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Ferry Festive Season Underway As Capacity Increased On Premier Irish Sea Route

20th December 2017
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Oscar Wilde yesterday completed French sailings this year. The cruiseferry departed Rosslare Harbour (above) earlier today to provide additional capacity over the Christmas season as an influx of passengers use the busy Holyhead-Dublin route. Oscar Wilde yesterday completed French sailings this year. The cruiseferry departed Rosslare Harbour (above) earlier today to provide additional capacity over the Christmas season as an influx of passengers use the busy Holyhead-Dublin route. Photo: JEHAN ASHMORE

#FerryFestive - An Irish Ferries cruiseferry on the French route based out of Rosslare returned yesterday prior to making a repositioning voyage to Dublin Port this morning in preparation of the busy festive season, writes Jehan Ashmore.

Cruiseferry, Oscar Wilde had completed a Cherbourg-Rosslare crossing. This was followed by the 1,400 passenger/700 car ferry transferring to the Irish capital to begin sailings on the core Irish Sea central coridoor route to Holyhead.

Sailings by Oscar Wilde on the French route have been suspended so to enable firstly the above mentioned capacity increased on the premier UK-Ireland route. In addition the absence of the ferry is to permit annual winter dry-docking of the 1987 built cruiseferry that is scheduled to return to the French service in February 2018.

As of late this morning Oscar Wilde made a first crossing to Holyhead and is due to return to Dublin this afternoon. Also running services to cope with the inward bound influx of seasonal passengers on the Wales-Ireland link are flagship cruiseferry Ulysses, fast-craft Jonathan Swift and ropax ferry Epsilon.

The chartered-in Epsilon, will operate Ireland-France sailings during the absence of Oscar Wilde from Wexford based sailings in 2017, but take heed of the following next scheduled sailings and ports used in both directions.

Afloat can confirm the next outward sailing to the continent is Dublin-Cherbourg and will be after Christmas, on Wednesday 27th December. The next inbound sailing to Ireland will however call instead to Rosslare, arriving on Friday 29th December. For further subsequent sailings details consult Irish Ferries through this link.

Rivals, Stena Line are expected to transport 65,000 passengers over the festive period also on their service between Holyhead-Dublin and on the St. Georges Channel link of Fishguard to Rosslare.

Information on Irish Sea routes, sailing dates, crossing times and more click here for Irish Ferries and for those travelling with Stena Line click here. From this webpage there are also links to their Cherbourg-Rosslare service. 

For those travelling on P&O Ferries click this link, noting the weatherline applies to both routes: Liverpool-Dublin and Cairnryan-Larne.

In addition should there be any ferry travel delays, disruptions and cancellations, they are included on the AA’s Roadwatch newsroom here.

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. 

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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