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W.B. Yeats Makes Maiden Sailing from Dublin to Holyhead

22nd January 2019
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W.B. Yeats made its maiden sailing this morning having departed Dublin for Holyhead. The cruiseferry is seen sailing from the Welsh port to Dublin (Bay as above), though during its delivery voyage to Ireland last month. W.B. Yeats made its maiden sailing this morning having departed Dublin for Holyhead. The cruiseferry is seen sailing from the Welsh port to Dublin (Bay as above), though during its delivery voyage to Ireland last month. Photo: Irish Ferries -facebook

#ferries - W.B. Yeats has finally made its maiden sailing this morning, as the €147m cruiseferry completed a Dublin-Holyhead crossing by arriving in the Welsh port before lunch-hour, writes Jehan Ashmore.

The impressive 1,885 passenger and crew/300 car/165 truck capacity newbuild ordered by ICG, parent company of Irish Ferries, which was beset with delays at the FSG shipyard in Germany, is now the biggest ever ferry to operate on the Irish Sea.

W.B. Yeats berthed in the Anglesea port though around an hour later than scheduled at 12.20 when Afloat tracked the ship dock in the outer port. This took place in advance of the original scheduled inaugural sailing planned for this Friday. In addition neither did 'freight' only sailings commence as scheduled, which were due to have begun more than a week ago.

This afternoon (14.00) the newbuild is to carry more passengers and freight with the first return leg of the route from Wales. 

At around, 51,000 gross tonnage, W.B. Yeats will be a significant boost on the core Irish Sea route, which up till now was served primarily by Ulysses, which is due back in service this Thursday following annual dry-docking. In the meantime, ropax Epsilon also operates having been accompanied by Oscar Wilde, which made its final sailing on the route this morning with an arrival to Dublin Port. 

In less than two months time, W.B. Yeats which was also built to serve between Ireland and France will operate the Dublin-Cherbourg route by entering service in mid-March. 

Sailings on the direct Ireland-mainland Europe route is to take place just over a fortnight before the UK is due to leave the EU on the 29 March. With vehicle deck space for 2,800 freight lane metres, W.B. Yeats will be vital asset to ensure direct trade links for hauliers with an alternative of the UK landbridge and in whatever Brexit scenario arises.

As for passenger facilities, among them is the the Maud Gonne Bar & Lounge, Innisfree Club Class Lounge, The Hazel Wood Quiet Lounge and The Abbey & The Peacock Cinema & Lounge.

Accommodation comprises 440 cabins and of the luxury suites they feature a balcony along with a dedicated butler service. This feature will be particularly suited for the longer sea journey between the Irish capital and Normandy.

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. 

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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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