Color LineCompagnie Maritime Maroco-Norvégienne (COMARIT)FerriesFred Olsen ExpressPast and PresentRederi AB GotlandSally LineScandlinesSilja Line

MV Wasa Express (Ex Sally Star/Travemunde) – Past and Present

IMO Number: 8000226

MV Wasa Express

ex Betancuria, Thjelvar, Rostock, Thjelvar, Color Traveller, Thjelvar, Sally Star, Travemünde Link, Travemunde

© Jürgen Stein

© Jürgen Stein

Steel twin screw motor vessel built in 1981 by OY Wärtsilä Ab Helsinki, Finland (Yard No. 432) as a passenger, car and commercial vehicle ferry for Gedser-Travemünde Ruten A/S, Gedser, Denmark.

Technical Data

  • Length: 141 meters
  • Breadth of Hull: 22.61 meters (extreme)
  • Draught: 4.90 meters (maximum)
  • Tonnage: 17,046 gross, 5049 net, 4150 deadweight
  • Engines: Four 12-cylinder Wartsila 12V32 4SA diesels
  • Power: 14,866 kW
  • Speed: 19.5 knots
  • Capacity: 1500 Passengers, 440 Cars, 84 Trailers
  • Call signs: OXIK, C6DS7, LMMW, DEBT2, SJKA, EAMH, OJQB, 5BVN5
  • MMSI Number: 210277000
  • IMO Number: 8000226
  • Registry: Gedser/Denmark 🇩🇰, Nassau/Bahamas 🇧🇸, Larvik/Norway 🇳🇴, Visby/Sweden 🇸🇪, Rostock/Germany 🇩🇪, Visby/Sweden 🇸🇪, Santa Cruz de Tenerife/Spain 🇪🇸, Vaasa/Finland 🇫🇮, Limassol/Cyprus 🇨🇾

Current AIS Location

Please note that this specific vessels AIS position data may be over an hour old and that the vessels position will only be displayed when it is within range of the VesselFinder AIS system. The AIS transponder/ship position data featured on this page is intended for information purposes only and it is in no way related to the 'Safety of Navigation at Sea'. All the AIS ship position data featured within this article is provided by VesselFinder and we are therefore not responsible for its content or its accuracy.


December 21st 1979: Ordered.

August 5th 1980: Keel struck.

January 30th 1981: Launched.

June 15th 1981: Delivered to Gedser-Travemünde Ruten A/S, Gedser, Denmark.

June 17th 1981: Christened by Princess Benedict in Copenhagen.

June 19th 1981: Introduced between Gedser – Travemünde.

© Simonwp

© Simonwp (Travemünde, 13/06/1984)

June 18th 1986: Collided with a breakwater in Travemünde.

© Frank Heine  © Frank Heine

© Frank Heine (Left, Travemünde 21/07/1985, Right 06/08/1985)

1986: Owners changed name to GT-Linien A/S, Gedser.

Andreas Wörteler Collection

 Andreas Wörteler Collection

© Frank Heine  © Frank Heine

© Frank Heine (Travemünde 10/05/1986)

March 1987: Owners went bankrupt.

March 13th 1987: Sold to ASX 10969 A/S, Gedser for continued service.

April 26th 1987: Sold to Sea-Link Ab, Nassau, Bahamas (Sea-Link Ab, Nacka, Sweden). Transferred to GT Link A/S, Nassau, Bahamas.

April 28th 1987: Renamed TRAVEMÜNDE LINK.

Andreas Wörteler Collection

Andreas Wörteler Collection

© Frank Heine  © Frank Heine

© Frank Heine

© Frank Heine (Travemünde April 1987 & May 1988 showing full name on Bridge Deck)

© Ken Larwood  © Ken Larwood

© Ken Larwood  © Ken Larwood

© Ken Larwood  © Ken Larwood

© Ken Larwood  © Ken Larwood

© Ken Larwood

© Ken Larwood (all) Tilbury November 1988

December 6th 1988: Sold to Rederi Ab Gotland, Nassau, Bahamas (Rederi Ab Gotland, Visby, Sweden). Chartered to Sally Line Ltd. After refit at Tilbury renamed SALLY STAR for services from Ramsgate.

