Fred. Olsen Express

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Fred. Olsen, S.A.
Industry Shipping
Founded 1974
Headquarters Tenerife, Canary Islands
Area served
Canary Islands
Products Ferry transport
Parent Bonheur and Ganger Rolf

Fred. Olsen Express is an inter island ferry service based in the Canary Islands, Spain. The company's main colours are white and yellow, with blue and red writing. The company operates a fleet of six modern fast ferries, including the world's first trimaran fast ferry, the Benchijigua Express, which entered service in 2005. Fred Olsen Express operates five routes throughout the Canaries. The company is owned by the Olsen family controlled Bonheur and Ganger Rolf, that among other things also owns the shipping companies Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines and First Olsen Tankers.


Benchijigua Express
Benchijigua Express heading into a sunset en route to La Gomera

Fred. Olsen Express was founded in 1974 as Ferry Gomera, S.A. The first sailing took place July 8, 1974, when a ferry set sail from the Gomeran capital of San Sebastian de La Gomera for the town of Los Cristianos in Tenerife. The first ferry to operate the route was christened the Benchijigua, which is named after a small village located in the South of La Gomera. It also was in keeping with a long tradition of Fred. Olsen which was that all name of the company's ships should begin with the letter B.

Until this first sailing the island of La Gomera had practically been isolated and was only ever visited by a single boat which came to collect bananas and tomatoes, that the island produced for export to Europe, and in return dropped of supplies for the island. It was the opening of this first route by Fred Olsen that really brought about changes for the Gomerans. The ferry even set sail for emergencies, sometimes with only a single ambulance and patient on board, and for the simple reason that if the ferry did not take the patient the patient would have died.

The route between Gomera and Tenerife initially operated three times a day in each direction and took 80 minutes, and was capable of handling 400 passengers and around 60 cars. Within six months of the route opening 100,000 people had used the crossing, a figure that far exceeded expectations. As a gesture of goodwill a free coach was provided from Los Cristianos in the South of Tenerife to the capital Santa Cruz de Tenerife. Five years after the launch of the service a new larger and faster ferry was added, the Bonanza. The ship had previously been served with the company in Northern Europe, but was transferred to the Gomera route. Then again in 1989 still trading as Ferry Gomera the company introduced a route from Los Cristianos to San Sebastian de La Gomera using a ferry named the SES Sant’ Agata (later the Gomera Express) which was promoted as "fast and comfortable". The crossing took only 35 minutes. Also in 1989 a route was established between Playa Blanca, Lanzarote and Corralejo, Fuerteventura which was operated by the ferry Betancuria.

By 1990 Ferry Gomera had made a grand total of 29,095 ferry crossings and travelled 1,163,800 kilometres (625,542 miles or 29 trips around the world). The total number of vehicles carried was nearly 722,200,00. The route had also carried nearly 900 patients as well as 20 additional critical emergency crossings. In 1994 Fred. Olsen signed a deal with the Canarian Postal Service to offer an on-board post office on board the Benchijigua Express. A fourth daily service was also added. The year 2000 saw the entry of the Benchijigua Express on the Gomera route. In 2005, a brand new trimaran, also named Benchijigua Express entered service on the Tenerife to La Gomera and Tenerife to La Palma route. The old Benchijigua Express was renamed Bentago Express and placed on the Santa Cruz de Tenerife to Gran Canaria route.


The company currently operates five fast ferries, all were built by the two Australian companies that dominate the fast ferry market: two were built by Austal of Perth and three were built at the Incat shipyards in Hobart.

Benchijigua Express[edit]

The HSC Benchijigua Express is a 126 metre long fast trimaran, operated by the company between Los Cristianos in Tenerife, San Sebastian de La Gomera,and Santa Cruz de La Palma. It was delivered to Olsen in April 2005 by Australian shipbuilding giant Austal.[1] See Article: Benchijigua Express

Bencomo and Bentago Express[edit]

The HSC Bentago Express and HSC Bencomo Express are 96 metre fast catamarans built by Incat in Hobart, Tasmania. Both were delivered to Olsen in the late 1990s /early 2000s. They are operated by the company between Santa Cruz in Tenerife and Agaete (Puerto de las Nieves) in Gran Canaria.[2]

Bocayna Express[edit]

The HSC Bocayna Express is a 66 metre fast catamaran making it the smallest in the current fleet. It is operated by the company between Playa Blanca in Lanzarote and Corralejo in Fuerteventura, across La Bocayna strait. The ferry has operated the 15 minute crossing since 2003 when it was delivered by Australian shipbuilder Austal. It is one of only two ferries in the fleet made by Austal.[3]

Bonanza Express[edit]

The HSC Bonanza Express is a 96 metre Incat fast catamaran, similar to the Bentago and Bencomo Express, operated by the company between the islands of Gran Canaria and Fuerteventura. The Bonanza Express was meant to be sold to Euroferries for a service between Ramsgate and Boulogne, but the deal fell through and the Bonanza Express has found its way back with Fred Olsen in the Canaries once more.[4][5]

Fleet Photo gallery[edit]

Lineas Fred. Olsen[edit]

The following ships have operated previously for Fred Olsen Express.

  • HSC Benchi Express
  • Ferry Betancuria
  • Ferry Buganvilla
  • Ferry Barlovento
  • Ferry Betancuria
  • Ferry Benchijigua
  • Ferry Gomera
  • Bahia Express

The company had many old slow ferries, but decided to revamp in 2000. This meant that most of the old ferries were sold on, being replaced by High Speed Catamarans and a new High Speed Trimaran.

Incidents and accidents[edit]

The Bonanza Express ran aground in early December 2008. All 175 passengers were evacuated safely. It lost control when entering the port of Los Christianos. The ship suffered substantial damage, but was not in danger of sinking, Fred Olsen general director Juan Ramsden said. The reason for the accident appeared to be linked to a failure of the ferry's reverse system, according to Ramsden. The ferry leaked up to three tons of fuel. The presence of cars on the deck slowed down attempts to take it to a shipyard for repairs. The Bonanza Express was planned to be in operation with Euroferries on a route between Ramsgate and Boulogne.[6] However, although this service from Ramsgate to Boulogne was still due to start on 1 March 2010 after many delays, the Bonanza Express is now back with Fred Olsen, having been seen on the Los Cristianos webcam.[7]

Bonanza Express after running aground in 2008.


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The Bonanza Express in Euroferries titles

External links[edit]

Media related to Fred. Olsen Express at Wikimedia Commons