Built 1982, AG Weser Seebeckswerft Bremerhaven, West Germany
Tonnage 22 161 GT
Length 153,40 m
Width 24,70 m
Draugth 5,80 m
Ice class 1A
2 048 passengers
4 Pielstick diesels, combined 15 300 kW
2 bow thrusters
Speed 20 knots
The Julia enjoyed, if that is the right word, only a very brief Baltic Sea service on the short-lived Stella Lines' Helsinki-St. Petersburg route. She has however had an interesting career outside the Baltic.
Originally built as the Olau Britannia, the ship was a younger sister of the Olau Hollandia (today's Nordlandia) ordered for Olau Line by their owner TT Line. Originally the second sister was planned to enter service on TT Line's Trelleborg-Travemünde route, but instead she joined her sister on Olau's Sheerness-Vlissingen cross-channel service. At the time of their completion the Olau sisters were the best-appointed ferries on the English Channel routes.
In 1989-1990 the Olau Britannia and her sister were replaced by newer ships of similar but larger construction, confusingly also named Olau Hollandia and Olau Britannia. In preparation for the delivery of the new Olau sisters, the old sisters were sold to the Swedish shipping company Nordström & Thulin, who were at the time expanding radically into passenger shipping, to be delivered once the new sisters entered service. The old Olau Hollandia did pass to N&T in 1989 (for their Gotlandslinjen subsidiary), but the old Olau Britannia was resold by N&T to Fred. Olsen before they ever took delivery of the ship.
In 1990 then the Olau Britannia was delivered to Fred. Olsen, who renamed her Bayard for their Fred. Olsen Line Kristiansand/Oslo-Hirsthals service. Her new career was to be very short-lived, as in the beginning of 1991 Fred. Olsen sold their North Sea ferry operations (including the Bayard, Bolero and Borgen but not the line's flagship Braemar) to Color Line. Color Line had only been formed at the end of 1990 when the Norwegian Kosmos Group merged their existing shipping companies Jahre Line and Norway Line into a single unit. The new owners renamed the Bayard into Christian IV and kept her on the same service as before.
The Christian IV was rebuilt in 1999 at Fredericia Værft in Denmark and again in 2005 at Remontowa in Poland. In 2008 she was withdrawn from service on the Kristiansand-Hirsthals route when the new SuperSpeed 1 was delivered. She briefly returned to service later that year on the Larvik-Hirtshals route, but was sold in July 2008 to the Finland-based Stella Lines, who planned on using her to restart ferry services between Helsinki and St. Petersburg.
Renamed Julia and repainted with Stella Lines' hull and funnel markings but otherwise retaining her blue-hulled Color Line livery, the ship begun sailing on the Helsinki-St. Petersburg route in August 2008. And in the beginning of October the service was closed down. The Julia was laid up in Kotka and put for sale. Soon afterwards Stella Lines (or more to the point, the Stella company's passenger-carrying subsidiary) went bankrupt. Several auctions were held but the ship remained unsold until September 2009, when she was finally sold to Fastnet Line, a new company planning to restart ferry services between Swansea and Cork.
Fastnet Line kept the name Julia for the ship and did not alter her livery except to paint over the Stella Lines' hull and funnel markings. In spring 2010 the Julia begun sailing between Swansea and Cork, on which route she remains to this day.
The photographs below (the only ones of the ship I have) show the Julia on Kruunuvuorenselkä after departing Helsinki South Harbour on the evening of 15 August 2010. Click on the images to view full size.
|To this date I wonder whose bright idea it was to choose a light yellow star on a white background as the funnel symbol for the line. Even in better lighting the star was almost impossible to distinguish from the background.|