© Ken Larwood  © Ken Larwood

© Ken Larwood (06/12/1988 Berthing Trials at Ramsgate)

December 6th 1988: Berthing trials at Ramsgate

December 7th 1988: Commenced service between Ramsgate – Dunkerque.

© Andreas Wörteler

© Andreas Wörteler

December 20th 1988: Two and a half miles off Ramsgate with 373 passengers on board when a fire broke out in the engine-room. The crew immediately sealed it off and alerted the fire services with 25 firemen being airlifted by helicopters from RAF Manston, while several lifeboats stood by. The passengers were evacuated to the upper decks where they remained calm and were fed by the crew. Attempts by THE VIKING to take her into tow failed and the vessel eventually arrived in Ramsgate under tow of a tug.

© Ken Larwood  © Ted Ingham

© Ken Larwood (Left 20/12/1988) and © Ted Ingham (Right)

December 21st 1988: Towed to Dunkerque for repairs.

January 26th 1989: Left repair yard for sea trials and trial berthing at Dover Eastern Docks to confirm that the vessel would be able to berth there in an emergency, then returned to Dunkerque, via Ramsgate, in the evening to take up service the following day.

January 27th 1989: Resumed service.

© Ken Larwood (26/02/1989)

© Ken Larwood (26/02/1989)

December 27th 1989: Left Ramsgate for extensive refit and alterations at Humber Ship Repairers Ltd., Immingham

January 19th 1990: Having returned from her 16 day refit relieved the SALLY SKY which left for a refit lasting almost three months.

© Fotoflite, Ref Image Ref: 96177

© Fotoflite (02/05/1990)

© Andreas Wörteler

© Andreas Wörteler

1990: New livery with an extra red band on the upper white section of the hull and a black band around the passenger accommodation.

© Ken Larwood   © Ken Larwood

© Ken Larwood  © Ken Larwood

© Ken Larwood

© Ken Larwood (all)

1990: Passenger certificate reduced to 1,050.

© Ted Ingham

© Ted Ingham (Ramsgate)

© Pieter Inpyn  © Pieter Inpyn

© Pieter Inpyn

© Pieter Inpyn (Dunkerque,  01/05/1993)

August 25th 1994: Inward-bound on a freight run from Dunkerque West when, eight mile off Ramsgate, a explosion caused a serious fire in her engine room. The fire quickly took hold and smoke and flames could be seen from the shore. The vessel was evacuated and firemen were lifted in by helicopter to prevent the flames from spreading. Towed to Ramsgate for further evacuation and fire extinguished. She was later towed to Arno Shipyard, Dunkerque for repairs.

© Fotoflite Image Ref 164452

© Fotoflite (26/08/1994)

October 14th 1994: Resumed service.

© Fotoflite, Image Ref 184933 © Fotoflite, Image Ref 184936 © Fotoflite

© Fotoflite

1995: The company revamped its image with a new logo and the adoption of Silja Line (parent company) seals head on the hulls and funnels of the ships.

© Marko Stampehl (Dunkerque, 11/05/1996)

March 9th 1997: Involved in a minor collision in Ramsgate harbour with catamaran HOLYMAN DIAMANT. Left later the same day for repairs at Arno Shipyard, Dunkerque.

© Andreas Wörteler

© Andreas Wörteler

April 13th 1997: Completed her final crossing between Dunkerque – Ramsgate.

© Ken Larwood

© Ken Larwood (13/04/1997)

May 1997: Transferred to Finland Levantlinjen Ab, Mariehamn, Finland (made up of a consortium between Rederi Ab Hoburgen, Visby, and Rederi Ab Gotland, Visby).

May 8th 1997 – September 14th 1997: Chartered to Silja Line, Åbo, Finland. Introduced between Vaasa – Umeå under the trading banner of “WASA EXPRESS”.

© Dirk Jankowsky

(‘Wasa Express’) © Dirk Jankowsky

September 15th 1997: Left Vaasa for Bremerhaven.

