Viking Line’s vessels have now been part of Turku for 50 years and to mark the occasion the company is offering a city and sea holiday in one package.
Viking Line has linked Turku with Stockholm since 1973. Over the decades, the popularity of the route has been boosted by shopping bargains, good economic times and bad, and ever more attractive vessels.
For this anniversary year, Viking Line is offering a package that combines a city holiday in Turku with a sea journey in the world’s most beautiful archipelago.
For 50 years, the Turku route has grown into a cornerstone of Viking Line’s business and become a route that the shipping company has made significant investments in.
Over the past ten years, the two most climate-smart vessels on the Baltic Sea have started operating on the route. Viking Grace made its maiden voyage in 2013, and Viking Glory was placed in service in 2022.
Last year, a total of 1.95 million passengers sailed on Viking Line’s Turku vessels, and the company’s market share on the route was as much as 68 per cent. The new vessels are big attractions not just for people sailing the Baltic Sea but also for visitors coming to Turku.
“The proximity to the sea and maritime passenger service between Turku and Stockholm are an important part of our city’s identity and attractiveness. Smooth commuter traffic by sea is an important competitive factor for businesses in our region.
“It is impossible to imagine Turku without Viking Line and the sea link to Stockholm that this passenger service enables. For 50 years, Viking Line has shown courage in renewing itself and investing to strengthen this vital link,” says the mayor of Turku, Minna Arve.
Viking Line launched its service between Turku and Stockholm in the summer of 1973, when Viking 4 and Marella started morning and evening sailings on the new route.
Turku had long been of interest to what was then Vikinglinjen, since the city offered “the fastest route to the west”.
The route was expected to tempt Finns into trying cruise travel, which was still unusual then, because in a single day passengers on the Turku vessels could “eat and drink more cheaply than on land and buy their allowance of alcohol and tobacco at cheap prices on board”.
“Finns became really interested in taking a cruise in the 1980s. The Turku vessels played an important role in this boom, and the mini cruises in particular drew people from different parts of the country. Trains and tour operator buses stopped right outside the terminal,” says Viking Line’s Senior Vice President of Corporate Communications, Johanna Boijer-Svahnström.
“At that time, it was exotic to go on a cruise. People travelled to Stockholm to buy products that weren’t available in Finland – even food.
“Our prices were moderate from the very beginning, since we wanted the boat trips to be accessible to everyone. The popularity of these affordable cruises did not fade even during the recession – then too, people needed to relax and get away from their everyday lives.”
With the breakthrough in cruise tourism, the 1980s were a golden age for the construction of every larger and more luxurious passenger ships. On the Turku route, Viking Line placed Viking Sally in service in 1980, Rosella in 1981 and Amorella in 1988. At the end of the decade, the company built its own port terminal in the Port of Turku.
“Versatility is the big advantage of the Turku route. On morning departures, people can enjoy the world’s most beautiful archipelago all day long, while the evening departures offer a long day in Stockholm and the picnic cruises provide a compact way for people to leave their everyday world behind.
“The route is popular with people travelling by car as well as with passengers attending a conference or taking a cruise. The vessels call both day and night at Åland, which is an important tourist destination for Viking Line,” notes Johanna Boijer-Svahnström.
To commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Turku route, Viking Line has launched a mini-holiday package that, along with the cruise, also includes one night in a Turku hotel.
“Turku is a fantastic city for tourists since there is a lot to see and experience. By booking our new package, our passengers can enjoy Turku all day long if they want, get a good night’s sleep and then move comfortably to our flagship Glory for its morning departure. The mini-holiday has been well received by our customers, who previously headed for Turku and the morning departure really early in the morning.”
Viking Line’s vessels on the Turku route:
Viking 4 1973–1979
Diana II 1979–1981
Viking Sally 1980–1990
Rosella 1981–1988, 1994–2002
Viking Grace 2013–
Viking Glory 2022–