Gozo Ferry since 1885



Ferry services between Malta and Gozo were in operation by 1241. The service, known in Maltese as id-dghajsa tal-mghodija, literally, the boat of the passage is first recorded in 1241. The name survives in a toponym at the lateen sails in Mgarr, sails that were to survive until the twentieth century. At that time, Mgarr was a shallow harbour affording anchorage to small craft only and quite exposed from the south west to the south east winds. It did not have a breakwater but only a small jetty used by passengers to board and descend from the boats, and by the fishermen to unload their catches. The jetty is still there just below the Gleneagles bar.


While the area around the harbour was developed over the following centuries, there was little development of the Mgarr harbour itself until 1841, when a breakwater was constructed to provide more shelter to the port. This breakwater was strengthened and extended several times up to 1906. A larger breakwater was constructed between 1929 and 1935, and two more in 1969; on the completion of the latter, the area of the port was expanded to 121,400 square metres.

The first regular passenger service between Gozo and Malta was inaugurated on June 13, 1885. An official Mail service was first provided by O.F. Gollcher & Sons Ltd with the Gleneagles. The fare was 8 pence single and one shilling return. In the first years a levy of one penny a head was collected from each passenger landing at Gozo to pay for a Mass in the Mgarr Church for the safe arrival of the passenger. However from 1892 she made regular sailings from Malta to Syracuse once weekly with mail. The rest of the time was used in the Malta to Gozo service. The Gleneagles gave regular service till 1914.

Concurrent with the Gleneagles the Malta Steamship Company operated the Princess Melita for both mail and passengers.

Between 1923 and 1937 the Malta Steamship Company operated two vessels, the Wembley which sank in 1935 and Golly which was sold in 1937 in Egypt.

These were followed by the Gozo Mail Service Company which was a partnership between Joseph Gasan, Giovanni Dacoutros, the Grech family known as “Gelluxa” and some ten other Gozitans with minority shareholding.

This company operated the Royal Lady between October 1938 and May 1942 and a sailing vessel, Franco between May 1942 and April 1948. Both vessels were bombed by the Germans during the war. The Royal Lady was sunk in 1942 and Franco received damage in its funnel but luckily kept running till 1948.

In 1945 the British colonial government requisitioned the three masted schooner Anna from Giovanni Dacoutros in order to carry much wanted cereals and other commodities between the two islands. Unfortunately, this beautiful vessel was bombed when about to sail out of Grand Harbour and sank loaded with the precious grain at Marsa. Anna remained in the depths of Grand Harbour till after the war and the British colonial government imposed a fine of 15 Maltese pounds per day in order that the owner would remove the vessel from the bottom of the harbour. For this purpose a special crane was brought from Gibraltar as no large lifting equipment was available. It was eventually lifted out of the water about a year later and sold for firewood.

It is interesting also to note that, following the end of the war, one of the surviving vessels – the Maria Dacoutros – made a few trips to Gozo to carry grain and other commodities, It also carried mail and passengers. The Maria Dacoutros was also the very first vessel to leave Malta for Sicily following the Italian surrender. It performed this service until other ways of delivering mail were found by the British services in Malta.

Bernard Zammit operated two vessels, the King of England and Lady Strickland, which were both withdrawn from service in 1951

Between 1947 and 1950 Joseph Gasan operated the Calyso. Joseph Gasan also operated the Bancinu between 1950 and 1957 when it eventually ran aground and sank during a storm. During the same period Mr Gasan operated the Maid of Pinto, a wooden schooner which sank in 1951, and Pinu which finished its service in 1957, the same year as the Bancinu.

The Magro family operated Hanini between 1948 and 1956. They also operated for fourteen years the Queen of Peace between 1956 and 1970. The Queen of Peace was sold by the Magro family in the seventies and was used to carry cargo to North Africa until it was lost in North African waters with the loss of some Maltese.

The Magro and Zammit families operated Imperial Eagle between 1958 and 1968. After laying at berth in Marsa it was scuttled off Qawra Point in 1999.

In 1964 the Malta Aliscafi Ltd started operating a hydrofoil service between Grand Harbour and Mgarr Harbour. The hydrofoil in use was the Delfin. It was commonly known as L-Izgicc. The company went bankrupt in 1968 and Delfin was sold in Italy.

The Zammit family has been linked with shipping and marine related operations since the 1930′s. During these years, the Zammits were appointed as one of the main suppliers to the British Forces on the Island and in their efforts to fulfil their supply commitments to the British Garrison stationed in Malta, it was felt necessary to venture into chartering of vessels to secure timely and adequate supplies in spite of the untold difficult circumstances of the time. During the early fifties, Eucharist took over his father’s business and in 1957, he reorganised the business and operated under the trade name of E. Zammit & Co. It was about this time that he undertook the passenger and car ferry services between the Maltese Islands, a tender which was won against stiff competition. This service continued to be run by E. Zammit & Co. with annual tenders being won up to 1979 when the Government of the time decided to set up the Gozo Channel Co. Limited to run the service as a parastatal company. The Group retained substantial shareholding in this company till the early 1990’s.

The Zammit family operated the Jylland from 1967. Karistu Zammit also operated Melitaland and Calypsoland up to 1978 and he also had the Minor Eagle which used to operate the Gozo service between 1966 and 1976. This was renamed Cominoland in 1976 and Jylland II in 1980.


Gozo Channel (C 4314) was formed in 1979, to maintain, develop, and operate a sea transport service to and from Malta, Gozo and elsewhere.

The Company’s first vessels to operate the route were the M/V Ghawdex (purchased in early 1979) the M/V Melitaland and M/V Mgarr (ex-Salthorn), both purchased in early 1980. Initially, these vessels performed an average of eight round trips per day.

A seasonal service to Sicily was introduced in June 1981 with the M/V Ghawdex. The Company operated up to three weekly trips to Siracuse, Catania and eventually Pozzallo and the service became very popular among local Maltese and Gozitans wishing to spend a day or more in Sicily. The service was discontinued in 1995.

On 29 April 1988 Gozo Channel started operating a new faster service by means of a hovermarine S.E.S. Calypso.

As the traffic between Malta and Gozo increased, more vessels were introduced into the service to cope with the demand, and by 1990 the Company was operating five vessels, including a fast ferry service between Mgarr, Sliema and Sa Maison, and performing an average of 27 round trips per day. In that year the Company carried 1.93 million passengers and 370,000 cars.

In 1995 there were four ferries: the Mgarr (ex-Marsdiep), Cittadella II (ex-Telstrom), the Calypso and the Ghawdex.

Between 1996 and 2001 the Gozo Channel replaced the hovermarine service by a high speed catamaran service between Sa Maison and Mgarr Harbour using S.E.S. Victoria Express.

