150 Years of DFDS

DFDS, the United Steamship Company, was founded in 1866 after Carl Frederik Tietgen had a vision to bring together a number of Danish steamboat companies into one large, powerful company.

Hans Petter Prior and Cornelius Peter August Koch founded the shipping company, using ships from the Danish Steamship Company, which later came to form the main stem of the DFDS fleet.

On this page you can find some of the major landmarks in the history of our Oslo-Copenhagen route.​​​​

​​1871: DFDS improved the transport link from Copenhagen to Oslo by deploying the steamship Aarhus in a triangular route between Copenhagen, Oslo and Gothenburg. This route became so popular that DFDS later built the paddle steamer Christiania specifically for this route. ​

1875: DFDS deployed the paddle steamer Christiania on a route between Copenhagen and Oslo. At this time, the crossing took 21 hours between Copenhagen and Oslo, stopping off at Gothenburg en route to pick up extra coal supplies. ​


Paddle Steamer - Christiania​​

Christiania was well-known for its comfort, particularly its mattresses, and blueprints of the ship formed the basis of the first Danish royal yacht, which was called Dannebrog. 

The ship's first class area included a men's salon with leather furniture and a women's salon with chaise lounges imported from France, as well as live music and a dining room. At this time a single first class ticket with bunk cost 28, - kr. Incl. bunk. In 1893 it was taken out of service.

​​​​​​Dining Onboard


First class dining onboard ​Dronning Maud 1906

Marco Polo a la carte restaurant present day

In the ship's early days, passengers were given their own plate, cup and cutlery and could choose from a selection of rusks, porridge, bacon, salted meat, gruel and beer onboard.

From 1900 onwards the onboard dining improved immeasurably, as the ship offered a buffet featuring a cornucopia of food, served with plenty of toppings and delicious garnishes.


1898: The steamship MG Melchior was added to the Stettin-Copenhagen-Oslo route, along with the CPA Koch

1906: The company's 40th anniversary saw two new ships added to the fleet, the SS Dronning (Queen) Maud and the SS Kong (King) Haakon. Both ships were known for their immense comfort and contemporary design. ​

1917-1919: DFDS built the property known as Karl Johans Gate 1 in Oslo.​

1937: The Stettin-Copenhagen-Oslo route was split in two, and the first combined car-and-passenger vessel, the Crown Prince Olav was put on the route between Oslo and Copenhagen. This ship was seized by the Germans during World War II and used as a hospital ship.​​​


M / S Crown Prince Olav​


​People at the dock in Oslo​

1952: The number of motor-powered vessels (43) exceeded the number of steamboats (36) for the first time.

1957: The Princess Margrethe was deployed on the Oslo-Copenhagen route.

1961: The King Olav V was deployed on the Oslo-Copenhagen route, this ship and the Princess Margrethe were the first on the route with a roll-on-roll-off system for passenger cars and could hold about 950 passengers.​


Shopping on board the " M / S Prinsesse Margrethe" in the 50s and 60s​


​​Shopping onboard present day​

1967: The famous Maletese Cross, which had been with the company since its inception in 1866, was introduced on all ships from 1 January.

1972: All DFDS ships were painted white and had "DFDS Seaways" painted on the side. 


1983: DFDS revolutionised ferry travel with the cruise ferry Scandinavia, the first "mega-ferry" which could carry 1,600 passengers and 400 cars.

1990: The Queen of Scandinavia was deployed on the Oslo-Copenhagen route. This ship had a capacity of 2000 passengers and 400 cars.

1994: The Crown of Scandinavia was deployed on the Oslo-Copenhagen route.

2001: The Pearl of Scandinavia was deployed on the Oslo-Copenhagen route. Along with the Crown of Scandinavia, these ships had been renovated several times, and were renovated again in the winter of 2014 for tens of millions of pounds.

2004: The terminal in Copenhagen was moved from Kvæsthusbroen to Dampfærgevej in September.

2011: The ships' hulls were repainted in a darker blue. ​​​


Why does DFDS use the Maltese Cross as its logo?

Ever since the company was founded, the DFDS logo has been a white cross on a blue background, alongside the company name. The logo was taken from Koch & Henderson's flag and may have been linked to national symbolism as there is also a white cross on the Danish flag.

The first visible use of the white cross in use is in a painting from the artist Carl Neumann. This painting shows Koch & Henderson and the entire Danish Steamship Company fleet assembled in Copnehagen in 1862, four years before the founding of DFDS. In this painting, the white cross is on a blue background, much like the current logo.

The current logo was designed and re-introduced this year. ​


We are Europe’s Leading Ferry Operator 2012-2019 & the World’s Leading Ferry Operator 2011-2018!​​