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W.B. Yeats Now In Danish Waters Before Delivery Voyage to Ireland Via France

16th December 2018
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In this view taken yesterday is the stern of Irish Ferries new giant cruiseferry W.B. Yeats which finally departed German shipyard, FSG in Flensburg after months delayed due to sub-contractors. On the left is partially seen the stern of Brittany Ferries cruiseferry, Honfleur, which was launched on Friday for English Channel service and likewise of W.B. Yeats is to begin operating in 2019. In this view taken yesterday is the stern of Irish Ferries new giant cruiseferry W.B. Yeats which finally departed German shipyard, FSG in Flensburg after months delayed due to sub-contractors. On the left is partially seen the stern of Brittany Ferries cruiseferry, Honfleur, which was launched on Friday for English Channel service and likewise of W.B. Yeats is to begin operating in 2019. Photo: Matrix Ship Management -facebook

#Ferry- Irish Ferries brand new W.B. Yeats which departed from its German shipyard yesterday, has it transpired seemingly taken a different delivery route bound for Ireland as previously outlined, writes Jehan Ashmore.

The 54,983 gross tonnage W.B. Yeats having departed shipbuilder Flensburger Schiffbau-Gesellschaft (FSG) in Flensburg, was understood to be taking a short-cut through the Kiel Canal, Germany into the North Sea. Instead, however the 194m cruiseferry headed northward into the Kattegat, the sea between Denmark and Sweden.

The new €147m cruiseferrry, accommodating 1,885 passengers and crew and 1, 200 vehicles, along with fleetmates, is a client of Matrix Ship Management which has its head office based in Limassol. The port city is a renowned international hub for ship management.

Afloat tracked the Cypriot flagged W.B. Yeats this morning off the Danish coast between Saeby on the mainland and Læsø, the largest island in the Kattegat. Alongside of the cruiseferry, was the Latvian flagged Zircon apparently supplying bunkers (fuel). 

It remains uncertain as to which way W.B. Yeats is to continue the maiden delivery route to Dublin en-route via Cherbourg, where these ports form the direct Ireland-France route the cruiseferry is to enter service in mid-March 2019, and not this summer as originally scheduled due to delays caused by sub-contractors cited FSG. 

On the capital-continental route W.B. Yeats will offer customers a total of 440 cabins, including luxury suites with private balconies. Such a feature from rivals, Brittany Ferries was introduced in 2004 when flagship Pont-Aven was launched on the Cork-Roscoff route. 

W.B. Yeats is understood to be scheduled to arrive in Cherbourg in the early hours of Wednesday, before continuing also next week its maiden delivery voyage to Dublin Port.

As of this afternoon, the tanker Zircon remains alongside the largest newbuild ever ordered by Irish Continental Group and the first from a German shipyard, FGS, where Brittany Ferries cruiseferry Honfleur was launched on Friday. The liquified natural gas (LPG) powered cruiseferry built for English Channel service is due also to enter service next summer.

Returning to Danish waters, where working in relative proximity of W.B. Yeats this afternoon was the diminutive domestic ferry, Margfrete Laesoe which compared to W.B. Yeats, is only 3,688 in gross tonnage terms.

Margfrete Laesoe operated by Færgeselskabet Læsø K/S, has capacity for just over 500 passengers and 76 cars, on crossings made between Vestoroe on Læsø and Frederikshavn on the Jutland peninsula. The service taking 1 hour 30 minutes to complete. 

Currently, Irish Ferries Dublin-Cherbourg route takes between 17 and 19 hours to complete and is served by cruiseferry Oscar Wilde and ropax Epsilon offering an economy no-frills service. 

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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