In the mid 90s, the Company embarked on a very ambitious programme – the modernisation of the fleet. Plans for the construction of three ro-ro vessels at the Malta Shipbuilding were finalised. The first vessel, the M.V. Ta’ Pinu, was introduced into service in March 2000, whilst the second ship, the M.V. Gaudos entered into service in February 2001. The third vessel, the M.V. Malita, was delivered in March 2002. All vessels have state of the art technology.

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The Mgarr ferry terminal was rebuilt at a cost of €9.3 million in the early 21st century. Work began in 2001 and took seven years, with the terminal opening in February 2008. The Mgarr harbour now has facilities for around 600 passengers and 200 cars. The design of the new harbour was changed during the construction process to reduce its visual impact on the surrounding landscape


Cirkewwa terminal in 2000

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The Cirkewwa Terminal in 2014

The development of the Cirkewwa ferry terminal was completed in May 2013. It comprises a passenger-handling building with gangway connections to the ships for foot passengers; vehicular marshalling areas; parking and land transport facilities; access and circulation roadways; additional berthing capacity; ancillary buildings and other general enhancements. The Gozo Channel Company took over the management of the Cirkewwa Terminal on 27 May 2013. The cost of the Cirkewwa terminal was estimated at around €12,000,000, 85% of which was funded through the Cohesion Fund Cohesion Policy 2007 – 2013 Operational Programme I.


Fleet O.F. Gollcher Ltd:

Gleneagles (1885-1914)

Fleet G.P. Sammut & Co:

Princess Melita (1893 – 1923)

Fleet Francesco Pace:

Piemonte (1897-1901)

Fleet Malta Steamship Co Ltd :

Wembley (1923-1935)

Golly (1932-1937)

Fleet Bernard Zammit :

Lady Strickland (1929 – 1951 )

King of England (1933 – 1951)

Fleet Joseph Gasan, Giovanni Dacoutros & Grech Family:

Franco (1936 -1948)

Royal Lady (1937-1942)

Anna (1942)

Fleet Joseph Gasan:

Calypso (1947-1950)

Bancinu (1950-1957)

Maid of Pinto (1950-1957)

Pinu (1950-1957)

Fleet Magro Family:

Hanini (1948-1956)

Queen of Peace (1956-1970)

Fleet Magro & Zammit Families:

Imperial Eagle (1958-1968)

Fleet Malta Aliscafi Ltd:

Delfin (1964-1968)

Fleet E. Zammit & Sons Ltd:

Minor Eagle (1966-1978)

Jylland (1967-1978)

Calypsoland (1969-1978)

Melitaland (1974-1978)

Former ferries Gozo Channel Co. Ltd.:

M/v Jylland (1967-1984)

M/v Calypsoland (1969-1984)

M/v Melitaland/ Bezz 20 (1974-1994, 1994-1996)

M/v Minor Eagle/ Cominoland/ Jylland II (1976-1980)

M/v Ghawdex (1978-2000)

M/v Mgarr (1979-1995)

M/v Cittadella/ Citta’ (1987-1995, 1995-1997)

M/v SES Calypso (1988-1996)

M/v Xlendi (1990-1999)

M/v Mgarr (1995-2002)

M/v Cittadella (1995-2002)

M/v SES Victoria Express (1996-2002)

M/v Calypso (1993-2004)

Fleet Gozo Channel Co. Ltd.:

M/v Ta’ Pinu (2000-)

M/v Gaudos (2002-)

M/v Malita (2002-)


Some of the Gozo Ferries since 1885



operated by OF Gollcher & Sons Ltd between 1885 and 1914


Gleneagles and Princess Melita off Mgarr  Gozo Mail Steamers c 1885 – 1924


Gleneagles on a 1985 Malta stamp

Built as an iron screw steamer by Hall Russell & Co., Aberdeen for J.Fleming at Aberdeen.

November 1884 launched under the name GLENEAGLES. Tonnage 207 gross, 86 net, dim. 135.9 x 23.2 x 11.3ft. (draught) One compound steam engine 72hp, manufactured by the shipbuilder.

Feb.1885 sold to O.F. Gollcher & Sons at Malta for £8.000.

10 May 1885 taken over by a Maltese crew at Aberdeen and on the 19 May she sailed for Malta where she arrived in the Grand Harbour on 10 June 1885.

She was bought to use her in the regular service between Malta and Gozo, and on Saturday 13 June at 03.00 p.m. she sailed for the first time in the service with on board the Governor of Malta (General Sir Lintorn Simmons), arriving off Mgarr at 04.10 p.m. At this port she was blessed by the Bishop of Gozo (Bishop Pace).

After a roundtrip around Gozo and a buffet served on board, the GLENEAGLES sailed back to Malta where she arrived at 09.00 p.m.

A twice-daily service commenced the next Monday, 15th June 1885. The fare was 8 pence single and one shilling return. In the first years a levy of one penny a head was collected, for each passenger landed at Gozo, to pay for a Mass in the Mgarr Church for the safe arrival of the passenger.

From January 1892 she made regular sailings from Malta to Syracuse once weekly with mail, the rest of the time used in the Malta to Gozo service.

From March to July 1895 she was chartered by the Government of Malta as a trawler to investigate the feasibility for a fishing and shrimp industry on the island. The catch was large enough, but not built as a trawler, the trawling gear suffered heavy damage many times on the seabed, and the plan was abandoned.

The GLENEAGLES was also used for sight seeing around the island and used as tugboat and assisted vessels in distress.

When World War I broke out the GLENEAGLES was requisitioned by the Royal Navy as an examination vessel.

In November 1918 it was returned to owners but was not used in the Malta-Gozo service. The owner had died and his widow had to settle estate duty and the GLENEAGLES was sold in April 1919 to Cassar & Manara at Malta. She was then used in the eastern Mediterranean.

29 October 1920 she was struck by the Italian steamer CADMEA when she was at anchor at Port Said and the GLENEAGLES sank.

In 1922 Glenwagles was refloated and sold to Awaragi Akel & Ragi at Alexandria and renamed MISSIR. In 1923 she was sold to P. Abrizi at Alexandretta, Syria and renamed ALEXANDRETTA.

In 1924 she was sold to A.C. Abramudis (M.P. Salvago managers), Alexandria and renamed PANDY. In 1925 was sold to Youssef & Abdel Kader, Alexandria and renamed ABDEL KADER.

On 4th March 1933 she wrecked at Alexandria.



operated by the Steamship Company between 1932 and 1937


GOLLY aground on the island of Gozo near the port of Mgarr

GOLLY built in Japan in 1912 as the FUKUHAKU MARU NO.5

In 1921 commissioned as Patrol Vessel G.27

In 1921 sold in Italy as the ANDREA BAFILE,

On 15th August 1932 sold to Malta.Steam Ship Ltd. as the GOLLY. It ran aground on the island of Gozo near the port of Mgarr in August 1932,

she was later refloated and re-entered service. No casualities reported.

