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, which had been established at the initiative of an Åland sea captain, Gunnar Eklund.
Three shipping companies – Vikinglinjen Ab, Rederi AB Slite and Ålandsfärjan Ab (later SF Line Ab) – soon began working together through a joint marketing company called Oy Viking Line Ab. After two of the holding companies ceased trading, the marketing company became a wholly owned subsidiary of SF Line. Today it operates under the trading name Viking Line Abp and is the market-leading cruise and ferry line in the Baltic.
More than fifty vessels have sailed in the fleets of the Viking shipping companies since regular ferry traffic began in 1959. Over the decades, the size, service concepts and range of attractions of these vessels have undergone dramatic changes – from the humble second-hand car ferries of the early years to the impressive fleet of today.
Viking Line vessels combine the luxury and sumptuousness of cruise ships with high-capacity vehicle decks, thereby meeting the needs of cargo traffic and of tourists who wish to continue their journey by car. In chronological order, this book briefly presents these vessels, which have greatly contributed to the emergence of modern Baltic Sea ferry services.