Although Viking Cinderella has not been to Finland in nearly 20 years, she is still regarded by many people as their favourite vessel.
Cinderella vessel is remembered for its artists, popular TV shows and GOOM cruises. At the turn of the millennium, 70 couples were married on board the vessel the same day and Cinderella’s biggest fans call her the Love Boat.
When Cinderella sailed her maiden voyage from Helsinki to Stockholm in 1989, the vessel was not just the biggest car ferry on the Baltic Sea but also its most luxurious. The vessel, built at the Perno shipyard in Turku, was Viking Line’s new flagship.
Panoramic windows that extended over three decks, impressive stairs made of copper, lifts that offered panoramic views and a winter garden made it the finest vessel sailing to Sweden.
Cinderella got her name in a naming contest, with Estella, Stella, Daniella and Gabriella being other strong contenders before a final decision was made.
In the early years Cinderella served as the third vessel on the Helsinki-Stockholm route together with Mariella and Olympia.
At weekends, Cinderella made 20-hour cruises to Tallinn without any passengers disembarking, and the vessel helped to make service to Tallinn extremely popular, starting in the 1990s. In 1993, the vessel replaced Olympia and later also sailed between Turku and Stockholm.
“One of the wow factors on Cinderella was the three-storey nightclub, and top-quality entertainment was the vessel’s biggest attraction from the very beginning.
“Whatever the day of the week, it was always a party on Cinderella. Virve Rosti, Freeman & Menneisyyden Vangit, Tommi Läntinen, Kirka, Paula Koivuniemi and Nylon Beat got people to party, as did foreign artists such as Toto Cutugno and Ricky Martin,” recalls the vessel’s former cruise director, Jamppe Haakana, now head of tax-free operations on Viking Glory.
Cruise passengers were also offered entertainment in the form of various TV shows filmed on board Cinderella. The most popular was Passi ja hammasharja with Tino Singh as presenter. The trivia show Noppapotti and talk show Joonas Hytönen Show were also filmed on board.
Around the turn of the millennium, the popular GOOM cruises were arranged for students on Cinderella. The cruises were Viking Line’s own concept, and many people met their future life partners there.
On the first day of the new millennium, a mega wedding was held on board, with four ministers marrying a total of 70 couples in the nightclub.
In 2003, Cinderella’s red hull was painted white, and the vessel was reassigned to the Turku-Mariehamn route for 20 years, with just a few summer visits to Helsinki.
On 8 March 2024, Cinderella will make her long-awaited comeback on the Helsinki-Stockholm route. Before that, the iconic vessel, which has served more than 32 million passengers, will be taken to the shipyard in Naantali for refurbishment.
“We are just as enthusiastic as many of our passengers in being able to bring Cinderella back to Helsinki to serve together with Gabriella. We have two reasons to celebrate: Viking Line launched its service to Helsinki in 1974 so it’s also the 50th anniversary of the route’s launch,” says Johanna Boijer-Svahnström, Senior Vice President of Corporate Communications at Viking Line.
“Cinderella stole its way into the hearts of Finns – the most dedicated fan sailed as many as 200 times in one year! And Cinderella has not lost its power of enchantment, since sales for our spring cruises have gotten off to a really good start, thanks in part to the cheap Swedish krona. Perhaps we’ll see couples on the Love Boat coming to celebrate their wedding anniversary or the anniversary of the day they met.”
Viking Cinderella’s history in brief
– The vessel, built in the Perno shipyard, was the world’s largest car ferry during its first few years of service. Cinderella was one-of-a-kind – there was never a sister ship with the same design built.
– From 1989 to 2003, Cinderella mostly served on the Helsinki–Stockholm route but also made 20-hour cruises between Helsinki and Tallinn.
– In 2003, Cinderella began sailing under a Swedish flag and was renamed Viking Cinderella, since the name Cinderella was already on the Swedish Register of Ships. The sides of the vessel were painted white, distinguishing it from Viking Line’s other vessels.
– Since 2003, Viking Cinderella has mostly provided cruise service between Stockholm and Mariehamn. During the summer, the vessel has served the Helsinki–Stockholm route, partly in tandem with Viking Gabriella, and has also made day cruises to Tallinn.
– On 8 March 2024, Viking Cinderella will be reflagged under a Finnish flag and return to service on the Helsinki–Stockholm route, working together with Gabriella.