Scientology's private cruise ship had a fitful history before becoming a floating cathedral - 2018-09-23
Built in 1968 at the Wärtsilä Turku Shipyard in Turku, Finland, the ship that would become Scientology's MV Freewinds was originally designed as a North Sea car ferry. The vessel was ordered by Lion Ferry, a Swedish company that operated car-transport lines in Europe and America. The design concept was simple: Cars were loaded through the stern doors and unloaded in front through a retractable bow. Passengers walked up a gang plank into a side door in the ship. A 1970's-era stern shot of a sister ship — The Kamiros of the Dane Sea Lines — shows the design of the stern doors:
Lion Ferry had two such ships operating and ordered two more. Lion then decided it only needed one of the additional ships it had ordered. The Wallenius Lines took over the contract on the other ship that would become the Freewinds. The ship was reconfigured to be a passenger cruise ship only. The car deck became passenger staterooms. Luxury amenities were added by the Wallenius Lines to transform the vessel into a true cruise ship rather than a utilitarian short-haul car ferry.