Estline's logo in 1990-1994Estline's logo in 1990-1994

Estline, (sometimes spelled EstLine) a joint ship company that organized passenger service between Tallinn and Stockholm, was founded in 1989 and turned bankrupt in 2001.

Estline had a 10 year exclusive right to the passenger traffic between Stockholm, Sweden and Tallinn, Estonia.

On August 28, 1989 the Transport Committee of the Estonian SSR and the Swedish ship company  Nordström & Thulin AB signed a general contract to introduce cruise ferry traffic between Tallinn and Stockholm. Each party agreed to build a terminal and berthing facilities on its shore.

Pursuant to the contract, in November 1989, Estline-Eesti AS (10%), with the Swedish partner Nordström & Thulin Estline AB (90%) was created under the administration of the Transport Committee of the Estonian SSR, which included Estonian Trucking Company (Eesti Autoveod), Estonian Roads Administration (Eesti Maanteed), Tallinn Bus Company, etc.

The Estonian State Marine Navigation (Eesti Riiklik Merelaevandus) that reported to Moscow, was left aside. The Tallinn Maritime Trade Port and Estline-Eesti AS signed a contract to build the so-called “Swedish terminal” and auxiliary structures.

In 1990, on the evening of June 16 the cruise ferry Nord Estonia belonging to Nordström & Thulin Estline AB, left Stockholm with Captain Per Ringhagen on the bridge and set a course for Talllinn. The morning of June 17 welcomed the Nord Estonia at the quay of the Maritime Trade Port. Two days later first passengers with tickets arrived on the next trip and regular passenger traffic between Estonia and Sweden was restored.

On May 22, 1991 a new passenger terminal (B-terminal) was opened at the Maritime Trade Port of Tallinn. It was the first European-style construction at the terminal and the event took place before the restoration of  independence in Estonia.
On August 19, 1991 there was a Soviet military coup attempt in Moscow. The Red Fleet blocked the Tallinn port from the sea and Soviet military vehicles appeared on Estonian roads. Paratroopers landed in Tallinn. The Nord Estonia decided to start her regular voyage from Stockholm to Tallinn, although it was not known if they would succeed. However, the port was opened at night.
On the morning of August 20, 1991 the Nord Estonia was the only ship that arrived at the Tallinn port at that insecure hour. All the other vessels had stopped at foreign ports. Late at night Estonia formally declared regained independence.

In October 1992 ESCO (Estonian Shipping Company) started to represent Estonia on the shipping line between Tallinn and Stockholm. A new joint company was formed and called E-Liini AS, the equal owners of which became ESCO and Nordström & Thulin AB.
At the end of 1992 the company was reorganized and the Estonia-based enterprise was called E-Liini AS. The Estonian party was from now on ESCO (Estonian Shipping Company) with 50% and in 1993 at the beginning of February instead of the Swedish-flagged vessel Nord Estonia, the cruise ferry Estonia started service, jointly bought by the owners of Estline.

On September 28, 1994 the MS Estonia sank.  After the catastrophe, the MS Mare Balticum was rebuilt more thoroughly than first intended and the logo of the company was also replaced. After the outage that followed September 28, 1994 the sea traffic resumed on December 11. In the autumn of 1997, after the privatization of ESCO, its new owners introduced  the cruise ferry  Baltic Kristina on Tallinn–Stockholm line, at first with a limited number of passengers. On May 1, 1998 regular daily line traffic commenced with the two ships.

Before that, in January 1998 ESCO had bought the share of Nordström & Thulin and renamed E-Liini AS to Estline again. In 1998, Nordström & Thulin left the joint venture, making Estline a fully owned Estonian shipping company. In 2000 the number of passengers of Estline increased to 445,000. In December 2000 ESCO made a lease contract with Tallink concerning the both ships, and in January 2001 traffic continued on Tallinn-Stockholm line with one ship under Tallink’s trademark. Estline had neither vessels nor income and thus, went bankrupt in the summer of 2001.