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W.B.Yeats Cruiseferry Finally Departs German Shipyard to Begin Sea Trials

30th October 2018
W.B. Yeats at the FSG Pier, Flensburg in Germany from where the much delayed €150m newbuild cruiseferry departed last night to begin sea trials off Bornholm, a Danish inhabited island located off the Swedidh coast in the Baltic Sea. AFLOAT has tracked the cruiseferry which is scheduled to reach Bornholm tonight. W.B. Yeats at the FSG Pier, Flensburg in Germany from where the much delayed €150m newbuild cruiseferry departed last night to begin sea trials off Bornholm, a Danish inhabited island located off the Swedidh coast in the Baltic Sea. AFLOAT has tracked the cruiseferry which is scheduled to reach Bornholm tonight. Photo: FSG

#FerryNews - While Irish Ferries flagship Ulysses is currently out of service, Afloat also reports on the much delayed €150m cruiseferry W.B. Yeats which is finally to begin sea-trials in the Baltic Sea, writes Jehan Ashmore.

W.B. Yeats last night departed the shipbuilder, Flensburger Schiffbau-Gesellschaft (FSG) in Flensburg. The shipyard located close the Danish border, experienced delays in the fitting out of interior components for public areas and on the electrical system installation in the hull and deckhouse.

According to FSG, back in June, the shipyard stated that entry into service is now planned for September. This final stage of construction work subcontracted by FSG, was further pushed back and so delayed again the debut of the 1,885 passenger/1,200 vehicles capacity cruiseferry which has accommodation in 435 cabins. 

The largest ferry that is to connect Ireland-France, W.B. Yeats at 54,985 gross tonnage, was originally to start service on 12 July, firstly on the Dublin-Cherbourg route followed in September by a transfer to the Holyhead route in the winter months. As during that timeframe, ropax ferry Epsilon maintains the year round operated link connecting the Irish capital and France.

The postponement of W.B. Yeats by FSG, left Irish Ferries in a difficult situation that led to major disruption as sailings were cancellations during the peak-season. This involved affecting to varying degress the travel plans of thousands of holidaymakers. 

Passengers were given the option of travelling on the company's more established continental routes through Rosslare served by cruiseferry Oscar Wilde which Afloat reported today has been operating this month both to Holyhead and Cherbourg on routes based out of Dublin.

Oscar Wilde since yesterday has begun covering the Rosslare -Pembroke route while routine cruiseferry Isle of Inishmore took over the sailing roster of Ulysses. The flagship as alluded in the introduction is off service from the Dublin-Holyhead route due to technical reasons. 

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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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