In March 1937 sold in Egypt and renamed DAISY

On 1st April 1939 foundered on way to Alexandria.



Operated by Bernard Zammit between 1933 and 1951

Builder: Bow, McLachlan & Co Ltd, Paisley

Yard: Thistle Yard

Year built: 1902; Date launched: 30/09/1902 as Helpful

Vessel description: Steel, Screw Steamer; Vessel type: Water Tanker

Tonnage 194 grt/ 96 nrt; Length 115.5 ft Breadth 21.0 ft Depth 9.0 ft

Engine detail: T.3cyl, 41hp, 1-screw

First owner: The Admiralty – Royal Navy

Subsequent owner and registration history:

18/11/1933 – Bernard Zammit, Malta

05/1942 – Royal Navy

07/1942 – Bernard Zammit, Malta

04/1944 – Galzamhil & Co., Malta

03/1951 – Mario Farrugia, Malta

Vessel history:

Naval water tanker.

1933 ON.155992 allocated

1933 converted to commercial service

1942 converted to naval salvage vessel

Fate / Status: 04/1951 broken up in Italy.

Bernard Zammit operated two vessels, the King of England and Lady Strickland, which were both withdrawn from service in 1951



Operated by the Gozo Mail Service Company between October 1938 and May 1942

royal lady

Royal Lady at Mgarr

In September 1937 Royal Lady was sold for a good price for service between Malta and Gozo with Captain Orazio Mizzi, to be replaced at Scarborough by the larger and faster New Royal Lady. In 1938 she was transferred to the Gozo Mail Service Co, remaining on a route between Mgarr and Marfa. She was sunk on 6 May 1942 by Luftwaffe bombs, whilst alongside the quay at Mgarr, still carrying the name Royal Lady.

In broad daylight on the afternoon of 6 May 1942 enemy fighter-bombers carried out a surprise dive-bombing raid on the harbour at Mgarr, Gozo. One aircraft was seen to release several bombs over the Royal Lady, splitting the vessel in two. More bombs were aimed at the trawler SS Franco; one hit the vessel, damaging the funnel. A coffee and rest-house on the harbour was also damaged by an exploding bomb. The loss of the Royal Lady was a severe blow to the Gozo Mail Service, which she has served since her purchase from the UK in 1938.

By coincidence, her replacement, the New Royal Lady, also followed her out to Malta, operating on the same routes under the name Imperial Eagle.



operated by Joseph Gasan between 1946 and 1950

calypso old3

The Launching of Mine Sweeper HMS J-826 March 21 1942 Ballard, WA

calypso old


calypso old1


Cousteau’s Calypso



Jacques-Cousteau-Calypso-Ship2 Jacques-Cousteau-Calypso-Ship3

Calypso 1970s -1990’s

Jacques-Cousteau-Calypso-Ship Jan25 1995 CALYPSO

Calypso January 1995

Jacques-Cousteau-Calypso- Nov 2007

Calypso November 2007

Prior to Mr Gasan’s acquisition in 1946 she had been a World War II minesweeper operating with the 153rd Minesweeping Flotilla.

Built in Seattle, she was launched on March 21, 1942 at the Ballard Marine Railway Yard by Isobel Prentice, the schoolgirl daughter of the shipyard’s foreman. Calypso was part of the American Lend-Lease scheme, an agreement struck between the United Kingdom and America whereby the latter provided the former with ships, planes and shells for the duration of the war on a “never-never” basis.

These little ships were known as British Yard Minesweepers (BYMs) and were identified only by their numbers. They were crewed by 30 officers and men, who performed dangerous tasks, worked hard and were very courageous, clearing the seas of mines in all kinds of weather. In performing these unenviable duties they were simultaneously subjected to aerial and torpedo attacks. A total of 130 were built for the Royal Navy to an Admiralty design and they quickly proved their worth, sweeping 500 mines in three months. Only six were lost during their war service, all by mine explosion.

British Yard Minesweepers all sailed with the pennant J. Calypso was commissioned as HMS J-826 and in February 1943 she sailed from Seattle bound for Gibraltar via San Francisco and Freetown – a voyage of 16,000 miles. En route she suffered a breakdown and had to put into San Diego for repairs. Later that year she joined up as a unit of the 153rd Minesweeping Flotilla in the Mediterranean Fleet based at Malta. She took part in the initial assault convoy to the beaches of Sicily in Operation Husky escorting and supporting the vast Allied invasion, sweeping close to the beaches to enable the landing craft to move in. These Allied landings marked the turn of the tide of the war in the Mediterranean and elsewhere.

In 1944 she was renumbered BYMS 2026 and based in Taranto, Italy. She was decommissioned in 1946 and laid up in Malta where she was acquired by Joseph Gasan who used her commercially for a short period as a car ferry which operated between Malta and Gozo till 1950. In this configuration she was capable of carrying 11 cars and 400 passengers, and her name was changed to Calypso.

In 1950 Capt Cousteau found Calypso in a Malta dockyard for surplus ships. In July, 1950 she was taken to a shipyard in Antibes where she was converted from ferryboat to Oceanographic Research Vessel. Naturally, this entailed extensive alterations to turn her into a floating laboratory. Navigational aids were added, as were special facilities for diving equipment. An underwater observation chamber known as Calypso’s false nose was also installed. It was connected to a metal well built around the stem, which extended eight feet below the waterline. This chamber enabled two crew members to film and observe underwater without leaving the ship.

In 1969, as Calypso was leaving the Galapagos, she struck an uncharted rock, which damaged her false nose as well her keel. The false nose was rebuilt and the keel repaired later in New Orleans.

On January 8, 1996 after a barge struck her and punctured her hull below the waterline, Calypso sank and lay at an angle of 70° in five metres of water at Singapore Harbour. At the time she was awaiting her next expedition although Captain Cousteau was preparing to retire her. She was salvaged on January 25, 1996 and then retired to Marseille after 46 years’ service with Capt Cousteau. Her two shaft diesel engines, which gave 1,200 bhp and had powered this vessel since 1942 had been replaced in 1986 after 40 years in commission. It lay neglected for two years.

The next year, Jacques-Yves Cousteau died on 25 June 1997.

Thereafter it was towed to the basin of the Maritime Museum of La Rochelle in 1998, where it was intended to be an exhibit.

A long series of legal and other delays kept any restoration work from beginning. Francine Cousteau managed to organize the ship’s restoration. A dispute arose between Francine Cousteau, the widow of Jacques Cousteau, and Loel Guinness, grandson of the original purchaser.

When this dispute was discovered by the sponsoring Mayor of La Rochelle, it added to the air of uncertainty and hesitancy over funding the restoration. When the mayor subsequently died, the city of La Rochelle withdrew as a source of funding for the restoration. Calypso remained in disrepair.

