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New Ferry: Stena Estrid Defies Storm Brendan to Start Service on Irish Sea

14th January 2020
Leadship of the new E-Flexer class ropax, Stena Estrid AFLOAT adds is seen on arrival in Dublin Port yesterday following a maiden crossing from Holyhead, north Wales. In the foreground of the 'next-generation' ferry is a Dublin Port tug Shackleton which presented a traditional maritime water cannon salute.   Leadship of the new E-Flexer class ropax, Stena Estrid AFLOAT adds is seen on arrival in Dublin Port yesterday following a maiden crossing from Holyhead, north Wales. In the foreground of the 'next-generation' ferry is a Dublin Port tug Shackleton which presented a traditional maritime water cannon salute. Photo: Stena Line

Not even Storm Brendan as Afloat reported, could prevent Stena Line’s newest ferry Stena Estrid making its maiden voyage yesterday on the Holyhead to Dublin route.

After more than six years’ in planning and construction, Estrid braved the challenging sea conditions created by Storm Brendan to set sail from the Port of Holyhead at 10.55am, arriving in Dublin Port shortly after 2.30pm where it received a traditional maritime water cannon salute.

Described as one of the most modern ferries in the world, Estrid set sail again from Dublin Port at around 5.30pm to complete the first-round trip of the ferry's new Irish Sea home.

Stena Estrid will make two daily return trips on the route, with scheduled departures as below:

Ex-Holyhead

Ex-Dublin

08:55hrs

14:50hrs

20:30hrs

02:15hrs

 

A crossing time of three hours and 15 minutes is barely enough time for passengers to check out the range of facilities on board, including Estrid’s Sky Bar, two Happy World children’s play areas, a relaxing Hygge reclining lounge, Stena Plus lounge, two movie lounges, a larger Truckers lounge, the Taste restaurant in addition to a bigger better shopping experience.

Ian Davies, Stena Line’s Trade Director (Irish Sea South), speaking yesterday said: “Today is a very significant day, not just for Stena Line but for the future of ferry travel on the Irish Sea, as we welcome Stena Estrid to her new home on the Irish Sea. Despite the best efforts of Storm Brendan Stena Estrid was able to fulfil her maiden voyage commitment albeit slightly delayed due to severe weather conditions on the Irish Sea.

“The introduction of Stena Estrid on the Holyhead to Dublin route is the result of a very significant investment that reflects our commitment to this extremely important region – a commitment that will ultimately see three of the world’s most modern ferries operating between Ireland and Britain.

“I’m proud that Stena Line continues to shape the industry for the 'next-generation' of freight and travel customers, for whom we are determined to deliver the best possible service. Stena Estrid will enable us to do this with more efficient loading and unloading operations, increased freight capacity and the best Scandinavian quality, style and design in our facilities -in an onboard environment that is spacious and light, with amazing panoramic views,” he added.

“The Captain and crew have all been wowed by the new ship and we are sure that all of our customers travelling between Dublin and Holyhead will be similarly impressed,” concluded Mr Davies.

Stena Estrid is the first of three new ferries that will operate on the Irish Sea as part of a multi-million-pound investment by Stena Line in the region. Sister ship Stena Edda is expected to commence operations from Liverpool to Belfast this spring, with a third vessel Stena Embla to be introduced on the same route in early 2021.

At 215 metres in length, Stena Estrid is one of the most advanced vessels in operation and larger than today’s standard RoPax vessels, with space to carry 120 cars and 1,000 passengers, and a freight capacity of 3,100 lane meters, meaning a 50 per cent increase in freight tonnage.

Published in Ferry
Jehan Ashmore

About The Author

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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