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Irish Continental Group Invest €144m to Build New Cruise Ferry

31st May 2016
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Side elevation of the proposed new cruise ferry commissioned by Irish Continental Group which is scheduled for delivery in May 2018 for operation on routes between Ireland, UK and France. The 50,000 tonnes vessel, which is being built in Germany at a contract price of €144 million, will accommodate 1,885 passengers and crew. It will have 435 cabins, 2,800 lane metres of freight vehicle space with room for 165 freight vehicles and an additional dedicated car deck with capacity for 300 passenger cars. Side elevation of the proposed new cruise ferry commissioned by Irish Continental Group which is scheduled for delivery in May 2018 for operation on routes between Ireland, UK and France. The 50,000 tonnes vessel, which is being built in Germany at a contract price of €144 million, will accommodate 1,885 passengers and crew. It will have 435 cabins, 2,800 lane metres of freight vehicle space with room for 165 freight vehicles and an additional dedicated car deck with capacity for 300 passenger cars. Photo: ICG

#NewFerry- Irish Continental Group (ICG) has entered into an agreement, with German company Flensburger Schiffbau-Gesselschaft & Co.KG (FSG) to build a cruise ferry for ICG at a contract price of €144 million.

Afloat adds that the proposed design of the newbuild strongly resembles that of current flagship Ulysses. 

The new cruise ferry will accommodate 1,885 passengers and crew, with 435 cabins and with capacity for 2,800 lane metres of freight (165 freight vehicles) plus an additional dedicated car deck with capacity for 300 passenger cars.

The Agreement between ICG and FSG provides that the cruise ferry is scheduled for delivery in May 2018. 20% of the contract price will be paid in instalments during the construction period. The balance of 80% will be paid on delivery. ICG intend to utilise a combination of existing cash resources and loan facilities to finance the cruise ferry. The pre-delivery instalment payments to FSG will be protected by means of bank guarantees.

This cruise ferry will be designed and built to the highest standards of cruise shipping, and equipped with efficiency and comfort in mind. Emissions scrubber technology (not included in the above price) and ballast water systems will meet current and known future environmental regulations and will deliver optimal fuel consumption while minimising related costs. The cruise ferry will be powered by four main engines delivering 33,600KW of power which will ensure a high degree of service reliability similar to that already achieved by the existing owned fleet of modern cruise ferries.

The cruise ferry will be designed to best meet the operational seasonality of our business. This flexibility in design includes the ability to service all of Irish Ferries existing routes, and will provide even greater route management options. The cruise ferry will also adhere to Ice Class specification which will allow for a wide geographic area of operation.

Passenger facilities will be spread over 4 decks and will offer a choice of 435 cabins to include suites with their own private external balconies, along with deluxe and standard class accommodation. In addition to a superb choice of bars, restaurants (to include both á la carte and self-service options), special provision has been made for premium Club Class passengers, with a dedicated lounge featuring private access direct from the vehicle decks. A choice of state of the art entertainment options and cinemas, dedicated facilities for freight drivers, as well as retail outlets and onboard facilities for pets, will ensure that all our passengers will be comfortable and engaged throughout their journey.

It is likely that this new cruise ferry will be introduced on routes served by the chartered ship MV Epsilon, (currently year round services Dublin - Holyhead midweek, and Ireland - France on weekends). The cruise ferry will provide additional freight and tourism capacity on both routes and will deliver a much enhanced onboard experience for all customers. In addition to increased capacity, the cruise ferry will deliver significant cost savings to the group and improved route and fleet management efficiencies.

Referring to the announcement Eamonn Rothwell, Chief Executive Officer, commented that; "This investment underpins the confidence the Group has in both the freight and passenger tourism markets between Ireland, Britain and France. The construction of a cruise ferry of this size will offer a premium experience for all our customers, in line with our commitment to deliver the best in service, in reliability and flexibility across all our routes. We also expect to be well positioned to accommodate the changing expectations of our customers, and to benefit from significant operational and financial benefits following the delivery in 2018."

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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