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Ferries Reposition to Include Ro-Pax from France Route Cancelled Sailings

7th February 2015
Ferries Reposition to Include Ro-Pax from France Route Cancelled Sailings

#FrenchRoutes – This weekend's Dublin-Cherbourg round-trip sailings have been cancelled by Irish Ferries, it is not known as to why, though the route is scheduled to resume service next Saturday, writes Jehan Ashmore.

Now in its second year, the Ireland-France service is otherwise operated by the chartered ro-pax Epsilon which is currently in Dublin Port. The 500 passenger and crew capacity ferry normally departs for France on Saturday afternoon's and returns to Ireland on Monday morning's.

The ferry is berthed close to the East-Link Bridge having arrived last Monday after making a repositioning passage in ballast from Rosslare (see related report).

A fleetmate, Isle of Inishmore which has been on the Dublin route since December to boost capacity over the festive season, recently returned fresh from annual overhaul to cover in for Epsilon.

Epsilon as well as the French route sails on the Dublin-Holyhead route, Tuesday's to Saturday's. It is understood the ro-pax is to resume service on the Welsh route but not until next Thursday's 01.55 sailing departing Dublin Port.

Following the overhaul of Isle of Inishmore at a dry-dock in Birkenhead, this yearly procedure would of normally led to her immediate return to routine sailings on the Rosslare-Pembroke route.

Isle of Inishmore's extended run on Dublin-Holyhead in lieu of Epsilon, saw the Rosslare ferry remain running alongside the central corridor route regulars Ulysses and Jonathan Swift. Both cruiseferry and fast-ferry had also undergone recent overhauls at the same Merseyside dry-dock facility, Cammell Laird.

This morning Isle of Inishmore took her final inward bound sailing to Dublin before she finally departed the port this afternoon for Rosslare. As she departed Dublin Bay she did not take the shorter coastal shipping lane to Rosslare, but instead rounded the South Burford buoy to head further offshore of the Kish Bank Lighthouse.

Isle of Inishmore took a more leisurely five hour passage to reach Rosslare having gone as far into the Irish Sea via the the East Kish, East Codling and Codling bank bouys. From that last bouy she set a south-westerly course heading for the Wexford port.

This evening's call was brief as she then departed again to allow for Oscar Wilde following a late arriving from Pembroke Dock. As a result the Isle of Inishmore's return to her usual route was delayed as she is to depart at a later than scheduled departure of 22.00 tonight.  

The 'Oscar' has been on the Rosslare –Pembroke since the Inishmore's transfer to the Dublin route almost two months ago.

Tonight Oscar Wilde departed Rosslare to undergo her turn of annual overhaul at A&P Falmouth.

Following dry-docking the cruiseferry is to resume seasonal sailings, firstly on the Rosslare-Cherbourg route beginning on 25 February. The Oscar's sailing roster will become busier as the high-season service to Roscoff starts in May.  

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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