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Waterford Estuary’s Secret Little Island Hotel Ferry Is Up for Sale

13th November 2014
waterford _island_ferry
Loreley underway in King’s Channel having departed Little Island and is seen approaching Grantstown, Co. Waterford. Moored nearby is the previous ferry Elvera. Photo: Jehan Ashmore
Waterford Estuary’s Secret Little Island Hotel Ferry Is Up for Sale

#Island&FerrySale – The luxury Waterford Castle Hotel & Golf Resort on Little Island in Waterford Estuary, as previously reported is for sale, however this does not include the cable-ferry Loreley, which is to be sold separately, writes Jehan Ashmore.

Colliers International is seeking in excess of €4.5m for the secluded resort on the River Suir which also includes 48 self-catering garden lodges and clubhouse on the 310-acre island a mile downriver of Waterford City.

The property on Little Island is reached by the private 12-car capacity Loreley which is to be sold for €700,000. She operates between Grantstown and Little Island otherwise known locally as 'The Island'.

Asides this ferry, further downriver is another service, Passage East-Ballyhack in Co. Wexford. Arguably the Little Island ferry is the least known of operations to run on Irish estuaries and across rivers.

The service to Little Island takes a mere three-minute hop across King's Channel, a narrow disused shipping lane along the south side of the island. The other main channel is mostly used by yachts and visiting vessels to Waterford Marina, naval ships and cruiseships while commercial shipping is centred on Belview, a downriver terminal for the Port of Waterford along the banks of Co. Kilkenny.

Last year there was a dispute between the hotel owner and ferry contractor as reported on Afloat.ie over the running of the 1959 German built ferry that operates a round-the-clock service. For another closer-up photo of the ferry published in Ships Monthly, click HERE.

Loreley carries 57 passengers including foot-users, though the vast majority of traffic visiting the hotel and resort is taken is up by vehicles of the 12 car capacity deck. For ease of operations she has double-ended ramps.

It is understood that the first custom built vehicle-carrying ferry to ply the narrow channel was Verolme Cork Dockyard built ferry, Strongbow completed in 1968 and entered service the following year.

She was replaced by a ferry from Scandinavia, a 6-car carrying 24 passenger vessel renamed Little Island Ferry, however she too was displaced by a another Nordic ferry, Elvera, a former Swedish lake-ferry. She was introduced on the Waterford Estuary in 1999. Both she and her predecessors were chain-operated ferries.

The current 110 tonnes ferry originally named Loreley V, served as a River Rhine ferry between St. Goarshausen and St. Goar. She was sold to the Irish hotel and introduced in 2008. Unlike the previous chain-ferries, she is a self-propelled ferry which uses cable-wires to guide her across the river.

According to the Irish Times article, it was suggested that new owners of the property consider the feasibility of providing a bridge across the channel given much cheaper construction procedures have been devised.

Published in Ferry
Jehan Ashmore

About The Author

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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