Delivered to Olau Lines as Olau Britannia (a sister to MS Olau Hollandia ) on May 5, 1982., she was christened two days later by Princess Margaret in Sheerness and entered service on the Sheerness—Vlissingen. Route. However, by the late 1980s she was too small for the toure, and Olau Line ordered larger replacements for the Olau Hollandia and Olau Britannia. Prior to the delivery of the new builds, the Olau Britannia was sold to Nordström & Thulin, Sweden on October 4, 1989, for delivery in 1990. However, before being handed over to there new owners she was sold again on October 11 to Fred. Olsen Lines.

In May 1990 she was handed over to her new owners and renamed MS Bayard. After a refit at Blohm & Voss, Germany, the Bayard was entered into service on the Kristiansand—Hirtshals route in June 1990. For the winter season she was transferred to Oslo—Hirtshals service.

Fred. Olsen sold its Scandinavian ferry an operation to Colour Line in December 1990, and in January 1991 the Bayard was renamed MS Christian IV. The ship was kept on the Oslo — Hirtshals service until April 1994, when she returned to the Kristiansand — Hirtshals route. In March 1995 the ship temporarily covered the Moss—Kiel route, after which she reverted back to her older route. The ship received a major refit in 1999 at Fredericia Værft in Denmark, with additional restaurants and better conference facilities. She received another major refit in 2005, this time at Remontowa, Poland. In March 2008 she was replaced by the new MS Superspeed 1 on the Kristiansand—Hirsthals route, and laid up at Sandefjord in April, but provided relief cover when needed.

On May 20th the Christian IV was sold by Color Line to Stella Naves Russia (trading as Stella Lines), a subsidiary of the Finnish freight shipping operator Stella Company Group, for €13 million. Briar Star Ltd, owners of Swansea Cork Ferries also made an unsuccessful bid for the ship.

She was delivered to her new owners in July 2008, and renamed Julia. On August 1st 2008 she entered service on Stella Lines’ new Helsinki—St. Petersburg route. Passenger numbers on the Julia were low due to the bureaucracy related to applying a visa in order to travel between Finland and Russia. Additionally due to restrictions imposed by the Port of Helsinki the Julia could not carry any freight on the service. On 2008-09-20 the Russian State Duma approved a law change allowing passengers arriving by scheduled ferry services to visit Russia for up to 72 hours without a visa. The precise ports where the new law applies has not been decided, but St. Petersburg is presumed to be one of them. The visa-freedom was expected to increase the number of Finnish passengers on the Julia.

However the Julia continued to struggle, and the change in legislation the Helsinki—St. Petersburg service was terminated due slower than expected growth of the passenger numbers, failure to acquire additional funding and larger than expected harbour expenses in St. Petersburg.

On 9 October 2008 Stella Lines CEO stated that the company would make the decisions about the future of the Julia within the next few days. According to Juvas the alternatives are selling the ship or utilizing the ship on a service between Kotka, Finland and Sillamäe, Estonia. Russian interests (Morskoi Voksal, Inflot and the City of St. Petersburg) also planned to acquire a majority share holding in Stella Lines and recommence Helsinki – St. Petersburg services with the Julia. However, on 3 November it was reported that the City of St. Petersburg had withdrawn from the consortium. On the same day Stella Lines stated the company are looking for other funders allowing the service to be restarted. These attempts failed and Stella Lines was declared bankrupt on 6 November 2008, with the ownership of the Julia passing to Stella’s creditors Aktia Savings Bank.

Several companies expressed an interest in buying the Julia, but none have been able to raise the capital needed to buy her. On 17 February 2009 it was reported that one of the potential buyers for the Julia is Irish ship-owner Frank Allen, who had acquired a loan from a Finnish bank to purchase the ship for use on a service between Cork and Swansea under the brand of B&I Line, which would be re-established for this service. A public auction to sell the Julia was held on 26 February 2009, but no bids were made. In a second auction held on 12 March 2009 B&I Line made the highest bid of €6 million, but confusion surrounded the initial undertaking of €1.5 million to secure the ship and she remained unsold. No further auction was held, instead the bankrupt’s estate negotiated directly with potential buyers. In addition to B&I Line, Greek Halkidon Shipping Corporation and two unnamed Finnish companies were reported to have shown interest in the ship.

The West Cork Tourism Co-operative announced on 2 April 2009 that they were close to agreeing on a deal to buy the Julia. On the 7 April 2009 the West Cork Tourism co-operative shareholders, meeting in Skibbereen gave their unanimous support to the deal and elected a Board of Directors with the power to conclude the deal with the Finnish liquidator. The co-operative is setting up the new ferry company to run the service, which will be called Fastnet Line after the Fastnet Rock lighthouse off the West Cork coast. The West Cork Tourism Co-operative announced on 5 May 2009 that they will launch the new ferry service on 1 March 2010 and they are going ahead with the purchase of the Julia Following a funding agreement with an unnamed Finnish bank, a preliminary sale agreement was signed between Fastnet Line and Julia’s owners on 15 July 2009 for an undisclosed price. The Finnish courts decided to sell the Julia and this was announced on 15 September 2009 following discussions with the creditors of Stella Lines, with her due to enter service on March 1st, 2010.

On September 16th the Julia departed Kotka, Finland, first for berthing trials in Swansea, and arrived docked on Horgans Quay on the 25th, where she is undergoing some maintenance work prior to entry to service.

