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Displaying items by tag: Irish Ferries

#CarTrading – Irish Ferries chartered ro-pax Epsilon, a year in service as previously reported, resumed Dublin-Holyhead service this afternoon, following cancellations last night due to the ship making interim 'freight-only' sailings to France, writes Jehan Ashmore.

Epsilon had completed the Rosslare-Cherbourg freight round-trip yesterday and this was understood to have involved carrying trade-cars, in which she also carried a year ago and on the same route.

These latest sailings to and from Rosslare by Epsilon, followed her additional routine duties on the Dublin-Cherbourg route over the weekend. The continental route's sailing schedule normally includes a return arrival to the Irish capital on Monday morning's, however since last week and that of yesterday, her inward bound sailings from France have instead docked in Rosslare.

According to Irish Ferries, sailings from France will continue to call to Rosslare, until the operator's cruiseferry, Oscar Wilde, resumes Rosslare-Cherbourg sailings next month and in May to Roscoff.

It was on that first Monday last week, that the 500 passenger and crew capacity, Epsilon, had disembarked her low-season winter traffic of motorist-passengers and freight-vehicles in Rosslare. She does not take any 'foot' passengers on any of her Welsh and French route sailings.

Having discharged, Epsilon continued that same day by sailing in ballast to Dublin Port in readiness for the following day's sailing to Holyhead. The ro-pax ferry operates a Tuesday's to Friday's roster, while Ulysses, recently returned from an annual overhaul, serves sailings all week.

Ulysses main route partner, the high-speed craft HSC Jonathan Swift, is undergoing maintenance but is due to re-enter service this Friday's (30 January) morning sailing of 08.45 departing Dublin Port.

As for Epsilon's second inbound call to Rosslare yesterday, (to recap in a freight-mode) she did not continue on the same day the final leg to Dublin Port but remained in Rosslare. This led to the cancellation of today's early morning sailing to Holyhead and corresponding return sailing.

Epsilon would otherwise have taken lay-over time in Dublin Port, occasionally at a berth close to the East-Link Bridge but instead she was alongside Rosslare's inner pier.

Berthed adjacent was Stena Line's ro-pax Stena Horizon, also built by the same Italian yard Visentini. The coincidences continue, as she was on a routine Monday layover in between sailings that also serve to and from Cherbourg.

Published in Ferry

#EpsilonYear1 - Irish Ferries Dublin-Cherbourg route launched a year ago by ro-pax Cartour Epsilon as previously reported on Afloat.ie, made an en-route to Rosslare Europort last Monday having sailed from France, writes Jehan Ashmore.

The chartered Italian flagged ferry Epsilon (since renamed without her prefix) began the new year-round operated service in January 2014. The service is marketed as an economy class alternative to the operators Rosslare-France routes.

During last week's call to the Co. Wexford port both motorist-passengers and freight vehicles disembarked.

Such calls to the south-east ferryport will remain in place until the operator's cruiseferry, Oscar Wilde resumes routine Rosslare-Cherbourg sailings that reopens this day next month (25 February). 

Last year as the then Cartour Epsilon, she had also covered 'Oscar's continental crossings to and from Rosslare (see report). This involved her standing in for Isle of Inishmore while on the Pembroke route.

The 2011 built Epsilon is scheduled to dock in Rosslare tomorrow morning. Again all traffic from the French route will be unloaded in addition to what is understood to be a contract to carry trade vehicles.

Having completed these duties, the 26,375 tonnes vessel will continue the final leg of the triangular route with a passage in ballast to Dublin Port but not arrival until 22.00. 

Following this, Epsilon settles back on her weekday Dublin-Holyhead sailing roster (except on Mondays), hence her late arrival tomorrow night to the port.

Her role on the Welsh route had preceded the French service as she was first introduced on the Irish Sea route last December.

Since her double route debut, Epsilon has boosted capacity resulting in improved trading figures for Irish Ferries whose parent company is Irish Continental Group.

Published in Ferry

#UlyssesOverhaul – Ulysses, Irish Ferries main Dublin-Holyhead route cruiseferry since entering service in 2001, is understood to be heading tonight for Birkenhead on Merseyside for annual overhaul, writes Jehan Ashmore.