In 2002, Alexandra, Cousteau’s granddaughter from his first marriage, stepped in to help organize restoration. Yet the Cousteau Society, controlled by Francine Cousteau, reportedly spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to defend Francine’s exclusive use of the name, and to prevent Alexandra’s participation in the restoration of Calypso.

In July 2003, Patrick Schnepp, director of the La Rochelle maritime museum, expressed his frustration at the inability to restore the ship to fit condition. The Guardian reported that he desired to see the ship towed off the Ile de Ré and scuttled, as Jacques-Yves Cousteau had envisioned would have been the ship’s original fate had he not been granted its use.

On 30 November 2004 it was erroneously reported Calypso had been sold by Loel Guinness, to Carnival Cruise Lines. Carnival stated they intended to give the vessel a 1.3 million dollar (1 million euro) restoration, and then likely moor it in the Bahamas as a museum ship.

In late 2006, Loel Guinness transferred ownership of “Calypso” to the Cousteau Society for the symbolic sum of one Euro. The transfer was part of a plan of restoration led by Francine Cousteau. A legal battle regarding ownership of the vessel ensued which was resolved in favour of the [Cousteau Society] in October 2007. The restoration project then resumed.

On 11 October 2007, the transfer of the ship to Concarneau started to be restored at the Piriou Shipyard and transformed into a permanent exhibit.

On 4 October 2008, Swiss watch manufacturer IWC Schaffhausen produced a new luxury chronograph to be sold to raise proceeds for the restoration of Calypso.

Restoration work on the Calypso stopped in February 2009 due to non-payment of bills by Francine Cousteau. Piriou Naval Services of Concarneau are owed €850 000, of the estimated total €1737000, for work already done on the ship.

The ship is now stored in one of the ship builder’s hangars.

As of March 2009 the Cousteau Society reports that Francine Cousteau is now directing the restoration of Calypso—which has been brought to the Piriou shipyards in Brittany—as an “ambassador for the seas and oceans”. The restoration will be a complete refurbishment making Calypso a self-powered mobile “ambassador”.

In June 2010 the BBC reported that the Calypso was to be relaunched to mark the centenary of Jacques Cousteau’s birth. According to one of the ship’s former crew who visited the shipyard, the vessel was still being stored in several pieces in the same hangar as of 11 June 2010 – the official date of the centenary – and is unlikely to sail any time soon.



operated by Joseph Gasan between 1950 and 1957



Bancinu at Marfa 1952


Bancinu wreckage at Zewwieqa


Stamp commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Bancinu tragedy.The stamp depicts mail being loaded by a postman on the BANCINU, under the supervision of a Mail officer, the Ship’s Captain and the duty Policeman at Mgarr Harbour, Gozo.

Bancinu was built as a steel motor yacht under yard No 352 by Clyde Shipbuilding Company, Port Glasgow, Scotland for K.E.L. Guinness.

Launched as the MIGRANT.

Tonnage 348 gross, 201 net, dim. 154.2 x 24.2 x 11.3ft., length bpp. 128.0, draught 10.3 ft.

Powered by two 6-cyl diesel engines, manufactured by Augsburg-Nurnberg A.G., Augsburg, Germany, 136 nhp.

November 1927 completed.

1931 Sold to J.Sapene (Cie Generale de Publicite Parisienne S.A.) France and renamed VICTRIX.

1936 Renamed in AUDACIEUX, same owner.

1938 Sold to F.G.T Dawson, Greenock, U.K. and renamed MIGRANTE.

September 1939 hired by the Royal Navy reclassed as armed yacht FY 019 and used for anti-submarine duties, first in the 87th anti submarine group based in Southampton then till 1942 in Bari.

Then based at Larne, Northern Ireland in the 35th anti-submarine group. The Ministry of War Transport purchased her in July 1941 and she continued in her role until 1946 when she was re-acquired by her pre-war owners.

In Sept. 1947 she was acquired by Joseph Gasan, Malta, modernized as a passenger ferry and in July 1950 put also in the Gozo mail service as the BANCINU.

On Jan. 23, 1957, she broke her moorings at Mgarr in a gale and was driven ashore, but on February 10, she was salvaged by the Royal Navy salvage vessel UPLIFTER and towed to Grand Harbour.

In December 1957, she was sold to B. Vasilakis, Piraeus, Greece and renamed ATHINAI in 1958. Sold to Kavounideas Shipping Co. Ltd., Piraeus in 1961 and renamed SIRIUS. Her measurements were now Gt. 525 and nt. 369.

In 1964, she was sold to Saronikos S.A. Maritime Enterprices, Piraeus and renamed VORIOI. SPORADES. Greek sources give her as VOR. SPORADES.)

Deleted from registers in 1988.

(Greek sources state that she was sunk of the coast of Metaponto in the Ionian Sea with on board radio active material. Another source gives that in 1970 she wast sent to a scrapyard in Perama a suburb of Piraeus.)



Operated by the Magro Family between 1948 and 1956





Operated by the Magro Family between 1955 and 1970

queen of peace

Former RN wooden Minesweeper.

Propulsion: motor vessel (diesel)

Weight (tons): 214 grt

Operated by Magro Bros as Gozo freight ferry between 1955 and 1970.

In 1970 it was laid up at Marsa.

Foundered  on 25 November 1977 in the Gulf of Sirte with the loss of 3 Maltese crew.



Operated by the Magro and Zammit Families between 1958 and 1968


Imperial Eagle at the Marfa quay


Imperial Eagle at the Grand Harbour

When first launched in 1938 until 1947 she was named “New Royal Lady”, then in 1948 as “Royal Lady” and thereafter until 1958 as “Crested Eagle” Built by J. Crown & Sons Ltd, in Sunderland England and powered by two oil engines manufactured by Crossley Bros Ltd. Imperial Eagle made its maiden voyage between Malta & Gozo on 1June1958,

At 45 metres long it had accommodation for 70 passengers and room for 10 cars.

In 1958 Crested Eagle was bought by E Zammit & Co Malta and renamed Imperial Eagle for service between Malta and Gozo until March 1968.

She also did occasional trips to Sicily. From these trips she was held locally in ill-repute as a bad sailer.

Imperial Eagle was subsequently bought by Sunny & Mary Pisani from Gozo and was used to transport cargo and animals from Gozo to Valletta.

For at least 10 years she then lay rotting in Mgarr harbour and was eventually towed to Valletta harbour where she was badly vandalised and half sunk at her moorings.

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In November 1995 Imperial Eagle was bought by the local Diving community to be sunk as the centrepiece attraction of an underwater marine park. On 19 July 1999, after years fighting bureaucracy and red tape, she was finally scuttled off Qawra point on the north of the island, and sitting upright at 40 metres gives divers an excellent wreckdive and, as a “reef”, encourages marine life in the area.



