Silja Line

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Tallink Silja Line
HeadquartersHelsinki, Finland[1]
Area served
Northern Europe
Key people
Margus Schults
ProductsFerries, port services, passenger transportation, freight transportation, holidays, business travel
ParentAS Tallink Grupp

Silja Line is a Finnish cruiseferry brand operated by the Estonian ferry company AS Tallink Grupp, for car, cargo and passenger traffic between Finland and Sweden.

The former company Silja Oy—today Tallink Silja Oy—is a subsidiary of the 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.[2]

As of 2009 four ships service two routes under the Silja Line brand, transporting about three million passengers and 200,000 cars every year.[3] The Silja Line ships have 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 it was also applied to the Helsinki–Stockholm route 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.[4] Eventually only Finland SS Co.'s SS Aallotar was ready in time for the Olympics.[5] At this time the city of Helsinki constructed the Olympia Terminal in Helsinki's South Harbour, which Silja Line's ships still use.[6]

Model of MS Botnia in Siljavarustamo livery
Silja Line's old logo


Realising that car-passenger ferries would be the dominant traffic form in the future, the three collaborating companies decided to form a daughter company, Oy Siljavarustamo / Siljarederiet Ab.[7] The new company started out with used ships, which were not particularly well-fitted for the role they were meant for,[7] but 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.[8] Two more ships based on the Skandia design, MS Botnia and MS Floria, were delivered in 1967 and 1970 respectively.[9][10]

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 entity. 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.[11]


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.[12] 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 ships were painted in the same colour scheme, with a white hull and superstructure, with "Silja Line" and the seal's head logo on the side in dark blue.[13] 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 were white with a large black S, FÅA's were black with two white bands, and Bore's were yellow with a blue/white cross.

MS Bore Star, built 1975, left the Silja fleet in 1986 and re-joined it in 1993 as MS Wasa Queen.

Already before the reorganisation Silja had ordered two new ships from Dubigeon-Normandie S.A. of Nantes to begin year-round service between Helsinki and Stockholm (until then 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. These were delivered in 1975, first MS Svea Corona and MS Wellamo, followed by MS Bore Star in December. However, winter passenger numbers were insufficient for three ships, and as a result Bore Star was chartered to Finnlines during the winters of 1975–76 and 1976–77.[13] In 1976 Finland SS Co changed its name to Effoa (the Finnish phonetic spelling of FÅA).[14] During the latter part of the 1970s Effoa's old ferries MS Ilmatar and MS Regina cruised the Baltic, Norwegian fjords and the Atlantic (from Málaga) under the marketing name Silja Cruises.[13]


In 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).[13] Their two ships were sold to Effoa and their shares of Silja Line split between the two other companies.[14] In Finland, and later in Sweden, a large maritime strike in spring 1980 stopped ferry traffic completely and prompted Effoa to terminate the Silja Cruises service.[15]

Despite the difficulties Silja's first real cruiseferries, Finlandia and MS Silvia Regina, entered service 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 with 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.[15]

Model of the world's fastest cruiseferry, GTS Finnjet, in 1980s Silja Line livery (ships owned by Johnson Line had different funnel colours).


1987 was a very eventful year for Silja. Effoa had purchased the famously fast 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 retained Vaasanlaivat / Vasabåtarna, Sally Cruises, Sally Ferries UK and Commodore Cruise Line. Although the purchase of Sally had no effect on Silja Line's traffic for the time being, it proved to be important later. Finally 1987 saw another order of new ships for the Helsinki–Stockholm route, which would again be the largest ferries ever built, 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, but by the first decade of the 21st century commonly found on Royal Caribbean International's and Color Line's newer ships.[15]

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.[15]

Nineteen-ninety saw the realisation of an old vision: Effoa and Johnson Line merged to form EffJohn. As a result, the seal's head logo replaced the colours of each individual owner company on the funnel. In November 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. Although popular and sporting a successful design, the new ships had been very expensive. This expense, coupled with the depression in the early 1990s, forced EffJohn to cut costs, which resulted in Wasa Line and Sally Cruises being merged into Silja Line in 1992. Also in 1992, Svea and Wellamo were modernised and renamed Silja Karneval and Silja Festival, respectively.[16]

MS Silja Europa, the largest cruiseferry in the world from 1993 to 2001, was built for Viking Line but chartered on delivery to Silja Line by the shipyard.


