|NILS DACKE (1975)
One of a sequence of ferries to come from the Rendsburg Werft Nobiskrug yard in the then West Germany, Nils Dacke was completed in 1975 and put into service on the Malmo-Travemunde link operated by Svenska Rederi Oresund (a Swedish Railways (SJ) subsidiary). The ship was actually ordered by Lion Ferry, before being transferred before completion to Svelast, another SJ offshoot. Svelast later assumed a more direct responsibility for the route in association with Lion.
Largely a repeat of the Gustav Vasa of 1973 (the ship which became Smyril Line's first Norröna), Nils Dacke was also similar in many respects to the earlier Prins Oberon (1970, later Munster), Prinz Hamlet (1973, later Nieborow) and the day ferry Europafärjan III (1974, later Corsica Serena II) all of which came from the same yard, whilst the lineage is also fairly clear externally in Jahre Line's Kronprins Harald (later DFDS' Hamburg/Admiral of Scandinavia) which Rendsburg completed in 1976.
The ship was named after the outlaw farmer Nils Dacke, leader of the Dackefejden (literally "Dacke feud") rebellion from the southern province of Småland against Swedish king Gustav Vasa in the mid sixteenth century. Dacke was ultimately killed but is now viewed as something of a Swedish folk hero. Operating the Nils Dacke in combination with the ship named after Dacke's sworn enemy, Gustav Vasa, therefore stretched historical credibility, although battle does not seem to have been resumed at any stage!
Morning and evening departures were offered from each port until the fierce competition on routes in the area began to tell with the Svelast operation merging in 1976 with that of Trave Line, who had operated a Helsingborg-Copenhagen-Travemunde route since 1966 (initially with Svea Drott, later Sealink's Earl Godwin). The amalgamated concern traded as Saga Line, but whilst the former Trave route was soon relegated to freight-only status, the operations of Gustav Vasa and Nils Dacke continued largely unaffected. Consolidation in the sector continued however and reached an ultimate conclusion with the coming together of the rival Saga and TT (Travemunde-Trelleborg) Line operations as TT-Saga Line. This did not resolve the over-capacity problems and the run-down of the Malmo service was begun with the charter of Nils Dacke to Brittany Ferries in early 1982. Gustav Vasa soldiered on alone for another season until the route was axed entirely at the end of 1982.
The charter of Nils Dacke to Brittany Ferries appeared to be good business for both parties, transferring as it did a ship from a route with over-capacity to a route which had out-grown its existing vessel. As Brittany Ferries' Quiberon, the former Nils Dacke was destined for the Plymouth-Santander (Spain) route established by the smaller Armorique in 1978. The extra space offered by Quiberon's 1,040 passenger capacity and 758 berths (compared to Armorique's 700 passengers/414 berths) resolved this pressing problem for the rest of the decade. A refit at Jos L Meyer's Papenburg yard prior to entering service included conversion of the aft end of Deck 5 from the original upper car garage to additional cabin accommodation. Named after the town and peninsular in southern Brittany, Quiberon soon settled into regular service with twice-weekly return crossings to Spain supplemented by weekend diversions on the Plymouth-Roscoff and Roscoff-Cork routes in an intensive schedule. Growth continued on the Spanish service and for the summer peak of 1983 the freighter Breizh-Izel was introduced in support.
Brittany were clearly pleased with their charter as after two years on the Spanish run Quiberon was purchased from her Swedish owners, with the port of registry changing from Stockholm to Morlaix. With the ship now fully theirs and with the Santander route continuing to rapidly grow, Brittany Ferries apparently gave serious thought to lengthening the ship to accommodate the extra traffic. This idea was discarded though in favour of building a new ship from scratch, the end result being the Bretagne. Following Bretagne's assumption of Quiberon's former Santander/Cork roster in July 1989, the older ship was cascaded down to the Plymouth-Roscoff route, herself displacing the Tregastel for service with Truckline on their associated Poole-Cherbourg service.
Winter diversions to Caen and St Malo (the ship operating to the latter from Plymouth as well as Portsmouth for a number of winters) apart, Quiberon remained the main ship of the Roscoff service until 2002. As part of one of Brittany Ferries occasional refinancing packages, the ship was sold to French banking interests for Ffr100m in early 1996 but immediately leased back, the deal not affecting her operations in any respect. On the 17th March 1999 the ship ran aground just outside Millbay Docks just after an evening departure from Plymouth. Fortunately she was not seriously damaged, and was refloated after a couple of hours, returning to port. A MAIB investigation was critical both of bridge management procedures and the actions of the master. Preparations for the latest Brittany Ferries newbuilding for the Portsmouth-Caen route, Mont St Michel began in earnest early in 2002. The new Mont was destined to effectively replace Quiberon in the fleet, with former flagship Duc de Normandie moving west from Caen to assume Quiberon's Roscoff schedule.