Operated by the Malta Aliscafi Ltd between 1964 and 1968



Delfin at Mgarr in 1966

In 1964 the Malta Aliscafi Ltd started operating a hydrofoil service between Grand Harbour and Mgarr Harbour. The hydrofoil in use was the Delfin. It was commonly known as L-Iżgiċċ. A single fare was 10/- (€1.16) which was not cheap in 1964. Sick bags were de rigueur.

Delfin was built at the Cantieri Navali Rodriquez of Messina and operated between Grand Harbour and Mgarr Harbour with the following schedule:

Departure from  Valletta        Departure from Gozo

WINTER TIME-TABLE  (15th September to 30th April)
9.15a.m.                                10.30a.m.
12.45p.m.                              3.50p.m.

SUMMER TIME-TABLE  (1st May to 14th September)
9.00a.m.                                10.00a.m.
1.45p.m.                                5.05p.m. (*)
(*) During the period from the 1st to the 14th September, both days included, departure from Gozo was at 5.15 p.m.

The company (C575) with its Head Office at 148 Britannia Street (now Melita Street) Valletta  went bankrupt in 1968 and Delfin was sold in Italy.



Operated by the Zammit Family between 1966 and 1976



Minor Eagle

image Minor Eagle renamed Cominoland in 1976



Minor Eagle renamed Jylland II in 1980

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Before being scuttled in August 2006

Commissioned by the Royal Navy Admiralty in 1942 and built by Philip & Son Ltd., Dartmouth Launched as Miner VI in 1942.

Acquired by Zammit & Sons Ltd in 1966 and renamed Minor Eagle. She could load more than 400 passengers and 10 cars.

Renamed MV Cominoland in 1976.

Renamed Jylland II in 1980 and in 2006 again Cominoland.

The MV Cominoland was scuttled by the Maltese Government on August 2006 infront of Xatt l-Ahmar in Gozo.



Operated by the Zammit Family between 1967 and 1978

Operated by Gozo Channel from 1979 to 1984



Jylland at the Marfa quay

Building yard: Pullman Standard Car Manufactered Co, Chicago, USA.

Loa. 58,00m., br. 10,18m., draft 3,90m.

Gross 824t., Net. 283t., Dwt. t.

Two 12 cylinder General Motors diesel engines. 1 screw, 3600 hp, speed 18 kn.

Passenger capacity.: 360 passengers. Ro-ro capacity: 32 cars.

1943 “PCE 828” delivered to British Royal Navy. 1943 “KILBRIDE” British Royal Navy.

1947 “KILBRIDE” sold to A/S KDS/ Mosvald Shipping, Norway.

1948 “JYLLAND” rebuilt into ferry at Stord Vaerft A/S, Norway.

1949 “JYLLAND” A/S KDS/ Mosvald Shipping, Kristiansand – Hirtshals.

1966 “JYLLAND” Arendal – Hirtshals.

1967 “JYLLAND” sold to E. Zammit & Co

1984 ‘KYBRIS” sold to Kibtur Turkey.

1984 “AKDENIZ” sold to Akdeniz Gemicilik, Turkey.

1986 “PRINCESS LYDIA” sold to Charterwall Maritima S.A., Piraeus.

1988 “PRINCESS LYDIA” sold to Comert Denizcilik A/S Aliga, Turkey for demolition.



Operated by the Zammit Family between 1969 and 1978

Operated by Gozo Channel from 1979 to 1984



MV Calypsoland

Building Year: 1932

Building yard: de Schelde, Vlissingen.

Gross. 672t., net. 190t., dwt. 183t.; Loa.60,28m., ll.59,87m., br.12,42m., dg. 3,10m

Machinery: One 2 tew 8 cylinder diesel engine Werkspoor-Sulzer, 2 screws, 1200 hp, speed 11kn.

Ro-ro capacity: 35 Cars.

Passenger capacity: 1300 passengers.

IMO: 7438024

1932 “PRINS HENDRIK” P.S.D., Vlissingen-Breskens, Hansweert-Walsoorden.

1933 “PRINS HENDRIK” converted because of instability problems by “de Schelde”.

1940 “PRINS HENDRIK” Sunk by German troops in Breskens.

1941/49 “PRINS HENDRIK” lengthened, engine “Pinses Juliana” installed by “de Schelde”.

1968 “PRINS HENDRIK” Sold to E. Zammit & Sons, Malta.

1969 “PRINS HENDRIK” Towed from Vlissingen to Malta by Fairplay XI.

1969 “CALYPSOLAND” Cirkewwa – Gozo.

1979/81 “CALYPSOLAND” Most of the time layed up, occassionally carrying building material to Comino for the pig farm

1984 “CALYPSOLAND” Sold to Sartad Shipbreakers, Malta for demolishing.

1985 “CALYPSOLAND” demolished.



Operated by the Zammit Family between 1974 and 1978

Operated by Gozo Channel between 1979 and 1994



MV Melitaland

Building year: 1933 / 1955

Building yard: NV Meyer & Co Scheepsbouw Maatschappij, Netherlands

Former owners:

Dutch Goverment (1933-1972)

A.C. Slooten Handelsonderneming (1972-1973)

E. Zammit & Sons (1973-1980)

Length: 40,53m / 70,46 m; Breadth: 10,36 m / 13,44 m; Draft: 4,5 m / 2,5 m; GT: 1.435

Machinery: 4 * Lister Blackstone; Speed: 10 kn.

Number of passengers: 1,000 / 600 Number of cars: 33 / 80

Former names:

Dordrecht (1933-1974) – PSD

Melitaland (1974-1978) – E Zammit & Sons Ltd

Melitaland (1979-1994) – Gozo Channel Line

Bezz 20 (1994-1996) – Gozo Channel Line

Sold in 1996 to scrapping



Operated by Gozo Channel between 1979 and 2000



MV Ghawdex

Built in 1962 by Adler Werft GmbH, Bremen for Juelsminde-Kalundborg Line

1962 named Kalle. She was the sisters of Julle.

In 1970 ownership passed to Jydsk Færgefart A/S, Kalundborg.

In 1971 Kalle was sold to A/S Dampskibsselskabet på Bornholm, Rönne and renamed Rotna. Rotna served on the routes Copenhagen-Rönne, and Ystad-Rönne. The company became known as Bornholmstraffiken from 1975.

In 1978, Rotna was sold to the Maltese Governemt as the Ghawdex.

In March 2000, after the launch of Ta’ Pinu, Gozo Channel sold Ghawdex to Mira Towage who in turn sold it to Portughese owners. She was renamed Virgem de Fatima, but remained laid up in Valletta, and was sold for breaking up in Turkey on 6th September 2002.



