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Passenger Confusion as P&O 'Temporarily' Reinstate Route on North Sea Where Irish Sea Ferry Dry-Docks

7th August 2020
High temperatures expected in the UK today as was the case above at the Port of Hull in 2018 during the 'heatwave' as experience by cruise-goers on board Marco Polo of CMV Cruises which due to Covid-19 was forced into administration last month. Also in AFLOAT's photo is P&O Ferries Hull-Zeebrugge serving Pride of York sister of (Pride of Bruges) where recently the role of this cruiseferry proved confusing for passengers that urged the ferry firm to confirm the future of the route from Hull to the Belgium port. In the distance is Pride of York of the Hull-Rotterdam, Netherlands route. High temperatures expected in the UK today as was the case above at the Port of Hull in 2018 during the 'heatwave' as experience by cruise-goers on board Marco Polo of CMV Cruises which due to Covid-19 was forced into administration last month. Also in AFLOAT's photo is P&O Ferries Hull-Zeebrugge serving Pride of York sister of (Pride of Bruges) where recently the role of this cruiseferry proved confusing for passengers that urged the ferry firm to confirm the future of the route from Hull to the Belgium port. In the distance is Pride of York of the Hull-Rotterdam, Netherlands route. Photo: Jehan Ashmore

A P&O Ferries ropax on the Dublin-Liverpool route, Afloat highlights, the Norbay is at A&P’s Tyne dry-dock facility at Hebburn near Newcastle on the North Sea where the 1992 built ferry first entered service until transferred a decade later onto the Irish Sea.

On a related note P&O's Hull-Zeebrugge route, reports Hull Live, of ferry passengers been left confused after the firm announced the Pride of Bruges cruise ferry would "temporarily" be back in service.

The ferry - which travels between Hull and Zeebrugge in Belgium - was "laid up" alongside the Pride of York, which sailed the same route when P&O Ferries suspended the service during lockdown.

However, the firm took to Facebook on Tuesday, August 4, to tell customers the ship was "back."

The post reads: "The Pride Of Bruges will be taking a limited amount of car passengers when she temporarily returns next week!"

Passengers assumed it meant the Hull to Zeebrugge route was back up and running, but questioned why it was only " temporary." Passengers have now called for clarity, but with no response from P&O. More here on the story. 

For further information on P&O's North Sea route click the operator's sailing updates here in addition to the network of routes among the Irish Sea services of Dublin-Liverpool and Larne-Cairnryan.

Afloat adds while the Norbay remains off-service, sister Norbank is operating on the Liffey-Merseyside connection in addition two chartered-in freight-only ro-ro vessels. They are the Cypriot flagged Clipper Pennant and the more recently introduced Finnish flagged Misida.

Both these freighters can take a limited number of truck-drivers, whereas the Dutch built pair of Norbank and Norbay can also convey up to 114 passengers each but no foot customers.

Afloat this afternoon tracked the following P&O Ferrries vessels docked in Hull's King George V Dock, they are Pride of York and freightferry Norsky (out of service as Hull Live alluded). While outside the dock and berthed on the Humber Estuary is another much larger cruiseferry, Pride of Hull. A sister Pride of Rotterdam also links to mainland Europe.

Another Irish connection in north-west English port as Afloat reported yesterday was Dundalk Shipping's short-sea drycargo trader Huelin Dispatch which was underway from Middlesborough on the Tees river to Hull. This coastal passage took almost 14 hours to complete. The Irish flagged cargoship was built in The Netherlands, likewise of P&O's 'Nor' ropax pair were originally built for North Sea Ferries, hence the prefix given for their names.

Huelin Dispatch is also in the King George V Dock and among vessels including SMS Towage's Yorkshireman and Serviceman, fleetmates of the former Belfast Harbour serving Irishman which Afloat reported firstly in 2018.

The Japan built Irishman last month was tracked to south Wales at the Port of Barry where the tug currently remains on station. 

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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