"Tallink has operate the Finland-Riga route before, from Turku for the past twenty years. We have also carried out ordered trips, also from Helsinki. In this case our customers expressed interest and last fall we decided to start handling this question," AS Tallink Grupp Sales and Marketing Director Margus Hunt told BNS.
"The first journey is scheduled to take place at the end of the week and ticket sales indicate a keen interest in the given route -- as the Visby route experiences great demand during the summer period, there are also people who want to take advantage of the opportunity to visit Riga," Hunt said.
"At the same time we also believe that there is no market for a permanent route. It must be taken into account that the given trip does not allow for passengers to unload their cars in Riga, basically passengers are able to park their cars on the ship for convenience," he said.
At the end of last year, when the new ruling coalition had revealed the plan to increase excise duty on alcohol in Estonia faster than planned, Tallink said that it is not planning to create a route between Riga and Helsinki. "There are currently no plans to do so, but we are always following market developments closely and will not rule anything out at this stage if it is beneficial," spokespeople for the company said then.
On July 27 Estonia's ERR reported via BNS that MS Silja Europa, which typically operates on its Tallinn-Helsinki route, is set to carry out the company's test cruise from Helsinki to Riga and back.
The ship is to depart from Helsinki West Harbour at 5 p.m. Sunday and arrive in Riga at 11:30 a.m. on Monday morning, the company's Finnish website stated. The vessel will then depart from Riga at 7:30 p.m. on Monday and arrive in Helsinki at 2:30 p.m. the next day.