#HSStoCruiseScene - Had Stena Line retained running HSS Stena Explorer this year on the Dun Laoghaire-Holyhead route, this would have been her 20th year and with sailings scheduled to have begun last week, writes Jehan Ashmore.
However, the final chapter for Stena Line on this historic Ireland-Wales route came to an end with the official announcement in February to close the Dun Laoghaire-Holyhead route permanently in 2015 as previously reported on Afloat.ie.
The development saw the historic 170 year route cease having its origins dating to 1835. Stena instead concentrated all operations on its other Dublin Bay service using those from Dublin Port on the existing route to Holyhead.
For more on the end of the Dun Laoghaire ferry-era, a photo of the HSS Stena Explorer (published in Ships Monthly) as she departs Dun Laoghaire Harbour for the final time on the 9th September with the return leg to Holyhead.
HSS Stena Explorer made her debut in 1999 as the first of a trio of 1500 series. The revolutionary catamaran car and vehicle carrying fast-ferry craft directly replacement the last conventional ferry on the route, the Stena Adventurer. Not to be confused with the current Stena Adventurer serving the Dublin Port-Holyhead route and joined earlier this month by Stena Superfast X.
Notably, no other vessel except the HSS Stena Explorer can use the custom built linkspan structures that lay idle in Dun Laoghaire Harbour and Holyhead Port, as the HSS was exclusively guided to these specialist structures using satellite positioning technology. Remarkably, this did not requiring berthing in the traditional way, as 'arms' clamped the stern without the need for ropes, dockers and related fees.
So what beckons the future ferry service? as previously reported on Afloat.ie, the invitation from Dun Laoghaire Harbour Company for a new ferry operator to run a seasonal-only service resulted in seven interested parties. According to DLHC, a berth has been made available and should a service resume, it would not be until 2016.
Further updates on this development will be made on 'Ferry News', noting the new dynamics following yesterday's launch by the Dun Laoghaire Harbour Company's Public Consultation Process over the proposed €18m cruise ship jetty and associated berth quay facility.
For full details of the proposals and the public consulation process visit: http://dlharbour.ie/projects/cruise-berth-consultation/
The proposed port infrastructure at Dun Laoghaire would jut out into the harbour beyond the marina's eastern breakwater that adjoins the former Stena HSS berth linkspan.
While across Dublin Bay, a €30m cruise terminal is also proposed in Dublin Port but closer to the capital 'Docklands' at the East-Link Bridge. Both proposed facilities would be capable of handling the world's largest cruiseships.