Visby | DFDS / Destination Gotland

By: Steven Tarbox
Last updated:
Destination Gotland's VISBY seen at Nynäshamn during 2019. Image: © Gary Andrews
Destination Gotland's VISBY seen at Nynäshamn during 2019. Image: © Gary Andrews

Visby Fast Facts

Current Name: VisbyPrevious Names: to be renamed Visborg once DFDS charter expires
Shipyard: Guangzhou Shipyard International Co. Ltd. (GSI) [CN], #91300004, 9130004IMO Number: 9223784
Current Operator: DFDSCurrent Route: Dunkerque [FR] - Rosslare [IE]
Length Overall: 176Beam: 25
Passenger Capacity: 1500Vehicle Capacity: 1,800 lane metres of freight
Tonnage: 29,746 gtSister-ships: Drotten

Design and Delivery

VISBY is one 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 January 2003 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. VISBY provided a valuable reference for GSI which at the time the shipyard was looking to enter the Northern European ferry market.

Due to concerns about the war in Iraq, VISBY took the longer route around Africa during her delivery voyage to Europe, rather than transiting the Suez Canal. This added around three weeks extra sailing time to Sweden1.

Destination Gotland's VISBY seen during 2019. Image: © Gary Andrews
Destination Gotland’s VISBY seen during 2019 at Nynäshamn. Image: © Gary Andrews

VISBY has one sister-ship, DROTTEN (ex GOTLAND). An option for two further ships of the same type was never exercised.

Swedish Service

The introduction of the two new ships reduced the crossing time between Visby and Nynäshamn to three hours and fifteen minutes. Previously it had taken five hours to cross between the ports1.

Until 2020, VISBY had only sailed on routes from the main town on Gotland, Visby, to the Swedish mainland ports of Oskarshamn and Nynashamn.

The VISBY and her sister DROTTEN were joined by two new-builds in 2019/2020. These were also built by GSI but are powered by LNG rather than Diesel. As the company only requires two large ferries much of the year and only three in summer, this opened up charter opportunities.

VISBY. Gotlandsbolaget
VISBY. Gotlandsbolaget

DFDS charter

During December 2020, DFDS confirmed previous rumours that they had chartered VISBY for their new “Brexit-buster” Dunkerque to Rosslare route. This followed an earlier announcement by Rederi AB Gotland that they had agreed to charter VISBY to an unnamed party for six months.

The choice of VISBY to operate a lengthy freight 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. The route had been started at short notice, and was announced just over a month before the UK fully left the European Union.

VISBY is supplied to DFDS with her Swedish deck and engine crew. However, onboard services crew are provided by DFDS. While designed to sail at 28.5 knots, the DFDS timetable allows 24 hours to complete the crossing between Ireland and France and so VISBY usually sails at a significantly slower speed.

DFDS fleet-mates VISBY and DUNKERQUE SEAWAYS seen together at Dunkerque on the morning of December 29, 2020. Copyright © Mike Louagie.
DFDS fleet-mates VISBY and DUNKERQUE SEAWAYS seen together at Dunkerque on the morning of December 29, 2020. Copyright © Mike Louagie.

Although designed to load through both bow and stern, in practice VISBY operates as a stern-only loading vessel on the Rosslare route due to ramp incompatibility2. As a result, all vehicles are required to either turn while onboard or reverse on to the ship.

First Crossing to Ireland

VISBY made her first crossing between Dunkerque and Rosslare on January 2, leaving then French port at 10pm local time with a reported load of 34 trucks and 14 unaccompanied trailers. She arrived at Rosslare for the first time on January 4.

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 to.

Sisters Re-united

In late-January 2021, DROTTEN joined her sister on the Rosslare route in place of OPTIMA SEAWAYS. DROTTEN has initially been chartered for three months while VISBY is currently chartered until May.

Passenger facilities onboard Visby

VISBY is very much orientated towards a short high-density domestic passenger service unlike the typical Ireland – France Ro-Pax or cruise ferry. That said, she does have 92 passenger cabins available.

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 VISBY 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.

Visby Technical Data

IMO Number92237843


ClassSF1500 fast Ro-Pax ferry
Building YardGuangzhou Shipyard International Co. Ltd, Guangzhou, China
Hull Number91300043
Naval Architect Knud E. Hansen, Denmark4
Interior designer and architect Claus P. Horn, Denmark5
Contract Date 24.06.19993
Keel Laid91300043
Completion / Delivery
Hull Number9130004


Lloyds Register of Shipping (on delivery)

DNV-GL (since December 2006)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) 28.03.2003
Usual RouteDunkerque [FR] - Rosslare [IE]
Length Overall195.8 m3
Length B.P.176.00 m3
Beam25.00 m3
Draught6.4 m3 (design)

Gross Tonnage

Number of Decks10


4 x Wärtsilä 12v 46c marine Diesel engines, each outputting 12,600 kw at 500rpm4. 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 generators4

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) ( 2020. M/S Visby. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 27 January 2021].))
Power (Max)50,400 kW (68,525 BHP)6
Design Speed 28.5 knots6
Fuel Consumption200t/24h at design speed (730 cst)6
Stabilisers Rolls-Royce fin stabilisers6
Access EquipmentTTS6

Passenger Capacity

Passenger Cabins 80 x two-berth outside cabins6
39 x four-berth inside cabins6
(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)6
Main vehicle deck: 900 lane metres / 250 cars (4.85m free height)6
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-shipsDrotten
Technical data for Visby. 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. 2020. DNV GL Vessel Register. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 26 January 2021].[][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][]
  4. Brogren, K. (Ed.). (2003, Sept). Visby. DESIGNS 03, (Sept 2010).[][][]
  5. Brogren, K. (Ed.). (2003, Sept). Visby. DESIGNS 03, (Sept 2010).[]
  6. Brogren, K. (Ed.). (2003, Sept). Visby. DESIGNS 03, (Sept 2003).[][][][][][][][][]

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