Operated by Gozo Channel between 1979 and 1995


MV Mgarr as Saltholm before coming to Malta

Building year: 1967 Building yard: Aalborgs Vaerft A/S, Ålborg, Denmark

Former owners: Svenska Rederi Ab Öresund

Class: Bureau Veritas

Length: 50.03m; Breadth: 10.06m; Draft: 3 m / 4,4 m; GT: 728

Machinery: 2XJonkoping Type 6 TMFD 260 Diesel Turbo 2X660 at 425 RPM

She served on the Limhamn-Dragør route until 1979

Former Names:

Saltholm (1967-1979)

Mgarr (1979-1995)

Sold for scrap in 1995



Operated by Gozo Channel between 1987 and 1995


MV Cittadella

Building year: 1949 / 1963

Building yard: NV Koninklijk Maatschappij De Schelde, Netherlands (#215)

Former owners:

ProvInciale Stoombootdiensten in Zeeland (1949-1987)

Length: 74,0 m / 87,0 m; Breadth: 12,21 m; Draft: 4,2 m / 4,4 m; GT: 1.973

Machinery: 2 * Sulzer; Speed: 12,5 kn.

Number of passengers: 1.000 Number of cars: 48 / 75

Former names:

Prins Bernhard (1949-1987) – PSD

Cittadella (1987-1995) – Gozo Channel Line

Citta (1995-1997) – Gozo Channel Line

Sister ship; MV Melitaland

Sold in 1997 to scrapping in Turkey.



Operated by Gozo Channel between 1988 and 1996


SES Calypso

Class: Lloyds

GRT: 50.75 tons; Length: 18.14m; Draught: 1.71; NRT: 36.05 tons; Beam: 5.9m

Machinery: 2XJonkoping Type 6 TMFD 260 Diesel.

On 29 April 1988 Gozo Channel started operating a new faster service by means of a hovermarine S.E.S. Calypso between Marxamett and Mgarr Harbours



Operated by Gozo Channel between 1990 and 1999



MV Xlendi as MV Helsingør


MV Xlendi

Building Year: 1955

Builder: Helsingor Vaerft, Helsingør (Elsinore – Helsingor)

weight (tons): 1123 gr; dimensions :80 x 12,9 x 3,6 m;

material: steel engine: 1 diesel engine; speed: 11 knots

Former Names:

MV Helsingor (1955-1987)

MV Royal Sheeba (1987-1988)

MV Borgshorn (1988-1990)

MV Xlendi (1990-1999)

Previous owners:

De Danske Statsbaner, Helsingør (Elsinore – Helsingor)

Alfa Med Sg Ltd, Valletta

Bisi A/S, Bergen

Gozo Channel Ltd

Built in 1955 as a train ferry, it weighs 1123 gross tones & is 80 meters long, with a beam of 12 meters & 23 meters overall height. The vessel was bought by Gozo Channel in February 1990 for Lm327, 000, the Xlendi was meant to serve as a cargo carrier between Malta and Gozo, augmenting the service provided by the MV Ghawdex. But the ship ended up ferrying passengers and cars. It could take up to 65 vehicles. Its shape, however, earned it the ignoble title of the coffin.

The Xlendi has had its fair share of mishaps. It had sustained considerable damage in 1992 when it ran aground at Comino while crossing from Cirkewwa and Mgarr. None of the 80 passengers was injured and only one of 42 cars was slightly damaged. Three years later, in 1995, it hit the quay at Mgarr, sustaining minor damage. In June 1999 a small fire broke out on deck.

MV Xlendi was handed over to the Gozo Tourism Association to scuttle as an attraction for divers, after it had stopped operating in 1997. After a lengthy process to obtain a permit to sink her off Xatt L-Ahmar, on 12th November 1999. Xlendi finally hit the seabed resting in a position which due to prevailing winds at the time of scuttling pushed the vessel off the selected and the desired position. The wreck currently lies up side down on a sandy slope 40 meters deep, and 30 meters at its shallowest, its keel.



Operated by Gozo Channel between 1996 and 2002


SES Victoria Express

Building year: 1984.

Building Yard: Brødrene Aa Båtbyggeri, Hyen (170)

Former owners: Ulstein Surfer-96, Fjordkongen-92

Loa. 32,21m.; br. 11,00m., draft 3,23 m.; Gross. 299t., Net. 109t., Dwt. 50t.

Machinery: Two 16 cylinder GM diesel engines. 2644 kW, speed 36,0 kn.

Passenger cap.: 272 passengers.

Former Names:

1984 “NORCAT” delivered to Brodrene A.A. Marine A/S, Norway.

1986 “FJORDKONGEN” sold to Troms Fylke D/S A/S Tromsö, Norway.

1992 “ULSTEIN SURFER” sold to Ulstein Industrier A/S, Florö, Norway.

1994 “ULSTEIN SURFER” charter Estonian New Line, Tallinn – Helsingfors.

1996 “VICTORIA EXPRESS” sold to Gozo Channel Co Ltd, Valletta – Mgarr.

2002 “VICTORIA EXPRESS” sold to Pleasure Sports Gambia Ltd., Gambia.




Operated by Gozo Channel between 1995 and 2002


MV Cittadella


Building year: 1966

Building yard: IHC Holland Dredgers, Netherlands (#658)

Former owners:  Texels Eigen Stoomboot Onderneming (1966-1992)

Length: 68,0 m; Breadth: 16,1 m; Draft: 5,87 m; GT: 2.721

Machinery: AEG; Speed: 13 kn.

Number of passengers: 700 Number of cars: 70

Former names:

Texelstroom (1966-1992) – T.E.S.O.

Cittadella (1992-1995) – E. Zammit & Sons Ltd

Cittadella (1995-2002) – Gozo Channel Line

Sister ships: Mgarr,

Sold in 2002 to scrapping in Turkey



Operated by Gozo Channel between 1995 and 2002

mgarrMV Mgarr


Building year: 1963

Building yard: Zaanlandsche Scheepsbuow Maatschappij, Netherlands (#499)

Former owners: Texels Eigen Stoomboot Onderneming (1963-1992)

Length: 68,0 m; Breadth: 16,11 m; Draft: 5,85 m; GT: 1.604

Machinery: AEG; Speed: 13,5 kn.

Number of passengers: 750 Number of cars: 70

Former names:

Marsdiep (1963-1992) – T.E.S.O

Mgarr (1992-1995) – E. Zammit & Sons Ltd

Mgarr (1995-2002) – Gozo Channel Line

Sold in 2002 to scrapping in Turkey.



