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Stena Line Cancel HSS Christmas & New Year Sailings

21st November 2014
Stena Line Cancel HSS Christmas & New Year Sailings

#CancelledHSSsailings – Stena Line have cancelled HSS fast-craft Dun Laoghaire-Holyhead sailings over the Christmas and New Year periods, writes Jehan Ashmore.

The decision to withdraw the scheduled sailings is only a month before the busy festive season from when sailings were due to start on 20 December and run up to early January 2015.

In response to Afloat.ie a statement was issued on behalf of Stena Line "In recent years Stena Line has deployed the HSS for a few days over the Christmas holiday period on its Holyhead-Dun Laoghaire service. For commercial and operational reasons the company has decided not to reactivate the vessel this year for the short Christmas holiday period. Customers who have already booked on the service will be accommodated on other sailings best suited to their travel requirements."

The statement added "Stena Line is currently engaged in ongoing discussions with Dun Laoghaire Harbour in relation to the provision of a seasonal fast craft service in 2015."

There has been widespread speculation in recent years over the future of the HSS service and that of the loss-making route. In addition the fast-craft which is expensive to run has for the last four years operated to a summer-only service between April to September.

This latest development of cancelled Dun Laoghaire route sailings over the festive season follows a previous report on Afloat.ie regarding Stena Line's route from neighbouring Dublin Port. A contractor to Stena Line, that is converting the ro-pax Stena Superfast X stated that she is to be deployed on the Dublin-Holyhead route in January 2015.

Stena Line confirmed their position as to the route deployment of the Stena Superfast X in which she will either be used within their network or that she may be chartered to a third party operator.

 

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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