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Irish Continental Group Invest €165.2m New Cruise Ferry for Dublin-Holyhead Route

2nd January 2018
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ICG parent company of Irish Ferries, invest in a €165.2m cruiseferry for the Dublin-Holyhead route, which Afloat adds at around 67,300 gross tonnage will easily be the largest ever to serve on the Irish Sea. Upon completion at the FSG shipyard, the vessel will also be the largest cruise ferry in the world in terms of vehicle capacity. The same German shipbuilder is currently building the W.B. Yeats (image as above) which is around 55,000 gross tonnage. Combined the newbuilds total a €315m investment by the Dublin based shipping, transport and leisure group. ICG parent company of Irish Ferries, invest in a €165.2m cruiseferry for the Dublin-Holyhead route, which Afloat adds at around 67,300 gross tonnage will easily be the largest ever to serve on the Irish Sea. Upon completion at the FSG shipyard, the vessel will also be the largest cruise ferry in the world in terms of vehicle capacity. The same German shipbuilder is currently building the W.B. Yeats (image as above) which is around 55,000 gross tonnage. Combined the newbuilds total a €315m investment by the Dublin based shipping, transport and leisure group. Photo: ICG

#FerryNews - Irish Continental Group (ICG) parent company of Irish Ferries, is to invest in a €165.2m cruise ferry that will be the world's largest in terms of vehicle capacity when completed by German shipbuilder Flensburger Schiffbau-Gesselschaft (FSG).

The cruise ferry will accommodate 1,800 passengers and crew, with capacity for 5,610 freight lane metres, which provides the capability to carry 330 freight units per sailing. Overall, it will effectively be a 50% increase in peak freight capacity compared to the MV Ulysses.

The Agreement between ICG and FSG provides that the cruise ferry is scheduled for delivery before Mid-2020. Twenty percent 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 credit 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, comfort and capacity in mind. Emissions scrubber technology (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 33,600 KW of power which will ensure a high degree of service reliability equal to the MV Ulysses which is currently the most reliable ship to ever operate on the Irish Sea.

The cruise ferry is being built specifically for Irish Ferries Dublin - Holyhead services. It is expected to replace the schedule of the MV Ulysses, which in turn will replace the currently chartered vessel MV Epsilon in the fleet. This will allow for the deployment of the W.B. Yeats (arriving Mid 2018) full-time on the direct Ireland - France route alongside the MV Oscar Wilde. The cruise ferry will also adhere to Ice Class specification which allows for a wide geographic area of operation.

Freight capacity will be provided over five decks. Uniquely, the vessel has been designed for three tier freight bow loading to allow for efficient loading/unloading and quick turnaround times. Passenger facilities will be spread over three decks. 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 many retail outlets will ensure that all passengers will be comfortable and engaged throughout their journey.

This new cruise ferry provides Irish Ferries with a significant increase in both its freight & tourism carrying capacity on the fast-growing Dublin - Holyhead route.

Referring to the announcement Eamonn Rothwell, Chief Executive Officer, commented that; "This investment underpins the confidence the Group has in the markets in which we operate. Alongside the recent investment in the MV W.B. Yeats, it brings our total investment to €315m for these two vessels designed for our operations on the Irish Sea.  The construction of a cruise ferry of this size will offer both additional capacity and an enhanced experience for both our tourism and freight customers.  This infrastructural investment enhances "the bridge" to the UK & Continental Europe that is a vital part of the continued success of Ireland's open economy."

 

 

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. 

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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