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Balaton Sailing Season Kicks Off with New Ships

28 March 2024

The inauguration ceremony of four new ships (two catamarans and two ferries) of Balaton Navigation Ltd (Bahart) was held in Siófok. The development, the first of such in 40 years, could give a new boost to tourism on Lake Balaton.

    Bahart CEO Gábor Veigl said that the new vessels meet the highest environmental standards, are state-of-the-art in terms of technical solutions and have been designed with passenger needs in mind. He pointed out that the two new ferries will increase the existing transport capacity by 20%, making the crossing between Tihany and Szántód faster, while their panoramic decks promise an additional experience. The two new catamarans have a multifunctional design, making them suitable for cruising, walking and program cruises," he said.

    He emphasized that the new vessels have a much larger capacity for transporting bicycles than the previous ones, which is necessary as Lake Balaton is the number one destination for cyclists. Last year, 16% more cyclists crossed the lake than the year before. On the ferries alone, nearly 130,000 people travelled by bike, or one in ten passengers, and the number is growing steadily, he said.

    "Last year, we set a multi-decade record, carrying more than 2 million passengers, and I am confident that this year, our 178th sailing season, we will set new records," the CEO concluded.

    As it was announced at the ceremony, the ferries, 45 meters long and 11 meters   wide, are BAHART's largest ever passenger and vehicle-carrying vessels, capable of carrying 120 passengers, 24 vehicles and 30 bicycles at the same time. The catamarans, also 11 meters wide but 35 meters long, can carry 350 passengers and 35 bicycles at a time between the shores.

    Bahart employs 300 people, operates 17 ports and has 19 passenger vessels. The CEO said that its next major investment will be the development of ferry ports, for which preparations have begun and which it intends to implement with subsidies and its own resources. He added that the shipping company can spend around HUF 600-700 million of its own resources on developments every year.

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