Kiel - Gothenburg 50 Years - From the Beginning

Kiel to Gothenburg Our Story

Sten A. Olsson's entry into the world of business

1939: Sten Allan Olsson launches his first company: Sten A. Olssons Metallprodukter (Stena Metaller). This small scrap metal company is the starting point for the success of the biggest ferry company in the world.


Move into Shipping

1948: With his business partner Helge Olofsson, Olsson takes his first steps in the shipping industryunder the name Rederi AB Samba. The name of his first freighter: Dan.

1953: Rederi AB Samba becomes Sten A. Olssons Handels AB.

   Sten A Ollson
Ferry Tickets from one of the first journey's

In 1964, the first Stena passenger lines to Skagen start operating. This is where the name Skagenlinjen, dreamt up by the Dane Poul Ludvigsen in 1962, comes from.


The Skaganlinjen concept is as simple as it is successful: ships that are rented or owned by the company with low fixed cost travel to Denmark with as many high-spending passengers as possible. Sten A. Olsson focuses on providing attractive offers on board: duty-free goods are sold in the on-board shop, while restaurants and bars with a stage and dance floor as well as a casino provide entertainment.

There are no separate classes on board. A novelty in this era.  New connections are quickly added. And the name soon changes to Stenalinjen, then finally to Stena Line in 1967.


The Kiel line
The start of the Kiel line is an unspectacular one: Olsson holds shares in the KL line between Kiel and Nakskov (Lolland) which goes into service on 31 August 1963. The ship used on this route is the old Isefjord, a ferry dating from 1935.

According to legend, Sten A. Olsson considers the ship to be too old and unimaginative for Gothenburg. Instead, he sends the Isefjord to the Kiel shipyards and gets it painted blue. The template for the colour is a pack of Wasa crispbreads on the breakfast table. 

    Original Ferry Company


The route is a complete success and the following year extended to Fünen and Kappeln. In 1966 the Isefjord is replaced by the modern Stena Baltica.


Stena Germanica route Kiel Gothenburg   

The Stena Line route Kiel-Gothenburg
At a press conference in November 1964, Olsson presents his plan to set up a Kiel-Gothenburg line within two years – the longest Stena route to date. Crossings finally start in April 1967 with the completion of the Stena Germanica. The new ferry sets down anchor in Kiel at the extended Oslokai dock and in Gothenburg at the Stena Line Terminal in Skandiahamn, inaugurated in 1967.


Stena Germanica I, Stena Atlantica, Stena Olympica
21 April 1967: The Stena Germanica is christened. The first Stena Germanica is as elegant as it is practical. 


It carries 120,000 passengers in its first year instead of   the expected 100,000.  Soon, the Stena Germanica can no longer meet the increasing volume of lorry traffic – it is only able to continue on the route until 1974. Stena Line therefore commissions four new ferries.1972 is an eventful year for the Kiel - Gothenburg route: first, the second German ferry is put into service, with the Stena Atlantica now supporting the Stena Germanica. Later in the year, the Stena Olympica goes into service. With more space for vehicles and passengers, as well as higher quality standards in the cabins, the new ferries meet with great approval.



New Stena Line terminal in Gothenburg
In Gothenburg, the Stena ships set off from the new terminal on Masthuggskaj. Five years after it was launched, the Kiel to Gothenburg line has already carried 296,000 passengers.


Sessanlinjen starts route between Gothenburg and Travemünde

In 1974 the Gothenburg-Travemünde (Sessanlinjen) route opens. Kiel-Gothenburg becomes a loss-making route. This changes in 1981. Stena Line takes over Sessanlinjen and operates the route itself from now on. For profitability reasons, Stena has to base itself in one German port. It decides to opt for Kiel. 

   The new ferry terminal in Gothenburg


However, pure freight ferries continue to operate from Travemünde. The iron sculpture Hafen 77 was erected on Kiel's Hindenburgufer in 1977. Sten A. Olsson dedicated it to the ten-year anniversary of the Kiel-Gothenburg route.


From 1982 to 1988, the Kronprinsessan Victoria is used on the Kiel line, a ship inherited from Sessanlinjen, the company taken over by Stena. It is still in use today on the Fishguard-Rosslare route as Stena Europe. The Schwedenkai dock in Kiel is completed in 1982. Thanks to this, Stena Line now has its own dock on the German side too.


Stena Germanica Christening    Stena Germanica II & Stena Scandinavica III

The new Stena Germanica is delivered in 1987. It was ordered along with three sister ships in 1978.

At the time, the Stena Germanica is the largest ferry in the world: 175 m long, 2,500 passengers, 1,700m track length on the car deck. It now offers higher freight capacity, conference rooms for business travellers and shopping opportunities on board.  Her sister ship, the Stena Scandinavica, follows in 1988. With these two large ferries, the Kiel-Gothenburg route can finally be operated at a profit. 


Only in 2010 / 11 are they replaced by even bigger ferries. They are still in service with Stena: as the Stena Vision and Stena Spirit on the Karlskrona-Gdynia route. The duty-free concept is converted to a Vendor Control System in 1993. As a result, airlines and ship operators have to ensure that only the permitted amounts are imported. The consequence of this is a collapse in passenger numbers.  From this point on, Stena Line focuses on holiday and business travel as well as goods transportation.

1999: duty-free sales within the European Union's single market are phased out. Initial restrictions on duty-free had been in place from as early as the 1960s. This poses a major challenge on the Kiel route and with the company's Danish business.


New ships, another size up
In the 2000s Stena Line aims to expand once again on the Kiel route. This means ships with higher transport capacity are required. Stena finds the right models for this on the England line: Stena Hollandica (2000) and Stena Britannica (2003). The route from the Hook of Holland to Harwich gets two new ferries. Renovations and a new naming ceremony follow in 2010.

    Stena Germanica on the Kiel to Gothenburg route


The old Hollandica is now called the Stena Germanica (III), while the Britannica travels under the name Stena Scandinavica (IV). They are furnished with additional cabins that have an even greater level of comfort. 


The panorama cabins mean that there is a luxury class for the first time: some round beds, a whirlpool, inside cabins with ceiling windows and live images from the archipelago on the cabin's own large-screen TV.

The new ferries are 240 m long, can travel at 22 knots and have an over 4 km long track on the car deck.

Future-oriented technology: since 2015, Stena Germanica has been the first RoPax ferry to be powered by methanol. This conversion is an innovative solution to increased environmental regulations.