We met Johanna Molin for the first time in December 2012 when we visited the STX shipyard in Turku, Finland. While she passionately guided us through the newbuilding Viking Grace we knew right away we met one very special lady. In 2013 we sailed on the freshly-delivered ferry and got to know another side of Johanna, the one of a very competent cruise director. We are very happy she wanted to share her love for the sea on our blog.
My name is Johanna, and I am a child of the sea. Since early age I have spent all my summers in the beautiful Archipelago of Finland, more precisely on an island situated in the southwest area of Korppoo. My first boat ride alone I took from that island to the guest harbor to buy some ice cream at the age of six, and since then exploring the nearby islands has been my summertime hobby.
My first boat ride from island to guest harbor
The Finnish Archipelago is magical every time of the year. Spring makes the nature come alive with the ices breaking and by finally bringing the music of the seabirds after the quiet winter. In the summer hundreds of families arrive to their cottages on the shores and islands, sailboats crisscross the fairway making it possible to sail around the clock while enjoying the light summer nights of our northern hemisphere. The green summer with blue skies changes in the autumn to a firework of colors as the nature starts preparing for the silent and snowy winter. Unfortunately exploring it with a smaller motorboat or sailboat in the wintertime is impossible because of the thick ice we usually get around these latitudes. There is always the possibility of skiing or even driving to the island by car, but thanks to the ice-classed cruise ships, operating between Turku and Stockholm, one can easily explore the Archipelago from a birds perspective also during the cooler season.
In 2005 I started working on the Viking Line cruise ships as a dishwasher meanwhile studying Spanish at the university, but working behind the scenes quickly changed to a job on stage, first as a Program Hostess and later on as a Cruise Manager on board the ship. Thanks to my work I have the possibility to explore the beautiful Baltic Sea during the whole year from a warm and cozy cruise ship, and thanks to our four very distinctive seasons, the scenery manages to amaze me on a daily basis.
In the winter of 2010 several ships got stuck in the ice for a few days
The route through the narrow stretches and between thousands of small islands, is actually one of the most difficult routes to navigate in the world. From inside the ship it sometimes looks like we are just slicing an island having only about 10-15 meters of distance between the ship and the shore. Since I nowadays work on the quietest ferry in the world, I can hear people talking on their summer terraces and children laughing on the beaches while we are cruising by the villa –areas. In the winter I can hear the ice breaking among the otherwise so silent nature and I must admit that the sensation makes me quite emotional.
NB1376 before she became M/S Viking Grace at the STX shipyard in Turku
You may have heard of this new revolutionary and silent ferry, the M/S Viking Grace. It is the first cruise ship that runs on LNG (Liquefied Natural Gas) and is the worlds most ecological cruise ship. I have been working on M/S Viking Grace from the day we started building her at the shipyard in my hometown Turku and even some during the planning stage when she still was just drawings on paper. Together with a fantastic team we created the new concepts, teams and philosophy around this ship that was to become and today is, the ferry of the future. Having been able to be part of this magnificent project has been one of the most exciting journeys of my life and seeing the faces of the content and amazed passengers on board is a dream come true.
I consider myself truly lucky to be able to spend both my working days and spare time in the most fascinating of sceneries. The ever-changing mood and strength of the sea has taught me to respect the forces of nature. Watching the sea is meditative; it creates a calmness in me that helps battle the hectic world of today. I know that whatever I decide to do in life, I will always find a way to either work or live close to the Archipelago, my secret hideaway.
Me sailing on board the legendary TS Helena somewhere in the Baltic Sea
Text & pictures: Johanna Molin
Johanna Molin is a swedish-speaking Finn from Turku, a beautiful coastal town in the southwest of Finland. She has a passion for the archipelago and sailing, her next destination is Svalbard this summer. During the last 10 years she has been working for Viking Line, the biggest Finnish shipping company operating in the Baltic Sea between Finland-Sweden and Estonia. Johanna was part of the shipbuilding crew that created the greenest and most modern ferry on the planet, the M/S Viking Grace and continued on board as Cruise Manager after the Maiden Voyage 13.1.2013.