Taking her sailing roster is Isle of Inishmore which last month was transferred from Rosslare-Pembroke duties and entered service on the Dublin Port route to provide additional capacity over Christmas and early New Year periods.

At this quieter time of year, the winter dry-docking of Ulysses and majority of fleetmates are to take place at Cammell Laird, the shipyard and engineering repair providers. In addition to Isle of Inishmore, the Dublin-Holyhead route will be maintained by regular vessels, fast-ferry Jonathan Swift and ro-pax Epsilon.

As Stena Line decided to cancel Dun Laoghaire-Holyhead sailings over the festive period, the route last operated by HSS Stena Explorer until the main summer season ceased in September, leaves Jonathan Swift as the sole fast-ferry running on a year-round Irish Sea service.

On completion of overhauling Ulysses which will be carried out in dry-dock No. 5, Isle of Inishmore and Jonathan Swift are also scheduled to visit the dry-dock facility later this month.

Published in Ferry

#FerryAward – At the Irish Travel Trade Awards, now in its 23rd year, Irish Ferries was voted 'Ireland's Best Ferry Company 2014' during a ceremony held last week.

The award category saw the ferry company winning in the face of competition from operators not just on Ireland – UK routes but those also serving on Ireland – France services.

Organised and sponsored by the Irish Travel Trade News magazine, the ITTN awards saw the ferry operator win the acclaimed award for the eighth year in succession and the 17th time overall. Each of the award categories are based on independent votes of travel trade professionals working in agencies throughout the island of Ireland.

The ferry award is said to have reflected the travel industry's response to the continuing investment being made by Irish Ferries.

In the past year, this has been seen particularly in the introduction of the passenger and freight ferry or 'ro-pax', Epsilon which has boosted capacity on the Dublin – Holyhead route and a new once-weekly return service on the new Dublin – Cherbourg route.

 

Published in Ferry

#Overhauls - Winter overhauls of the majority of Irish Ferries fleet in early 2015 are understood to be heading to Birkenhead at Cammell Laird shipbuilder and repairs, writes Jehan Ashmore.

Ulysses has been scheduled to go first for annual maintenance with the overhaul starting on 6 January, following the 02.40hrs sailing from Holyhead.

On completion of her overhaul, her Dublin-Holyhead running mates, fast-ferry Jonathan Swift and Isle of Inishmore are scheduled to visit the dry-dock facility on Merseyside.

So far the yard for Oscar Wilde's overhaul is unknown, though a time for her dry-docking has been scheduled for early February.

Last year she was the odd one out as unlike her fleetmates which visited Birkenhead she instead went to A&P Falmouth.

 

Published in Ferry

#ChristmasSailings– A boost to sailing capacity over Christmas on Irish Ferries Dublin-Holyhead service as previously reported will see cruiseferry Isle of Inishmore transferred to the route on Saturday 20 December, departing the capital with the 08.00hrs sailing, writes Jehan Ashmore.

Isle of Inishmore will add additional sailings by joining the route's regular ships, flagship Ulysses, fast-ferry Jonathan Swift and ro-pax Epsilon which also operates on the Welsh route. The ro-pax also makes a French connection on the Dublin-Cherbourg route by running at weekends on the year-round operated service.

In place of Isle of Inishmore which usually serves Rosslare-Pembroke Dock sailings, her fleetmate also running from the Wexford 'Europort' will be that of continental cruiseferry Oscar Wilde. Her switch to the Pembrokeshire route will see her stand down from this year's sailings on the route to Cherbourg.

Oscar Wilde is to enter the south Wales route by taking the 20.45hrs sailing departing Rosslare on Friday 19 December.

For more information on sailing times, visit: www.irishferries.com

 

Published in Ferry

#EpsilonEconomics – Irish Ferries introduction of ro-pax Epsilon almost a year ago has led to a rise in overall fuel costs as previously reported on Afloat.ie, however in general she has been financially rewarding, writes Jehan Ashmore.

According to Ships Monthly, the chartered Italian-flagged ro-pax has contributed to a positive recovery in Irish Ferries core ro-ro and car markets as indicated for results for the first half of the 2014-15 financial year, to 23 August. There has been a 20% rise in the ro-ro freight sector and 8% was achieved in passenger cars.