September 18th 1997: Arrived at Lloyd-Werft, Bremerhaven for rebuilding with catalytic converter and stern sponsors, additional cabins, new cafeteria and general upgrading.

November 1997: Transferred to Rederi Ab Gotland, Visby, and renamed THJELVAR.

© Marko Stampehl

🆕 © Marko Stampehl (Bremerhaven, 30/11/1997)

© Andreas Wörteler

© Andreas Wörteler (Bremerhaven, December 1997)

December 14th 1997: Departed shipyard for Visby.

January 1st 1998: Commenced service for Destination Gotland between Oskarshamn – Visby and in the summer period served Oskarshamn – Visby – Nynäshamn.

© Marko Stampehl

🆕 © Marko Stampehl (Nynäshamn, 27/07/1998)

June 1999 – August 1999: Only services between Visby – Nynäshamn.

June 2000 – August 2000: Only services between Visby – Nynäshamn.

© Andreas Wörteler  © Andreas Wörteler

© Andreas Wörteler (Oskarshamn, 25/96/2001)

November 21st 2003: Bareboat chartered to Color Line, Oslo, Norway. On her first day in service she was transferred to the Norwegian ships register.

November 30th 2003: Final day in service for Destination Gotland Visby – Oskarshamn – Visby.

December 15th 2003: Taken over by Color Line.

January 8th 2004: Left Visby for rebuilding in Fredericia, Denmark.

February 10th 2004: Registered to Thjelvar A/S, Larvik, Norway. Renamed COLOR TRAVELLER.

March 10th 2004: Commenced services between Larvik – Hirtshals. (only being able to carry 150 passengers) .

April 21st 2004: Maiden crossing between Larvik – Strömstad.

© Dirk Jankowsky

© Dirk Jankowsky

June 2004 – August 2004: Commenced service between Larvik – Frederikshavn. (allowed to carry 1000 passengers)

August 2004: Commenced service between Larvik – Hirtshals.

June 2005 – August 2005: Operated between Larvik – Frederikshavn.

© Marko Stampehl

© Marko Stampehl (Frederikshavn on 22 July 2005)

August 2005: Introduced between Larvik – Hirtshals.

December 15th 2006: Final day in service between Larvik – Hirtshals.

December 15th 2006: Left Larvik for Fredericia.

December 2006: Completion of charter to Color Line and re-delivered to Rederi Ab Gotland. Renamed THJELVAR.

December 28th 2006: Arrived in Visby and laid up

January 17th 2007: Remained at berth 3 in Visby.

May 10th 2007: Moved from Visby to Slite for further lay-up.

July 1st 2007: Left Slite for Öresundsvarvet, Landskrona for repairs and alteration.

August 2007: Chartered to Scandlines.

October 1st 2007: Renamed ROSTOCK. Managed by Scandlines A/S and transferred to German registry (home port Rostock).

© Andreas Wörteler

© Andreas Wörteler

October 4th 2007: Left Landskrona for Rostock.

© Fotoflite, Image Ref 346938 © Fotoflite, Image Ref 346939

© Fotoflite

October 5th 2007: Berthing trials in Gedser.

October 15th 2007: Commenced service between Rostock – Gedser.

© Frank Heine

© Frank Heine (Rostock, 22/10/2007)

November 8th 2007: Operated a single trip between Rostock – Hankö – Rostock.

© Andreas Wörteler

© Andreas Wörteler (Warnemunde, 01/08/2008)

March 2008: On a journey to Gedser she lightly grounded.

© Simonwp

© Simonwp (Arriving Warnemunde, 01/09/2008)

October 3rd 2008: Arrived Örskov, Frederikshavn for hull inspection.

October 2008: Taken out of service and laid up in Rostock.

October 2008: Moved to Sassnitz for further lay-up.

April 2009: Moved to Puttgarden.

June 2009 – 2010: Sub chartered by Scandlines to Comarit for services between Almeria – Nador.

© Daniel Ferro

© Daniel Ferro

© Juanfra Monzón  © Juanfra Monzón

© Juanfra Monzón (06/08/2010 at Almería)

August 2010: Charter completed.

