Finnlines invests heavily in passenger traffic with two new ro-pax vessels for the route between Finland and Sweden
The first of two new cargo-passenger, or ro-pax, vessels will start operating on the Naantali–Långnäs–Kapellskär route in autumn 2023. The vessels are part of the shipping company’s EUR 500 million investment programme, which focuses on state-of-the-art ro-pax and ro-ro vessels.
The freight and passenger shipping company Finnlines’ new Superstar class ro-pax vessels, Finnsirius and Finncanopus, will significantly enhance the company’s passenger experience. Both vessels will have a capacity of 1,100 passengers, which is about twice the capacity of existing ro-pax vessels on the route. The cargo capacity will increase from just over 4,000 lane metres in the current vessels to 5,200 lane metres.
“These state-of-the-art vessels will serve a wider market segment and respond substantially better to our customers’ needs by providing required capacity at all times, punctual schedules and efficient operations. Superstar ro-paxes will be larger than the existing Star class and they will be Finnlines’ flagships both in terms of size and technology,” says Antonio Raimo, Line Manager at Finnlines.
“The new generation Superstar ro-pax vessels will combine modern travel comfort with the premium freight services for which Finnlines is renowned. We’re very excited about this important investment. We intend to offer the most convenient and easiest way to travel by sea between mainland Finland, the Åland Islands and Sweden. Passengers are sure to enjoy travelling aboard our new vessels as the unique Baltic Sea archipelago is present throughout the travel experience: passengers will be able to take in the maritime atmosphere with all their senses,” says Marco Palmu, Head of Passenger Services at Finnlines.
The new vessels will feature high-quality restaurants, a sauna and spa section, business and lounge facilities, extensive shopping areas and a variety of other services. A lot of the processes will be digitalised, and self-service kiosks will make it easy to handle things on board the paperless ships.
Part of the major Newbuilding Programme
The new ro-pax vessels are part of Finnlines’ EUR 500 million Newbuilding Programme. The investments of half a billion will not only bring new fleet capacity to the Baltic Sea, but will also develop and improve the company’s existing fleet.
“Smooth freight traffic in the Baltic Sea is extremely important for Finland’s economy and national security of supply, as 90 per cent of Finland’s exports and 80 per cent of its imports are carried along shipping routes. The Newbuilding Programme will further improve Finnlines’ capacity and reliability. By modernising onboard technologies, i.e. by investing in energy efficiency and environmental technologies, and by optimising the use of the capacity, we will ensure that both people and goods are transported as sustainably as possible. Our concept combines passenger and cargo traffic. This increases the utilisation rate and makes our vessels more efficient and sustainable,” says Finnlines’ President and CEO Tom Pippingsköld in the event held in Vuosaari Harbour on 4 October 2022.
The programme also includes three new hybrid ro-ro vessels that started operating in summer 2022.
Travelling by ferry is still very popular
Finnlines commissioned a survey of passengers’ wishes and expectations in August. More than 1,000 Finnish people who had made a crossing in recent years responded to the survey. The results show that although the Covid pandemic was a huge challenge for the tourism industry, almost half of Finnish people (48 per cent) travelled by ferry in the past two years.
Finns enjoy sea travel and they are loyal customers when it comes to travelling by ferry. 92 per cent of the respondents said they were at least likely to travel by ferry in the next 12 months, and 51 per cent said this was “very likely”. All kinds of people are interested in sea travel: there were no major differences between the respondents on the basis of their gender, age or place of residence.
A third of the respondents were considering the Naantali–Kapellskär route, and interest increased by 29 percentage points when the easy road connection from Naantali to Turku was taken into account.
Shopping and eating remain important onboard experiences: 88 per cent of the respondents said they do shopping, 71 per cent said they go to a buffet restaurant and 47 per cent eat at an à la carte restaurant. The ferries’ reputation as floating nightclubs, on the other hand, is now less well-founded: only 60 per cent said they went to a bar or nightclub when aboard.