Stena RoRo orders a 13th E-Flexer for Corsica Linea

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Stena RoRo has placed an order for yet another Ro-Pax-class E-Flexer vessel from the Chinese shipyard CMI Jinling (Weihai). [announcement]

The vessel will be delivered in the first quarter of 2026 to Corsica Linea and will operate between Marseille and Corsica.

The vessels’ engines are of the multi-fuel type and can run on LNG, conventional marine fuel (MGO) or biodiesel. The vessels have been designed in line with future environmental requirements and, through their technical design, can meet both existing and future international requirements by a wide margin. The vessels will be designed with the classification society notation “Battery power” which means that in the future the vessels will also be able to utilize batteries as a means of propulsion.

This is Stena RoRo’s thirteenth vessel in the E-Flexer series and the first to be delivered to the Mediterranean region.

With the acquisition of FRS Iberia/Maroc, DFDS officially enters the Strait of Gibraltar

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DFDS has completed the acquisition of FRS Iberia/Maroc and thus enters the Strait of Gibraltar short-sea ferry market connecting Spain and Morocco. [announcement]

The acquisition expands DFDS’ network to a region where growth is expected to be supported by nearshoring of supply chains closer to Europe.

Expected annual trade growth of 8% between Morocco and Europe for the next five years.

The integration of the passenger business is expected to benefit from sharing of operating and yield management capabilities, not least from the Channel short-sea routes. Optimisation of digital distribution channels is moreover expected to increase the share of online bookings.

The freight activities will be strengthened by becoming part of a pan-European freight ferry network. The integration is also expected to benefit from a customer overlap and cross sales opportunities.

Integration synergies are expected to be driven primarily by growth synergies as limited cost synergies are expected. The integration is expected to be completed within three years.

FRS Iberia/Maroc will become part of the Ferry Division and their top management team consisting of Ronny Moriana Glindemann and Tim Gädecken have joined DFDS and will continue to manage the business.

Good passenger numbers for Viking Line in 2023

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A total of 5 million passengers sailed on the Viking Line vessels in 2023.

During the period June-August, there were nearly 1.8 million passengers, and many departures during the summer holiday season were sold out well in advance.

Less passengers than previous year 4,897,494 (4,945,564) because of fewer vessels.

AMORELLA ended its service for Viking Line in October 2022 while ROSELLA made its last voyage for the company in January 2023.

VIKING GRACE and VIKING GLORY had the biggest passenger increase, on the Turku–Åland–Stockholm route, with 2,123,647 (1,955,988) passengers. Viking Line’s market share here was 72 %. Viking Glory, which launched service in 2022, is still a novelty and a very popular vessel.

VIKING GABRIELLA served the Helsinki–Åland–Stockholm route on its own during the year and had 496,844 (515,445) passengers.

VIKING XPRS had 1,655,548 (1,403,048) passengers in its service between Helsinki and Tallinn.

The number of passengers who sailed on special cruises and other routes was 71,116.

The number of cargo units was up 125,269 (117,777), and the number of passenger cars was down 563,081 (630,651). (Remark, with two ships that left the fleet)


“In 2023, Viking XPRS was reflagged under a Finnish flag, and during the autumn we decided to do the same with Viking Cinderella, which will be reassigned to the Helsinki–Stockholm route in spring 2024. The new financial year 2024 will be both exciting and demanding. We are following economic developments very closely and adapting our operations to meet the challenges we face. Last autumn, we formed a joint venture with the shipping company Gotlandsbolaget with the task of developing and providing cruises with M/S Birka Gotland. We see great potential for this joint venture and have a generally optimistic outlook for Baltic Sea travel,” says Jan Hanses, CEO of Viking Line.

Source: Viking Line

P&O Ferries strengthens North Sea presence with new London – Rotterdam freight route

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P&O Ferries will open a new RoRo freight route in the North Sea, between London (Tilbury 2) and Rotterdam (Europoort), starting in March 2024.

This service will complement P&O Ferries’ existing Zeebrugge to London route together with strengthening its rail-connected hub in Rotterdam.

Peter Hebblethwaite, P&O Ferries’ CEO: “The opening of our new route between London and Rotterdam gives P&O Ferries a unique network in the North Sea. We now have five hubs: Hull, Teesport, Tilbury, Zeebrugge and Europoort, connecting the North East and South East of England with the Continent. We will offer our freight customers the earliest arrival on the Thames from Rotterdam, along with swift access to the M25 and terminal rail connections.”