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. Because of 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 forces with Euroway on their MalmöTravemündeLübeck route. The route proved unprofitable and was terminated in spring 1994.[16]

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 Estonia in Tallinn the day before the sinking,[17] but she was in Helsinki when Estonia sank and did not come to her assistance. The Estonia sinking led to passenger numbers dropping, which did not help Silja's precarious financial 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 to Silja Oy Ab. Three years later the name was changed again, this time to Neptun Maritime.[16]

In 1999 Silja faced two big changes. Tax-free sales ended on routes between EU countries, which forced the Helsinki–Stockholm ships to start calling at Mariehamn in the Åland Islands, whose autonomous status within Finland allowed them to stay outside the EU tax union after the country joined the EU in 1994 and so avoid the end of tax-fee sales. A bigger change was Sea Containers purchasing the majority of Neptun Maritime's shares.[16] In 2000 the new owners brought one of their Super SeaCats into service on the Helsinki–Tallinn route 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.[18]

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 completel; this naturally including selling Silja Line. In preparation for the sale the unprofitable Finnjet and MS Silja Opera were taken out of service and transferred under Sea Containers' ownership. Silja Serenade and Symphony were also rebuilt in early 2006 to make them more attractive to potential buyers.[18]


MS Galaxy was transferred from the fleet of Tallink to that of Silja Line in 2008.
SuperSeaCat Three in 2007

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, after barely a year before announcing 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.[18]

Tallink stated that it intended to keep the Silja Line brand separated from Tallink.[19] However, most Silja Line marketing in Finland[citation needed] and Sweden has since the takeover been made under the combined Tallink Silja name.[20]

In July 2008, the Tallink ship MS Galaxy replaced the Silja Festival on the Turku–Mariehamn–Stockholm route. The Galaxy was flagged to Sweden[21] and the text Silja Line was painted on her hull sides. The Tallink logo remained on her funnel and the Navitrolla-designed livery of the ship, which differs from the livery of other Silja ships, was not altered.[22] The Silja Festival, while remaining registered under the same name, was in turn moved to Tallink's Stockholm–Riga route, her funnel repainted in Tallink colours and the text Tallink painted on her sides.

In October 2009, the Managing Director of Silja Line (Tallink Silja Oy), Keijo Mehtonen, retired and Margus Schults was appointed to the post.[23]


Current fleet[edit]

Ship Type Built Entered
Route Gross tonnage Flag Notes
MS Silja Serenade Cruiseferry 1990 1990 Helsinki-Mariehamn-Stockholm 58,376 GT  Finland
MS Silja Symphony Cruiseferry 1991 1991 HelsinkiMariehamn- Stockholm 58,376 GT  Sweden
MS Galaxy Cruiseferry 2006 2008 Turku-Mariehamn/Långnäs-Stockholm 48,915 GT  Sweden Transferred from Tallink, replaced MS Silja Festival.
MS Baltic Princess Cruiseferry 2008 2013 Turku-Mariehamn/Långnäs-Stockholm 48,915 GT  Finland Transferred from Tallink, replaced MS Silja Europa.

Former ships[edit]

Ship In service Owner/operator Tonnage1 Status as of 2010
SS Silja 1957–67 Siljavarustamo 1,599 GRT Scrapped in Helsinki, Finland, 1970
SS Warjo 1957–64 Siljavarustamo 861 GRT Scrapped in Baia, Italy, 1983
MS Skandia 1961–73
Finland Steamship Company
3,593 GRT Sunk in the Atlantic, 1986
MS Nordia 1962–73
Rederi AB Svea
3,631 GRT Scrapped at Eleusis, Greece, 1988
MS Fennia 1966–70
Svea Line (Finland)
EffJohn; Silja Line
6,396 GRT
6,396 GRT
10,515 GT
Scrapped 2010
MS Botnia 1967–70
Steamship Company Bore
3,440 GRT Sunk outside Morocco, 2008
SS Bore 1970–76 Steamship Company Bore 3,492 GRT Since 2010 hotel/restaurant/museum ship
MS Ilmatar 1970–74, 1978–80 Finland Steamship Company 5,101 GRT; 7,155 GRT Scrapped in 2015
SS Birger Jarl
SS Bore Nord
1974, 1976
Rederi AB Svea
Steamship Company Bore
3,236 GRT Since 2002 MS Birger Jarl for Ånedin Linjen
MS Floria 1970–75 Finland Steamship Company 4,051 GRT Scrapped in India, 2008
MS Aallotar 1972–77 Finland Steamship Company 7,800 GRT Scrapped in Alang, India, 2004
MS Svea Regina
MS Regina
Rederi AB Svea
8,020 GRT Scrapped in Alang, India, 2005
MS Bore I
MS Skandia
Steamship Company Bore
8,528 GRT Since 2007 MS Rigel for Ventouris Ferries
MS Svea Corona 1975–84 Rederi AB Svea; Johnson Line 12,348 GRT Scrapped in Aliağa, Turkey, 1995
MS Wellamo
MS Svea Corona
Johnson Line
12,348 GRT Since 2007 MS Jupiter for Royal Group Ltd.
MS Bore Star
MS Silja Star
MS Wasa Queen
Bore Line
12,348 GRT Scrapped in India, 2013
MS Finlandia 1981–90 Effoa 25,905 GRT Since 2016 MS Moby Dada for Moby Lines
MS Silvia Regina 1981–91 Rederi Ab Svea; Johnson Line 25,905 GRT Since 1994 MS Stena Saga for Stena Line
MS Svea
MS Silja Karneval
Johnson Line
33,829 GT
34,694 GT
Since 2008 MS Mega Smeralda for Corsica Ferries
MS Wellamo
MS Silja Festival
Effoa; EffJohn
Silja Line
33,829 GT
34,414 GT
Since 2008 sailing for Tallink
GTS Finnjet 1987–2006 Effoa; EffJohn 32,490 GT Scrapped at Alang, India, 2009
MS Silja Star 1990 Effoa 15,598 GT Sunk in 1994 as MS Estonia
MS Sally Albatross
MS Silja Opera
Silja Line
25,076 GT
25,611 GT
Since 2007 MS Cristal for Louis Cruise Lines
MS Frans Suell
MS Silja Scandinavia
35,285 GT Since 1997 MS Gabriella for Viking Line
MS Stena Invicta
(marketed as Wasa Jubilee)
1998 Silja Line 19,763 GT Since 2000 MS Color Viking for Color Line
HSC SuperSeaCat Four 2000–06, summers only SeaContainers 4,465 GT Since 2009 HSC Speedrunner IV for Aegean Speed Lines.
HSC SeaCat Denmark 2000 SeaContainers 3,003 GT Since 2006 HSC Pescara Jet with SNAV
HSC SuperSeaCat Three 2003–06, summers only SeaContainers 4,465 GT Since 2009 HSC Speedrunner III for Aegean Speed Lines.
HSC SuperSeaCat One summer 2005 SeaContainers 4,465 GT Since 2006 HSC Almudaina Dos for Acciona Trasmediterránea
MS Silja Europa 1993–2013 Effoa; EffJohn
Silja Line
59,914 GT
59,914 GT
Since 2013 sailing for Tallink
1May be specified in gross tonnage (GT) or gross register tons (GRT, if built pre-1982).

