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Wexford Welcomes New Irish-French Ferry Celtic Horizon

16th October 2011
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Wexford Welcomes New Irish-French Ferry Celtic Horizon
Celtic Link Ferries new ro-pax Celtic Horizon made an inaugural appearance as she docked in Rosslare ferryport this morning, having completing her delivery voyage from Sicily, writes Jehan Ashmore.
As the 27,552 gross tonnes Celtic Horizon last night headed towards Irish waters (for previous report click here), her predecessor Norman Voyager was making her final sailing for CLF as she sailed away from the Celtic Sea towards Land's End bound for Cherbourg.

The changeover of vessels coincides with the existing Rosslare-Cherbourg sailing schedule of three round-trips per week, noting there are no sailings from the Wexford port on Mondays. Celtic Horizon is due to be introduced with her maiden 'Irish' voyage on Tuesday night, departing Rosslare at 21.30hrs. On the following Monday she is to be officially launched onto the service.

Celtic Horizon will boost capacity on the French route, offering a wider choice of restaurants, bars and a children's play-room. She can carry 840 passengers, 200 cars and 120 freight vehicles. The 186m ferry is from a ro-pax series (including Norman Voyager) designed and built by Cantiere Navala Visentini based in Portoviro, outside Venice.

During her five-day repositioning route from the Mediterranean, Celtic Horizon made an en-route call to Gibralter, anchoring off the British colony on Thursday. Another of the same Visentini ro-pax class vessels, Cartour Epilson is believed to have taken over Celtic Horizon, formerly named Cartour Beta when she served her last season between Termini Imerese in Sicily to Salerno while on charter to C&T.

CLF will be the only ferry operator running services to France, between 2 January -19 February 2012, as Irish Ferries, which also operates on the Rosslare-Cherbourg route, will be taking off Oscar Wilde for annual dry-docking. For schedules click HERE.

In addition there will be no sailings between Cork-Roscoff, as Brittany Ferries final sailing for this year is 29 October, served by 'flagship' Pont-Aven. The 2012 season starts in late March.

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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