Epsilon's ro-pax design enables a large freight capacity to be handled while still carrying passengers. The 26,375 tonnes vessel was launched in 20011 from the yard of Visentini, a shipyard close to Venice. She offers an economy service and limited facilities.

The ro-pax was first pressed into Irish Sea service providing additional capacity on the Dublin-Holyhead route during weekdays.

In addition to Welsh route duties, she launched in January this year a new direct Ireland-France service where at weekends she makes a round trip to the continent linking the Irish capital and Cherbourg in Normandy.

To read more about Epsilon's two-route role click the following link of Afloat.ie interview with her master and accompanying photographs including the ferry during a passage on the Dublin-Cherbourg route.

In another interview published in Ships Monthly (January 2015) the Epsilon is depicted in a photo of the ro-pax following an overnight sailing from Dublin when arriving within the harbour of Cherbourg.

Published in Ferry

#CapacityBoost - Irish Ferries have announced that they are to transfer Isle of Inishmore from the southern Irish Sea to the Holyhead-Dublin route to ensure there is plenty of capacity to and from Ireland this Christmas.

Afloat.ie adds that this will be the second successive festive season that the Pembrokeshire port serving ferry is to be repositioned onto the busy core central Irish Sea route between Wales and the Irish capital.

"Up to six million people living in Britain have Irish grandparents or even closer connections, so it's no wonder that Christmas is our busiest time of year," says the carrier's head of passenger sales Dermot Merrigan.

The operator's flagship Ulysses at 50,938 tonnes the largest ferry on the Irish Sea, operates the last sailing from Holyhead to Dublin on Christmas Eve at 14.10hrs.

On the last sailing from Pembroke to Rosslare, the Oscar Wilde's departure at 08.45 is on Wednesday 24 December.

There are no sailings on Christmas Day or Boxing Day, and the first UK-bound ferry is the 08.05 sailing from Dublin on Saturday 27 December, followed by five more sailings during the course of the day.

 

Published in Ferry

#ICGresultsQ3- A revenue rise of 10.3% for Irish Continental Group (parent company of Irish Ferries) was achieved in the three months to the end of September, while operating profit increased to €23.8 million on the back of increased passenger numbers.

An interim management statement from the firm showed revenue rose to €93.4 million, while earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (ebitda) rose to €28.1 million, compared with €26.9 million in the same quarter in 2013.

Fuel costs in the quarter were €14.3 million, up from €12.7 million during the same period in 2013, due to the additional sailings of the ro-pax Epsilon.

For further details see yesterday's Irish Times report by clicking here.

 

Published in Ferry

#FerryCaptainInterviewCaptain Paul Sellers, master of Irish Ferries chartered ro-pax ferry Epsilon, talks about his seafaring career to Jehan Ashmore, and the vessel which serves the core Dublin-Holyhead route in addition the new direct link to France, between the Irish capital and Cherbourg.

Passengers on the 26,375 tonnes Epsilon have economy style service facilities that include a bar, cafeteria, self-service restaurant, two and four berth cabins and free wi-fi service. In addition the ro-pax has boosted vehicle deck space capacity with approximately 2,860 lane metres.

The 19 hour French route augments the cruiseferry operations of the Oscar Wilde on the Rosslare-Cherbourg route and the seasonal-only service to Roscoff.

Where did you study for your seamanship qualifications and what was the most challenging aspect involved?

I studied at Hull Nautical College for both Pre-Sea and the Second Mates and then with the demise of this fine institution I continued with my Chief Mates and Masters Certificates at South Tyneside College South Shields.

Sections of algebra, particularly differentiation I found at times quite challenging, but fortunately my girlfriend and later my wife Julie was a maths graduate and could help me out with that. Also Meteorology could be an enigma, however one day the penny drop and it all became clear ...'hot air rises'

How long was your deep-sea career and where in the world did this take you?

My deep sea career lasted 18 years and took me to all parts of the world with the exception of main land China and East Africa, the rest of the world was pretty much covered during that period.

Describe your thoughts on having your first command, the name of ship and company?

I was fortunate to be promoted to Master in a ship I was serving as Chief Officer in so I was comfortable with the vessel and those I worked with. The ship was an English Channel ro-pax vessel operated by Norfolk line in the Dover Straits between Dover and Dunkirk, this being the mv Northern Merchant.

