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Stena Line Voted 'Best Ferry Company'

1st November 2013
Stena Line Voted 'Best Ferry Company'

#FerryAward – Stena Line was voted top ferry company for a record 21st year at the annual Northern Ireland Travel and Tourism Awards.

The 'Best Ferry Company' award was presented at a glittering awards ceremony last month in Newcastle, Co. Down.

Mervyn McNeely, one of the industry's most popular and charismatic characters, who retired last month from Stena Line after 40 years in the ferry industry, was inducted into the Travel Industry's Roll of Honour.

Northern Ireland Travel News has been organising the awards for the past 22 years and this year's ceremony was hosted by TV personality Les Dennis with more than 450 VIPs from the local travel and tourism industry attending.

Paul Grant, Route Manager for Stena Line – Irish Sea North, said: "This has been a busy year for Stena Line as since acquiring the Belfast-Liverpool route in 2010, we have been working on bringing the ships and service into line with the rest of the Stena Line proposition so it is a real honour to pick up this prestigious award in recognition of this work.

"We successfully completed the two ship refurbishments earlier this year and with improved facilities and additional services we can now offer our customers the same experience travelling the Irish Sea, whether they are going by Superfast from Belfast to Cairnryan or Supercruise from Belfast – Liverpool," he said.

"The travel industry is used to seeing innovation and high levels of customer service so when they say once again that we are the Best Ferry Company it underscores that the high standards we set ourselves lead the industry," Paul continued.

"I'm also delighted we have a double reason to celebrate as travel industry stalwart, Stena Line's Mervyn McNeely was inducted into the Roll of Honour.
"This is a fantastic and very well-deserved achievement for Mervyn who has retired after an incredible 40 years of service to the industry and I want to pass on my personal thanks to Mervyn for his work within Stena Line," he added.

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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