Operated by Gozo Channel from 1993-2004


image image

MV Calypso

Build year: 1970;

Builder: Svendborg Skibsvaerft & Maskinbyggeri Svendborg, Denmark

Type: Ferry Ro-Ro

IMO 7021807

DWT: 1156 t; LOA: 85 m; Breadth: 13 m; Maximum draft: 4 m; BRT: 2771 t

Former Names:

Karnan (1970-1993)

Calypso (1993-2012)


Helsingør – Helsingborg (26 June 1970 – 1 August 1991)

Cirkewwa – Mgarr (1993 – 2004)

Oplagt (2004)

Tasucu – Girne (2005 -2012)

Sold in January 2012 to scrapping in Aliga, Turkey to Fergun Shipping Co Ltd (Turkey)

The Calypso was retained in 2002 after Gozo Channel sold its other vessels because it was thought it was not possible to operate with just three vessels. The Calypso was used as a spare vessel since the introduction of three new ferries. However, it spent most of its time moored at Sa Maison and only used when one of the other ferries was unavailable. It was only used if one of the other ferries goes into drydock. In June 2004 the Government instructed Gozo Channel to sell the mv Calypso as it was costing the company about Lm80,000 a year in recurrent expenditure.



Operated by Gozo Channel from 2000


MV Ta’ Pinu

Delivered from the Malta Shipbuilding Co in 2000, the Gozo Channel Company’s Ta’Pinu was the lead vessel in a three-ship fleet rebuilding scheme which saw the older second-hand ships which had operated for the company since 1979 being mostly phased-out.

Between February and June 2012 it was refitted with an extra car deck at the Palumbo Shipyards. Ta’ Pinu was back in service on 15 June 2012 carrying 138 cars instead of the previous 72.

Type: Double ended car ferry

Built: 2000

Builder: Malta Ship Building

Owner: Gozo Channel

Length: 83; Breadth 18; Beam: 18; DWT: 1064; GT: 4893; Draft: 4

Engines: Diesel-Electric, Ulstein Bergen

Speed recorded (Max / Average): 12.5 / 9.5 knots

Call Sign: 9HHI6 IMO: 9176307, MMSI: 248692000 Passengers: 900

Cars: 138 (72 – car daeck; 66 – hoistable deck)

Sister Ships: MV Gaudos; MV Malita



Operated by Gozo Channel from 2001


MV Gaudos

Gaudos was delivered to the Gozo Channel Company in February 2001, the second of a trio of identical sisters (the others being Malita and Ta’Pinu) for the lifeline service between the company’s namesake island and neighbouring Malta. Locally built at the Malta Shipbuilding Yard, the three ships were the key elements of a fleet mordernisation strategy which saw the replacement of older second-hand ships which had been used since the establishment of the state-owned company in 1979.

A degree of controversy affected the naming of the ship and her sister, Malita. It had been planned to name the pair Gaulos and Malta, however these names were already taken on the Maltese Register so the names actually used were chosen instead. The company was then forced to issue a statement clarifying the matter and explaining that, following research made in Malta, Gaudos and Malita were legitimate old names for Ghawdex and Malta.

Type: Double ended car ferry

Built: 2001

Builder: Malta Ship Building

Owner: Gozo Channel

Length: 85; Breadth 18; Beam: 13; DWT: 1100; GT: 4893; Draft: 4.1

Engines: Diesel-Electric, Ulstein Bergen

Call Sign: 9HHJ6 IMO: 9176319, MMSI: 248928000

Speed recorded (Max / Average): 12.5 / 9.5 knots

Passengers: 800

Cars: 72

Sister Ships: MV Ta’ Pinu; MV Malita



Operated by Gozo Channel from 2002


MV Malita

Delivered, much later than scheduled, from the Malta Shipbuilding Co in 2002, the Gozo Channel Company’s Malita was the final member of a three-ship fleet rebuilding scheme which saw the older second-hand ships which had operated for the company since 1979 being mostly phased-out.

Type: Double ended car ferry

Built: 2002

Builder: Malta Ship Building

Owner: Gozo Channel

Length: 85; Breadth 18; Beam: 13; DWT: 1100; GT: 4893; Draft: 4.1

Engines: Diesel-Electric, Ulstein Bergen

Call Sign: 9HHK6 IMO: 9176321, MMSI: 215145000 Speed recorded (Max / Average): 12.5 / 9.5 knots

Passengers: 900

Cars: 138 (72 – car daeck; 66 – hoistable deck)

Sister Ships: MV Ta’ Pinu; MV Gaudos




Ferry Tickets


Mgarr Harbour

M1M2 The first impression one gets of the Mgarr Harbour today is one of bustling activity. The increase in the number of vessels using its facilities may be partly the reason for this increasing activity. Most of all, however, it is the great development of the port facilities which conveys the impression.

The harbour area remains one of great scenic beauty. Approaching Gozo from the sea, one is impressed by the beautiful verdant cliffs and valleys overlooking the harbour. Fort Chambray is conspicuous on the wooded hill overlooking the two quays. Between this hill and the cliffs on which Ghajnsielem stands, nestling on top an olive-lined hill, one’s attention is captivated by the beautiful church of our Lady of Lourdes. This church built in a Gothic style is at the center of attraction.

The port is studded with stores, warehouses, garages and fisherman’s shed. A broad square-like wharf has been built at the foot of ‘Ras it-Tafal’ on which Fort Chambray stands. A road extending from old wharf takes one to the small fisherman’s jetty where all fishing boats unload their catches. The road finds it way around the bottom of the cliffs on which the Tower Garzes once stood, to Zewwieqa bay, a popular inlet where swimming is still possible.

The Port History


A regular ferry service from Mgarr to Malta was probably initiated after the twelfth century. The service, known in Maltese as id-dghajsa tal-moghodija, literally, the boat of the passage is first recorded in 1241. The name survives in a toponym at the lateen sails in Mgarr, sails that were to survive until the twentieth century. At that time, Mgarr was a shallow harbour affording anchorage to small craft only and quite exposed from the south west to the south east winds. It did not have a breakwater but only a small jetty used by passengers to board and descend from the boats, and by the fishermen to unload their catches. The jetty is still there just below the Gleneagles bar. This bar, once a landmark of the harbour recognisable with its unique sloping roof, was originally the harbour’s barrakka, a cabin for the shelter of passengers waiting for the passage boats. It was raised next to a still standing osteria, a tavern, by Grandmaster Antonio Manuel de Vilhena in 1732.


The problem of a more sheltered port was first taken under serious consideration in 1841. In April of that year, the Government began the construction of a small breakwater some hundred meters to the west of the existing jetty. During the following decades it was extended several times and it was last extended in 1906. Yet it hardly offered any shelter and the steamers could not sail along. The problem was finally tackled by the government of Sir Gerald Strickland in the late 1920’s and on the 23rd June 1929, the official launching of the first caisson for a proper breakwater took place. Construction went until 1935. However steamers began to berth alongside for the first time and to discharge passengers and cargo directly onto the quay, that extended 137metres (450 feet) into the sea, on the feast of Santa Marija 1932.

