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W.B. Yeats to Make Maiden Sailing (Freight-Only) This Sunday

10th January 2019
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2,800 lane metres of freight (165 vehicles) will first be made available to freight hauliers when W.B. Yeats (biggest ferry in tonnage terms on the Irish Sea) finally enters service on the Dublin-Holyhead route this Sunday, January 13th. As for the maiden crossing accommodating passengers and motorists this is scheduled to take place later this month, on January 25th. 2,800 lane metres of freight (165 vehicles) will first be made available to freight hauliers when W.B. Yeats (biggest ferry in tonnage terms on the Irish Sea) finally enters service on the Dublin-Holyhead route this Sunday, January 13th. As for the maiden crossing accommodating passengers and motorists this is scheduled to take place later this month, on January 25th. Photo: Jehan Ashmore

#ferries - Irish Ferries new cruiseferry W.B. Yeats is finally to enter service by making a maiden commercial sailing on the Dublin-Holyhead route this Sunday, albeit the giant ship will only take freight vehicles and drivers, writes Jehan Ashmore.

According to the operator's freight website, the first sailing to be operated by W.B. Yeats is from Dublin Port on January 13th with a scheduled departure time of 20.55hrs. The €147m cruiseferry of around 51,000 gross tonnage can handle 1,200 vehicles, is to sail the core Irish Sea crossing with an arrival time in the north Wales port the next day at 00.10hrs. 

The first full service including passengers is to take place later this month as previously reported on Afloat.ie, when the 1,885 passenger and crew capacity cruiseferry departs the Irish capital on Friday, 25th January. On the occasion of this maiden crossing, however the sailing is to depart in the early hours at 02.00hrs.

The debut of WB Yeats which has 440 cabins, will see the ship take over the routine sailing roster of Ulysses. The 2001 built ferry is to undergo an annual dry-docking, leaving Oscar Wilde to maintain sailings based on carrying both passengers and freight. 

Before this take place, as a matter of reflection it is almost a month since W.B. Yeats docked in the Irish capital for the first time, having made a delivery voyage from Germany..

The shipyard, Flensburger Schiffbau-Gesellschaft located in Flensburg was beset with delays in completing the 194m long newbuild. The delays FSG cited were due to the delivery of interior components for public areas and electrical systems installed in the hull and deckhouse.

After months behind schedule, which led to cancellation of thousands of high-season holidays makers booked on the Dublin-Cherbourg route, W.B. Yeats will now first enter service instead on the Ireland-Wales route. It was originally planned to have the new ferry take up this service in September following the end of last year's summer sailings on the Dublin-Cherbourg route.

As for the French connection, Irish Ferries have given a mid-March date for the launch on the direct route to continental Europe. 

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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