The weather is sunny and the sea is calm. The conditions for sailing on a ferry and enjoying the beautiful archipelago of Kvarken are perfect this autumnal Thursday morning. The MS Wasa Express departed at 9am from Vaasa towards Umeå and will return back to Vaasa at 11.30pm in the evening. The sailing distance between the cities is 98 km, which constitutes a sea voyage of four and a half hours. MS Wasa Express operates on a daily basis from Finland to Sweden and back again, which makes it the world’s most northernmost all year round transportation route.
Wasaline is a marketing name of the shipping company NLC Ferry. Wasaline’s operations started at the beginning of 2013, and, since then, traffic volumes have grown steadily. Wasa Express can hold up to 915 passengers, and, especially during the summer months, it is often full with passengers up to the last available spot.
According to Peter Ståhlberg, Managing Director of NLC Ferry, figures for 2017 show an increase of more than 10 percent in the number of passengers, whilst freight traffic has experienced an increase of close to 20 percent. Ship passengers are divided between leisure time travellers, as well as those travelling for work or studies.
“During the summer, a large number of passengers spend their leisure time on the ship, enjoying the versatile services on offer on board. Many travellers are also interested in the tourism services of Vaasa and Umeå, whilst the ship’s schedules also permit short city visits to the neighbouring country,” says Ståhlberg.
Business contacts between Vaasa and Umeå have also resulted in an increase in freight traffic volumes, and not just passenger numbers. According to Ståhlberg, the growth in traffic volumes not only reflects the success of the region’s business sector, but also the joint investments of the company and sub-regions in the development of eastern-western traffic in the north. If everything goes according to plan, a new ship will operate on the route in 2021.
“Investing in a new ship is a sign of the very positive prospects for the route. The new ship and the innovative technology it will use will mean even more environmentally friendly traffic and significant savings in fuel costs,” says Ståhlberg.