125 Years Anniversary

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The history of travel across the North Sea between Holland and the UK far exceeds 125 years, but our special route recorded its first sailing on the 1st of June 1893 from Harwich to Rotterdam via the Hook of Holland, making the month of June our official 125th Anniversary!

The route initially offered crossings for freight and travellers but eventually expanded its facilities for cars and coaches; traffic was then predicted to increase from 25,000 in 1893 to over a million a year by 1993. Stena Line jumped onboard this special route and purchased it in 1989 transforming it into luxury travel with cruise ferries, Stena Line’s first cruise ferries on this route were the m.s Koningin Beatrix and the Stena Britannica.

A Look Back In Time

Travel to the UK port was not only made easier for cars and coaches, it was also improved for foot passengers with the opening of the railway in 1893. The new railway departed from London Liverpool Street (as the train still does today) to the Harwich International Port where passengers were able to swiftly board the ships. Further improvements were made to the route with the removal of the additional calls at Norwich, Ipswich and in Holland the call at Rotterdam, making it a direct Harwich – Hook of Holland service.

Full Speed Ahead

As well as streamlining the route Stena Line took leaps and strides to improve the ships and onboard service. In the summer of 1997 the High-Speed Sea Service was introduced (HSS) 1500 catamaran (a twin-hull aluminium car/passenger ferry), this high-speed vessel halved the crossing time meaning the m.s Koningin Beatrix and the Stena Britannica would be soon setting sail for the last time leaving the route with the HSS and the Stena Discovery to ferry passengers across the North Sea.

The route continued to evolve and meet demands of passengers, the next thing to be updated were the ports, both the Harwich and Hook of Holland ports underwent major improvements to support the number of ships, vehicles and foot passengers. Stena Line then took the bold move to launch two new superferries, for a smoother sailing, better onboard facilities and larger capacity – the new Stena Hollandica and Britannica superferries were introduced in 2010. The Hollandica naming ceremony took place in Hook on the 8th June in the presence of HRH Prinses Margreit and around 400 guests and the official naming ceremony for the new Stena Britannica took place on the 19th of October by Susan Hammond the wife of Philip Hammond, the UK Secretary of State for Transport.

Celebrating Onboard

The new superferries now not only offer larger capacities for freight, cars and foot passengers, our ships also allow for people to bring their pets, surfboards, bicycles, motorbikes, caravans and more. Our new and improved cabins, offer comfort like never before with ultra-comfy Swedish mattresses, minibars and super-showers. While on the main deck, you can enjoy a movie at the onboard cinema, a tasty meal in one of our restaurants, some refreshments at the bars and entertainment.

If travelling in the month of June for our big 125th Anniversary then you could be in for a special treat, surprise guests and entertainment. We have come a long way in 125 years sailing the North Sea between Harwich and the Hook of Holland, with over 600 sailings this year alone and counting! Join in the celebrations throughout the month of June; visit our Official Anniversary Page for the latest news, offers and information about our extra special route.

  • david oates says:

    I do travel with stena line from Birkenhead to Belfast great company

  • I love this route to mainland Europe, It has always been my favourite, every now again I do try another way but always come back to Stena line. Just a Question for as long as I can remember, even as far as Sealink. The English ferry (Stena Britannica) has done the day crossing to the Netherlands and the Dutch Ferry (Stena Hollandica) has done the day crossing to the UK. This year I noticed they have swopped around is there a reason for this ?

    • Sam says:

      Hi David,

      Each ship sails twice a day so they both would sail from both ports within a day. The morning sailing from the UK is the Hollandica which sails to Holland and the Britannica sails from Holland to the UK. We’re glad you enjoy sailing, hope to have you onboard again. thanks Sam 🙂

  • Pam Walkington says:

    Thank you Stena Line, we arrived back in the UK from the Hook of Holland last Friday on a return trip that I won on your 125 year anniversary celebration prize draw. Everything was perfect, from the warm welcoming staff to your comfortable cabins – A great experience ????????

    • Sam says:

      Hi Pam,

      We are very glad you enjoyed your trip, congratulations on being our lucky winner! We hope you travel again soon and get the chance to experience it during the festive period. 🙂

  • Katharina Cameron says:

    I am disabled and of course had one of the super special cabins. So I had great assistance through out and the personal was very helpful,thank you for that. Certainly for recommendations.

  • Peter Harris says:

    Here’s to another 125 years!

  • I remember traveling from Harwich to the Hook of Holland in about 1956.My father was serving in the British Army and my mother and I were were traveling to Germany to join him.The ship was mainly filled with troops and I remember hearing the sound of army boots on the deck above our cabin.We were in a four birth cabin and it was very hot.This ship could not have been less luxourious but I suppose it was not that many years after the 2nd World War.A great difference to your ships of today

  • C Porch says:

    We had a super comfortable trip last night, your excellent staff made travelling a pleasure. I just wish you would allow some pet cabins so we wouldn’t be parted from our dog!

  • Maria says:

    I was on the 80th anniversary with stena when it went from Weymouth to Cherbourg was great a party on board with boater hats balloons and tv crew , I was 10 and always in my memories

  • Nigel preston says:

    I have traveled the route many times.my daughter is taking my grandson on his first trip abroad next week I’ve told him you have a magician on board.my wife and I are traveling to the Netherlands the end of August on the overnight ferry I still look out of the port hole most of the night