The King of Scandinavia entered service with DFDS Seaways on the 12th March 2006, operating between Newcastle and Amsterdam (Ijmuiden). The arrival of the King of Scandinavia increased the total capacity on the route from 2,758 passengers and 780 cars to 3,691 passengers and 960 cars, operating in tandem with the Queen of Scandinavia. Four months after her introduction as the King of Scandinavia bfenthusiasts.com took a behind the scenes look as to how the former Brittany Ferries flagship is faring at DFDS, as well as an exclusive interview with the ships Hotel Manager.
It was announced on the 25th November 2005 that Brittany Ferries had sold the Val de Loire to DFDS Seaways, for an undisclosed sum, to operate between Newcastle and Amsterdam. As part of the sale, a medium term charter of the Duke of Scandinavia was arranged for operating between Plymouth and Roscoff. The two ships were to be renamed King of Scandinavia and Pont L'Abbe respectively for their new roles.
The Val de Loire undertook her final voyage under Brittany Ferries on the 20th February 2006, departing Portsmouth at 0745, arriving into Cherbourg at 1440. Upon arrival she was de-stored and handed over to DFDS Seaways where refitting and repainting began apace. She was officially re-named and registered in Kobenhaven on the 8th March 2006, and departed for Ijmuiden on the 28th February, arriving the following day. During her layover much work was carried out onboard in order to bring her into line with the DFDS Seaways brand. Externally the Brittany Ferries logo and livery were painted out and DFDS Seaways own applied. The blue window stripes were extended further forward, and her forward superstructure on deck 10 was painted white.
Internally, the order of the day was cleaning, bringing the ship up to her former glory following a number of years minimum investment from Brittany Ferries. The two major areas to receive attention were the aft sections of decks 7 & 9. On deck 7 the former 'la Magdalena' self-service restaurant was turned into the '7 Seas Buffet' restaurant. Deck 9 saw the removal of 'le Kiosque', in its place a giant slot machine area was installed, whilst the previous games area was turned into a casino sporting card tables and blackjack boards. The main bar 'le Rabelais' now becomes the 'Columbus Club', and now has a blue livery and a larger dance floor. Leading immediately off the 'Columbus Club' is the brand new 'Sports bar', where previously 2 reclining seat lounges were found. The meeting rooms have been converted into a computer games room. The former Commodore Class section has remained, however under DFDS it is now known as 'Commodore De-luxe'. Whilst the cabins remain the same (minus their toilet doors and individual French names) the Commodore De-luxe lounge has now come into its own. Here you can now find a plasma TV, free internet access, magazines and a complimentary selection of food and beverages.
The new giant of the North Sea was christened in a formal ceremony in the Dutch port of Amsterdam (IJmuiden) by its godmother Ragnhild Moberg, wife of DFDS A/S Board Director Anders Moberg, on the 8th March.
She first arrived into Newcastle on the morning of the 12th March 2006 in preparation for her maiden voyage later that day. As part of the festivities local radio station Century FM, using satellite technology on a cruise ferry for the first time, broadcast their morning show live from the King of Scandinavia on both Monday and Tuesday morning. Upon her return into Newcastle on Tuesday 14th March 2006 further 'red carpet' festivities took place including a VIP onboard lunch.
Down to Work
Following the festivities and the fanfare surrounding her arrival, the King of Scandinavia settled into her overnight sailing schedule, departing Newcastle at 17:30 and Amsterdam at 18:00 every other day.
During her first month in service the King of Scandinavia hit the local headlines for rather different reasons. An emergency medical evacuation took place on the 24th March 2006, in storm weather conditions off Flamborough after a passenger severed her finger in a closing watertight door on deck 2. Later that same month a number of small fires were started in the early hours of 30th March whilst en-route to Newcastle, which were found to be due to arson.
Since her introduction the King of Scandinavia has been met with positive comment and has resulted in a significant increase in passenger numbers on the Newcastle to Ijmuiden line. Refurbishment continues to take place onboard, and the ship is due to undergo a dry dock period in early January between the 2nd and 17th 2007.
In a surprise move, DFDS announced on the 6th September 2006 that they had purchased Fjord Lines' flagship Fjord Norway and that they would be taking over the company's route between Newcastle and Bergen, which also calls at Stavanger and Haugesund. She was handed over to DFDS Seaways on the 15th October 2006 in Hanstholm where she then sailed to Frederikshaven to be refitted and have the DFDS livery applied. She was renamed Princess of Norway and re-registered in Kobenhavn on the 16th October 2006, sailing under the Danish flag.
The Princess of Norway was originally constructed in 1986 as the Peter Pan for TT-Line of Germany, operating between Travemunde and Trelleborg. A year later a sister ship, the Nils Holgersson was also introduced, which now sails as the King of Scandinavia. In 1990 the Peter Pan was sold to the Tasman Government, Australia, for introduction in 1993 as the Spirit of Tasmania where she operated between Devonport and Melbourne. She remained 'down under' until she was sold to Fjord Line at the end of 2002. She set sail for Frederikshaven as the Spir and entered service with Fjord Line as the Fjord Norway following a refit on the 8th April 2003.
As a consequence of the acquisition of Fjord Line's route to England, DFDS Seaways' Gothenburg/Kristiansand - Newcastle route closed on the 1st November 2006 and the Princess of Scandinavia was sold to Moby Lines for operation as the Moby Otta in the Mediterranean, where her own sister ship, the Moby Drea (ex Prince of Scandinavia) also operates.
The two sisters became running mates once more, when Princess of Norway was switched to the Newcastle-Ijmuiden route in 2007, with Queen of Scandinavia taking her place on the Newcastle - Bergen route.