|Area served||Northern Europe|
|Key people||Margus Schults|
|Products||Ferries, port services, passenger transportation, freight transportation, holidays, business travel|
Silja Line is a Finnish cruiseferry brand operated by the Estonian ferry company AS Tallink Grupp, for car and passenger traffic between Finland and Sweden. The former company Silja Oy – today Tallink Silja Oy – is a subsidiary of Tallink Grupp, handling marketing and sales for Tallink and Silja Line brands in Finland as well as managing Tallink Silja's ship employees. Another subsidiary, Tallink Silja AB, handles marketing and sales in Sweden. Strategical corporate management is performed by Tallink Grupp which also own the ships.
As of 2009 four ships service two routes under the Silja Line brand, transporting about three million passengers and 200,000 cars every year. The Silja Line ships has a market share of around 50 percent on the two routes served.
The history of Silja Line can be traced back to 1904 when two Finnish shipping companies, Finland Steamship Company (Finska Ångfartygs Aktiebolaget, FÅA for short) and Steamship Company Bore, started collaborating on Finland–Sweden traffic. The initial collaboration agreement was terminated in 1909, but re-established in 1910. After World War I in 1918 a new agreement was made that also included the Swedish Rederi AB Svea. Originally the collaboration agreement applied only on service between Turku and Stockholm, but was also applied to the Helsinki–Stockholm in 1928. As a precursor to the policies later adopted by Silja Line, each of the three companies ordered a near-identical ship for Helsinki–Stockholm service to coincide with the 1952 Summer Olympics, held in Helsinki. Eventually only Finland SS Co.'s SS Aallotar was ready in time for the olympics. At this time the city of Helsinki constructed the Olympia Terminal in Helsinki's South Harbour, that Silja Line's ships still use.
Realising that car-passenger ferries would be the dominating traffic form in the future, the three collaborating companies decided to form a daughter company, Oy Siljavarustamo / Siljarederiet Ab. The new company started out with used ships which weren't particularly well-fitted for the role they were meant for, but that was about to change when in 1961 Silja took delivery of the new MS Skandia, the first purpose-built car-passenger ferry in the northern Baltic Sea. Skandia's sister MS Nordia followed the next year and the era's giant MS Fennia in 1966. Two more ships based on the Skandia design, MS Botnia and MS Floria were delivered in 1967 and 1970, respectively.
Despite the establishment of Silja, FÅA, Bore and Svea also continued to operate on the same routes with their own ships. This led to a somewhat complex situation where four different companies were marketed as one entiry. In Finland they went by the name Ruotsinlaivat ("Sweden's Ships" or "Ships to Sweden") whereas in Sweden the preferred terms were Det Samseglande (roughly "the ones that sail together"), Finlandsbåten ("Finland's Ships") or Sverigebåten (Sweden Ships). In both countries the names of all four companies were usually displayed alongside the group identity.
In 1967 three of Silja's rival companies had formed a joint marketing and coordination company, Viking Line, which was to become Silja Line's main rival for the next two decades. FÅA, Bore and Svea soon realised that a similar arrangement would be preferable to their current fragmented image, and in 1970 a big change was carried out within the organisations: Silja Line was established as a joint marketing and coordination company between FÅA, Bore and Svea, and the ships of Siljavarustamo were divided between these three. All Silja Line's ships were painted in the same colour scheme, with a white hull and superstructure, with the dark blue "Silja Line" text on the side, alongside the now-famous seal's head logo. Each company retained their own funnel colours, so it was easy to distinguish which ship belonged to which company even from a distance: Svea's funnels where white with a large black S on them, FÅA's were black with two white brands around the funnel, and Bore's were yellow with a blue/white cross.
