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Celtic Horizon Officially Enters Service

26th October 2011
Celtic Horizon Officially Enters Service
Celtic Link Ferries newest ferry Celtic Horizon was officially launched onto the Irish-French service with a reception held on board the 27,522 tonnes vessel at her homeport of Rosslare Europort on Monday, writes Jehan Ashmore.
Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Brendan Howlin T.D. launched the 840-passenger capacity vessel onto the Rosslare-Cherbourg route and welcomed the newcomer as part of an "important driver of the economy ".

She replaces the Norman Voyager which too was built by Visentini. The 186m ro-pax vessel last week arrived from the Mediterranean (to read more click HERE) and will be chartered to CLF for a five-year term contract. Overall she has a larger passenger deck compared to her predecessor, with a restaurant, two bars, pull-man lounges, a cinema, children's play-area, game-zone and kiosk-shop.

In addition to her 130 cabins she has five vehicle decks for 200 cars and a total 2,500 lane freight metres equating to around 110-trucks. An unusual feature is an escalator that whisks passengers from the car-decks up to the passenger deck.

Prior to the event, Celtic Horizon had arrived into the Wexford port. She had completed her maiden 'Irish' round-trip commercial voyage over the weekend from Cherbourg during stormy seas under the command of Captain Richard Collins.

Last year CLF handled 60,000 passengers and 50,000 vehicles between tourist vehicles and freight business. This year they are expecting an increase of passenger traffic of around 30%. The company are the only ferry operator running year-round sailings on the Irish –French routes.

CLF took over the Rosslare-Cherbourg route from P&O in 2005. With the Celtic Horizon they will continue providing three-round trips per week on the route which transports passengers, tourist cars, camper-vans, freight trucks including livestock and the importation of French manufactured new trade-cars.

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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