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Ferries and Ferry News from Ireland

#ferries - W.B. Yeats has finally made its maiden sailing this morning, as the €147m cruiseferry completed a Dublin-Holyhead crossing by arriving in the Welsh port before lunch-hour, writes Jehan Ashmore.

The impressive 1,885 passenger and crew/300 car/165 truck capacity newbuild ordered by ICG, parent company of Irish Ferries, which was beset with delays at the FSG shipyard in Germany, is now the biggest ever ferry to operate on the Irish Sea.

W.B. Yeats berthed in the Anglesea port though around an hour later than scheduled at 12.20 when Afloat tracked the ship dock in the outer port. This took place in advance of the original scheduled inaugural sailing planned for this Friday. In addition neither did 'freight' only sailings commence as scheduled, which were due to have begun more than a week ago.

This afternoon (14.00) the newbuild is to carry more passengers and freight with the first return leg of the route from Wales. 

At around, 51,000 gross tonnage, W.B. Yeats will be a significant boost on the core Irish Sea route, which up till now was served primarily by Ulysses, which is due back in service this Thursday following annual dry-docking. In the meantime, ropax Epsilon also operates having been accompanied by Oscar Wilde, which made its final sailing on the route this morning with an arrival to Dublin Port. 

In less than two months time, W.B. Yeats which was also built to serve between Ireland and France will operate the Dublin-Cherbourg route by entering service in mid-March. 

Sailings on the direct Ireland-mainland Europe route is to take place just over a fortnight before the UK is due to leave the EU on the 29 March. With vehicle deck space for 2,800 freight lane metres, W.B. Yeats will be vital asset to ensure direct trade links for hauliers with an alternative of the UK landbridge and in whatever Brexit scenario arises.

As for passenger facilities, among them is the the Maud Gonne Bar & Lounge, Innisfree Club Class Lounge, The Hazel Wood Quiet Lounge and The Abbey & The Peacock Cinema & Lounge.

Accommodation comprises 440 cabins and of the luxury suites they feature a balcony along with a dedicated butler service. This feature will be particularly suited for the longer sea journey between the Irish capital and Normandy.

Published in Ferry

#ferries - W.B. Yeats maiden sailing as previously reported on Afloat.ie has changed date according to the Irish Ferries freight website, though the rescheduled sailing remains based on a freight-only basis, writes Jehan Ashmore.

Orginally, the first sailing was due to depart from Dublin tonight, however the inaugural sailing on the Irish Sea is instead scheduled for this Tuesday, (January 15th). This is to take place in the morning with the 08.05 sailing bound for Holyhead, Wales.

Further research has revealed albeit on the operator's passenger website, that at the same time W.B. Yeats maiden sailing departs the Irish capital, Oscar Wilde with a 1,450 passenger capacity, is also to leave then and operate to a full service. Sailings taking passengers too, Irish Ferries has confirmed to Afloat, will see W.B. Yeats start such services on January 25th.

As for this Tuesday's sailings, both W.B. Yeats and Oscar Wilde are scheduled to arrive in the Anglesey port just 10 minutes apart with the brand new €147m cruiseferry to arrive first with a docking time scheduled for 11.20. Passengers on board Oscar Wilde will also be able to get close-up views of the new 51,000 gross tonnage cruiseferry when in Holyhead's outer ferryport. 

Another change next week on the core Ireland-UK landbridge route involves Ulysses, the route's main cruiseferry since 2001, which is to go off service for routine annual dry-docking.

In addition ro-pax Epsilon which underwent dry-docking, is to resume sailings also on Tuesday, though today the chartered-in ferry with limited passenger capacity, is docked in Cherbourg.

Due to conducting dry-docking in Brest, Brittany, Epsilon has recently made a repositioning passage to Normandy so to enable offering a sailing tonight from the French port to Dublin, where the vessel is due to arrive tomorrow morning.

Otherwise sailings on the direct Ireland-France routes have been almost non-existent of recent months, however this is all about to change with the debut of W.B. Yeats from mid-March.

As for Rosslare based routes connecting Cherbourg and Roscoff, Irish Ferries last month announced they are unlikely to operate such services between the Wexford port and France this year. The operator added that they will continue to keep this situation under review and stated W.B. Yeats will operate from Dublin to Cherbourg up to 4 days per week.

 

Published in Ferry

#DublinPort - A major operator in Dublin Port, Stena Line has set a new company record for freight on its service to Holyhead, carrying a total of over 250,000 units in 2018.

