Interior view: Wasaline’s Aurora Botnia

Wasaline has set high expectations for its new ferry, billing it as the world’s most environmentally friendly vessel. Jon Ingleton asks Peter Ståhlberg for an insider’s perspective

Interior view: Wasaline’s Aurora Botnia
Kudos Dsign has combined soft colours with natural materials to create a contemporary Scandinavian-style interior in the buffet

Wasaline’s Aurora Botnia has been designed to set a new environmental and technical standard when she starts service on the Gulf of Bothnia between Vaasa, Finland and Umeå, Sweden in January 2021. Although she will initially operate using a dual-fuel and battery-powered solution, the ship will be also be primed for running on both LNG and biogas.

However, she does not just have an environmentally friendly technical profile; the company has taken a green approach with her interiors too.

“Eco-friendliness has been taken into account everywhere – both in the design and the use of the spaces,” says Peter Ståhlberg, CEO of Wasaline. ”For example, when passenger numbers decrease in the low season, we’ll be able to save energy by turning off lights and heating in empty spaces. We will also display our energy use and show our environmental fingerprint during the voyage.”

According to Ståhlberg, the primary characteristic of Aurora Botnia’s interiors will be their affinity with the natural environment. “From the very beginning, it was obvious to Wasaline that the design should be honest and simple, just like the Bothnia region in which she will be sailing,” he explains.

Indeed, the plentiful creative stimuli in the Bothnian Gulf have provided rich pickings for the interior design team. “The designers were inspired by the windswept islands of the Bothnian archipelago, the wide-open fields, the majestic landscape of Västerbotten, the traditional craftmanship skills and modern greenhouse farming,” says Ståhlberg. “The design is modern, fresh and makes use of natural colours – it’s very down to earth.”

Aurora Botnia will have a generous passenger space ratio and offer an attractive mix of facilities to suit a broad demographic. “We want to provide cruise experiences that are bigger than the size of our company,” explains Ståhlberg. “This means that we will provide different kinds of onboard places that our passengers can enjoy, from conference rooms and various restaurants, to a dance bar and a playroom for children.”

Wasa Express, the ship currently servicing the Vasa-Umeå route, is very popular with passengers and Ståhlberg hopes these onboard offerings will make Aurora Botnia similarly blessed. “We want passengers to feel welcome and close to our new vessel,” he explains. “We want to be the most sympathetic shipping company and, of course, we also want to be the pride of the Gulf of Bothnia.”

Ståhlberg is conscious that such pride must be earned over time, but he believes the vessel’s sustainability stories will give her a winning head start and take her straight into the hearts of the communities she will serve. “The ferry is incredibly environmentally friendly and there are plenty of stories for us to share about her interiors,” he remarks. “She was planned with an environmental conscience, using recycled or otherwise very eco-friendly materials. For example, the carpets in the cabins are made from old fishing nets and there are tables made from recycled materials.”

With so many engaging stories behind so many of the onboard spaces, Ståhlberg finds it hard to discern which will be his personal favourite. “I think all of her interior spaces will become much-loved places,” he says. “However, the business lounge with big panoramic windows will take me close to nature. The great views and the opportunity to work in comfort will surely make it my favourite office.”

This article was first published in the 2020 issue of Cruise & Ferry Interiors. All information was correct at the time of printing, but may since have changed.

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Jon Ingleton
By Jon Ingleton
04 August 2020

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