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Ferry With 'Tourist Office' Celebrates 100,000th Passenger

12th July 2011
Ferry With 'Tourist Office' Celebrates 100,000th Passenger
Operators of the Cork-Swansea port route, Fastnet Line celebrated their 100,000th passenger late last month, after opening the service in March 2010, writes Jehan Ashmore.
While down on its initially forecasted target, it should be noted that, between January to March this year, the 1,500-passenger capacity ferry Julia was dry-docked in Swansea for essential maintenance. Refurbishment of the 1982-built 22,161 tonnes vessel took place in some public areas and three new luxurious mini-suites have been created.

In addition passengers travelling on the Julia can visit the newly installed tourist office where an advanced booking system will be available for all accommodation, leisure, and hospitality facilities located on both sides of the Irish Sea.

Irish and Welsh members of the West Cork Tourism Co–Operative, which established the ferry operation will staff the tourist office full-time during the summer months. The facility is unique to Irish-UK ferry services and was officially opened by the new Cork County Mayor Tim Lombard. For further information from the co-operative click www.westcork.ie and more about the other on board facilities click HERE.

With competition from summer sells on offer from rival operators on the Irish Sea, in particular on St. Georges Channel services, Fastnet Line are combating with deals to encourage higher occupancy sailings during the peak season.

The company are also preparing to accommodate Irish soccer fans in the autumn, following the success of Swansea City F.C. in gaining promotion to the Premiership.

Published in Ferry
Jehan Ashmore

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Jehan Ashmore

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Jehan Ashmore is a marine correspondent, researcher and photographer, specialising in Irish ports, shipping and the ferry sector serving the UK and directly to mainland Europe. Jehan also occasionally writes a column, 'Maritime' Dalkey for the (Dalkey Community Council Newsletter) in addition to contributing to UK marine periodicals. 

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Ferry & Car Ferry News The ferry industry on the Irish Sea, is just like any other sector of the shipping industry, in that it is made up of a myriad of ship operators, owners, managers, charterers all contributing to providing a network of routes carried out by a variety of ships designed for different albeit similar purposes.

All this ferry activity involves conventional ferry tonnage, 'ro-pax', where the vessel's primary design is to carry more freight capacity rather than passengers. This is in some cases though, is in complete variance to the fast ferry craft where they carry many more passengers and charging a premium.

In reporting the ferry scene, we examine the constantly changing trends of this sector, as rival ferry operators are competing in an intensive environment, battling out for market share following the fallout of the economic crisis. All this has consequences some immediately felt, while at times, the effects can be drawn out over time, leading to the expense of others, through reduced competition or takeover or even face complete removal from the marketplace, as witnessed in recent years.

Arising from these challenging times, there are of course winners and losers, as exemplified in the trend to run high-speed ferry craft only during the peak-season summer months and on shorter distance routes. In addition, where fastcraft had once dominated the ferry scene, during the heady days from the mid-90's onwards, they have been replaced by recent newcomers in the form of the 'fast ferry' and with increased levels of luxury, yet seeming to form as a cost-effective alternative.

Irish Sea Ferry Routes

Irrespective of the type of vessel deployed on Irish Sea routes (between 2-9 hours), it is the ferry companies that keep the wheels of industry moving as freight vehicles literally (roll-on and roll-off) ships coupled with motoring tourists and the humble 'foot' passenger transported 363 days a year.

As such the exclusive freight-only operators provide important trading routes between Ireland and the UK, where the freight haulage customer is 'king' to generating year-round revenue to the ferry operator. However, custom built tonnage entering service in recent years has exceeded the level of capacity of the Irish Sea in certain quarters of the freight market.

A prime example of the necessity for trade in which we consumers often expect daily, though arguably question how it reached our shores, is the delivery of just in time perishable products to fill our supermarket shelves.

A visual manifestation of this is the arrival every morning and evening into our main ports, where a combination of ferries, ro-pax vessels and fast-craft all descend at the same time. In essence this a marine version to our road-based rush hour traffic going in and out along the commuter belts.

Across the Celtic Sea, the ferry scene coverage is also about those overnight direct ferry routes from Ireland connecting the north-western French ports in Brittany and Normandy.

Due to the seasonality of these routes to Europe, the ferry scene may be in the majority running between February to November, however by no means does this lessen operator competition.

Noting there have been plans over the years to run a direct Irish –Iberian ferry service, which would open up existing and develop new freight markets. Should a direct service open, it would bring new opportunities also for holidaymakers, where Spain is the most visited country in the EU visited by Irish holidaymakers ... heading for the sun!

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