August 20th 2010: Left Almeria.

August 24th 2010: Seen in the English Channel with destination showing as Landskrona, Sweden.

August 27th 2010: Arrived in Landskrona.

© Frank Heine

© Frank Heine (Landskrona, 05/09/2010)

September 15th 2010: Refit completed having been repainted in Destination Gotlands livery. Renamed THJELVAR and re-registered to the Swedish flag.

October 5th 2010: Left Landskrona for Norrköping.

October 6th 2010: Arrived Norrköping and laid up.

June 2011: Remains laid up in Norrkoping.

© Dirk Jankowsky

© Dirk Jankowsky

August 2011: Chartered to Lineas Fred Olsen SA.

13th August 2011: Departed Norrkoping for Vigo, Spain.

August 19th 2011: Arrived in Vigo and reportedly renamed BETANCURIA.

August 20th 2011: Left Vigo for Las Palmas.

August 22nd 2011: Arrived in Las Palmas.

September 2011: Chartered to Fred Olsen between Las Palmas de Gran Canaria and Fuerteventura (Puerto del Rosario) and Lanzarote (Arrecife)

© Bermaxo

© Bermaxo

© Eerik Laine  © Eerik Laine 

© Eerik Laine (Lanzarote, 25/11/2011)

August 23rd 2012: Arrived in Las Palmas and laid-up. Charter completed.

© Alex Marrero

© Alex Marrero

October 18th 2012: Left Las Palmas destination Vaasa, Gulf of Bothnia. Purchased by Swedish-Finnish NLC Ferry Ab Oy, for services between Umea, northeastern Sweden and Vaasa, western Finland.

October 28th 2012: Arrived at Vaasa.

October 31st 2012: Renamed WASA EXPRESS.

January 1st 2013: Trials

January 4th 2013: In service between Vaasa and Holmsund (Umeå, Sweden)

© Marko Stampehl  © Marko Stampehl

© Marko Stampehl

January 18th 2013: Forced to cancel all departures due to technical problems. The Company reported technical problems last week and problems then arose with the sprinkler system.

January 22nd 2013: Spare parts obtained and repairs began.

May 2013: Marketed as Wasaline.

© Frank Heine  © Frank Heine

© Frank Heine (Holmsund 16/06/2013)

September 25th 2016 – October 9th 2016: Docked in Kopli, Estonia.

October 16th 2019: In Vaasa, suffered a hydraulic leak on the stern ramp. Repaired and able to continue service.

March 9th 2020: Registered owner/manager: Kvarken Link OY, Finland.

April 9th 2020: Owing to travel restictions (Covid-19) sailed “Freight Only”.

October 22nd 2020: Modern batteries installed meaning that, in a black out, they can supply energy to the most important pumps on board. Also means that she now can sail with only one generator, instead of two saving 25 tonnes of fuel (approx. 80 tonnes of CO2) per month.

November 2020: Still in service between Vaasa and Holmsund (Umeå, Sweden)

December 16th 2020: 

Kvarken Link sells the ferry M/S Wasa Express to UME Shipping

Vaasa based Finnish/Swedish shipowner Kvarken Link entered into an agreement with UME Shipping LLC, United Arab Emirates, to sell the M/S Wasa Express on private terms. Kvarken Link is presently building the M/S Aurora Botnia replacing the Wasa Express in May 2021. M/S Wasa Express will be delivered to UME shipping in direct continuation after the new ferry Aurora Botnia has entered into service on the route between Vaasa in Finland and Umeå in Sweden. Wasa Express will enter UME Shipping’s services in the Red Sea.

Source: Wasa Line

Authors note: She will join her ex fleet mate GUTE (ex SALLY SUN)already sold to UME Shipping

August 26th 2021: Last day in service between Umeå – Vaasa.

August 31st 2021: Taken over by the new owners. 

September 3rd 2021: Left Vaasa for Naantali.

September 4th 2021: Arrived Naantali and entered BLRT Grupp Shipyard for refit/new owners livery etc

© BLRT Grupp © BLRT Grupp

© BLRT Grupp

October 1st 2021: Left Naantali for Holmsund to load cargo of wood then to leave for Egypt and service in the Red Sea.

