Klaipeda – Kiel route turns 30
Klaipeda – Kiel, the oldest Lithuanian ferry route
The Kiel-Klaipeda route is the oldest international ferry line in Lithuania that is still in operation. In 2023, this route turns 30 years old. Back in 1993, "Vilnius" marked a historic moment as the very first Lithuanian ferry to welcome passengers aboard. Just a year later, it was joined by the remarkable "Kaunas," a vessel that would soon become the company's shining star. "Kaunas" was truly ahead of its time, drawing the attention of ministers and celebrities alike, and offering passengers not just a journey, but a voyage filled with entertainment and exciting adventures.
Ferries listed in the Guinness Book of Records
The ferry “Vilnius” could accommodate 130 passengers, and 1650 linear meters were allocated for cargo. Meanwhile, the ferry "Kaunas", which later supplemented the route, accommodated twice as many passengers - 260 and 1650 linear meters of cargo. These were record ships in the literal sense of these words. "Vilnius" and "Kaunas" were listed in the Guinness Book of Records as the world's largest ferries carrying railway wagons. The design of the ferries allowed 104 railway wagons to be unloaded and loaded within four hours. Later both ships were reconstructed, more adapted to the transportation of goods by trucks and passenger transportation.
Unforeseen Advancements and Increasing Demand
"Kaunas" in those days redefined ferry travel. There was a restaurant on the ferry, three bars, many cozy cabins, opening illuminators and even a slot machine room. All food, drinks and goods for ferries were supplied from Germany. The first Lithuanian passengers felt as if abroad – there were no such goods and dishes in Lithuania at that time. Meanwhile, the Germans were able to enjoy incredibly cheap beer and high-quality service. Traveling by ferry back then was like a glimpse into the future of maritime travel, so passengers experienced not only the excitement of the open sea, but also the taste of luxury.
From two trips a week – to daily departures
The onboard staff were also surprised by the unseen modernity. The bar had its own dishwashing machine, ice refrigerator, freezer compartment. Both the bar and the restaurant were equipped with air conditioners. New stoves have been installed in the kitchen - The stoves were controlled by a computer. Such devices had not been seen ever before.
In the first 12 months of the route, about 14,000 passengers (5-6 times less than in modern times) and about 120,000 linear cargo meters (10-11 times less than now) were transported. Meanwhile, the number of trips from two round trips per week has increased to every day departures.