A new era in passenger travel between the Finnish mainland, the Åland Islands and Sweden began late in the spring of 1959. That was when the first genuine Baltic Sea car ferry, the S/S Viking, was placed in service for Viking Line by a new company called Vikinglinjen Ab.
The company had been established at the initiative of an Åland sea captain, Gunnar Eklund. On June 1, the vessel undertook its maiden voyage on the route between Galtby (Åland)–Mariehamn (Åland)–Gräddö (Sweden). Many people viewed these new ferry ventures with great scepticism, but they later realised that this was the first phase of an almost revolutionary expansion in ferry communications between the Finnish mainland, Åland and Sweden.