Royal Line's history
Helsinki had become densely populated by the beginning of the 20th century and the townspeople longed for spending time enjoying nature. Helsinki residents were actively acquiring summer housing in the archipelago, and shipping traffic increased.
After the war in 1940s townspeople had a longing for the archipelago. However, many of the archipelago ships had been used as war reparations and there was an acute shortage of ships.
It all started in 1945 with little Annikki boat made of wood
In 1945, Jaakko Rautakorpi started archipelago traffic by acquiring a wooden m/s Annikki. Ship operated on wood gas. First route was from Ruoholahti to Vehkasaari, island which is located in front of Westend. Passengers were mainly summer residents working in the city, leaving Ruoholahti in the morning and returning to the island in the evening. The ship spent the night on the island, as did Jaakko and his family.
1947 – Annikki and the Warsaw song
Since traffic was growing, Annikki became too small and in 1947 a new bigger Annikki was acquired, but after only one season it had to be extended. As early as 1947, a new route was opened to Pihlajasaari. Annikki was replaced by Jonne and soon Jonne was replaced by a larger ship named Mary. A new route was opened to Pirttisaari and Mustahevos, and on weekends we also cruised to Porvoo. In addition, there were also services to nearby islands. Although the Prohibition Act had already expired in the 1930s, spirits were expensive and rectified spirit were still moving in the archipelago. 96% strong "Warsaw's song" arrived in our country from the southern Baltic Sea. As much as it was common amoung people visiting islands, founder of Royal Line Jaakko Rautakorpi had his side business. He used to sell "Warsaw's song" rectified spirit to his customers. The authorities got angry about the matter and found 96% drinks at m/s Annika. The ship was confiscated by the state and forcibly auctioned in Pirttisaari.
1952 Helsinki becomes international
In the summer of 1952, Sightseeing cruises for tourists were started in Helsinki in accordance with the international model of tourism service, keeping in mind those tourists that were expected to come in Helsinki for Olympic games. However, some of local cruise companies went bankrupt in 60s and Jaakko Rautakorpi bought m/s Terhi and m/s Standard from the company and started sightseeing tours. In addition, a wooden King and Terhi 2 was acquired in the 1960s. At the end of the 1960s, more and more tourists visited Helsinki, and domestic demand increased. Sightseeing cruises soon became an important part of the traffic.
1970-1980 – Traffic grows
Jaakko Rautakorpi died in 1970 and Jorma Rautakorpi continued his activities. Old ships were replaced with new ones, e.g. In the early 1970s, three vessels were acquired from the Netherlands: Standart II, Katarina and Natalia. Natalia was needed for that time popular destination Kaunissaari island. Traffic to Suomenlinna and Korkeasaari was assisted by agreements with the city. The aluminum-hulled ships King, Queen and Princess were built in the 1980s in Pellinki. In 1975 the company was renamed J. Rautakorpi Oy and in 1986 Royal Line Oy. Sightseeing cruises to the east and west of the capital and cruises to Porvoo became established routes.
1990 – Lunch and Dinner cruises begin
Katarina and Natalia were transformed from their interiors and kitchens to be better suited for restaurant operations, and in addition to sightseeing cruises, lunch and dinner were served on board from their own kitchens. The importance of business cruises increased significantly in the 1980s and 1990s, the “little” King ship's name was changed to Prince. The company built a new restaurant ship, the 180-seater King, in 1999 for increased cruise demand. Traffic on Kaunissaari was dropped out of the company's program due to lack of interest.
2000s. There over 1000 lunch and dinner cruises during season!
Royal Line Dinner Cruises was chosen as the best city holiday product in Helsinki in 2009. In the 2010s, Royal Line's lunch and dinner cruises are the most popular in Finland and Royal Line is the market leader in corporate cruises in Helsinki. The Prince was sold and replaced by RoyalCat in 2007 for traffic to Söderskär and Porvoo. Hop-On Hop-Off bus traffic was started in 2010 by Helsinki Lines, which has grown into one of Helsinki's largest providers of guided tourist services with several different services.
2018 - New cruises in Espoo and Porvoo
New services in 2018 will include themed lunch and dinner cruises in Espoo and guided river cruises in Porvoo.
2020 - King Terrace bar boat in Kaivopuisto
In mid-summer, the restaurant ship m/s King will open its sun terrace in Kaivopuisto as King Terrace Bar Boat.