In 1969, the Government authorized the extension of the existing 137m g long breakwater and the building of two modern breakwaters – easily the largest building enterprise undertaken in Gozo during the whole nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The new facilities also included a ro-ro berth. The main south breakwater extends about 490metres (1600 feet) in the sea from a point known as the ‘l-Iskoll ta’ l-Ghasafar’ while on the north it extends from il-Hawlija off Zewwieqa for some 175metres (570 feet). This project enlarged the Mgarr Harbour to an area of over 121,400 square metres (30 acres).


In the early 1990’s a small yacht marina was established on the furthest end, off iz-Zewwieqa. The popularity of the marina is increasing and from year to year a good number of Mediterranean based yachts are choosing Mgarr for berthing during winter. The number of passengers passing through Mgarr has increased from a few thousands a year in mid-1950s to over three million during the beginning of the twenty first century. Now that the new Harbour Terminal (which includes underground parking and new berthing facilities) has been completed, there are also plans to offer berthing facility for the Cruise Liners near the south breakwater. The Zewwieqa area is also being planned to be changed into a hub or entertainment activities. The ‘Zewwieqa Waterfront’ includes incentives for new bars and restaurants, family spaces and the modernisation of the existing roads and facilities. Zewwieqa Marina has been privatised in 2011.




The harbour has seen its share of tragedies. During the second World War, German planes destroyed the bar known as ‘Il-Barraka’. The ‘Royal Lady’ ferry was also sunk in the harbour.

One of the worst tragedies occurred on 30th October 1948 when 23 men lost their lives in the channel between the two islands when the vessel they were travelling gave way to the turbulent sea and was overturned. It was Saturday and the weather was so bad, with a south westerly wind blowing hard and a raging sea, that it was impossible for the Gozo ferry to perform the two daily trips to Marfa. It happened that the following Monday was going to be a public holiday (a day of obligation), All Saints’ Day, with Tuesday being All Souls’ Day. Accordingly, a group of determined Gozitans working in Malta wanted to cross over to join their families at all costs. With them was a Maltese man, a member of the Society of Christian Doctrine who was to give a lecture in Gozo. They all met at the Marfa landing place and from there phoned a fisherman to cross over with his luzzu (fishing boat) to pick them up. Out of compassion for the poor stranded men and one woman he accepted and sailed to Marfa. It was dark when he arrived there. Several men, either because they got fed up or did not like the weather, had decided not to undertake the journey and had turned back to their places of residence in Malta. The group left Marfa in pitch darkness and a heavy swell. Because of the direction of the wind, the fisherman skipper sailed north east to be sheltered by Comino. But when the boat started sailing towards Mgarr having left Comino, the full force of the waves started pounding it. The fisherman therefore made port at Hondoq ir-Rummien in Qala but because of the dark and the wild terrain to get to Qala there were protests from those on board, insisting that he takes them to Mgarr Harbour. Not long after leaving Hondoq, the boat could not take any more pounding and it sank taking down with it twenty three of those on board.

On Jan. 23, 1957, Bancinu broke her moorings at Mgarr in a gale and was wreked at Zewwieqa. The night-watchman was trapped on the ship and drowned when caught below deck, an area which was totally flooded.

The Mgarr Harbour Terminal


Entrusted to the Malta Maritime Authority, the project dates back to 1995 when the Government was planning to consolidate the Cirkewwa terminal and to cut down on idle hours due to choppy seas. But the idea soon grew to include a car park and passenger terminal in Cirkewwa and Mgarr equipped with separate ramps for passengers and vehicles and elevators and escalators. At that time, the government had announced that the whole project had to be completed by September 2003, but since then the completion date has been changed quite a few times…

The works in Mgarr officially started on September 2002. The project consisted of a state-of the art passenger terminal building with an underlying 190-car underground car park plus a new marshalling area. Unfortunately the works on this exciting project were halted after just a few months due to lack of funds, leaving the idyllic harbour with a huge scar on its face for a number of years.

New designs for the construction of a sea passenger terminal were approved on the 13th of May, 2005. The main changes included the reorganisation of access routes, a reduction in size and height of the terminal building and a change in its external appearance. The new terminal building was a considerable improvement on the design previously approved. Its impact on Fort Chambray backdrop was significantly reduced by limiting its height and integrating it into the marshalling area and car park levels. A viewing tower has been integrated in the terminal building design. It accommodates a small office and has a profile similar in appearance to a ship’s funnel. Works re-started immediately and the whole project was now split in two phases.

Phase A involved the construction of the underground car park, the construction and finishing of the marshalling area, the construction of new ramps and an exit road that connects the ferry vessel exit to port entrance and the construction of the sub-station/switch room complex. This was completed on April 2006. Works on Phase B included the building of gangways on Berths 1 and 2, the construction of the Terminal and associated road works, as well as the final works on ramp number 2.

The total expenditure on the Mgarr Terminal changed considerably over time. The Mgarr terminal was initially supposed to cost Lm1 million, but over just a couple years the cost had soared to three times as much after it transpired that reinforcement works on reclaimed land proved to be more expensive than had been estimated. The total expenditure to nearly Lm13 million.

After eleven years of long delays under four consecutive administrations and heavy criticism due to the negative impact on tourism, the Malta Maritime Authority finally completed the works on the terminal and formally handed it over to Gozo Channel on November 2007.

It was officially inaugurated by the Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi on the 21st of February 2008. Catering for 600 passengers and 200 cars at a time, the terminal is complete with lifts, escalators, air conditioning, a spacious, squeaky-clean, marble-clad waiting area, cafeteria and baggage deposit and pick-up spot, a roof garden and 180-vehicle car park, under the marshalling zone. The project is complemented by the embellishment of the Zewwieqa waterfront.



Id-Dghajsa tal-Latini

Current Gozo Channel Schedules:  WinterMid Season Summer


Photo credits

14 thoughts on “Gozo Ferry since 1885”

  1. Reading all this reminds me of all the years and all the Gozo channel ships since 1945, but I was often called to solve problems on the Mgarr (Marsdiep) and Cittadella (Texelstroom) 1995 to 2002
    These vessels had three diesel engines running three DC generators feeding a bow and a stern propeller each driven by two motors on the same shaft. The electric system was interesting having a constant armature current of about 1200 amperes. I still have all the electrical drawings all in Dutch which I could not understand but managed.
    They had magnetic amplifiers for speed control and it was a bit of a headache to tune them up, and spares were lacking, It was enjoyable meeting the Masters and crews and management of the vessels and this is no place to relate some interesting episodes.
    I also saw the newer ships being built at the shipbuilding and was a little concerned about not installing variable speed through frequency changing electronics but later they did introduce a soft start to those big driving motors. There were other issues but this is no place to talk about it. I cannot believe that the new ships were built sixteen years ago!
    All I can say, is that the Masters and crews who work on those vessels in all weather, they are able people who should be respected as they keep ” the road” open between Malta and Gozo in all types of weathers. Congratulations all..

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