The milestone was achieved today, when Patrick van der Vijver from Hannon Transport completed the 08.10 hrs crossing from Dublin to Holyhead.

Patrick had the honour of transporting the freight unit on the Stena Adventurer. To celebrate the record-breaking achievement on the Irish Sea, he was presented with a bottle of champagne and free car + 2 crossing on the route by Stena Line’s Onboard Services Receptionist Rob Owen and Onboard Services Manager Sharon Kelly as pictured above.

Ian Davies, Stena Line Trade Director (Irish Sea South) said: “Achieving over a quarter of a million freight units on our Dublin-Holyhead service is a major business achievement for our region. Dublin – Holyhead is a crucial trading link between Ireland and Britain as evidenced by this record volume of freight traffic in 2018. Stena Line has worked hard over the last number of years to develop this service".

"We have striven to improve service levels, reliability and punctuality, working with our valued freight customers to optimise our respective businesses. We are also investing in the future with the Dublin – Holyhead route being chosen by Stena Line as the first European route to take delivery of the first of its new generation ferries, current under construction, in early 2020. Crucially, the new vessel will offer over 3 000 lane meters of freight capacity, a 50% increase on the vessel it will take over from.”

The company is the largest ferry operator on the Irish Sea, running services between Ireland and the UK in addition to Ireland and France, that together total 238 weekly sailings.

Published in Dublin Port

#FerryNews - According to the Irish Ferries website, online bookings for W.B. Yeats, indicate that the brand new €144m luxury cruiseferry is to enter service a month after Christmas Day, but firstly on the Dublin-Holyhead route, writes Jehan Ashmore.

Afloat has identified that the maiden commercial crossing of W.B. Yeats, the 1,800 passenger/1,200 vehicles, is to take place between Ireland and Wales next year, with a sailing scheduled on 25 January.

The timing for the maiden crossing, was echoed on the ferry's facebook page in regards to a query, if the new ship will be open to the public in advance of service, however Irish Ferries responded that there will be no public open days but that sailings on the Dublin-Holyhead route from January will be available. 

The 54,000 gross tonnage newbuild currently docked next to Dublin's East-Link bridge, was to have orginally entered on the route to Wales in September, following the debut of the W.B. Yeats on the Dublin-Cherbourg route this summer. As well documentated at this stage, delays caused by contractors supplying the German shipyard prevented such plans. 

Irish Ferries recenty revealed a revised date to launch W.B. Yeats on the Dublin-Cherbourg route that is to begin in mid-March, though the operator this week accounced Rosslare-based routes to French ports of Cherbourg and Roscoff are unlikely to resume in 2019.

The decision to withdrew the direct routes to mainland Europe, drew widespread critism from the public, the haulage sector and policitians alike. Irish Ferries however stated that they will continue to keep this situation under review.

In the meantime in the run up to the busy festive period, Irish Ferries have both Ulysses and Oscar Wilde maintaining services on the Dublin-Holyhead route.

The chartered in ropax Epsilon, will continue operating on the year-round operated Dublin-Cherbourg route. It is still possible to sail from Rosslare-Cherbourg before the year ends, given Wexford based sailings to France ceased in recent months. For example Afloat has also identified a sailing from Rosslare to Cherbourg on 29 December.

On the Rosslare-Pembroke route, Isle of Inishmore will operate too up to the festive period on the route linking south Wales.

As usual there will be no sailings operated during Christmas Day and St. Stephen's Day.

Also according to the operator's booking site, Ulysses is to take a final crossing from Dublin to Holyhead on 6 January, this would suggest an off-service period for routine dry-docking. 

During the months of January and February, been the quietest time, it is routine for ferry operators to dry-dock ferries for annual dry-docking maintenance. 

For the latest information on all routes, sailings and updates, it is advisable to consult the operator's website here.

 

Published in Ferry

#Ferry - Ferry operator Stena Line has reached an important milestone in its major new fleet investment programme with steel-cutting of a third E-Flexer RoPax ship to be deployed on its Irish Sea routes.

This means that all three of Stena Line’s new E-Flexer ships, planned to enter into service on the Irish Sea during 2020 and 2021, are now under construction at the Avic Weihai Shipyard in China.

The first of the new vessels will commence operation on the Holyhead to Dublin route in early 2020, with the remaining two ships to be introduced on the Liverpool to Belfast route in 2020 and 2021.

