FerriesIrish Continental Group (ICG)P&O European FerriesP&O FerriesPast and Present

MV Pride of Bilbao – Past and Present

MV SPL Princess Anastasia

ex Bilbao, Pride of Bilbao, Olympia

© Joonas Kortelainen

© Joonas Kortelainen

Steel motor vessel, built in 1986 by Oy Wärtsilä Ab Åbo Finland (Yard No. 1290) for Rederi Ab Slite, Sweden, as a passenger and roll-on roll-off car and commercial vehicle ferry

Technical Data

  • Length on deck: 176.82m (overall), 159.59m (between perpendiculars)
  • Breadth of hull: 28.40m (extreme)
  • Depth: 14.66m
  • Draught: 6.719m (maximum)
  • Tonnage: 37,583 (1992)/37,799 (gross), 11,274 (1992)/23,644 (net),4,000 (1992)/3,420 (deadweight)
  • Engines: 4 x Wartsila-Semt-Piestick 12PC 2-6V diesels
  • Power: 31,500 hk
  • Speed: 22 knots
  • Capacity: 2,500 passengers, 580 vehicles (max),62 commercial trailers
  • Lane metres: 1,120
  • Call Sign: SLOV (1992), MTDM5, C6MF8, IBRS
  • IMO Number: 8414582
  • MMSI Number: 247385600
  • Registry: Slite, Sweden (1986 – 1993),Nassau/Bahamas (1993 – 1994), Portsmouth/United Kingdom (1994 – 2008), Nassau/Bahamas (2008 – 2011), Valletta/Malta (2011-2017), Napoli/Italy (2017 – )
  • Sister ship: MARIELLA

Current Location

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Please note that this vessels AIS transponder and position data may be over an hour old and that this specific vessels position will only be displayed when it is within range of the MarineTraffic AIS system. The AIS transponder/ship position data featured on this page is intended for information purposes only and it is no way related to the safety of navigation at sea. All the AIS ship position data featured within this website is provided by www.marinetraffic.com and we are therefore not responsible for the content or the accuracy of this data


August 31st 1985: Launched.

April 26th 1986: Delivered to Rederi Ab Slite, Slite. Left builders for home port.

April 27th 1986: Ship open to the public in Slite.

April 29th 1986: Commenced with Viking Lines between Stockholm – Helsingfors.

1992: Planned sale to Rederi Ab Sea-Link, Malmo did not materialise.

April 1993: Chartered to P&O European Ferries, Portsmouth, England.

April 5th 1993: Final voyage for Viking Line.

April 7th 1993: Left Stockholm for Southampton.

April 10th 1993: Arrived in Southampton for dry-docking and re-branding.

© Bob Smith  © Bob Smith

© Bob Smith (both)

May 1993: Renamed PRIDE OF BILBAO.

May 1993: Commenced service between Portsmouth – Bilbao and Portsmouth – Cherbourg.

October 1993: Sold to Irish Continental Group, Dublin, Ireland (Registered för Zatarga Ltd, Nassau, Bahamas). Bareboat chartered to P&O European Ferries.

© Ken Larwood  © Ken Larwood

© Ken Larwood (both)

November 30th 1993: She was transferred to her new owners.

1994: Registered in the U.K. with home port of Portsmouth.

1999: Introduced by P&O Portsmouth between Portsmouth – Bilbao and Portsmouth – Cherbourg.

December 31st 1999 – January 1st 2000: Dover – Greenwich “Millennium Cruise”

© Mike Jackson   © Mike Jackson

© Mike Jackson

© Mike Jackson (Dover 31/12/1999)

© Steve Newman  © Steve Newman

© Steve Newman  © Steve Newman

© Steve Newman (all)

© Ken Smith

© Ken Smith (Tilbury 01/01/2000)

October 15th 2002: Transferred to P&O Ferries between Portsmouth – Bilbao and Portsmouth – Cherbourg.

January 2003: Interior refit.

February 2003 – March 2003: Operated between Portsmouth – Le Havre.

© Simonwp

© Simonwp

January 30th 2004 – February 13th 2004: Operated between Portsmouth – Cherbourg.

December 28th 2004: Left Portsmouth for Dublin.

December 29th 2004: Left Dublin for Cherbourg.

December 31st 2004: Returned to service

January 2003: Major overhaul and new colours.

January 20th 2005: Suffered a minor fire at Falmouth, Cornwall. The fire broke out in a restaurant while the ship was undergoing a refit at the A&P dock yard. It was quickly brought under control with A&P Falmouth evacuating of the ship.

© "The Ferryman"   © Gary Davies (http://www.maritimephotographic.co.uk)

© “The Ferryman” (left) and © Gary Davies (Maritime Photographic) (right)

November 2008: Transferred to the Bahamas flag , home port Nassau.

September 28th 2010: Last day of service between Bilbao – Portsmouth and completion of the charter to P & O.

© Chris Hunsicker  © Chris Hunsicker

© Chris Hunsicker

© Chris Hunsicker

© Gary Davies (http://www.maritimephotographic.co.uk)

© Gary Davies (Maritime Photographic)

September 30th 2010: Sailed for the last time from Portsmouth.

