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Displaying items by tag: Irish Ferries

The flagship of the Irish Ferries fleet Ulysses celebrates her 10th anniversary on the Dublin-Holyhead port route, writes Jehan Ashmore.
At 50,938 gross tonnes, the cruiseferry which has space for 1,875 passengers and 1,342 vehicles, remains the largest ferry operating on the Irish Sea. Over the decade she has made approximately 14,000 crossings which equates to 826,000 nautical miles on the route linking the Irish capital and Anglesey, north Wales.

In January 2000 the keel of the worlds largest car ferry was laid at the Aker Finnyards in Rauma, Finland. The following year the €100m cruiseferry giant departed the shipyard on a four-day delivery voyage to Dublin Port. Upon Ulysses's arrival on 4th March she was presented with a traditional welcoming escort of saluting water-firing tugs.

The Ulysses was named at a ceremony in the port on 21st March by the 'golden godmother' Mairead Berry, Ireland's 25-year old Paralympic Games gold medallist. Four days later Ulysses made her commercial maiden voyage to Holyhead on 25th March.

Wih 12 decks the vessel has an extensive range of facilities and they are named with themes derived from James Joyce's famous novel 'Ulysses'. There is seating available for up to 1,938 passengers and there are 117 twin or single-cabins, accommodating up to 228 passengers.

Only two months into service the Ulysses won the prestigious 'Most Significant New Build - Ferry' category award in the Cruise & Ferry magazine 2001 Awards competition. Her Finnish builders are not only builders of large cruise-ferries for Baltic Sea operators and beyond but also are also renowned for the construction of very large cruiseships for international clients.

Ulysses was designed specifically to serve the central corridor route with a schedule of two round trips daily. She directly replaced the 1997 Dutch built 34,031 grt ro-pax Isle of Inishmore, which transferred to Rosslare-Pembroke Dock service.

In 2006 the Ulysses alongside her fleetmates were transferred from the Irish flag to the Cypriot flag in addition to a change of Irish crew with those outsourced from citizens mostly from the Baltic and Eastern European countries.

Due to the sheer size of the Ulysses, which has a length of 209m, a beam of nearly 32m and a 6.4m draught, she has not missed a single crossing due to bad weather conditions. The vessel has a 22 knot / 41kph service -speed on the 60-mile route which translates to a distance of over 182,000 kms a year.

To celebrate Ulysses 10th year in service, Irish Ferries has enhanced the Club Class option to passengers which includes free-Wifi, which enables a constant connection and an array of other benefits during the 3-hour 15 minute crossing.

For a virtual tour of the Ulysses with views taken from the top deck as the cruiseferry departs Holyhead and the mountains of Snowdonia setting as a backdrop plus interior tours of the vessel click here.

Published in Ferry
Brittany Ferries seasonal service between Cork (Ringaskiddy) and Roscoff starts this Saturday, writes Jehan Ashmore.
As usual the £100m 'flagship' Pont-Aven re-opens the 11-hour route with the first inbound sailing from the Breton port arriving at Ringaskiddy ferry terminal at 10.00hrs.

The German built 41,700grt vessel stays at the port for an 8 -hour turn-around before making the seasons inaugural outbound sailing to France at 16.00hrs.

Pont-Aven can arguably claim to be the most luxurious 'cruiseferry' operating to Ireland as the vessel has a small number of luxury cabins  incorporating balconies and uniquely to feature a swimming pool.

The swimming pool and leisure area can be covered over by a retractable roof. The option of the 'open-air' swimming pool may prove more popular with her 2,400 passengers as the cruiseferry also operates on a triangular route roster between Roscoff-Plymouth and Plymouth-Santander

Pont-Aven also operates a second Spanish route, Santander-Portsmouth in tandem with Cap Finistère. The 32,728grt cruiseferry last week opened a new route for Brittany Ferries also from Portsmouth to Bilbao, for details click here.

The Bibao route had closed in September when P&O Ferries withdrew from the service which since 1993 has been run by Pride of Bilbao. The 37,583grt was on charter from the Irish Continental Group (ICG) the parent company of Irish Ferries until its sale late last year to a Baltic Sea ferry operator between Helsinki-(Tallinn)-St.Petersburg, for more information click here.

Published in Brittany Ferries
In the same week that Irish Continental Line (ICG) Group released end of year figures for 2010, their subdidiary Irish Ferries recorded a near 8% rise in passenger volumes and an announcement of a 10 year deal to continue operating on their south Welsh route, writes Jehan Ashmore.
Irish Ferries will maintain running the Rosslare route to Pembroke Dock for the next decade in an agreement signed with the Milford Haven Port Authority. The Pembrokeshire port provides docking and terminal facilities and the decade long contract secures the employment of 60 terminal staff.

The St. Georges channel crossing carries over 300,000 passengers and 80,000 freight annually and is served by the 34,031grt Isle of Inishmore. The ro-pax can handle 2,200 passengers, 802 cars / 152 freight trailers and is scheduled to two daily round trips, on a route that take nearly five hours.

