Polish state shipping has always had a recognisably strong brand and livery and DFDS were one of the companies with a major interest in acquiring Polferries which currently links Poland to Sweden.
This was the result of the Polish Government deciding to follow the practice of privatising their state owned (since 1976) ferry company, but the sale seems have been long in abeyance. It became politically controversial and the crew’s Trades Union threatened legal action alleging that to attract a buyer, the government would have to sell below its true value and that could be a crime in Polish Law. I am not sure whether the sale has been postponed or shelved, but co-operation with DFDS has been a reality for several years and anyway the fleet has been contracting so that Polferries currently have just three ships linking to Sweden and two were both once familiar in UK waters.
Wawel 25,275,’80, on the Swinoujscie-Ystad (Sweden) run, was for 13 years on the Dover-Calais route. She is back near where she started life in 1980 built by Kockums at Malmö as the big freight ro-ro Scandinavia, one of three sisters for a Swedish company for Eastern Med operation initially between Koper Yugoslavia and Tartous Syria. But the line didn’t survive the capsize and loss in 1980 of the Scandinavia‘s sister Zenobia off Cyprus on her maiden voyage. She then began a brief period on various routes under Bulgarian ownership with her remaining sister Ariadne until they were both sold in ’88 to James Sherwood’s Sealink British Ferries and radically converted from freight ferries to full passenger ro-ros. She was renamed Fiesta, but not for long.
There now followed a bewildering series of company collaborations and mergers and therefore rebrandings. Whilst on the central Dover-Calais route over 13 years, Fiesta successively took on the liveries of Sealink British Ferries, Sealink Stena Line, Stena Line and P&O Stena Line; and renamings, Fantasia, Stena Fantasia, P&OSL Canterbury, PO Canterbury and eventually by 2003 Pride of Canterbury. Sold to Greek GA Ferries in ’04, she briefly became Alkmini A, but was resold to Polferries taking her present name and the one she has held the longest by far. She looks as good now as she ever did. Her sister, after rather fewer rebrandings as SeaFrance Cézanne, was scrapped in Alang India, in 2011.
Between Gdansk and Nynäshamn, another vessel looking good for her age is Baltivia 17,790,’81, a ship I last saw docked in Newhaven when working in her Transmanche livery on the Dieppe link appropriately named Dieppe. There, the shades of yellow she bore I thought didn’t suit her at all. Built at Uddevalla as the Sagaland, she has seen work on many routes with several spells for TT Line in the Baltic and then for French companies to Corsica coming to Transmanche between ’02 and ’06. With sale to Polferries as Baltivia, she has worked both Gdansk-Nynäshamn and Swinoujscie-Ystad routes.
A more recent addition in 2014 is the Mazovia formerly Gotland 25,996,’96, another ship with a chequered history. Launched in Jakarta Indonesia, she was completed at Dunkerque in ’96 and then passed through the hands of several parties becoming Finarrow in ’97. There followed a great number of charters in different parts of Europe. In 2013, working for Stena Line’s Dublin service, she was holed at Holyhead when her stabilisers punctured the hull and was repaired at Greenock. She has since seen much rebuilding and maybe has now settled down on the Ystad service. Interestingly, this route is on the website marketed as a Poland to Ystad and Copenhagen route, but the Copenhagen link is via shuttle bus or inclusive vehicle pass over the Oresund Bridge to Denmark from Ystad.