Stena Line Chief Operating Officer Peter Arvidsson commented: “We are delighted to report that the steel cutting ceremony for the third of our Irish Sea E-Flexer ships has now taken place and that construction is going to plan across all three of our new generation RoPax vessels. Having visited the site several times, we are very impressed with the work being carried out by Stena RoRo, the Avic shipyard and its subcontractors.”

All three Irish Sea E-Flexer vessels will be bigger than today’s standard RoPax vessels at 215 meters long with a freight capacity of 3,100 lane meters and the space to carry 120 cars and 1,000 passengers.

In addition, Stena Line has also ordered a further two E-Flexer RoPax vessels with a larger design, to be deployed within Stena Line’s network in 2022. These larger ships will be 240 meters long with a total freight capacity of 3,600 lane meters, and passenger capacity of 1,200.

“With continued investment in our fleet, we want to lead the development of sustainable shipping and set new industry standards when it comes to operational performance, emissions and cost competiveness,” added Mr Arvidsson.

Stena Line is the largest ferry operator on the Irish Sea, offering the biggest fleet and the widest choice of routes between Britain and Ireland including Liverpool to Belfast, Heysham to Belfast, Cairnryan to Belfast, Holyhead to Dublin and Fishguard to Rosslare, a total of 232 weekly sailings. The company also offers a direct service from Rosslare to Cherbourg with three return crossings a week.

Internationally, Stena Line is one of Europe’s leading ferry companies with 38 vessels and 21 routes in Northern Europe.

The company is an important part of the European logistics network and develops new intermodal freight solutions by combining transport by rail, road and sea.

Stena Line also plays an important role for tourism in Europe with its extensive passenger operations.

The company is family-owned, was founded in 1962 and is headquartered in Gothenburg.

Stena Line is part of the Stena AB Group, which has about 15 000 employees and an annual turnover of around 36.5 billion SEK.

Published in Ferry

#FerryNews - Ulysses, flagship of Irish Ferries which was forced out of service for over a month during the peak season is once again not operating on the Holyhead route having docked in Dublin Port last night, writes Jehan Ashmore.

The company had cited a 'technical reason' though it is understood this incident it is not a repeat of the summer's problems with the starboard controllable pitch propeller which took place on 24th June. This led to the 50,938 gross tonnage flagship having to undergo major repairs in Harland & Wolff, Belfast. Otherwise the custom-built cruiseferry has had a strong reliability record since introduction in 2001.  

Ulysses having completed a round trip to Holyhead, yesterday evening proceeded upriver to berth in Alexandra Basin. It would appear that the off service situation is short-term, given that the Ulysses is scheduled to return to service this Wednesday (1st November) on the 20:55 sailing to Holyhead. Check here for updates. 

In the meantime while Ulysses remains in Alexandra Basin, this is also where earlier this month, the route's Holyhead newly introduced fast-ferry craft Dublin Swift had problems too. Work was carried out that enabled a return to the route just days before it ended a first 'seasonal' service previously operated by Jonathan Swift.  The winter layover in the port of the larger and newer fast-craft is to end with resumption of sailings in Spring 2019.

Currently, taking place of Ulysses sailing roster is Isle of Inishmore, where Afloat noted a repositioning passage from Rosslare which saw an arrival yesterday morning to Dublin Port. The Isle of Inishmore is no stranger on the Dublin route having also been custom-built in 1997 to serve the north Wales route when ordered by the operator's parent company ICG. 

Also operating on the Wales route but routinely is ropax Epsilon, however a third ferry was also in service until Sunday night, Oscar Wilde that provided additional sailings since earlier this month. The cruiseferry also served direct Dublin-Cherbourg crossings, however in the early hours of yesterday morning made a repositioning passage to Rosslare to take over the 'Inishmore' roster that began with a morning crossing to Pembroke.

On a related note to Ireland-France services, Afloat will have more to report on the much delayed €150m cruiseferry W.B. Yeats that was to have made a debut on the Dublin route last July followed by a transfer to Holyhead from September but only for the winter.  During that time Epsilon would maintain the year-round operated route given no Rosslare based sailings. 

Published in Ferry

#FerryNews - Stena Line has confirmed that the first of its new E-Flexer RoPax ferries currently under construction in China is planned to enter service on its Dublin - Holyhead route in early 2020.

