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‘Best Ferry Company’ As Stena Line Win for 25th Time

24th October 2017
Paul Grant of Stena Line is pictured on stage at the Northern Ireland Travel and Tourism Awards, receiving the award for ‘Best Ferry Company’ from David Boyce of category sponsor Tourism Ireland. Also pictured is the host for the evening, TV Presenter Alexander Armstrong. Paul Grant of Stena Line is pictured on stage at the Northern Ireland Travel and Tourism Awards, receiving the award for ‘Best Ferry Company’ from David Boyce of category sponsor Tourism Ireland. Also pictured is the host for the evening, TV Presenter Alexander Armstrong. Photo: Stena Line

#ferryaward - After winning a top ferry company award, Stena Line celebrated a record-breaking 25th time at the annual Northern Ireland Travel and Tourism Awards.

The ‘Best Ferry Company’ award was presented to Paul Grant, Stena Line’s Trade Director, Irish Sea North (ISN) at the awards ceremony last Friday at the Slieve Donard Resort and Spa in Newcastle, Co Down.

Northern Ireland Travel News has organised these prestigious awards for the past 26 years and this year’s ceremony was hosted by BBC's Pointless presenter Alexander Armstrong. The ceremony was attended by more than 430 guests and travel industry VIPs from all over the UK and Ireland.

Almost 30 awards were presented on the night, decided by votes from the travelling public, the travel trade, and by travel and tourism industry leaders.

Orla Noonan, Stena Line’s Travel Commercial Manager (ISN) said: “It’s an honour for Stena Line to receive this prestigious award coming as it does from our peers across the travel industry.

“Although this is our 25th consecutive year of winning the award we take absolutely nothing for granted and realise that each year we have to work even harder to provide our customers with a service which really is ‘award winning’.

“Whilst the travel industry is constantly changing and reinventing itself in an increasingly digital world, putting the needs of the customer first, every time, still remains the key objective for our business success, “added Orla.

Stena Line is the largest ferry operator on the Irish Sea, offering the biggest fleet and the widest choice of routes between Ireland to Britain including Belfast to Liverpool and Heysham, Belfast to Cairnryan, Dublin to Holyhead and Rosslare to Fishguard routes, a total of 228 weekly sailing options between Ireland and Britain.

In addition the ferry operator has a direct service from Rosslare to Cherbourg with three return crossings a week. Approximately three million passengers each year are carried on its Irish Sea routes, more than its rival ferry operators combined.

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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