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Stena Officially Launch New Superfast X On Dublin-Holyhead ‘Gateway’ Route

12th March 2015
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Superfast_Kathryn_Thomas
FERRY GODMOTHER...Dan Sten Olsson, Chairman of Stena Line was joined by Irish broadcast personality and ‘Ferry Godmother’ Kathryn Thomas to officially launch the Stena Superfast X at Dublin Port.
Stena Officially Launch New Superfast X On Dublin-Holyhead ‘Gateway’ Route

#SuperfastXLaunch – Stena Line Chairman Dan Sten Olsson alongside broadcast personality Kathryn Thomas, the ferry Godmother of Stena Superfast X (pronounced 10) named the Dublin-Holyhead route's new ferry yesterday, writes Jehan Ashmore.

More than 170 guests attended the official launch ceremony in Dublin Port where Kathryn and the chairman jointly pressed a red button to unveil a nameplate in the Stena Plus Lounge. 

The Dublin Welsh Male Voice Choir aptly sang 'Ireland's Call' given Stena Superfast X's launch on the core Irish Sea route and forthcoming RBS 6 Nations fixture between Ireland and Wales to be held in Cardiff, incidentally the Welsh capital is where the 30,285 tonnes ferry is registered.

Stena Superfast X was berthed at Dublin Port's Ferry Terminal 2 from where the double-tier ro-ro linkspan has already been in use in recent days as the newcomer entered service. The 1,200 passenger/ 480 car and freight capacity ferry has almost 2 kms of lane decks and this will significantly assist in boosting the important economic recovery of Irish-UK trade.  

The introduction of the 30,285 tonnes ferry expands the services of the all year round Dublin-Holyhead service, one of the key tourism and freight 'gateways' between Ireland and Britain.

Dan Sten Olsson, Chairman of Stena Line said: "Trade and tourism links between Britain and Ireland have been growing steadily in recent years and with improving economic conditions forecast for 2015 and beyond, as the leading ferry operator on the Irish Sea we are confident in our ability to help stimulate this upward trend further. That's why we have invested in providing increased capacity on this route with the introduction of Stena Superfast X, a ship which is perfectly appointed to accommodate the mix of freight and tourism traffic which is required to develop the important Dublin-Holyhead gateway in the years ahead.

Mr Olsson added: "The Irish Sea is at the core of Stena Line's business which is why we have invested more than £250m in our Irish Sea routes during the last 5 years alone. Last year we added the Rosslare-Cherbourg service to our route network which has given our customers a key link between Ireland and the Continent. Industry reports point to an expected 6% increase in holiday visitors in 2015, building on the 8% increase in 2014. Stena Line recognises the importance of tourism as a key economic driver for the Irish economy. We are committed to doing all we can to provide more and more compelling reasons to travel by ferry and what better customer experience is there on the route than the new Stena Superfast X."

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, the 206m long ferry had recently underwent a comprehensive three-month refit and upgrade programme in Gdynia, Poland, to prepare her for service on the Dublin-Holyhead route.

The delivery voyage to her homeport of Holyhead as previously reported was under the command of Captain Richard Davies, who was among senior figures from the company at the launch in Dublin Port to showcase Superfast to clients, the travel trade and media. 

Stena Superfast X will make two return sailings daily between Dublin and Holyhead and will operate alongside Stena Adventurer to provide a choice of up 56 Stena sailings each week on the route.

 

 

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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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