She was a fine ship to command being predictable and very manoeuvrable, but still a sharp learning curve when you first start. It was a little strange at first I remember walking down the alleyway and someone called 'Captain' I continued to walk they called again, then I realised they meant me ...I was now the Captain!

Also the second mate asked me to look at something one day which was not working, I asked him what he usually did when this happened before, he said I send for the Captain ...and I thought right I am now expected to know all the answers now.

capt_paul_sellers.jpg

 

Captain Paul Sellers

Why did you move from a career working in deep-sea to a short-sea role?

The long trips of between 4/6 months then were not compatible with a good family life , I had luckily secured a position which was 2 months on and off but there was no realistic chance of early promotion so I thought I would try and secure some relief work on Ferries during my leave.

I was offered some work with Stena which lead to further work which I enjoyed and they seemed to like me as the offered me a full time position and I left deep sea for the cut and thrust of the Ferry world.

Can you outline your career path and how this led to your current role as master of Epsilon.

A varied career on different vessel types serving with Blue Star for 14 years from cadet to Chief Officer then 2 years as Chief Officer with Curnow on RMS St .Helena.

Following this 4 years were spent altogether with Stena, the first 2 years were on conventional ships then appointed to the revolutionary first HSS Stena Explorer where I was 1st Officer over 2 very interesting years.

I then went back deep seas for two years with P&O /Princess Cruises as 1st Officer which was great for seeing the world but professionally not too rewarding and hankered back for ferries and was offered a job in Dover with new start operator Norfolk Line initially as Chief Officer and was promoted Master with the year. I have sailed Master ever since with Norfolk Line/Maersk and last 6 years with Irish Ferries.

In November 2013, I was appointed Senior Master of Epsilon and went out to Messina in Sicily to take (as previously reported on Afloat.ie), the delivery voyage of the then mv Cartour Epsilon to Ireland.

The introduction of the ro-pax required a new crew to settle into service over a six week period which proved to be both interesting and challenging in equal measure. This proved to be ultimately a very rewarding experience as we now have a built up a happy crew and a good hardworking ship.

What are the main operational differences on the Epsilon between serving the Irish Sea route and those on the longer run to France?

The weather although can be severe as this last winter has shown the Irish Sea is not as exposed as the long trip to France as once south of the Tuskar Rock you are at the mercy of the weather coming in from the Atlantic. So the weather needs to be watched carefully for our passage through the Celtic sea and rounding Lands End and into the western English Channel.

The vessel is robust and on the whole a very good sea ship but she is not invincible as no vessel is and consideration needs to be given when undertaking certain voyages. This may involve delays so to allow very severe weather systems to pass through and navigate her carefully during these periods when on the French run, which can be many hours on the bridge but this is the nature of the FerryMasters position and goes very much with the territory.

How do you find the performance of the Cantiere Navale Visentini built ro-pax Epsilon in terms of her efficiency and that of passenger accommodation?

These vessels offer the operators a very cost effective platform as there are efficient load carriers with good lane meterage for their size and the fuel running consumption/cost are good. The overall package and costs are therefore attractive and appealing to the operators.

The interiors and features may not be as luxurious as other Cruise Ferries in the market place but they do serve a particular sector which is looking for a more cost effective option. Our feedback from Passengers both Tourist and Commercial Drivers is very positive.

Also there is a good reserve of speed available in this class of vessel to catch up if running late to maintain schedule.

What service speed is required? to meet the Dublin-Holyhead route and that of the weekend round trip service on the Dublin-Cherbourg route?

On the Dublin-Holyhead route this is 21 Knots and on the Dublin-Cherbourg service this is 22 Knots, though we can comfortably do 23 knots and have witnessed the vessel achieve 25 knots so we have a little reserve for bad weather.

In having the responsibility of master, what are the main challenges and also the highpoints?

The Master role is a varied at time difficult but rewarding one. The main challenge is to keep everything and everyone together. The ship must trade but at all times ensure that all regulations met and company requirement are observed, it can be at times a bit of a balancing act.

Rewards are achieving this, particularly when the weather is challenging there are additional stresses and pressures in berthing and un-berthing and maintaining the vessel schedule.

Cafe_Lafayette__Lounge.jpg

Cafe Lafayette lounge

Published in Ferry
Page 7 of 17

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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