hidden europe 66

European ferry links: opportunities and challenges

by Nicky Gardner

Picture above: The MS Drotten plies the route between Rostock and Nynäshamn via Visby (photo © Olof Segerberg, reproduced courtesy of Hansa Destinations).


Have you noticed that some ferry companies serving Britain and / or Ireland are now decidedly sniffy about carrying foot passengers? Must we really take a car with us to be permitted on some ferries? But it’s not all bad news on the ferry front since there are a number of new Baltic routes which are very pleased to take foot passengers.

Though cruises took a dive in popularity during the pandemic, the same was not true of ferries. The past year or two have seen a number of new routes opening in European waters.

Pick of the bunch is a new regular Baltic link from Rostock to Nynäshamn, a port on the Swedish coast with a good onward train connection into Stockholm. On some sailings, there is a stop at Visby on Gotland. It’s the first time for very many years that this Swedish island has enjoyed a direct ferry link with Germany. Way back in the late 1960s, the port of Slite on the east side of Gotland was served in the summer by the MS Finnhansa on her weekly sailings from Lübeck to Helsinki. It’s interesting how the Hanseatic League has such strong brand appeal. The recently introduced service from Germany to Sweden is run by a new ferry operator called Hansa Destinations.

Holland Norway Lines is another newcomer to Europe’s ferry scene. They expect to launch their Eemshaven (Netherlands) to Kristiansand (Norway) route on 7 April 2022, with thrice-weekly sailings in each direction.

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