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LD Lines New Ireland-France-Spain Maiden Voyage Heads for Rosslare Europort

9th January 2014
LD Lines New Ireland-France-Spain Maiden Voyage Heads for Rosslare Europort

#IrelandSpain – LD Lines new Ireland-France-Spain routes service ferry Scintu is tonight making her maiden inbound voyage to Rosslare Europort with an arrival expected just after 21.00hrs, writes Jehan Ashmore.

As reported last night on Afloat.ie, the Scintu departed St.Nazaire at midnight bound for Rosslare. The ship starts the first ever  ferry service linking Ireland-west France and northern Spain. The new route was hailed as a 'valuable new landbridge' by Minister for Transport Leo Varadker when in November he announced the new Irish-Iberian service.

To reflect her new Rosslare-St.Nazaire-Gijon route operations, the 26,904 tonnes Scintu with a capacity for almost 500 passengers and 195 vehicles is to be re-named Norman Atlantic within the month.

Norman Atlantic will operate the 22-hour sailing between Rosslare and St. Nazaire (Montoir-de-Bretagne) on the banks of the Loire. She then continues from the mid-western French port on the second leg of the Irish-Iberian service to Gijón in the Astuarias region of northern Spain.

A sailing schedule sees the 2009 Italian built ferry operate a single weekly round-trip service on the Rosslare-St.Nazaire route in which the first outward bound sailing departs Rosslare tomorrow night at 21.00hrs. In addition the ferry operates two round-trips per week on the St.Nazaire -Gijon 16 hour route.

The Bay of Biscay route will also be served by sister Norman Astuarias which as reported has opened other new routes recently between the UK and Spain. The routes are Poole-Santander and also starting this month a Poole-Gijon route.

Both these new Irish 'Motorway of the Seas' routes linking to France and Spain, will open up a whole new dimension to Irish tourists and freight customers.

The 186m long Norman Atlantic was built by Visentini Shipbuilders. She has comfortable cabins and passenger facilities of a bar, restaurant, shop and lounges.

Currently the ferry does not carry 'foot' passengers on the Rosslare-St. Nazaire and St. Nazaire- Gijón routes, though according to a LD Lines spokesperson this option have not been entirely ruled out.

LD Lines are no stranger to the Irish market, as the French owned company initially imported trade vehicles using the freight-only ro-ro vessel, NMT Elise which also ran from Rosslare. This service also developed into a passenger ferry service that began in 2008 but instead operated to Le Havre.

 

Published in Rosslare Europort, 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!