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Ferries Old & New Swap Stena Sailing Rosters for Annual Dry-Docking

5th February 2020
File photo: Departing Dublin Port is the Stena Adventurer which this morning is bound for Falmouth, UK for annual dry-docking while new ferry Stena Estrid has directly taken over the sailing roster on the route to Holyhead, north Wales. Also maintaining a two-ship service is the Stena Superfast X which returns to the Ireland-Wales route while dry-docking takes place. File photo: Departing Dublin Port is the Stena Adventurer which this morning is bound for Falmouth, UK for annual dry-docking while new ferry Stena Estrid has directly taken over the sailing roster on the route to Holyhead, north Wales. Also maintaining a two-ship service is the Stena Superfast X which returns to the Ireland-Wales route while dry-docking takes place. Photo: Jehan Ashmore

The longest serving Dublin-Holyhead ferry operated by Stena Line departed the Irish capital this morning bound for Falmouth in the UK to undergo annual dry-docking, writes Jehan Ashmore.

Stena Adventurer built in South Korea was launched onto the Irish Sea central corridor route in 2003, is to dry-dock at A&P Falmouth, Cornwall and where a refit of some passenger facilities is also to take place. This is to update passenger facilities among them a 'Hygge' Lounge, a feature on board the new Stena Estrid, the operator's first E-Flexer ropax class built in China which last month entered service. 

Taking over the sailing roster of Stena Adventurer is the Stena Estrid. As for newbuild's own roster this in turn is to be covered by Stena Superfast X, which transpires has made a return to its former Irish Sea route to maintain a two-ship service. This follows a stint on the Rosslare-Cherbourg route as Afloat previously reported. 

Prior to the Superfast X return to the Ireland-Wales route, a repositioning passage saw the German built ferry depart the Wexford port and arrive at Anglesey yesterday. On Monday, the Ireland-France route's routine ropax ferry Stena Horizon returned from A&P Falmouth having completed a planned dry-docking.

Afloat yesterday evening tracked Stena Adventurer enter Dublin Port following a non commercial sailing from Holyhead, as the ferry did not berth at the ferryport Terminal 2 but instead headed upriver to Ocean Pier, Alexandra Basin East.  

According to an Afloat source, Stena Adventurer berthed in the Basin for a Marine Survey Office (MSO) audit. At the same time this allowed relief ferry Stena Superfast X to berth at the nearby ferryport's No. 51 berth, before the 'Adventurer' departed for dry-docking. 

The Stena Adventurer remained in Alexandra Basin overnight before departing this morning. The 210m long ferry is expected to arrive at Falmouth tomorrow morning and enter A&P Falmouth's Dry-Dock No.2.

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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