Already before the reorganisation Silja had ordered two new ships from Dubigeon-Normandie S.A., Nantes, France to begin year-round traffic from Helsinki to Stockholm (up until that point the route was summers only). In 1972 these were delivered to FÅA and Svea as MS Aallotar and MS Svea Regina, respectively. Passenger numbers on the Helsinki route grew fast and already in 1973 it was decided that the three companies would each order a ship of identical design from the same shipyard to replace the current Helsinki–Stockholm ships. The first two of these was delivered in 1975 (MS Svea Corona and MS Wellamo). The last sister, MS Bore Star, was delivered in December of the same year. However, there weren't enough passengers during the winter for all three ships, and as a result the Bore Star was chartered to Finnlines during the winters of 1975–1976 and 1976–1977. In 1976 Finland SS Co changed its name to Effoa (the Finnish phonetic spelling of FÅA). During the latter part of the 1970s Effoa's old ferries MS Ilmatar and MS Regina made cruises around Baltic Sea, Norwegian fjords and the Atlantic (from Málaga) under the marketing name Silja Cruises.
In the 1979 Svea and Effoa decided again to order new ships for the Helsinki–Stockholm route, which would be the largest ferries of their time. Bore however decided not to participate in building new ships, and in 1980 opted to bow out of passenger traffic altogether (Bore Line still exists as a freight-carrying company today). Their two ships were sold to Effoa and their shares of Silja Line split between the two other companies. In Finland, and later in Sweden, a large maritime strike in spring 1980 stopped ferry traffic completely. This also prompted Effoa to terminate the Silja Cruises service.
Despite the difficulties Silja's first real cruiseferries Finlandia and MS Silvia Regina entered traffic in 1981, which led to a 45% raise in passenger numbers. Late in the same year Johnson Line purchased Rederi AB Svea, and the former Svea ships received Johnson Line's blue/yellow colours. The good experiences gained from the new Helsinki ships prompted Effoa and Johnson Line to order two ships built on a similar principle for traffic on the Turku–Stockholm route, which were delivered in 1985 and 1986 as MS Svea and MS Wellamo. Although similar in proportions and interior layout, the new ships sported an attractive streamlined superstructure instead of the box-like superstructure of Finlandia and Silvia Regina.
1987 was a very eventful year for Silja. Effoa had purchased the famous GTS Finnjet the previous year and from the beginning of 1987 the prestigious but unprofitable "Queen of the Baltic Sea" joined Silja Line's fleet. Later in the same year Effoa and Johnson Line jointly purchased Rederi Ab Sally, one of the owners of their rival Viking Line. The other Viking Line partners forced the new owners to sell their share in Viking, but Effoa and Johnson Line still gained Vaasanlaivat / Vasabåtarna, Sally Cruises, Sally Ferries UK and Commodore Cruise Line. Although the purchase of Sally had no effect in Silja Line's traffic for the time being, it proved to be important later. Finally 1987 saw the order of new ships for Helsinki–Stockholm route (again), which would be the largest ferries ever built (again), eventually named MS Silja Serenade and MS Silja Symphony. Not revealed at the time, the new ships had a 140-meter promenade-street running along the center of the ship, a feature never seen before in a ship (these days promenades are commonly found on Royal Caribbean International's and Color Line's newer ships).
In late 1989 Wärtsilä Marine, the shipyard building Silja's new cruiseferries, went bankrupt, which led to the ships being delivered later than had been planned. To ensure the delivery of their ferries Effoa and Johnson Line both purchased a part of the new Masa-Yards established to continue shipbuilding in Wärtsilä's former shipyards.
The year 1990 saw the realisation of an old vision: Effoa and Johnson Line merged to form EffJohn. As a result the seal's head logo gravitated into the funnel, replacing the old colours of each individual owner company. In November of the same year the new MS Silja Serenade made its maiden voyage from Helsinki to Stockholm, approximately seven months after the original planned delivery date. MS Silja Symphony was delivered the following year. Despite being highly popular and sporting a successful design, the new ships had also been very expensive. Coupled with the depression in the early 90's EffJohn was forced to cut costs, which resulted in Wasa Line and Sally Cruises being merged into Silja Line in 1992. The year also saw Svea and Wellamo being modernised in Silja Karneval and Silja Festival, respectively.