|BELOW: Nils Dacke in her original livery, from a publicity postcard. Towards the aft of the cabin deck (the lower set of smaller windows running from the front of the ship) was an additional upper car garage, and in her original guise this area was therefore window-less. When chartered by Brittany Ferries additional cabins were installed in place of the garage, so all later pictures show the cabin portholes associated with this extension of her passenger accomodation.|
|ABOVE: Quiberon hit the front pages of the national papers with an engine room fire in July 1992 which claimed the life of one crew member. Crossing from Plymouth to Roscoff on the 17th July with 1,034 passengers aboard, the ship put out an emergency call which resulted in British and French air sea rescue helicopters scrambling to the ship's aid. The fire was extinguished by the ship's own crew before land-based assistance could come aboard, but passengers were mustered and lifeboats swung out as a precaution. Quiberon remained out of service for much of the rest of the summer season, not reappearing from repairs until the end of August. As a result of this fire, the ship received some rather unflattering newspaper headlines, a couple of which can be seen on the Reviews page.
Quiberon is seen here being buzzed by a pair of rescue helicopters.
Another notable incident occurred on the 17th March 1999 when the ship ran aground just outside Plymouth shortly after leaving for Roscoff. Quiberon was aground only for slightly over an hour, but had to return to port with sailings cancelled until divers examining the ship established that she was undamaged.
|HISTORY & OVERVIEW|
|BELOW: Quiberon in early 1984 painted in the then new Brittany Ferries livery which she would wear for the following nineteen years service with the company. The ship was at this stage still under charter and Swedish registered, with that country's flag flying at the stern. Within a couple of months, Brittany Ferries purchased her outright.|
|BELOW: During her final 2002 season Quiberon was unexpectedly deployed on the Portsmouth-Caen (Ouistreham) service in lieu of the delayed Mont St Michel. She is seen here (left) leaving Portsmouth in early September and (right) berthed at Ouistreham on 30 November. Having only a single car deck, the upper level of the linkspan built to service Normandie's twin car decks towers unused above the ship's bridge. The lower freight capacity compared to that expected from the new Mont saw Quiberon's sailings being supplemented by the freighter Purbeck.|
|BELOW: Quiberon rests at Ouistreham following an overnight crossing from Portsmouth, 2002.|
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|BELOW: Finally renamed Giulia d'Abundo, the former Quiberon arrives at Palma de Mallorca on 28 August 2003, in full Medmar livery.|
|ABOVE: Another view of a slightly rusty-looking Quiberon in the early days of her career on the UK-Spain route.|
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|ABOVE & BELOW: Two images of the Giulia d'Abundo at Almeria in September 2006 whilst under charter to Euroferrys.|
|GIULIA D'ABUNDO (2003)
There was to be a final Indian Summer for the Quiberon however. Delays to the Mont meant that the anticipated summer 2002 arrival of the new flagship was seriously delayed until just before Christmas. The switch of the Duc however went ahead as scheduled, leaving Quiberon to serve out her time on what had become the premier Brittany Ferries route to Caen. Due to her impending withdrawal however the Quiberon was forced to run with a restricted passenger capacity of only 500. Finally withdrawn after the arrival of the Mont, the ship was sold to Medmar (the new name for Linee Lauro) but retained her existing name for service between Sete and Palma de Mallorca until August 2003 when she finally assumed the name Giulia d'Abundo. This route was unexpectedly terminated in early 2004, and the ship was instead utilised on Medmar's more established services on the western coast of Italy. For the Summer of 2006, Medmar significantly reduced their core services and the ship was chartered out to Euroferrys of Spain who planned to introduce her on a new (for that company) Almeria to Nador (Morocco) route. Almost immediately Euroferrys were bought by Acciona Trasmediterranea and, with fellow Trasmed. subsidiary Ferrimaroc already operating to Nador (employing the Giulia d'Abundo's former Brittany Ferries fleetmate Duc de Normandie as Wisteria that Summer) the ship spent much of her 2006 season operating instead between Almeria and the more westerly Moroccan port of Al Hoceima. That complete, the ship retreated to lay up in Genoa, latterly alongside Medmar fleetmate, the former Trasmed. Canguro Donatella d'Abundo. That ship was sold to Indonesian interests in early 2009, the 'Giulia' continuing her lengthy lay up alone.
|ABOVE & BELOW: Two more views of the Quiberon resplendent in the early Brittany Ferries livery.|
|ABOVE: Quiberon approaching the Península de La Magdalena as she nears Santander in the early 1980s. Click above for a larger image|
|BELOW: Quiberon dressed overall at the very start of her Brittany Ferries career. The additional cabin portholes mentioned above are visible.|
|BELOW: A splendid BF official portrait of the ship sailing between Plymouth and Roscoff.|
|BELOW: A further view of the ship in Almeria, September 2006.|
|BELOW: Laid up in Naples, July 2008.|