Last year Stena (Stena Line’s parent company) announced a new build contract for the new generation Stena E-Flexer, with planned deliveries of the RoPax builds during 2020 and 2021. The order was for the construction of six new vessels from the AVIC Shipyard in China and the plan is to locate three of these ships on the Irish Sea. 

Afloat adds the first Stena E-FLexer on the Dublin-Holyhead route is to be followed by a pair on the Belfast-Birkenhead (Liverpool) route, see related story. 

The other three will be chartered out to external parties by Stena Line’s sister company Stena RoRo. Afloat adds that one Stena E-Flexer is to be chartered to DFDS for the Dover-Calais route and the remaining pair chartered to serve on Brittany Ferries UK-Spain services.

Stena Line’s CEO Niclas Mårtensson said: “Our Irish Sea routes are strategically very important to Stena Line and our customer, with the freight market between Ireland and UK experiencing significant growth over the last five years. That’s why we have invested almost £200m in our ports and vessels across the region to improve and grow our capacity to offer a frequent, reliable and high-quality service for our freight and travel customers. The deployment of three new vessels is a tangible example of our strategic growth plan for the Irish Sea”

Ian Davies, Stena Line Trade Director Irish Sea South commented: “Freight volumes have surpassed the Celtic Tiger peaks of 2007 and we are confident that this upward trend will continue. 2017 was a record year for Stena Line in the Irish Sea where we carried over 800,000 freight units on our routes to and from the Island of Ireland. We welcome the addition of the first of our new generation RoPax vessels on Dublin - Holyhead. It will significantly increase freight capacity and raise the service standards for travel and freight customers”

The new vessel being deployed on the Dublin - Holyhead route will have capacity for 1 000 passengers, 120 cars as well as 3 100 freight lane meters delivering 4 daily sailings with an estimated crossing time of approximately 3.5 hrs.

Eamonn O’Reilly, CEO of Dublin Port Company commented: “We are delighted that Stena Line has chosen Dublin as the location for its next generation of RoPax vessels in what is a significant investment in and enhancement of Ireland’s premier freight and tourism gateway. We look forward to welcoming the new vessel and the associated benefits it will bring to Dublin Port and the Irish economy.”

Niall Gibbons, CEO Tourism Ireland said: ““Stena Line’s decision to locate the first of its new generation of ferries on the Holyhead to Dublin route is a strong indication of its continued confidence in the future of tourism between Britain and Ireland. We look forward to working in partnership with Stena Line, to drive demand for its services and help grow visitor numbers from Britain to the island of Ireland in the years ahead.”

The new vessels under construction are being built in line with Stena Line’s strategic business focuses on sustainability and digitilisation with the aim of providing state-of-the-art efficiency, flexibility and customer service.

“Our new RoPax ferries will be among the most energy efficient in the world with significantly lower CO2 emissions per freight unit against comparable RoPax tonnage. Our aim is to lead the shipping industry in sustainability and digital development and set new industry standards when it comes to operational performance and emissions. The vessels will run on traditional fuel but are designed to the class notation ‘gas ready’ and are also prepared for catalytic scrubbers, thus giving us increased flexibility for the future. We are also placing heavy emphasis on developing a range of exciting new digital features which will provide our customers with unique additional services connected with their journey as well as developing a new, integrated digital onboard experience”, said Niclas Mårtensson.

Stena Line also operate other routes between Ireland and Britain, they are Belfast to Heysham (freight), Belfast to Cairnryan, Rosslare to Fishguard in addition a direct Ireland-continental service from Rosslare to Cherbourg.

Published in Ferry

#FerryNews - Fresh from a Falmouth dry-docking, Stena Horizon arrived in Dublin Port today, not Rosslare from where the ropax routinely operates on the France route to Cherbourg, writes Jehan Ashmore.

The reason for the call to the capital of the Stena Line ferry which recieved a refit at A&P Falmouth, is to facilitate further annual dry-docking cover of fleetmates. This will see Stena Horizon operate on the Dublin-Holyhead route.

Operating on this route is Stena Adventurer which will be replaced by Stena Horizon from tomorrow, 6 March 20.40hrs to 20 March 02.30hrs inclusive.

As the Stena Horizon is of a 'ropax' design (more freight orientated) compared to the 'Adventurer' there will be some reduction in facilities, products and services during this time on the Dublin-Holyhead route.

Also maintaining service as usual on the central Irish Sea route is the Stena Superfast X which was introduced in 2015.

