On June 26, 2001, the fast ferry Federico García Lorca from Baleària made his maiden trip from Palma to Eivissa. The brand new ship left Palma at 16:00 pm with 250 passengers, a third of its capacity, and arrived two hours later at its first destination. The reduction of time in the crossing supposed a revolution in the maritime connections to the Balearic Islands and marked the starting point of a young shipping company created on June 20, three years earlier. "It was groundbreaking in terms of speed, comfort and schedules," recalls the president of Baleària, Adolfo Utor, which adds that "it also meant a declaration of intent, with words and deeds, from a company that, despite its youth, was already committed to the development and well-being of the territories." With a maximum speed of 40 knots and 115 meters in length, the imposing bow of Federico García Lorca, with the digitized signature of the famous poet and playwright, was part of the landscape of Dénia, Eivissa and Palma until 2013.
The ship was built in the Italian Rodriquez shipyards (in Pietra Ligure), like its smaller twin, the Ramon Llull, which operates the Dénia-Formentera route. The Lorca, with an investment of 7.200 million pesetas (about 42 million euros), was the first ship of new construction of Baleària. "It was a very important leap in quality and improvement, and it was noticed in the large influx of people who used our services. We reduced a trip from Dénia to Palma of more than eight hours to only five", recalls its first captain, Francisco Jiménez Vara . In addition, the transport of goods was also facilitated, "which could be at the market first thing in the morning," he highlights.
The arrival of the Lorca prompted many changes in the company that had started in 1998. Antonio García, current Director of Business Systems, recalls the challenge of meeting the demand for reserves for a 880-seater ship: "There was no sale online, and we had to expand the Call Center from 25 to 80 operators ", many of whom are still in the company holding positions in different departments. At that time, it was the most technologically advanced ship on the high-speed market, which had all the comforts and services: comfortable seats, changing tables for babies, bar-cafeteria, children's play area, luggage lockers, access for people. with reduced mobility, audiovisual entertainment and a shop on board. "We were 'letting go' in our growth as a company, and Lorca helped us to be stronger, more competitive and to retain our customers," explains Cristina Mulet, head of direct sales.
'Eleanor Roosevelt': speed, sustainability and digitization
Two decades later, the most sustainable fast ferry in the Mediterranean, the Eleanor Roosevelt, has taken over as the shipping company's flagship, ready to follow the revolution. Fast and comfortable like the Lorca, it adds navigation to natural gas, less polluting, and the digitization of on-board services.
40 years of the Dénia-Eivissa maritime route
June is a month of anniversaries for maritime transport in the Balearic Islands. On June 15, 1981, 40 years ago, the Isnasa Island of Mallorca made the first maritime connection between Dénia and Eivissa, which led to the reactivation of the commercial activity of the Dianense port. In 1984, the Flebasa shipping company, belonging to Isnasa, took over on the route. And on June 20, 1998, Baleària was created, which continued with the connections, which since 1993 also reached Palma.