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Dun Laoghaire Cruise-Berth Consultation Ends So Does Stena Contract With Harbour

14th April 2015
Dun Laoghaire Cruise-Berth Consultation Ends So Does Stena Contract With Harbour

#BackToFront- Dun Laoghaire Harbour Company's public consultation process over a €18m Cruise-Berth ended yesterday and came in advance of Stena Line's contract with the harbour authority that expired today, writes Jehan Ashmore.

Following the closure of public submissions on the cruise plan which drew controversary, DLHC are to lodge a finalised planning application to An Bord Pleanala. The application will be accompanied by an (EIS) Environmental Impact Statement for the proposed berth regarded as a Strategic Infrastructure.

The cruise berth capable of handling some of the world's largest cruiseships, formed part of the DLHC Masterplan adopted in 2011 and in the knowledge of the declining Stena Line ferry operations. 

The plan for a new 435m jetty in the centre of the harbour with associate 300m cruise quay is to accommodate massive cruiseships that are even larger than those calling at anchorage. 

This seasons first caller, notably the 333m long MSC Splendida of 137,000 tonnes is due on 11 May with 3,600 passengers and 1,300 crew. The cruiseship's crew total is 200 short of those taken on the HSS 1500 series Stena Explorer.

An announcement by the ferry operator last February that is was to withdraw operating the seasonal-only Dun Laoghaire-Holyhead route permanently in 2015.

Stena citing unsustainable losses and concentrated on their existing use of Dublin Port services to Holyhead served by last month's newcomer Superfast X alongside Stena Adventurer. The Dublin Port Company's proposed €30 cruise terminal near the East-Link bridge was unveiled recently at the Miami Exhibition, Florida.

In regards to the final HSS Stena Explorer sailing (see Ships Monthly photo) on Dun Laoghaire-Holyhead route this took place last September. A subsequent stint of sailings to cover the Festive and New Year sailings were cancelled on the historic Ireland-Wales link.

At Dun Laoghaire the specialist ro-ro-linkspan structure is exclusively designed for use of HSS Stena Explorer. As previously reported, as part of the Stena contract with DLHC there are plans underway by subsidaries of the ferry company to remove the HSS related structure from St. Michaels Wharf.

As part of the proposed cruise-berth plan, the St. Michaels Wharf ferry terminal's vehicle marshalling area are to be used for cruise-ship related traffic in the form of coaches and taxis. In addition is the construction of a boardwalk overlooking the adjoining 820-boat marina. 

The HSS ferry terminal completed in the mid-1990's stands on the site of a former car-ferry terminal dating to the 1960's and is from where ferries may return. As previously reported, an invitation from DLHC was sought from suitable providers to resume the Ireland-Wales route with submissions due by February.

DLHC required that such a ferry operator would re-open the route on a seasonal-only basis, in which seven parties expressed an interest. Should such operations begin, DLHC have stated this would not be until 2016.

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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