© Gary Davies (http://www.maritimephotographic.co.uk)

© Gary Davies (Maritime Photographic)

October 1st 2010: Arrived in Falmouth for dry-docking.

October 9th 2010: Her AIS signal showed her name as being BILBAO.

© Charlie Chambers

Bilbao moving from dry dock to Duchy Wharf, Falmouth 17/10/10 © Charlie Chambers

October 17th 2010: Moved from dry-dock number 2 to Queens North, Falmouth. Hull reverted to blue with white funnel.

December 3rd 2010: Sold by the Irish Continental Group to St Peter Line.

“Ferries group Irish Continental agreed to sell its ‘Bilbao’ ferry to St Peter Line, in Nicosia, Cyprus. The total sale price is €37.7m, payable in instalments over just under six years, up to September 2016.The deal is in the form of a hire purchase agreement under which the vessel is chartered by ICG to St Peter Line, but the Cypriot company will own the vessel after the final payment. ICG has owned the vessel since November 1993, when the ship was bought from its Swedish owners, Viking Line. The company says the deal is expected to result in a profit before tax of around €8m this year.”

December 22nd 2010: Management DFDS Seaways, Lithuania.

December 29th 2010: Left Falmouth for Klaipeda, Lithuania for refit.

Courtesy of Gena Amfimov

Courtesy of Gena Amfimov

March 2011: Renamed SPL PRINCESS ANASTASIA. Registered in Malta, home port Valletta.

March 27th 2011: Left Klaipeda for St Petersburg.

March 31st 2011: Began operations between St Petersburg – Stockholm – Tallinn – St Petersburg. (Via Tallinn (Estonia) on the outward journey and Helsinki (Finland) on the return journey).

April 28th 2011 – May 9th 2011: Charter.

August 3rd 2011: Services between Stockholm – St Petersburg – Helsinki – Mariehamn – Stockholm – Tallinn – St Petersburg – Stockholm.

© Aleksi Lindström  © Aleksi Lindström

© Aleksi Lindström

January 2014: Left St Petersburg, via Tallin, for Piraeus.

January 20th 2014: Arrived in Piraeus where she had advertising painted on her side.

© Dennis Mortimer  © Dennis Mortimer

(Piraeus 29/01/2014) © Dennis Mortimer

February 5th 2014 – February 24th 2014: Used as a Hotel Ship for the Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia.

March 17th 2014: Arrived in Stockholm.

March 18th 2014: Left Stockholm for St Petersburg.

March 3rd 2014: Returned to services between St Petrsburg – Helsinki – Stockholm – St Petersburg.

© Carsten Dettmer

© Carsten Dettmer

March 17th 2014: Arrived Stockholm.

March 18th 2014: Left Stockholm for St Petersburg.

March 23rd 2014: Returned to service St Petersburg – Helsingfors – Stockholm – Tallinn – St Petersburg.

January 2017: Arrived Kopli, Tallinn for refit.

January 2017: Transferred to Italian registry and renamed SPL PRINCESS ANASTASIA.

March 31st 2017: Left Kopli for St Petersburg.

April 2nd 2017: Services for Moby Spl between St Petersburg – Helsingfors – Tallinn – Stockholm – Helsingfors – St Petersburg. She will appear in a new guise, her sides painted by Riccardo Guasco.


© Kim Viktor



© Aleksi Lindström

January 10th 2018: Left St Petersburg for refit at Remontowa, Gdansk.

March 21st 2018: Left Gdansk for St Petersburg.

March 25th 2018: Returned to service.

May 4th 2018: “Contacted two quayside port cranes while leaving St. Petersburg port and proceeding in narrow channel, meters off quayside. One crane was contacted by port side bridge wing, another one was contacted by stern, passenger’s reported a perceptible jolt and some paint and debris falling from cranes. Ferry was taken to berth and resumed voyage in about an hour. “.

November 7th 2019: Left Stockholm for Helsinki.

November 15th 2019: Taken out of service owing to a technical fault.

November 16th 2019: Left St Petersburg for dry-docking in Gdynia.

November 25th 2019: During trials and planned departure to Stockholm she had an issue with shaft seals overheating and returned to the shipyard..

December 12th 2019: Left Gdynia for Gdansk.

December 12th 2019: Arrived in Gdansk.

April 27th 2020: Left Gdansk for Murmansk.

May 7th 2020: Arrived at the Novatek shipyard in Murmansk area to provide additional accommodation for shipyard workers (owing to a high number of corona virus infected workers).

We would like to thank: Charlie Chambers, Gary Davies (Maritime Photographic), Carsten Dettmer, “The Ferryman”, Chris Hunsicker, Joonas Kortelainen, Ken Larwood, Aleksi Lindström, Mike Jackson, Dennis Mortimer, Steve Newman, Simonwp, Ken Smith, Kim Viktor and Andreas Wörteler for their assistance in producing this feature. All information is believed to be correct and no responsibility is accepted for errors and omissions.

Article © Nigel Thornton and Ray Goodfellow (Dover Ferry Photos Group)

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