welcomes ship back
Commenting on the decision to add capacity to the Tallinn-Helsinki route, Paavo Nõgene, CEO of Tallink Grupp said:
“Passenger numbers on the Tallinn-Helsinki route have shown steady growth and customer demand is there for the cruise product to return, so I am pleased that we are able to meet that demand.
VICTORIA I has had a good make-over in the last month and she is ready to offer our customers amazing experiences on the Baltic Sea again. With the best food, amazing entertainment and convenient departures for a trip to Tallinn, she is once again ready to serve our good customers”Tallink Press Release 5 September 2023
Other vessels remain outside Tallink fleet
With VICTORIA I returning to the active Tallink fleet, uncertainty remains over if or when other vessels return. As reported yesterday, ROMANTIKA’s charter to Holland Norway Line has ended due to the bankruptcy of that company.
Four other vessels have ongoing charters;
- SILJA EUROPA remains on charter until 31 December 2023. She is housing migrants in the Netherlands.
- GALAXY is also housing migrants in Holland. Her charter is believed to currently be due to last until October 2023.
- ATLANTIC VISION (ex-SUPERFAST IX) is on charter to Marine Atlantic until May 2024. There is an option for a 12-month extension.
- ISABELLE was chartered to floating accommodation specialist Bridgemans from 1 July. This is a long-term charter with an option to buy.
- OSCAR WILDE (ex-STAR) is on charter to Irish Ferries from April 2022 for 20 months with 2 extensions of 2 years possible. There is also a purchase option.