See also[edit]



  1. ^
  2. ^ Tallink corporate structure Archived 2008-10-11 at the Wayback Machine, retrieved 2009-01-12
  3. ^ Tallink annual report 2006/2007, retrieved 2008-09-08[permanent dead link]
  4. ^ Malmberg, Thure; Stampehl, Marko (2007). Siljan viisi vuosikymmentä (in Finnish). Espoo: Frenckellin Kirjapaino Oy. pp. 20–22. ISBN 978-951-98405-7-4.
  5. ^ Malmberg & Stampehl (2007): page 246
  6. ^ (in Finnish) Valkeat laivat: Matkustajaliikenteen vaiheita, retrieved 9 October 2007
  7. ^ a b (in Finnish) Valkeat laivat: Siljavarustamo perustetaan Archived 2007-10-06 at the Wayback Machine, retrieved 9 October 2007
  8. ^ (in Finnish) Valkeat laivat: Uusia laivoja, uusia linjoja Archived 2007-10-06 at the Wayback Machine, retrieved 9 October 2007
  9. ^ Asklander, Micke. "M/S Botnia (1967)". Fakta om Fartyg (in Swedish). Archived from the original on 29 July 2012. Retrieved 2008-10-04.
  10. ^ Asklander, Micke. "M/S Floria (1970)". Fakta om Fartyg (in Swedish). Archived from the original on 1 August 2012. Retrieved 2008-10-04.
  11. ^ Malmberg & Stampehl (2007): page 108
  12. ^ "40 Years of Ferry Service", retrieved 9 October 2007
  13. ^ a b c d (in Finnish) Valkeat laivat: Ympäri vuoden Helsingistä Archived 2007-10-06 at the Wayback Machine, retrieved 9 October 2007
  14. ^ a b (in Finnish) Valkeat laivat: Svea, FÅA ja Bore Archived 2007-10-06 at the Wayback Machine, retrieved 9 October 2007
  15. ^ a b c d (in Finnish) Valkeat laivat: Valkeat kaunottaret saapuvat Archived 2007-10-06 at the Wayback Machine, retrieved 9 October 2007
  16. ^ a b c d (in Finnish) Valkeat laivat: Loistoristelijöiden ja tappiovuosien aikakausi Archived 2007-10-06 at the Wayback Machine, retrieved 9 October 2007
  17. ^ Estonia Final Report: The Departure, archived on 2008-02-07
  18. ^ a b c (in Finnish) Valkeat laivat: Uudet tuulet puhaltavat Archived 2007-10-06 at the Wayback Machine, retrieved 9 October 2007
  19. ^ (in Finnish) Matkalehti 11 October 2007: Brändi säilyy ja kehittyy: Siljan 50 vuotta Archived 22 June 2008 at, retrieved 18 October 2007
  20. ^ Tallink Silja official website, retrieved 18 October 2007
  21. ^ (in Finnish) Turun Sanomat 16 October 2007: Enn Pant uskoo Galaxyn nostavan matkustajien määrää Turun-reitillä[permanent dead link], retrieved 16 October 2007
  22. ^ "MS Galaxy at Fakta om fartyg". Archived from the original on 31 July 2012.
  23. ^ Archived 2009-10-16 at the Wayback Machine: Kauppalehti: Tallinkin ruoriin uusi kapteeni (15 October 2009)


  • Id, Kalle (2013). Silija Line: from De Samseglande to Tallink. Ramsey, Isle of Man: Ferry Publications. ISBN 9781906608712.

External links[edit]