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Stena Edda Goes into Service with Maiden Voyage on the Irish Sea

10th March 2020
Senior Master Kris Gadomski of the Stena Line Edda vessel before it's maiden voyage Senior Master Kris Gadomski of the Stena Line Edda vessel before it's maiden voyage Photo: Jason Roberts

The next generation of ferry travel went into service yesterday evening as Stena Line reaffirmed its commitment to operations on the Irish Sea and providing the ‘very best freight and travel experience for customers’.

As Afloat reported previously, Stena Edda, the biggest ferry ever to sail on the Belfast to Liverpool route, embarked on its maiden voyage on Monday evening as it left Merseyside amid a host of celebrations which included a spectacular countdown light show.

With 40% more deck capacity, 40% more cabins and 30% more fuel-efficient than current vessels on the route, Edda accommodates up to 1,000 passengers, 120 cars in its dedicated garage deck and 3,100 lane metres of freight.

Redefining ferry travel on the Irish Sea, Edda is more spacious than previous vessels on the route with a Sky Bar and Scandinavian design providing new levels of comfort for both freight and travel guests.
The vessel also offers greater panoramic views as well as digitally enhanced customer experiences.

Despite the 215 metres length of the ferry, the new port infrastructure in Belfast and Birkenhead will deliver easier and faster loading and unloading for all passengers.

Stena Edda is part of an investment of over £200million by Stena Line in three new vessels and port upgrades, involving the company’s partners at Peel Ports and Belfast Harbour. Edda is the first of two new ferries that will offer a choice of daily sailings on the popular Belfast to Liverpool route.

The multi-million-pound vessel represents over six years planning and construction work, including design development in Sweden to reflect Stena Line’s Swedish heritage.

Published in Ferry
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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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