“The opening of the London – Rotterdam route will mark another significant step in our business transformation and further contribute to the end-to-end logistics service offered by our parent company, DP World.”

The route will be served by the Dutch-flagged P&O Ferries vessel NORBANK, which until recently was serving on the Irish Sea, with a capacity of 125 freight units.

Port of Hirtshals is set to become bigger: Billion-DKK port expansion is now open for tender

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Port of Hirtshals is set to expand, and in this regard, a billion-DKK EU tender has just been announced for the construction work of the expansion with a total budget of around DKK 1 billion. The port is to be expanded partly to improve the navigation conditions, allowing larger ships to dock at the port in harsher weather conditions than is currently the case, and partly to establish marshalling and industrial areas on the port premises.

Port of Hirtshals expects to submit the final bid for approval to the Hjørring City Council no later than the fall of 2024.

An excellent year for Port of Tallinn

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In 2023, 8 million passengers and 13 million tonnes of cargo passed through the harbours of Port of Tallinn. The annual number of passengers increased by 13%, or 900,000 passengers, recovering from the movement restrictions related to the pandemic.

The number of passengers between the Estonian mainland and the main islands, operated by Port of Tallinn’s subsidiary TS Laevad OÜ increased by 5%. In 2023, people travelled to the Estonian islands with the ferries more than ever, the number of trips, passengers and transported vehicles increased reaching an all-time record.

A challenging year for Port of Antwerp-Bruges – Ireland traffic up

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Geopolitical tensions and slowing global economic growth are driving down industrial production and trade flows. As a result, total throughput, which was 271 million tonnes of cargo in 2023, is down 5.5% from the previous year.

Despite this difficult context, thanks to the added value of the merger, the market share of the container segment increased compared to the other ports in the Hamburg – Le Havre range.

To ensure its strategic role as a world port in the future, sustainable growth remains a priority and a major investment programme is foreseen for the next 10 years.

Total roll-on/roll-off traffic is holding up relatively well with a slight decrease of 2.1%. Transport equipment troughput (in units) is up thanks to an increase in the throughput of new cars. In 2023, 3.56 million new cars were handled, an annualised growth of 9.0%. Throughput of unaccompanied cargo (excluding containers) carried on RoRo vessels is also down slightly (-1.5%). More than half of these flows are related to the UK and are down (-4.9%), while traffic related to Ireland is up sharply (+17.9%), while Scandinavia traffic is holding up.

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Fred. Olsen Express and Baleària add second ship to the Canary Islands route

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As of 13 January 2024, RoPax SICILIA will be added and will serve alongside RoPax MARIE CURIE.

The connection goes from two to three weekly trips from each port, both for cargo and passenger transport.

The service will have departures from Tenerife and Gran Canaria on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays. Meanwhile, from Huelva these routes will be made on Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays.

Fjord1 and the Norwegian Public Roads Administration have signed a contract for the operation of the national road ferry connection E39 Lavik-Oppedal.

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Fjord1 will operate the Lavik-Oppedal connection with four vessels from 2026 to 2034 (with the possibility of extension for up to three years).

Lavik – Oppedal is the ninth largest ferry connection in the country with 1.2 million car units in 2022.

The contract involves the development of fully automated solutions for all four ferries from 2027 onwards. The contract describes 23 different functions to be automated, and the sum of these functions means that the ferries will carry out route production by themselves. In addition, a control centre must be established on land, for monitoring and the possibility of remote control of the ferries.

Photo: Managing Director Fjord1, Dagfinn Neteland and director of ferries in the Norwegian Public Roads Administration, Dag Hole. Photo: Fjord1

Ragusa Express ready to start sailing on the Malta – Sicily route

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Ragusa Express is the newly built company that is on the verge of starting a high-speed ferry service linking Malta (La Valletta) with Sicily (Marina di Ragusa) in Southern Italy. The catamaran, renamed SAN GIORGIO, left Valletta this Wednesday to conduct some final berthing tests in Ragusa before entering full service in the near future.

The catamaran service to Marina di Ragusa is set to be launched before next summer after a Maltese group of investors, led by Paul Gauci of Pama and Pavi fame, took over ownership of the marina and the port area. The tests were positive, and the owners have been given the green light to start daily catamaran service between the two islands.

The vessel can carry up to 400 passengers and 18 vehicles.

Establishing a catamaran link between Malta and Marina di Ragusa gained great momentum following the news in October 2023 that Ponte Ferries had suspended its catamaran service between Valletta and Pozzallo, a year after launching the route to rival the long-established Virtu’ Ferries.