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Irish Ferries W.B. Yeats to be Launched at German Shipyard Tomorrow

18th January 2018
Artists impression of W.B. Yeats, weather permitting is due to be launched tomorrow from a German shipyard. The €144m cruiseferry is to make a debut in mid-July on the Ireland-France service linking Dublin and Cherbourg. Artists impression of W.B. Yeats, weather permitting is due to be launched tomorrow from a German shipyard. The €144m cruiseferry is to make a debut in mid-July on the Ireland-France service linking Dublin and Cherbourg. Photo: ICG

#FerryNews - Weather permitting, Irish Continental Group (ICG)’s €144m newbuild cruiseferry W.B. Yeats, is due to be launched tomorrow from a German shipyard, writes Jehan Ashmore.

The giant 55,500 gross tonnage W.B. Yeats with a capacity for 1,885 passengers and crew and 1,200 cars, is to be launched from the slip of Flensburger Schiffbau-Gesellschaft mbH & Co. KG (FSG).

Launching of W.B. Yeats will be a significant milestone for ICG as the cruiseferry will easily be the biggest ever to enter service for their ferry division Irish Ferries, however this will be upstaged by an even larger giant super-cruiseferry, as ICG recently placed an order also with FSG at a cost of €165.2m.

The super cruiseferry, estimated to be around 67,300 gross tonnage, is to be delivered by mid-2020 and operate the core Irish Sea Dublin-Holyhead route. The super-cruisferry will be more freight-orientated and will also be the biggest ferry in the world in terms of vehicle capacity. 

As for the W.B. Yeats, tomorrow's first contact of the cruise ferry with the water at the FSG shipyard is located in the German city on the Baltic Sea.

There remains plenty of work to be done as the luxurious cruiseferry will take several months before shipbuilders sea trials of W.B. Yeats can take place. In addition to berthing trials in mid-June following W. B. Yeats scheduled delivery voyage to Dublin Port. The cruiseferry at 195m is longer to the capital's iconic ‘Spire’ if laid on its side which measures just 120m.

Dublin Port is homeport to ICG headquarters and where existing flagship, Ulysses operates on the route to Holyhead. The 50,000 gross tonnage cruiseferry built by Aker Finnyards, Finland in 2001, bears a strong design resemblance to that of W.B. Yeats.

Irish Ferries are firstly to deploy W.B. Yeats on an Ireland-France around mid-July, this will be the Dublin-Cherbourg route. The new cruiseferry is to enter service ready in time for the summer's high-season months.

The continental route opened in recent years by the chartered-in ropax Epsilon, offering a no-frills service, is to be replaced by the W.B. Yeats which will be a considerable improvement given the extensive range of passenger facilities. They include a Club Class lounge, an á la carte and self-service restaurants, cinema, shopping mall and a variety of bars and choice of lounges.

W.B. Yeats will also raise the bar as accommodation for 440 cabins will include luxury suites with their own private balconies. This feature is a first for Irish Ferries and will be appreciated more so during the summer and on the longer continental crossings. This compared to the short-sea Dublin-Holyhead route, when W.B. Yeats is to make a second new debut by serving on the Welsh service from September.

At that stage, it will be a year since the cruiseferry’s official keel-laying ceremony took place at FSG. The Flensburg shipyard will be kept busy with construction of the ‘jumboised’ version of W.B. Yeats half-sister super-cruiseferry, given designs seen by Afloat which will be revealed soon on FerryNews.

Published in Ferry
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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