October 2nd 2021: Arrived Holmsund.

October 9th 2021: Left Holmsund for Alexandria (eta 23/10/2021)

© Göran Olsson

© Göran Olsson (Passing Helsingborg 11/10/2021)

© Fartygspodden © Fartygspodden

© Fartygspodden (Passing Öresund, 11/10/2021)

October 18th 2921: Arrived Gibraltar Anchorage.

© Michael J Sanchez (Courtesy of Dover Strait Shipping) (Gibraltar, 18/10/2021)

October 18th 2021: Left Gibraltar Anchorage showing destination still as Alexandria.

October 24th 2021: Arrived Alexandria.

October 2021: Chartered to Balearia, Spain.

© Balearia

November 9th 2021: Services Almeria – Nador.

© Mike Barker © Mike Barker

© Mike Barker (Almeria, 19/02/2022)(Left)(Almeria, 26/05/2022)(Right)

September 16th 2022: Left Almeria for Algeciras.

September 19th 2022 – March 23rd 2023: Services Algeciras – Tanger Med. 

© Justo Prieto

© Justo Prieto (Algeciras, 24/09/2022)

March 24th 2023: Services Motril – Tanger Med. 

© Antonio Martín Cancho

© Antonio Martín Cancho

May 16th 2023: Services Almeria – Nador.

December 14th 2023: News that she had completed her charter and came off service at Almeria.


December 14th 2023: Sailed to Malaga.

December 15th 2023: Short term charter to Marítima Peregar for services Malaga – Tanger Med.

February 21st 2024: Came off service at Malaga. her charter complete. Sailed to Malaga Anchorage.

March 9th 2024: Sailed to Algeciras.

March 10th 2024: Arrived Algeciras.

March 20th 2024: Arrived Campamento, Spain and dry docked.

May 3rd 2024: Continues to be laid up in Campamento.

May 10th 2024: Left Campamento and arrived Algeciras

May 21st 2024: Left Algeciras and sailed to Malaga.

All information is believed to be correct and no responsibility is accepted for any errors or omissions found. All items included in this article are subject to © copyright. We would like to take this opportunity of thanking: Mike Barker, Bermaxo, Antonio Martín Cancho, Dover Strait Shipping, Daniel Ferro, Fotoflite, Frank Heine, Ted Ingham, Pieter Inpyn, Dirk Jankowsky, Eerik Laine, Ken Larwood, Alex  Marrero, Juanfra Monzón, Göran Olsson, Justo Prieto, Simonwp, Marko Stampehl, Jürgen Stein and Andreas Wörteler for their assistance in compiling this feature.

Sincere thanks to Nigel Scutt @ Fotoflite

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


  1. An old favourite of mine, sailed on her as Sally Star many times, I think I can also remember sailing on her again towards the end of her time ( and Sally Lines) time, as things looked rather “closed down ” on board.

    Sky and Star were great ships. Good to see they both see active service.

    1. Hi John,

      I have fond memories of both the Sally Line ships as well. Had many an enjoyable crossing to Dunkerque and I seem to remember the Sally Star’s Friday night sailing from Dunkerque to be quite a raucous affair thanks to the free disco and cheap booze, happy days.

      Unfortunately the Sally Sky is currently out of service with TEF and with there current issues I fear for her future.

      Best Wishes

      1. I know, how sad… I’m learning so much from this site, become a bit of an addict. Keeping an eye on the AIS app on both my phone and iPad, larkspur not moved yet.

        Sally line re indeed cool, one of a kind company. Much like TEF too…….

        Any updates on the ex star?

        1. Thank you for the kind words re the site John, it’s a labour of love for both myself and Nigel, I suppose in many ways it keeps us out of trouble 🙂

          Last update I had re the Star is after a period of time in the Canary Islands she is now back in the Baltic operating across the Gulf of Bothnia between Vaasa in Finland and Umea in Sweden.

          The choice for the enthusiast to cross the channel are diminishing yearly so it definitely a case of use them before they are gone.

          All the best

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