As previously reported on Afloat, while Stena Horizon is off service on the Ireland-France route, a freight-only ship Stena Carrier is operating. The vessel is providing an important role in the export of livestock to the mainland continent until the 'Horizon's return is scheduled for 20 March.with the 21.30hrs sailing to France.  

Stena Europe also fresh from overhaul in Falmouth, returned to resume Rosslare-Fishguard services. 

For several days last month all Stena Line services to Wales and France were not operating 'passenger' sailings. On the Fishguard route, while Stena Europe was in Cornwall, customers were instead transferred onto a replacement ferry. This was in the form of rivals Irish Ferries whose Isle of Inishmore (see ferry focus) serves on the Rosslare-Pembroke route.

Published in Ferry

#MoreFerries? - Ian Davies, Stena Line Route Director, says he might add more ferries but worries about the A55, that’s according to Wales On Line.

The ferry firm says it could bring more or bigger ships to Holyhead if freight trade continues to flourish but warned pinch points on the A55 could impact on expansion plans.

Stena Line route director Ian Davies revealed they had seen between 6% and 8% growth year on year in freight over the past two years.

With the shortest crossing over the Irish Sea the port has boomed on the back of expanding supermarket logistics with giants like Tesco and Marks and Spencer supplying their Irish stores.

To read more on Holyhead Port which has a 'bright future' said Stena Line chief ahead of Superfast X launch click here.

In addition to Afloat's coverage on board the official naming ceremony and launch of the 1,500 passenger /480 car ferry earlier this year.

Published in Ferry

#SuperfastXLaunch – Stena Line Chairman Dan Sten Olsson alongside broadcast personality Kathryn Thomas, the ferry Godmother of Stena Superfast X (pronounced 10) named the Dublin-Holyhead route's new ferry yesterday, writes Jehan Ashmore.

More than 170 guests attended the official launch ceremony in Dublin Port where Kathryn and the chairman jointly pressed a red button to unveil a nameplate in the Stena Plus Lounge. 

The Dublin Welsh Male Voice Choir aptly sang 'Ireland's Call' given Stena Superfast X's launch on the core Irish Sea route and forthcoming RBS 6 Nations fixture between Ireland and Wales to be held in Cardiff, incidentally the Welsh capital is where the 30,285 tonnes ferry is registered.

Stena Superfast X was berthed at Dublin Port's Ferry Terminal 2 from where the double-tier ro-ro linkspan has already been in use in recent days as the newcomer entered service. The 1,200 passenger/ 480 car and freight capacity ferry has almost 2 kms of lane decks and this will significantly assist in boosting the important economic recovery of Irish-UK trade.  

The introduction of the 30,285 tonnes ferry expands the services of the all year round Dublin-Holyhead service, one of the key tourism and freight 'gateways' between Ireland and Britain.

Dan Sten Olsson, Chairman of Stena Line said: "Trade and tourism links between Britain and Ireland have been growing steadily in recent years and with improving economic conditions forecast for 2015 and beyond, as the leading ferry operator on the Irish Sea we are confident in our ability to help stimulate this upward trend further. That's why we have invested in providing increased capacity on this route with the introduction of Stena Superfast X, a ship which is perfectly appointed to accommodate the mix of freight and tourism traffic which is required to develop the important Dublin-Holyhead gateway in the years ahead.

Mr Olsson added: "The Irish Sea is at the core of Stena Line's business which is why we have invested more than £250m in our Irish Sea routes during the last 5 years alone. Last year we added the Rosslare-Cherbourg service to our route network which has given our customers a key link between Ireland and the Continent. Industry reports point to an expected 6% increase in holiday visitors in 2015, building on the 8% increase in 2014. Stena Line recognises the importance of tourism as a key economic driver for the Irish economy. We are committed to doing all we can to provide more and more compelling reasons to travel by ferry and what better customer experience is there on the route than the new Stena Superfast X."

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, the 206m long ferry had recently underwent a comprehensive three-month refit and upgrade programme in Gdynia, Poland, to prepare her for service on the Dublin-Holyhead route.

The delivery voyage to her homeport of Holyhead as previously reported was under the command of Captain Richard Davies, who was among senior figures from the company at the launch in Dublin Port to showcase Superfast to clients, the travel trade and media. 

Stena Superfast X will make two return sailings daily between Dublin and Holyhead and will operate alongside Stena Adventurer to provide a choice of up 56 Stena sailings each week on the route.

 

 

Published in Ferry
Page 1 of 3

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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