The year 1993 began with a bang. In January it was reported that Silja Line had chartered MS Europa, a ship under construction for Rederi AB Slite, one of the owners of Viking Line. Due to financial troubles Slite could not pay for their new ship, and the shipyard decided to charter it to Silja instead. Later in the same year Silja joined forced with Euroway on their Malmö–Travemünde–Lübeck route. The route proved to be unprofitable and was terminated in spring 1994.
MS Sally Albatross was grounded outside Helsinki in spring 1994 and suffered major damage, which prompted Silja to give up traffic on her. September 1994 saw the largest peace-time maritime disaster on the Baltic Sea, the sinking of MS Estonia. Silja Europa, Silja Symphony and Finnjet all assisted in searching for survivors from the disaster. Silja Festival was berthed opposite the Estonia in Tallinn the day before the sinking , but she was in Helsinki when Estonia sank and didn't come to assistance. Sinking of the Estonia led to passenger numbers dropping, which did not help Silja's precarious situation. The company was now the largest on the Baltic Sea, having finally overtaken Viking Line in 1993, but financially it wasn't doing too well. In 1995 Effjohn changed their name into Silja Oy Ab. Three years later the name was changed again, this time to Neptun Maritime.
1999 saw two big changes coming for Silja. Tax-free sales ended on routes between EU countries, which forced the Helsinki–Stockholm ships to start calling at Mariehamn in the Åland Islands. Although the Åland Islands joined the EU along with the rest of Finland in 1994, their autonomous status allowed them to stay outside the EU tax union and hence avoid the end of tax-fee sales. Bigger change than this was Sea Containers purchasing the majority of Neptun Maritime's shares. In 2000 the new owners brought one of their Super SeaCats on Helsinki–Tallinn traffic and Neptun Maritime again changed its name, this time to Silja Oyj Abp. In the same year the route between Vaasa and Umeå was terminated as unprofitable.
By 2004 Sea Containers owned Silja Line entirely. The company was doing well financially and all seemed to be going well. However, Sea Containers' other operations were not as profitable and in late 2005 they announced their intent to give up their ferry division completely, this naturally including selling Silja Line. In preparation for the sale the unprofitable GTS Finnjet and MS Silja Opera were taken out of service and transferred under Sea Co's ownership. Silja Serenade and Symphony were also rebuilt in early 2006 to make them more attractive to the potential buyer.
May 2006 saw the sale of Silja Line to the Estonian Tallink. The SuperSeaCats trafficking between Helsinki and Tallinn were not included in the sale as their purchase would have given Tallink a dominant market position on the route, which would have resulted in the competition regulators of Finland and Estonia not approving the sale. As a result Sea Containers (that had barely a year ago announced their intention to give up the ferry business completely) continued operating them under the SuperSeaCat brand. In late 2006 the land organisations of Tallink and Silja Line were reorganised in Finland so that Tallink Finland and Superfast Finland were merged into Oyj Silja Abp, which now took care of all Finnish operations of Tallink/Silja. Shortly afterwards Oyj Silja Abp was renamed into Tallink Silja Oy. Similarly the land organisations in Sweden became Tallink Silja AB.
After the requisition of Silja, Tallink stated that it intended to keep the Silja Line brand separated from Tallink. However, most Silja Line marketing in Finland and Sweden has since the takeover been made under the combined Tallink Silja name.
In July 2008, the Tallink ship MS Galaxy replaced the Silja Festival on the Turku–Mariehamn–Stockholm route. The Galaxy was flagged to Sweden and the text Silja Line was painted on her hull sides. The Tallink logo has remained on her funnel and the Navitrolla-designed livery of the ship, which differs from the livery of other the Silja ships, was unaltered. The Silja Festival was in turn moved to Tallink's Stockholm-Riga, her funnel repainted in Tallink colors and the text Tallink on her sides. Silja Festival remained as her registered name even after the transfer.
