MS Birka Stockholm to be converted for expedition use

   November 7, 2021 ,   Cruise Industry

A ship that mainly operated 22-hour cruises leaving roundtrip from homeport Stockholm Sweden will be converted to a high-end-of-the-market expedition ship.

The 2004-built ms Birka Stockholm has been laid up (at Mariehamn Aland) since early 2020 as a result of the COVID crisis.

However, the 1800-passenger boat that has Finnish/Swedish ice class 1A Super (the highest for passenger ships) could be converted to a 600-passenger expedition cruise ship with relatively little work and low cost.

The London-based shipbroker Clarkson Platou valued the vessel at EUR 82,8 million (~USD 95,8M / ~GBP 71M). A team from Rederi AB Eckero (the Finnish shipowner) has teamed up with Fosen Design in order to evaluate the viability of the conversion project.

The ship's life-saving equipment will have to be updated. The number of staterooms should be reduced from 700 to 300 and step-out balconies should be added to a total of 215 cabins positioned in the superstructure.

MS Birka Stockholm was a cruise ship owned by Eckero Line (Finland-based ferry company) via the brand Birka Line and operated by the fully-owned by Eckero subsidiary company and travel brand Birka Cruises. The vessel was inaugurated in 2004 and constructed by Aker Finnyards (in Rauma Finland). Eckero acquired Birka in 2007.

After 49 years of operation, on July 3, 2020, Eckero Line announced that Birka Cruises is permanently shut down (effectively defunct) and that the vessel Birka Stockholm (16-years-old at the time) is planned for drydock conversion into a cruiseferry. According to Eckero's announcement, the company's closure was due to the financial impact of the Coronavirus crisis. All bookings were fully refunded. More than 500 Birka employees (including the ship's crew) lost their jobs.