The 1997 Dutch built vessel was first launched onto the central corridor route between Dublin-Holyhead but was transferred to the southern service after the introduction of Ulysses in 2001.

Rosslare-Pembroke Dock sailings only began in 1980, firstly operated by the B+I Line which competed with rival operators Sealink / British Rail (now Stena Line) on services running out of Fishguard.

This route was well established having started operations in 1906 and in an era when the railway companies (in this case the Great Western Railway) developed and owned the ports plus the operation of shipping services on the Irish Sea.

Published in Ferry

The Irish Continental Group (ICG) which is the parent company of Irish Ferries, has warned of 'uncertainty' in 2011 due to higher fuel costs and the effects of the austerity measures in both the Irish and UK economies.

ICG secured a 61% increase in pretax profits in 2010 following an increase in passenger numbers and the sale of  their MV Pride of Bilbao to St. Peter Line (click here) after a long-term charter to P&O Ferries. The 37,583 gross tonnes cruiseferry is to open a new second route for the Baltic Sea operator between St. Petersburg and Stockholm, starting next month.

To read more about ICG's end of year results, click the report in today's Irish Times.

Published in Ferry
22nd February 2011

Enter European Endeavour

As the ro-pax European Endeavour enters the Mersey tonight, the 22,125grt vessel will mark her first round trip as the latest addition on P&O (Irish Sea) Liverpool-Dublin route, writes Jehan Ashmore.
Built in 2000 the vessel can take 130 lorries and has a larger passenger capacity for 210 passengers compared to the existing route's 17,464grt ro-pax sisters Norbay and Norbank. The Dutch built sisters can handle 150 trucks and 114 passengers.

The European Endeavour will enable P&O to offer up to three Ro-Pax style sailings a day on the 7.5 hour route instead of the previous two-plus one Ro-Ro (freight-only operated) service. The 180m vessel is no newcomer on the route as over the last two years the ship has deputised to cover the annual overhauls of the routes' vessels.

The Spanish built vessel directly replaced the Ro-Ro freight ferry Norcape, which made her final sailing on the central corridor route, with the 1979 built vessel berthing at Liverpool's Huskisson Dock in the early hours of Sunday morning. Norcape could take 125 drop trailers but only had 12-passengers cabins (for freight accompanied truck-drivers).

Only last year the Japanese built vessel returned to the Irish Sea route as the Norcape but originally started a career with the B+I Line as their Tipperary on the Dublin –Fleetwood route. The UK port was switched to Liverpool in 1988, in the following year she was sold to North Sea Ferries.

The standing down of the Norcape represents the last vessel of the former B+I Line fleet to have any association with the Irish Sea. In 1991 the Irish state owned shipping company was sold to Irish Continental Group (ICG) which is a parent company of Irish Ferries. At that stage Irish Ferries operated only on the continental routes to France.

To read more about Norcape's final sailing on the Irish Sea route, click here.

Published in Ferry
The Port of Cork Company has announced that it is unlikely that the proposed new ferry service to Spain will commence in March, writes Jehan Ashmore.
The port authority has advised those waiting to book their holidays on the planned Cork-Gijón route, instead go ahead and make a booking with other ferry operators. 
Existing Cork based ferry services are provided by Fastnet Line to Swansea, with the first outward bound sailing from Cork on 5 March. The port also serves the continent with a Brittany Ferries outbound seasonal sailing on the Roscoff route resuming on 2 April.  

In addition to services running out of Rosslare operated by Celtic Link Ferries and Irish Ferries and the alternative option of landbridge connections to Europe via the UK.

In the meantime, the Port of Cork will continue to be in dialogue with potential operators and investor's, however in the current climate it is proving more challenging to establish the service. Yet both the port authorities in Cork and Gijon remain committed in establishing the first direct Irish-Iberia passenger ferry route, with an update on the Spanish service due in early June.

Since 2008 the port authorities of Cork and Gijón, through the Promotion of Short Sea Shipping and Co-Operation with Small Medium Enterprise's (Proppose) an EU Inter-Reg project, have conducted feasibility studies into the service.

Interest in the service to date, has shown interest from Brittany Ferries, P&O Ferries and Transfennica, a Scandinavian based operator. It was envisaged that a ro-pax type of vessel would operate the 24-hour route to Gijón in Asturias, the region which forms part of Spain's northern 'Green' coast.

The route across the Bay of Biscay would be an attraction to freight hauliers, saving mileage and reduced fuel costs in addition avoiding a weekend ban to trucks travelling through France.

Last summer the ro-pax Norman Bridge started a new route between Nantes / St. Nazaire (Montoir-de-Bretagne) and Gijón, operated by GLD Atlantique. This route received support through the EU 'Motorways of the Seas' (MOS) programme to divert vehicle traffic from congested road-infrastructure and transferred to designated shipping routes, using larger and faster ro-pax vessels.

The route's opening was marked with a declaration signed by Dominique Bussereau, the French Minister of State responsible for Transport and his Spanish counterpart Magdalena Alvarez of the first of two Franco-Spanish MOS concept routes, starting with the 14-hour GLD Atlantique service.