In October 2009, the Managing director of Silja Line (Tallink Silja Oy), Mr. Keijo Mehtonen was retired and Mr. Margus Schults was appointed to the post.
|MS Silja Serenade||Cruiseferry||1990||1990||Helsinki–Mariehamn–Stockholm||58,376 GT||Finland|
|MS Silja Symphony||Cruiseferry||1991||1991||Helsinki–Mariehamn–Stockholm||58,377 GT||Sweden|
|MS Baltic Princess||Cruiseferry||2008||2013||Turku-Mariehamn/Långnäs-Stockholm||48,300 GT||Finland||Transferred from Tallink, replaced MS Silja Europa.|
|MS Galaxy||Cruiseferry||2006||2008||Turku–Mariehamn/Långnäs–Stockholm||48,915 GT||Sweden||Transferred from Tallink, replaced MS Silja Festival.|
|Ship||In service||Owner/operator||Tonnage1||Status as of 2010|
|SS Silja||1957–1967||Siljavarustamo||1,599 GRT||Scrapped in Helsinki, Finland, 1970|
|SS Warjo||1957–1964||Siljavarustamo||861 GRT||Scrapped in Baia, Italy, 1983|
Finland Steamship Company
|3,593 GRT||Sunk in the Atlantic, 1984|
Rederi AB Svea
|3,631 GRT||Scrapped at Eleusis, Greece, 1988|
Svea Line (Finland)
EffJohn; Silja Line
|Since 2010 MS Kaptain Boris for Red Line Shipping|
Steamship Company Bore
|3,440 GRT||Sunk outside Morocco, 2008|
|SS Bore||1970–1976||Steamship Company Bore||3,492 GRT||Since 1987 MS Kristina Regina for Kristina Cruises|
|MS Ilmatar||1970–1974, 1978–1980||Finland Steamship Company||5,101 GRT; 7,155 GRT||Since 1997 MS Palm Beach Princess for Palm Beach Casino Line|
|SS Birger Jarl
SS Bore Nord
|Rederi AB Svea
Steamship Company Bore
|3,236 GRT||Since 2002 MS Birger Jarl for Ånedin Linjen|
|MS Floria||1970–1975||Finland Steamship Company||4,051 GRT||Scrapped in India, 2008|
|MS Aallotar||1972–1977||Finland Steamship Company||7,800 GRT||Scrapped in Alang, India, 2004|
|MS Svea Regina
|Rederi AB Svea
|8,020 GRT||Scrapped in Alang, India, 2005|
|MS Bore I
|Steamship Company Bore
|8,528 GRT||Since 2007 MS Rigel for Ventouris Ferries|
|MS Svea Corona||1975–1984||Rederi AB Svea; Johnson Line||12,348 GRT||Scrapped in Aliağa, Turkey, 1995|
MS Svea Corona
|12,348 GRT||Since 2007 MS Jupiter for Royal Group Ltd.|
|MS Bore Star
MS Silja Star
MS Wasa Queen
|12,348 GRT||Since 2010 MS Arberia for Ilion Lines|
|Finlandia||1981–1990||Effoa||25,905 GRT||Since 2010 MS Princess Maria for St. Peter Line|
|MS Silvia Regina||1981–1991||Rederi Ab Svea; Johnson Line||25,905 GRT||Since 1994 MS Stena Saga for Stena Line|
MS Silja Karneval
|Since 2008 MS Mega Smeralda for Corsica Ferries|
MS Silja Festival
|Since 2008 sailing for Tallink|
|GTS Finnjet||1987–2006||Effoa; EffJohn||32,490 GRT||Scrapped at Alang, India, 2009|
|MS Silja Star||1990||Effoa||15,566 GRT||Sunk in 1994 as MS Estonia|
|MS Sally Albatross
MS Silja Opera
|Since 2007 MS Cristal for Louis Cruise Lines|
|MS Frans Suell
MS Silja Scandinavia