Onboard – 10/11/09

Shortly after delivery, the Webmaster was offered a tour of the vessel. The gangway emerges into a lobby on Deck 5. Aft is the former (and very large) “Tax Free Supermarket,” a pattern repeated on other decks, with the accommodation forward and facilities towards the stern.

Deck 6 features the ships main Buffet style restaurant, and a small café towards the stern. Continuing up, deck 7 features another, this time smaller self-service restaurant, what under Colour Lines was the “Captains Grill.” With the “Irish Corner Pub” and Sports Pub further aft, as well as the ships main venue, what was the Colorama.

The aft of deck 8 contains mainly crew facilities, while deck 9 contains the ships cinema, and conference facilities as well as the ships reclining seat lounge.

The ship also has a large amount of open deck space, from deck 9 up.

All of the ships cabins are in excellent condition, with the “owners suite” (since renamed the “West Cork Suite”) containing two bedrooms and a day room set to become available to passengers on entry to service. The ship also has a ten 4 berth superior cabins on deck 7, as well as 59 standard 4 berth cabins (21 with windows, and 28 inside) and a further 190 2-berth cabins (53 with windows, and the remaining 137 inside).

As delivered the ship needs very little work in her public areas (apart from updating the signage), with most of the ongoing work at the moment being the overhaul of the ships engines, with the car deck doubling up as a workshop for the moment.




Keeping with the ‘literary’ theme which began with the naming the of the fast craft Jonathan Swift, Irish Continental Group came up with ‘another one for the books’ by announcing yet further new building on 8th July 1999, just days after the Dublin Swift service had begun.

In the space of just seven years, the company had built four new vessels and bought two others. On acquiring B&I Line from the Irish Government in February 1992, the company owned three passenger / car ferries, the Saint Patrick II, the St Killian II, both dating from 1973, and the 1980, Cork built, Leinster, and had one chartered passenger vessel, the Munster (ex Prins Oberon, ex Cruise Muhibah). The Munster was replaced in 1992, by another chartered vessel the Isle of Innisfree (ex Neils Klim, ex Stena Nautica). The two vessels purchased were the Pride of Bilbao (ex Olympia) then on charter to P&O European Ferries (Portsmouth) in 1993, and late in 1999 the Normandy (ex Stena Normandy, ex St Nicholas, ex Prinsessan Birgitta) which had been chartered in 1998 to replace theSt Patrick II and the St Killian II.

The new 50,000 gross ton vessel, destined for the Dublin – Holyhead ‘Central Corridor’ route, was ordered from Aker Finnyards Oy of Rauma, Finland, at a cost of €100 (IR£80) million. The largest passenger / vehicle ferry in the world (based on vehicle deck capacity, as opposed to gross tonnage) was to fly the Irish flag. This order brought Irish Continental Group’s purchase of new tonnage up to a staggering €457million (IR£360 million).

The name chosen by public competition for the new vessel was Ulysses. Ulysses, or Odysseus in Greek mythology was a hero who undertook epic sea voyages. ‘Ulysses’ is also the title of one of the best-known works of James Joyce, who like Jonathan Swift was a famous Dublin born author. The Ulysses’ keel was laid on 24th January 2000, and the part completed vessel was floated out of Aker Finnyard’s facility on 1st September of the same year.

She was handed over to Irish Continental Group at Rauma on Thursday 22nd February 2001, and sailed, under the command of Captain Peter Ferguson, delivering his fourth vessel for the company, at 07:40 on Wednesday 28th February. The Ulysses arrived in Dublin Bay at 07:00 on Sunday 4th March. Watched by hundreds of onlookers on the South Great Wall of Dublin Port, passed the Poolbeg Light just before mid-day. She tied up at Berth 49 at 12:26, following the Jonathan Swift’s, 12:15 sailing to Holyhead. The two vessels crossed in the River Liffey. Ulysses vacated the berth at about 14:00, to facilitate the arrival of Sea Container’s fast craftRapide, and turned in the river before running astern to tie up at a vacant South Quay berth.

After a period of crew training, MES drills, and berthing trials both at Dublin and Holyhead, the new vessel was blessed on 21st March, and then named Ulysses by her ‘Godmother’ Irish Paralympic swimming Gold Medal winner, Mairéad Berry. The maiden voyage ofUlysses took place on 25th March, under the command of Captain Tom Joyce, sailing for Holyhead at 12:15.

The Ulysses’ principal dimensions are: –

Gross Tonnage:
Net Tonnage: 15,713
Displacement Tonnage: 27,425
Dead-weight Tonnage: 10,722 (maximum)
Length Overall: 209.02 metres
Breadth (Moulded): 31.20 metres
Depth (Moulded): 15.75 metres
Draught (Scantling): 6.40 metres
Speed: 22 knots (@ 85% Max rating)
Vehicle Capacity: 1,342 cars or 240 HGVs
Passengers: 1,875
Crew: 125

The Ulysses has twelve decks, and measures 51.07 metres from base line to funnel masthead. Being over 26 metres longer than her predecessor the Isle of Inishmore, she can accommodate up to 1,342 cars, 240 HGVs, or any combination of the two on the 4,076 lane metres (2.6 miles) of vehicle decks, four of which are fixed, and one (8), is hoistable. The lower trailer deck can accommodate 345 lane metres of traffic, while the main trailer deck, (3), has 1,402 lane metres of stowage space. The upper trailer deck, (5), has 1,341 lane metres and the top trailer deck, (7), 988 metres. Exterior curved ramps are located fore and aft on the port side, allowing cars and vans drive between the upper and top trailer decks to speed loading and unloading.