Within a week we will reach the turning point, when the daylight time slowly starts to increase again, which usually has a positive impact on the mindset of most people here up in the north. Throughout the year we have seen several light spots in the business environment, and when summing up, one could say that the light at the end of the tunnel has been growing stronger over the course of the year. In other words, we can finally indulge us to be optimistic when looking towards the future.
Although the autumn has been a challenging one weather-wise, the number of performed voyages, as well as the total amount of cargo transported, are clearly above the figures compared to the year before. This is first and foremost due to the increased volumes of our long-term contract partners, which of course makes us happy after several years of zero, or even negative growth. Even the firm spot market is indicating increased industrial activity. We are also pleased to have several new contract customers on board, and will do our utmost best to fulfill the expectations of both old and new collaborators.
The first full year of our special sister vessels Meri and Aura trading side by side in the spot market is coming to its end, and the overall performance level can be described as a pleasant surprise. Feedback from our European heavy industry customers and other collaborators has been encouraging, and has strengthened our vision that next year will be at least as good, if not even better than these ongoing 12 month experienced so far. Year 2017 has also offered different learning curves to our project team, including new interesting business concepts, such as providing substitute vessel for marine research purposes, and being part of an offshore-based construction project in the Baltic waters.
We have adjusted our fleet to match our contracts, and of course at the same time keeping in mind that sooner or later, winter is coming. Our experienced crew is looking forward to a busy but interesting new year, which we believe, will be brighter than the past.
On behalf of the whole Meriaura crew, I wish you a peaceful Christmas holiday and a successful new year 2018!