|35,285 GRT||Since 1997 MS Gabriella for Viking Line|
|MS Stena Invicta
(marketed as Wasa Jubilee)
|1998||Silja Line||19,763 GRT||Since 2000 MS Color Viking for Color Line|
|HSC SuperSeaCat Four||2000–2006, summers only||SeaContainers||4,465 GRT||Since 2009 HSC Speedrunner IV for Aegean Speed Lines.|
|HSC SeaCat Denmark||2000||SeaContainers||3,003 GRT||Since 2006 HSC Pescara Jet with SNAV|
|HSC SuperSeaCat Three||2003–2006, summers only||SeaContainers||4,465 GRT||Since 2009 HSC Speedrunner III for Aegean Speed Lines.|
|HSC SuperSeaCat One||summer 2005||SeaContainers||4,465 GRT||Since 2006 HSC Almudaina Dos for Acciona Trasmediterránea|
|MS Silja Europa||1993-2013||Effoa; EffJohn
|Since 2013 sailing for Tallink|
|1May be specified in gross tonnage (GT) or gross register tons (GRT).|
- Tallink corporate structure, retrieved 2009-01-12
- Tallink annual report 2006/2007, retrieved 2008-09-08
- Malmberg, Thure; Stampehl, Marko (2007). Siljan viisi vuosikymmentä (in Finnish). Espoo: Frenckellin Kirjapaino Oy. pp. 20–22. ISBN 978-951-98405-7-4.
- Malmberg & Stampehl (2007): page 246
- (Finnish) Valkeat laivat: Matkustajaliikenteen vaiheita, retrieved 9 October 2007
- (Finnish) Valkeat laivat: Siljavarustamo perustetaan, retrieved 9 October 2007
- (Finnish) Valkeat laivat: Uusia laivoja, uusia linjoja, retrieved 9 October 2007
- Asklander, Micke. "M/S Botnia (1967)". Fakta om Fartyg (in Swedish). Archived from the original on 29 July 2012. Retrieved 2008-10-04.
- Asklander, Micke. "M/S Floria (1970)". Fakta om Fartyg (in Swedish). Archived from the original on 1 August 2012. Retrieved 2008-10-04.
- Malmberg & Stampehl (2007): page 108
- Viking Line: 40 Years of Ferry Service, retrieved 9 October 2007
- (Finnish) Valkeat laivat: Ympäri vuoden Helsingistä, retrieved 9 October 2007
- (Finnish) Valkeat laivat: Svea, FÅA ja Bore, retrieved 9 October 2007
- (Finnish) Valkeat laivat: Valkeat kaunottaret saapuvat, retrieved 9 October 2007
- (Finnish) Valkeat laivat: Loistoristelijöiden ja tappiovuosien aikakausi, retrieved 9 October 2007
- (Finnish) Valkeat laivat: Uudet tuulet puhaltavat, retrieved 9 October 2007
- (Finnish) Matkalehti 11 October 2007: Brändi säilyy ja kehittyy: Siljan 50 vuotta, retrieved 18 October 2007
- Tallink Silja official website, retrieved 18 October 2007
- (Finnish) Turun Sanomat 16 October 2007: Enn Pant uskoo Galaxyn nostavan matkustajien määrää Turun-reitillä, retrieved 16 October 2007
- "MS Galaxy at Fakta om fartyg". Archived from the original on 31 July 2012.
-  Kauppalehti: Tallinkin ruoriin uusi kapteeni (15 October 2009)
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Silja Line.|
- Official site
- "Fakta om Fartyg: Silja Line" (in Swedish). Archived from the original on 23 May 2012.
- Valkeat laivat (Finnish)