Birka Stockholm arriving at Stockholm in June 2013.
|Port of registry:|
|Ordered:||19 November 2002|
|Builder:||Aker Finnyards, Rauma, Finland|
|Laid down:||19 October 2003|
|Launched:||15 April 2004|
|Christened:||10 November 2004 by Arja Saijonmaa|
|Completed:||8 November 2004|
|In service:||11 November 2004|
|General characteristics |
|Length:||177 m (580 ft 9 in)|
|Beam:||28 m (91 ft 10 in)|
|Height:||43 m (141 ft 1 in)|
|Draught:||6.5 m (21 ft 4 in)|
|Depth:||9.4 m (30 ft 10 in)|
|Decks:||11 (10 passenger accessible)|
|Ice class:||1 A Super|
|Speed:||21 knots (39 km/h; 24 mph) service speed|
MS Birka Stockholm is a cruise ship built for Birka Line, now owned by Rederi Ab Eckerö and operated under their Birka Cruises brand. She was built in 2004 by Aker Finnyards at Rauma, Finland, and sailed as Birka Paradise until 2013.
Birka Paradise was ordered by Birka Line from Aker Finnyards at Rauma, Finland, on 20 November 2002. She was the first new ship ordered by Birka Line since Birka Queen, ordered in the late 1980s, but never delivered due to bankruptcy of the Wärtsilä Marine shipyard.
The interior and exterior of the Birka Paradise were jointly designed by Birka Line, Aker Finnyards and Deltamarin. Unlike most of Birka's previous vessels, the ship was designed from the beginning as a genuine cruise ship, without a car-deck. Following a naming competition that drew 3500 proposals, the ship was named Birka Paradise to reflect its design, reminiscent of a Caribbean cruise ship. The ship was designed with various environmentally friendly innovations; in addition to exhaust and closed sewage treatment systems already used on the company's Birka Princess, the Birka Paradise was built to fulfill Det Norske Veritas' Clean Design rule relating to environmentally friendly structural solutions. Her hull form was optimised for smallest possible impact on the sensitive archipelago routes on which she sails.
The keel of the Birka Paradise was laid on 19 October 2003 and she was launched on 15 April 2004. Following her sea trials on 19 August and 14 October, the ship was delivered to Birka Line on 8 November 2004. The ship then sailed via her port of registry Mariehamn to Stockholm, where she was officially named on 10 November 2004 by Arja Saijonmaa.
The Birka Paradise entered service on 11 November 2004 on a 22-hour cruise from Stockholm to Mariehamn, which has been her main route in Birka service. During Christmas 2004 she made a longer cruise from Stockholm, calling at Tallinn, Helsinki and Mariehamn. From 2006 onwards she has made various longer cruises from Stockholm around the Baltic Sea during the northern hemisphere summer season.
In January 2009 Rederi Ab Eckerö, owner of Birka Cruises since 2007, made public their plans to re-register Birka Paradise to Sweden "as soon as possible" in order to allow the sale of snuff on board. According to European Union legislation snuff may not be sold within the EU except in Sweden and on board ships registered in Sweden. Until November 2007 the province of Åland in Finland allowed the sale of snuff on board ships registered in the province, but was forced to discontinue the practice when threatened by legal action by the EU. The outlawing of snuff sales caused the loss of approximately 1 million EUR per year for Birka Cruises, finally resulting in the decision to re-flag the Birka Paradise. The reflagging took place on 3 June 2009. Registered ownership of Birka Stockholm was transferred to Rederi Ab Eckerö in 2011.
In January 2013 the ship was renamed Birka Stockholm and given a new livery. The stripes on the hull were changed from blue, yellow and red to just blue and yellow, and the new "Birka Cruises" logo was placed on the funnel. According to the CEO, the company wanted to make a "change of profile" to a more Northern European theme. However, the company refers to the ship only as Birka, dropping "Stockholm" which is part of the official name, as well as being the port of registry.