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New Irish Ferries’ Cruise Ferry W. B. Yeats Named At Launch Event In Germany

19th January 2018
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The €150 million, 54,985 gross tonnes cruise ferry will arrive into Dublin next July when it will enter year-round service on Ireland – France and Dublin – Holyhead routes The €150 million, 54,985 gross tonnes cruise ferry will arrive into Dublin next July when it will enter year-round service on Ireland – France and Dublin – Holyhead routes

The completed hull of the new Irish Ferries cruise ferry W. B. Yeats – ceremonially named by Ms. Rikki Rothwell – was launched into the water earlier today at the shipyard of Flensburger Schiffbau–Gesellschaft in Flensburg, Germany where the vessel is being built.

Fully painted in familiar Irish Ferries lettering and colours, and bearing the name W. B. Yeats along its bow and stern sections – the name having been chosen after drawing strong support from the public in an online competition that attracted nearly 100,000 entries – the vessel entered the water stern first.

As Afloat.ie reported yesterday, there to attend the event, alongside shipyard workers and officials, were representatives of the company led by Irish Continental Group Plc chairman John McGuckian, chief executive, Eamonn Rothwell, CFO, David Ledwidge, and Irish Ferries managing director, Andrew Sheen.

The €150 million, 54,985 gross tonnes cruise ferry will arrive into Dublin next July when it will enter year-round service on Ireland – France and Dublin – Holyhead routes. In the intervening months, remaining construction work on the hull will be completed and the vessel fitted out with all of the technical, operational, décor, furnishings and passenger amenities required onboard. Later, before scheduled services can commence, it will undergo sea trials, crew training and docking procedures at the Irish, UK and French ports into which it will operate.

WB Yeats 3The W. B. Yeats will have space for 1,885 passengers and crew, 435 cabins including luxury suites with their own private balconies, and almost 3km of car deck space.

Set to be the largest and most luxurious ferry ever to sail on the Irish Sea, the W. B. Yeats will have space for 1,885 passengers and crew, 435 cabins including luxury suites with their own private balconies, and almost 3km of car deck space.

In a comment, Mr. Sheen said: “the launch of our new cruise ferry W. B. Yeats – and the expectation of our second new cruise ferry yet to come – herald in a new era in ferry travel between Ireland, UK and Continental Europe bringing with it new standards in terms of passenger and freight capacity, comfort and reliability beyond anything previously envisaged”.

Second Irish Ferries Vessel Due 2020

In addition, the Flensburg shipyard in which the vessel is being built will shortly commence building a second, even larger cruise ferry for delivery in 2020 which was commissioned only weeks ago by Irish Ferries parent, Irish Continental Group plc at a contract price of €165.2 million.

Intended for service on the Dublin – Holyhead route, this second new vessel will be the largest cruise ferry in the world in terms of vehicle capacity with accommodation for 1,800 passengers and crew. Its vehicle decks will have 5,610 freight lane metres, providing the capability to carry 330 freight units per sailing – a 50% increase in peak freight capacity compared to the current vessel Ulysses.

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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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