The ferry M/S Finnhansa, which had been constructed by the Finnish shipbuilding company Wärtsilä Marine, was launched in Helsinki. The vessel was christened by Sylvi Kekkonen, the wife of longtime Finnish president Urho Kekkonen.
Finnhansa was built for Finnlines, a major operator of vessels transporting both passengers and vehicles in the Baltic Sea and the North Sea. Finnlines, which had been established in 1947, initiated ferry operations between Finland and what was then West Germany in 1962. The original vessel used for these operations was M/S Hansa Express, but she proved to be too small for this type of service. Finnlines, therefore, ordered a pair of larger ferries to operate on the Finland-West Germany route.
Finnhansa was the first of the two ships completed for this purpose. She was supposed to be delivered to Finnlines in June 1965, but two onboard fires that year – one in March and the other in December – delayed the delivery until March 1966.
At the time of her delivery to Finnlines, the 441-foot (134.4-meter)-long Finnhansa became the largest ferry operating in the Baltic Sea. M/S Finnpartner, her sister ship, was delivered to Finnlines in June 1966. Since Finnhansa was about four inches (10 centimeters) longer than Finnpartner, she retained the record as the largest ferry in the Baltic Sea.
In 1977, Finnhansa was sold to the Finnish shipping company Birka Line and subsequently renamed M/S Prinsessan. The ferry served Birka Line on its route between the city of Mariehamn (capital of Finland’s autonomous territory Åland) and the Swedish capital of Stockholm over the next several years.
In 1987, Prinsessan was sold to the Cyprus-based Louis Cruise Lines (now known as Celestyal Cruises). The vessel was renamed M/S Princesa Marissa in honor of the daughter of Louis Loizou, the cruise line’s founder. The vessel operated in the Mediterranean Sea in her new life as a cruise ship, mainly serving on routes from Cyprus to Egypt and Israel. She was completely retired from service in 2006 and scrapped about two years later in India.
For more information about M/S Finnhansa (also known during her career as M/S Prinsessan and M/S. Princesa Marissa), please check out https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MS_Princesa_Marissa.