Menu

Ireland's sailing, boating & maritime magazine

In association with ISA Logo Irish Sailing

Stena's Larger Ship for Dublin Port Route Raises Uncertainty over Future of Dun Laoghaire-Holyhead Service?

9th December 2014
Stena's Larger Ship for Dublin Port Route Raises Uncertainty over Future of Dun Laoghaire-Holyhead Service?

#StenaHSSfuture? – Stena Line's introduction of Stena Superfast X to expand capacity on the Dublin-Holyhead route in early 2015, raises uncertainty over the future of the Dun Laoghaire HSS operated service to Wales, writes Jehan Ashmore.

Now that Superfast X a larger passenger and freight ship of 29,500 tonnes is to make a debut in early 2015, this week's announcement comes at a time when speculation continues to mount over the re-opening in 2015 of the Dun Laoghaire-Holyhead route. In addition it raises the issue of whether the High Speed Sea-Service (HSS) Stena Explorer will return or by a smaller fast-ferry?

The route's main summer-season service ceased in September and the recent news to cancel Christmas sailings marked the first time the HSS operated route has been closed over the festive and early New Year.

Afloat.ie asked Stena to comment on the introduction of increased capacity by Superfast X on the Dublin Port route and the future viability of the Dun Laoghaire route served by the High Speed Sea-Service (HSS) Stena Explorer currently tied-up in Holyhead.

Once again the reply was a familiar response, "Stena Line is currently engaged in on-going discussions with Dun Laoghaire Harbour in relation to the provision of a seasonal fast craft service in 2015".

When Stena Superfast makes her debut in early 2015 on the core Dublin-Holyhead central corridor route, she will bring increased capacity for 1,200 passengers, notably compared to around 400 as carried by the vessel she is to directly replace, Stena Nordica.

In addition the newcomer most recently serving Dover-Calais service, is currently undergoing vehicle deck conversion work by MacGregor, the contractor which will also increase capacity to almost 2kms of lane space for cars and freight.

Plus the 'Superfast X' is having a refit to upgrade of passenger facilities in readiness for when she enters on the Dublin route. She will join the existing service's second ship, Stena Adventurer which is more of an even match compared to the 'Nordica'.

Stena Line clearly are confident in the route's potential as Dublin Port is a key strategic tourism gateway and on foot of a recovering economy. The operator citing leisure and commercial traffic between Ireland and Britain are showing really encouraging signs of future growth.

Already in service since 2011 are her sisters Superfast VII and VIII which operate on the Belfast-Cairnryan route.

As for the fuel thirsty and expensive to operate HSS Stena Explorer, the catamaran fast-ferry stood down from the Dun Laoghaire-Holyhead having operated the summer-seasonal service that began in April and ran through to early September.

This year was the HSS crafts third consecutive season of only operating a summer-only service since her introduction in 1996. The fast-ferry having then replaced the last conventional ferry to run on the Ireland-Wales link.

 

Published in Ferry
Jehan Ashmore

About The Author

Jehan Ashmore

Email The Author

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. 

We've got a favour to ask

More people are reading Afloat.ie than ever thanks to the power of the internet but we're in stormy seas because advertising revenues across the media are falling fast. Unlike many news sites, we haven’t put up a paywall because we want to keep our marine journalism open.

Afloat.ie is Ireland's only full–time marine journalism team and it takes time, money and hard work to produce our content.

So you can see why we need to ask for your help.

If everyone chipped in, we can enhance our coverage and our future would be more secure. You can help us through a small donation. Thank you.

Direct Donation to Afloat button

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!

Who is Your Sailor Sailor of the Year 2019?
Total Votes:
First Vote:
Last Vote:

Featured Sailing School

INSS sidebutton

Featured Clubs

dbsc mainbutton
Howth Yacht Club
Kinsale Yacht Club
National Yacht Club
Royal Cork Yacht Club
Royal Irish Yacht club
Royal Saint George Yacht Club

Featured Brokers

leinster sidebutton

Featured Webcams

Featured Associations

ISA sidebutton
ICRA
isora sidebutton

Featured Events 2020

Featured Chandleries

CHMarine Afloat logo
osm sidebutton
viking sidebutton

Featured Sailmakers

northsails sidebutton
uksails sidebutton

Featured Marinas

dlmarina sidebutton

Featured Blogs

W M Nixon - Sailing on Saturday
podcast sidebutton
mansfield sidebutton
BSB sidebutton
sellingboat sidebutton

Please show your support for Afloat by donating