From white gloves to common property

Odense Aafart has been sailing people up and down the beautiful stream, that is Odense Å, since 1882. In the beginning, the boats were reserved for the upper class. Over time, however, Odense Aafart became common property and now everybody had the opportunity to be sailed from Munke Mose Park to Fruens Bøge. Today, Odense Aafart has much more to offer for your enjoyment, besides the tour boat. At Odense Aafart, you can rent canoes, pedalos, join our music events, wine tastings and enjoy Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tales all on Odense Å.

1882: Odense Aafart becomes a private limited company


Odense Aafart now transported people from Ny Vestergade to Fruens Bøge, when the more fashionable citizens wanted to go on a picnic or parties at Søpavillonen (the Lake Pavilion)

1895: ”Sejle op ad aaen” (“Sailing up the stream”)

The song “Sejle op ad aaen”, (a Danish classic) was written about the sailing trip from Munke Mose to Fruens Bøge.
On July 12, 1895, the song was performed for the first time, at the grand opening of the summer theatre. The theatre was located at Ny Vestergade 18 and became a popular destination on the tour boat route.

1899: 4 steamboats and 8 tugboats

With the addition of the new boats came new passengers. By 1899 the boats transported 400 people to and from Fruens Bøge every hour. This meant that roughly 3500 people were transported by Odense Aafart on any given summer day in 1899. The total amount of sailing passengers this year was about 150.000.

A single ticket in 1899 was 15 cents for an adult and 10 cents for a child. The price of a round trip ticket was 25 cents for an adult and 15 cents for a child. Two nights a week a band would be playing on the boat, which meant that the tickets were sold at half price.

1900:  Mail delivery by boat

Odense Aafart could deliver post and packages to the companies and citizens that lived along the stream. Therefore, special post stamps were made. These stamps had the text “STEAMBOATS ON ODENSE Å” written on them. The stamps were to be used only on post and packages transported by Odense Aafart’s boats.

A stamp for a package up to five pounds cost 5 cents. Whereas, a stamp for a package up to 10 pounds cost 10 cents. It was common for post boats to sail with a so-called swallowtail-flag. From 1900 and to this day the Aafart tour boats sail with a swallowtail-flag.

The first part of the 1900s: Odense Aafart as a means of transportation.

Odense Aafart had 7-8 boats sailing with around 100.000 passengers a year.

1911:   In competition with the trams

In 1911 trams came to Odense. The trams had the ability to transport people all the way to Hunderup Skov and did not rely on the stream for transport. This meant that the trams could transport people to various places, whereas the Aafart only had the ability to transport people to places along the stream. The competition was steep and Odense Aafart lost costumers because of this new form of transportation.

1932: Thorvald Stauning (Prime minister of Denmark) signs new regulation papers

The regulations for travel on the stream were changed. This meant that the maximum speed of a boat was set to be 5 sea miles an hour. If a boat sailed faster then that the boat would be fined. The fine was set at 5 DKK, which equates to about 197 DKK today. Which meant that a fine would cost the same as about 34 single trip tickets.

1940-1945:  The Second World War

During the German occupation of Denmark, Odense Aafart, like many other businesses, had trouble gaining access to fuel. This resulted in fewer trips on the stream as the boats did not have enough fuel to sail. The disturbances that came with the war also resulted in fewer people wanting to sail on Odense Å. WWII was bad for business.

1946:  Return to normality

After the war, Vonsild Sørensen, the owner of Odense Aafart, resumes all sailing activities on Odense Å. Once again people could enjoy a sailing trip down the stream without having to worry about the war. The tour boats were once again filled with fuel, passengers, joy and sailing at full capacity. After the death of Vonsild Sørensen, his wife continues to run the business by herself for a couple of years.

1971: New ownership

Odense Aafart is sold by Vonsild Sørensens wife to Chr. Rasmussen who takes over the business and continues sailing people up and down the stream in the tour boats.

1973:  From Aafart to Åfart and new owner

In 1973 Knud Laursen, who owned a hot dog stand in Munke Mose, decides that he wants to buy and run Odense Aafart after having observed the company for years. He buys the company, which at the time included a motorboat named Benedikt, 12 rowing boats and an ice-cream parlour. He also decided to change the name from “Aafart” to “Åfart”.

1974: Sailing under new ownership

In the spring of 1974, Knud Laursen starts sailing guests up and down Odense Å for the first time.

1995-1996: Renovations

In 1995, Knud Laursen decides it is time to renovate. The old ice cream parlour is torn down and in its place, a new cube-shaped kiosk is built. The new kiosk opened its doors for its costumers in 1996.

2014: More renovations

Once again the kiosk building is torn down and this time a new building is not put in its place. Instead, Odense Aafart starts renting a part of the art building (Kunstbygningen Filosoffen) which is located close to the docks. Now the kiosk is integrated into the art building instead of being located in front of it.

Odense Aafart prices

2017: Current owner

In 2017 Morten Skytte takes ownership of the company, which still is sailing people up and down the stream.

2020: New CEO

Morten Skytte has decided to resign as CEO at Odense Aafart and is appointing Eva Pasgaard as the new CEO of the company. Morten believes that Eva can use her drive and previous experience to implement new ideas at Aafarten.

See also