about speed, comfort and service


“I’m not afraid of storms,
for I’m learning to sail my ship”

Are not going to give you a lot of technical details about the crafts (there is loads) – will give you links, if you are interested. I want you all to meet Stena HSS (High Speed Service) – and specially Stena Voyager on the Belfast-Stranraer route. 

Isn’t this some picture ???? My work, my joy, my headaches, my pride, my screams & my shouts, my nightmares, my laughter’s, my tantrums, my bad jokes and my main responsibility the last 10 years – from the start up in Holyhead –  must been 14 years involvement in total. What a product!!!

And it’s HE for me – normally vessels are female, but for me our 3 HSS’s where very much male, because if they had been female would they even sailed less.  Neither did they have female names.
We had problems with weather – not allowed to departure of the waves where over 4 meter – all because of safety of the emergency embarkation system. So they could be a bit temperamental – didn’t sail when the strong winds where on.

Started up 2 – and that is a story in it’s self – the 3rd belonged to a different part of the company (Harwich – Hook of Holland) , so I didn’t have to be involved in that.

When the project came to us in UK – Sweden had been working on them for quite a while – it was called “LOVEBOAT” ????? Top secret – papers to be signed.

Stena Voyager, Stena Explorer and Stena Discovery. – 3 very stunning male! Big as the old Wembley stadium in London and with a max speed of 48knot – the biggest catamarans in the world – 1500 passangers, 375 cars and with a turnaround time of 30 min in port – with unloading, loading and stores. Ropeless moarning – they reversed into a special linkspan with magnet field and when there was contact between craft and linkspan – massive hooks got into place and holding the craft.

When the crafts where delivered the price on crude oil was $25.00/€19.00/£15.75 per barrel – at it most was $180.00/€135.50/£113.00 – and single journey cost about £6.500/€7.750/€10.305 – and we did 8! That is a lot of coffee to be sold to cover that cost. In November 2011 Stena Voyager did his last trip – now laying in Belfast waiting for a buyer. It was the oil cost who killed HIM! (Could have got some figures wrong here, but not fare off)

Fantastic product and it was hard work – especially with so quick turnarounds and quick crossing times. Had a la carte restaurant with 125 seats for many years – and with 110 min crossing it meant less then one minute on each guests. MY chef’s where outstanding – plus they had all the areas to cover too: crew, lorry & buss drivers, fast food restaurants and food counters for guests. 6 chef’s covering 24 hours – they did magic everyday. When we where really busy they where manned up to 5-6.

The a la carte restaurant where then turned to a stunning business class lounge, one my last projects – with menu and became extremely popular and the demand was high on quality and service. We did a outstanding job!!!

When starting on the route we had McDonalds onboard – that wasn’t the greatest partner on earth and after a couple of years we went into business with Burger King, but that wasn’t much better and then we decided to do burgers ourselves – my last big headache and – not only mine -plus it all happened in July. One of the worst projects that I ever started – but we manage: the staff, the retail manager and I. The second day I had a very bad fall in the galley and hurt my knee badly – took 3 years for the knee to stop bothering me.

My last big project where our new cafe concept – Barista Coffee House –  fantastic concept in beautiful colors, comfortable seating and high quality products.

We offered onboard; 2 cafés, food counter service restaurant, shopping, gambling (slot machines and video games), moive, NYC nails, Fast food (hamburgers, warm subs and pizza), drivers lounge, StenaPlus (business class with a la carte), 2 bars and loads of space.

When it was about service to all those guests we carried – the staff and managers aboard were of world class. Outstanding !!! Always smiling and always willing to go that little extra for the guests. We didn’t carry passengers when it was about aboard services – we carried guests – but the officers and the company carried passengers.  Because the attitude became much softer against the guests when we stop calling them passengers.

“To my customer.
I may not have the answer, but I’ll find it.
I may not have the time, but I’ll make it.”

Also every crew member had the right to fix problems (caused by the company) for the guests, there and then, to a value of £1.000/€1.192/$1.585  without involving a manager. Unique service – a policy that the whole company took as standard at all their vessels.  Isn’t that World Class Service ???? Wonder how many airlines has that policy. NONE!!!

Just want to introduce my 10 years in Belfast as Executive Chef, my uniform: black jacket and raspberry trousers while in the galley – loved every day I worked with HIM.
Now only one left out of 3 in traffic – the first one and the oldest; Stena Explorer, goes between Northern Wales (Holyhead) and Dublin. 

For more information;  The HSS Story & Stena Voyager

Still so proud – and happy over that I was a part of this from the beginning and nearly to the end.

Want to say a big thanks to everybody that was there together with me, inside the company and on the outside as suppliers – no one  mention and no one forgotten, you gave me so much to and made my years over in UK & Ireland so very special.

“If we don’t take care of our customers, someone else will”

Photos provided by and thanks to; stenaline.com/pixstel.com/images.mitrasites.com/

4 thoughts on “about speed, comfort and service

  1. Viveka, great blog and thanks for sharing your experience of the HSS. Living on the shores of Belfast Lough the Voyager became a familiar (yet always amazing) sight as it glided in and out of the port over the years.
    It is a sad sight today to see ‘Him’ tied up in Belfast awaiting whatever the future will bring.
    I count myself very privilaged to have been one of the few who navigated such a unique vessel across the Irish Sea for a good number of years during my time at StenaLine.

    • Hi there, yes … it was a fantastic product – I miss HIM and of course I miss you, guys even more! Answer me … it’s a him or a her ??? The crew always I had it wrong – it’s HER. Hope I didn’t get all the details from your area totally wrong. Always listen on one ear when I was in the office or on the bridge. I know how proud you’re over been a part of it – because I’m.
      Great to get a response from – one of you guys! Made me really happy – have all the time today to blog about my life – over there. Happy Easter to you!

  2. What an interesting post Viveka. There used to be a high speed cat that ran from Maine to Nova Scotia that I was on once. It was really a great experience. It stopped running because it was subsidized by the government of Nova Scotia and got too expensive to run because of oil costs as well.

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