Sometime in 2009 two-ship enthusiasts met for dinner at a restaurant in New York. Lamenting the dwindling number of veteran ex-ocean liners still working as cruise ships, one wondered whether there were any old twin-funnelled ships still plying their trade? Yes, came the answer, just one – a small vessel called Kristina Regina, based in Finland.
Built as the ferry Bore for overnight service between Finland and Sweden, the 100m-long ship was then nearly 60 years old. And with the implementation of stricter international safety regulations set to force her retirement soon, there was regret that neither of them would likely set foot aboard her.
However, ten years later, that ship is still with us, restored to her original livery, and moored at her former homeport of Turku, Finland. Rescued by a young entrepreneur when she left active service in 2010, the ship reopened as a permanently moored hotel, museum and event space in 2011. With her distinctive profile characterised by twin funnels, she harks back to an era that other ships have not survived, and is a living monument to the rich maritime heritage of the two Scandinavian nations she once linked.
The history of merchant shipping on the Baltic can be summarised as a series of mergers, acquisitions and partnerships among the many shipping companies. Ångfartyg A/B Bore, or Bore Steamship Company, was one of the three founding partners of the consortium that formed the Silja Line in 1957. By the 1970s Silja was one of the preeminent operators of large ro-ro passenger ferries in Northern Europe.
Bore and its Silja Line partners were already long-established on the Baltic before joining under the Silja banner. Bore traces its origins to 1897, when it organised a steamer service on the 270km run between Turku (150km west of Helsinki) and Stockholm. In 1898 the company deployed the new 820-ton steamer Bore on the route. This ship set standards that defined the company’s flagships for the next 75 years.
Like the first Bore, these vessels could be identified by their twin funnels, whose distinctive blue, yellow and white funnel markings referenced the national colours of both Sweden and Finland. The company operated more than a dozen ships with some variation of the name Bore, usually with non-sequential numeric suffixes that were often used more than once. Bore Line’s inclination toward cooperation with its competition manifested itself early on. Already, by 1904, the company began a collaboration with the Finland Steamship Company (FÅA), which had been founded in 1883. By 1918 Bore had entered into an agreement with the Swedish steamship company, the Svea Line (Stockholms Rederi AB Svea). The pooled service between Finland and Sweden was well entrenched by the time the three companies formalised their cooperation with the formation of Silja in 1957.
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