The news this autumn that growing numbers of long-distance swimmers in the Strait of Dover between England and France are posing a great hazard to ferry traffic is a reminder that European waters are crowded. It was a spokesman for ferry operator DFDS who raised the issue.
The swimmers would presumably have put a different spin on the same tale, emphasising how ferries are a growing hazard to endurance swimmers. We are no experts on these matters, but presumably when a ferry weighing many thousands of tons collides with a swimmer, it is the human being who comes off worse.
Although ferry services to and from Britain seem to be in a state of terminal decline — good for all those swimmers perhaps — in other waters around Europe, the news is more positive.
In the Gulf of Finland, the St Peter Line ferry service between Helsinki and St Petersburg has evidently had a good first season, taking advantage of new Russian immigration rules which allow passengers arriving and leaving by ferry to stay in St Petersburg for up to 72 hours without a visa. The new service launched in April 2010, using the Princess Maria cruise ferry — a new name for the former DFDS vessel Queen of Scandinavia which had worked the Newcastle to Bergen route until that North Sea link was axed in 2008.