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Continental Rosslare Routes Ro-Pax Rivals Meet for First Time

11th January 2014
cartour epsilone rosslare europort
Irish Ferries Cartour Epsilon arriving Rosslare Europort with the bow of LD Lines Scintu. Photo: Jehan Ashmore
Continental Rosslare Routes Ro-Pax Rivals Meet for First Time

#IrelandFranceSpain – Newcomer LD Lines ro-pax Scintu, to be renamed Norman Atlantic, met one of her rivals operating on continental routes when Irish Ferries Cartour Epsilon docked in Rosslare Europort yesterday, writes Jehan Ashmore.

As previously reported, LD Lines inaugural inbound sailing from France to Ireland took place with a Thursday night arrival at the Wexford port. The 26,904 tonnes ferry remained in port overnight and for much of yesterday prior to setting sail last night on the first outward sailing of the Rosslare-St.Nazaire-Gijón service.

The first leg of the Ireland-France-Spain service sees Scintu scheduled to arrive in St.Nazaire at 19.00hrs this evening.

Irish Ferries ro-pax Cartour Epsilon which initially entered service on the Dublin-Holyhead route just before the busy festive season saw the ferry only make a handful of sailings due to the low level of sailings assigned to the newcomer.

In addition a spate of bad weather led to cancelled sailings of the Cartour Epsilon including fast-craft Jonathan Swift sailings, leaving flagship Ulysses on occasions to operate crossings alone.

As also reported on Afloat.ie, Irish Ferries are to operate the 2011 Visentini shipyard built Cartour Epsilon (same design of Scintu, built 2009) on Dublin-Holyhead route in addition on the new Dublin-Cherbourg route starting this day next week (18 January).

In the meantime Cartour Epsilon is currently providing relief cover on the Rosslare-Cherbourg route in place of cruiseferry Oscar Wilde which transferred to sailings between Rosslare-Pembroke Dock.

Oscar Wilde displaced the Welsh route ferry Isle of Inishmore which in turn took over the sailing roster of Cartour Epsilon on the Dublin-Holyhead route also during the run up to the festive period.

Ro-pax rival sisters berthed in Rossalre Europort

Rival ro-pax continental ferries, Scintu (on left) berthed adjacent to Cartour Epsilon yesterday at Rosslare Europort. Photo: Jehan Ashmore

Isle of Inishmore subsequently took over the sailing roster of Ulysses which is undergoing annual maintenance at Cammell Laird, Birkenhead. In the meantime partnering Isle of Inishmore on the Dublin-Holyhead route is the fast-ferry Jonathan Swift.

 

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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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