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Stena Europe Returns from Outside Europe With Scheduled Services on Rosslare-Fishguard Route

7th October 2019
Stena Europe has recently returned on Rosslare-Fishguard duties following a life-extending refit which AFLOAT adds will permit the oldest ferry on the Irish Sea to continue a career much longer on the St. Georges Channel route. AFLOAT also adds that the 1981 built former Scandinavian serving ferry made in mid-September the return voyage to Europe (firstly bound for Liverpool) having been dry-docked outside Europe at a shipyard in Tuzla which is located on the Asian side of Turkey. Stena Europe has recently returned on Rosslare-Fishguard duties following a life-extending refit which AFLOAT adds will permit the oldest ferry on the Irish Sea to continue a career much longer on the St. Georges Channel route. AFLOAT also adds that the 1981 built former Scandinavian serving ferry made in mid-September the return voyage to Europe (firstly bound for Liverpool) having been dry-docked outside Europe at a shipyard in Tuzla which is located on the Asian side of Turkey. Photo: Stena Line

On completion of an extensive refit programme at an Asian shipyard located in Turkey and at a dock in Liverpool, the UK, the Stena Europe has recently resumed its scheduled sailing services on the Rosslare - Fishguard route. 

Afloat.ie adds the veteran ferry returned to service later than expected as an original completion timeframe was set for July before the high-season ended on the St. Georges Channel service linking Ireland and Wales.  

As alluded by the operator, Stena Europe's upgrade programme took longer than had been anticipated but as Stena Line’s Trade Director (Irish Sea South) Ian Davies said, the upgraded vessel will now offer a significant improvement in customer care. “I know there has been a certain amount of frustration with the delayed return of the Stena Europe, a very popular vessel with both our freight and travel customers. We had planned for a number of improvements and additions throughout the ship both of a technical and customer-facing nature, but we did encounter a number of challenges which impacted on our works delivery schedule for which I’d like to apologies to our customers. “

Ian Davies added: “During the refit period our cover vessel the Stena Nordica did a sterling job ensuring we maintained our sailing schedule on Fishguard – Rosslare and I would like thank the Captain and crew of the Stena Nordica for their efforts. We are now all looking forward to welcoming the Stena Europe back and I know a lot of our regular customers are looking forward to seeing the improvements.”

“Apart from a number of technical upgrades our freight customers will be particularly pleased to hear that we have altered our deck height to be able to accommodate the increasing trend for high sided trailers and for our travel customers we have also added a new Hygge Lounge which offers luxury reclining seats set in a private, ultra-stylish but cosy surrounding, an upgraded Retail Shop and a refurbished Happy children’s play area to name a few changes.”

As for the whereabouts of Stena Nordica, Afloat.ie yesterday tracked the former Dublin-Holyhead ferry (displaced by Stena Superfast X  in 2015) make a repositioning voyage from Rosslare Europort when transitting through the English Channel bound for Rotterdam (Europoort), The Netherlands. 

The Japanese built ropax completed the passage having arrived in Europe's largest port today. 

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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