Published in Ferry
Irish Ferries scooped up two awards for the 'Best Ferry' title at two separate prize giving ceremonies held yesterday in Dublin.
The first award was presented by the Irish Travel Trade News based on responses received from Irish travel industry staff. This award has been won by Irish Ferries on several occasions in the past from the influential travel magazine.

At the second award ceremony, the company was again called to the podium to receive their 'Best Ferry' Company Award at the inaugural Irish Travel Awards, hosted by the Irish Travel Agents Association (ITAA). The award was voted by staff from travel agents throughout the country and the ceremony was attended by 500 guests at the Mansion House.

"Our staff can be doubly proud of their achievement – the first time that any ferry company has taken two top awards on the same day." commented Tony Kelly, Irish Ferries marketing director.

In both of the awards, the ferry company won against competition from UK and Continental ferry companies operating on services in and out of Ireland. Irish Ferries operate on two Irish Sea routes between Dublin-Holyhead and Rosslare-Pembroke Dock. In addition on the direct continental routes to France between Rosslare to Cherbourg and to Roscoff during the high season. For information about Irish Ferries logon to www.irishferries.com

Published in Ferry
At this quiet time of the year, vessels from Irish Sea ferry operators are taken off routes to undergo annual dry-docking, writes Jehan Ashmore.

In the case of Irish Ferries, their Rosslare-Pembroke Dock route vessel, Isle of Inishmore arrived on the Mersey yesterday at the Cammell Laird dry-dock facility in Birkenhead.

The 1997 Dutch-built Isle of Inishmore had relieved the 50,938 tonnes 'flagship' Ulysses from the Dublin-Holyhead route which too had gone to Birkenhead for maintenance since January 4th.

The Ulysses is now back on service and the company's French routes cruiseferry, Oscar Wilde is covering the Isle of Inishmore's absence from Rosslare-Pembroke Dock sailings.

Continental services to France on the Rosslare-Cherbourg route will resume on February 16th when the Oscar Wilde returns from her overall. The Bahamas flagged vessel will re-open seasonal Rosslare-Roscoff sailings starting on May 13th.

In addition to conventional tonnage Irish Ferries also operate the fast-craft catamaran Jonathan Swift in tandem with Ulysses on the Dublin-Holyhead route. The Ulysses takes 3 hours 25 minutes while the 39-knot catamaran craft marketed as the Dublin 'Swift' is advertised with a scheduled passage time of 1 hour and 49 minutes.

The Australian-built catamaran was taken off the central corridor route yesterday to be drydocked also in Birkenhead until January 18th. Dublin Swift sailings return to the Dublin-Holyhead route on February 19th with the first crossing to depart at 14.30 hours from the capital port.

For the latest information on ferry sailings and reservations click: www.irishferries.com

Published in Ports & Shipping
St. Peter Line has agreed to purchase the Pride of Bilbao for €37.7m from Irish Continental Group (ICG) which has been on charter to P&O's UK-Spain route, writes Jehan Ashmore.
ICG will charter the 37,583 gross tonnes cruiseferry to St. Peter Line on a hire-purchase basis with instalments to be paid over six years, with the final payment and transfer of vessel ownership in 2016. The vessel is to undergo refurbishment and renamed Princess Anastasia before opening a new second route for St.Peter Line between St. Petersburg and Stockholm  in April 2011. The new twice weekly service will call via Tallinn, Estonia and will for the first time provide visa-free cruises from Sweden to the Russian Federation.

For the last 17 years the Pride of Bilbao has operated between Portsmouth and Bilbao under charter to P&O. Built in 1986, she was launched as Olympia for Viking Line between Stockholm and Helsinki, then the Baltic Sea ferry was one of the largest overnight passenger capacity ferries in the world. At 177 metres long the vessel can accommodate 2552-passengers, 600-vehicles and space for 77-trucks. She has a sister, the Mariella, which currently operates on Viking Line's Stockholm-Mariehamn–Helsinki service.

In 1993 the vessel was renamed Pride of Bilbao and launched a new service on the Bay of Biscay, under charter from her Scandinavian owners. The following year ICG purchased the Pride of Bilbao from Viking Line and she was re-registered to the Bahamas. The vessel was subsequently entered into a British bare-boat charter arrangement between P&O Ferries and ICG. Due to unsustainable losses the route closed on 28 September this year but rivals Brittany Ferries soon shortly announced they would reopen the route in Spring 2011.

Throughout the Pride of Bilbao's career under ICG (parent company of Irish Ferries), the cruiseferry has only once visited Ireland. In between Spanish sailings, she was sub-chartered for a three-day Christmas mini-cruise from Portsmouth to Dublin in 2004, where the Pride of Bilbao berthed at the ferryport close to the ICG headquarters.

Published in Ports & Shipping

The body of the woman who fell overboard from the Irish Ferries vessel Isle of Inis Mór was recovered from the sea at Rosslare on Saturday. According to media reports the woman fell overboard as the ferry approached Rosslare Europort shortly after 6am on Saturday. Her body was taken from the water about two hours later. Gardaí are not releasing her identity until family members were notified.

Published in Ports & Shipping
Page 18 of 19

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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