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Displaying items by tag: Pride of Bilbao

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 Ferry
A ferry service to Spain is to start today, which had been previously served by the Irish Continental Group (ICG) owned cruiseferry Pride of Bilbao, writes Jehan Ashmore.
Brittany Ferries 32,728 tonnes Cap Finistere will re-open the Portsmouth-Bilbao route following P&O Ferries closure last September. Since the route opened in 1993 the 37,583 tonnes Pride of Bilbao has been on charter to P&O, initially from her owners Viking Line. In the following year she was sold to the ICG group, a parent company of Irish Ferries.

The Cap Finistere has a 790 passenger / 500 vehicle capacity and the vessel will operate two round trips weekly with each crossing taking 24 hours. Interestingly an additional en-route call to Roscoff is scheduled on Sunday sailings bound for Bilbao which will take 33-hours. This is to facilitate a crew change, as the Cap Finistere does not operate on any of the company routes from France.

In 2009 the P&O service carried 180,000 passengers and 193,000 in 2008 but closed due to "unsustainable losses". There were 800 redundancies but some 150 staff jobs were secured through transfer. Click here for a previous posting. The company were in direct competition with Brittany Ferries existing two routes between Plymouth and Poole to Santander.

The Bilbao route brings the Brittany Ferries operations to five sailings weekly between the UK to Spain, two from Portsmouth to Santander and a single round-trip to Plymouth.

The Pride of Bilbao was sold late last year by ICG to the Baltic Sea based St. Peter Line at a profit of €9.4m. The vessel underwent refurbishment and was renamed Princess Anastasia and next month starts a new St. Petersburg-Stockholm service, with Russian bound sailings calling en route to
the Estonian capital of Tallinn. Click here for more details.

Pride of Bilbao's return to the Baltic is nearly full-circle as the 2,553 passenger / 600 vehicles vessel, built in 1986 as Olympia for Viking Line's also operated out of Stockholm to Helsinki, and at the time was one of the largest overnight passenger capacity ferries in the world.

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
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 cruiseferry, Pride of Bilbao, owned by the Irish Continental Group (ICG) made the last return sailing on the Portsmouth-Bilbao route, when the vessel
docked at the UK port yesterday (28 September), writes Jehan Ashmore.

Route operater P&O Ferries decided to close the Iberian service due to "unsustainable losses". The withdrawel of the twice weekly service has shed about 800 staff, though the future of 150 employees remains secured through internal transfer.

The service was launched in 1993 with the chartering of Pride of Bilbao. In the following year, the overnight cruiseferry, owned by Vilking Line was acquired by ICG (the parent company of Irish Ferries) and the vessel was re-registered in the Bahamas.

The vessel was placed under a British bare-boat register. The charter arrangement between P&O Ferries and ICG was extended for another five years in 2002 and again for a further three years from 2007. The final charter term remained valid up to the route closure.

Orginally the Pride of Bilbao was built for Scandinavian service as the Olympia in 1986. The newbuild was launched on Viking Line's Helsinki-Stockholm route and at the time the vessel was one of the largest overnight passenger capacity ferries in the world. At 37,583 tonnes the vessel has 2,553 passengers and space for 600 vehicles. In addition the cruiseferry has comprehensive facilities and a wide choice of cabin accommodation.

The closure of the Bilbao route is temporary as Brittany Ferries are to re-launch the route in Spring 2011. The French ferry company's existing Portsmouth - Santander route ferry, Cap Finistère will also provide two sailings weekly to Bilbao. In total the there will be five sailings weekly between the UK to Spain, two from Portsmouth to Santander and a single round-trip to Plymouth. Other vessels from the Brittany Ferries fleet will assist Cap Finistere on the three Spanish routes.

After 17 years plying the Bay of Biscay, the Pride of Bilbao is now freed-up providing new opportunities for the ICG vessel. Throughout the vessel's career
under ICG, the cruiseferry has only made a single visit to an Irish port. The ship was sub-chartered for a three-day Christmas mini-cruise to Dublin in 2004 starting and ending in Portsmouth. 

Published in Ports & Shipping

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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