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Stena Line’s Newest Ship Debuts on Rosslare-Cherbourg Route

13th January 2021
Stena Embla on her berth in Belfast in early January Stena Embla on her berth in Belfast in early January

Stena Line’s newest addition to its fleet, the brand-new Stena Embla ferry will make its Irish Sea debut on the Rosslare-Cherbourg service. Originally scheduled for service on the Belfast-Liverpool route, due to the current Brexit related shift for direct routes and increasing customer demand, Stena Line has decided to temporarily deploy the Stena Embla on Rosslare-Cherbourg. The first sailing will be the 20.25 hrs departure from Rosslare on Thursday 14th January 2021.

Stena Embla has the capacity to carry 3,100 freight lane meters, will increase freight capacity by 20% on the Rosslare-Cherbourg route and provide 60% more cabins for freight drivers. Stena Embla is the third E-Flexer ferry to be commissioned for Stena Line’s Irish Sea routes in the last 12 months, three of the most modern ferries in the world as part of a €400m investment.

Paul Grant, Stena Line’s Irish Sea Trade Director said: “Given the short-term market distortion, we have decided to temporarily deploy our new Stena Embla vessel on the Rosslare – Cherbourg route. Clearly, Brexit has created an increase in the demand for direct freight routes, and in particular, driver accompanied freight, so the addition of Stena Embla, whilst temporary, plus the recently introduced Stena Foreteller to the route will provide a welcome addition for our customers at this time.”

“Stena Line has always prided itself on being flexible when it comes to the efficient deployment of its fleet. Having very experienced onshore and onboard teams means that we are able to respond to market and customer demands rapidly. At present we are currently reviewing our Rosslare-Cherbourg operations and will keep engaging with our customers to identify the most appropriate Stena Line operation for the route.”

Glenn Carr, General Manager, Rosslare Europort said: “We warmly welcome Stena Embla to Rosslare for its maiden in-service voyage. We have been working closely with Stena Line to facilitate the unprecedented demand for capacity directly to and from the Continent, and the boost in capacity Stena Embla delivers has been mobilised swiftly through our close cooperation. On behalf of Irish industry and all of our customers and stakeholders, we thank Stena Line for their ongoing commitment to Rosslare Europort.”

Stena Embla will make three weekly return trips between Rosslare and Cherbourg, which alongside the Stena Foreteller will see Stena Line operate 12 crossing per week between Ireland and the Continent. Stena Line is the largest ferry operator on the Irish Sea, with the biggest fleet offering the widest choice of routes including, combined passenger and freight services from Belfast to Cairnryan and Liverpool, Dublin to Holyhead, and Rosslare to Fishguard routes, as well as a freight only route from Belfast to Heysham, a total of up to 238 weekly sailing options between Ireland and Britain.

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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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