Menu

Ireland's sailing, boating & maritime magazine

In association with ISA Logo Irish Sailing

Ferries and Ferry News from Ireland
A visual montage of how Brittany Ferries newbuild of the Stena E-Flexer series will be when introduced on the long-haul UK-Spain routes, among them Portsmouth (above) which will be the hub-port for both sisters with the first due in service in 2021. Afloat also adds directly beyond the newbuild in the background is the current main Portsmouth-Spain cruiseferry, Cap Finistère seen arriving to the ferryport.
#FerryNews - Brittany Ferries has confirmed recently the charter of two brand new cruise-ferries to serve its long-haul UK to Spain routes. Both ships adds Afloat are of the Stena E-Flexer design (see Stena Line Irish Sea debut in 2020)…
In this amidships view of Stena Carrier, the imposing length of the ro-ro freight vessel is clearly demonstrated alongside Carlisle Pier, Dun Laoghaire Harbour. At 182.77m the vessel is the longest of its type to dock in the port as well as been the largest in gross tonnage terms.  In fact the ship is larger than the former fastferry HSS Stena Explorer which carried out its final crossing in September 2014, marking the end of the historic Holyhead route.
#FerryNews - Stena Carrier, the ro-ro freight-only ferry that made a notable call to Dun Laoghaire Harbour at the end of April, finally departed the former Stena HSS ferryport last week for further charter work with P&O, writes Jehan Ashmore.…
Ferry operator Stena has revealed the Irish Sea route, Holyhead-Dublin will be the first to get new type of vessel, the E-Flexer class in early 2020. A further pair of the new series as previously reported on Afloat are planned to be introduced on the Liverpool-Belfast route also in 2020 and 2021.
#FerryNews - Ferry operator, Stena Line is set to bring a new giant vessel on the Holyhead-Dublin route reports Daily Post Wales. Stena Line has confirmed that the first of its new RoPax ferries currently under construction in China is…
The ‘Star of Doolin’ – the fastest and most eco-friendly passenger cruise ship on the western seaboard – sailed in for the first time following its weekend long trip back from La Rochelle, France where it was built. The ship will operate to the Aran Islands and Cliffs of Moher under the flag of the Garrihy family’s Doolin2Aran passenger ferry company, which invested €3m in the vessel. Pictured is The Star of Doolin flanked by The Jack B and Doolin Discovery arriving into Doolin Pier Co Clare
The Aran Islands got closer this week as the fastest and most eco-friendly passenger cruise ship to operate on the western seaboard sailed into Doolin for the first time following a €3m investment. The Doolin2Aran operated ‘Star of Doolin’ completed…
Plaid Cymru MPs hit out after it emerges while Brexit Ministers have visited other UK ports they have not visited any in Wales among them Holyhead as above
#FerryNews - UK Brexit ministers in charge of negotiations on behalf of the Government have not visited Welsh ports since the referendum in June 2016. In a House of Commons Parliamentary Question by Arfon Plaid Cymru MP Hywel Williams it…
Stunning scenery: Calf of Man, off the south-west of the Isle of Man from where the Steam-Packet is to operate from Douglas the popular annual 'Round the Island' cruise on 23 June.
#FerryNews - What about taking a novel excursion this summer as the Isle of Man Steam Packet offer the popular annual 'Round the Island' cruise this month, bringing an opportunity to take in the spectacular Manx coastline. The Steam-Packet which…
Officials at the launch ceremony to unveil the opening of the new link-span at Heysham Port which took place last week.
#FerryNews- Heysham Port on the Irish Sea, is where a new link-span bridge was officially unveiled, as part of £10m investment by the port owner-operator Peel Ports to increase throughput at the Lancashire port in north-west England.   The investment according…
Manx Treasury Minister Alfred Cannan signs the formal agreement to control the sea services shifted to the island's government.
#FerryNews- The Manx Treasury chief has put pen to paper to seal multi-million pound takeover. IOM Today reports that the Government has completed a deal to purchase the Steam Packet Company. Tynwald members overwhelmingly supported the £124m of what Chief…
The trio of ferries that CMAL are involved in a deal with the Northern Isles service operated by NorthLink's network of routes between Scotland, Orkney and the Shetland Isles in the North Sea.  In the top photo is MV Hamnavoe: Scrabster-Stromness (Orkney) and below larger half-sisters MV Hjaltland and MV Hrossey that serve the main longer Aberdeen-Orkney-Shetland routes.
#FerryNews - Caledonian Maritime Assets Ltd (CMAL) with loan funding from the Scottish Government has agreed to acquire three Northlink passenger ferries serving the Northern Isles, writes Jehan Ashmore. The deal announced in rcent weeks, sees CMAL purchase outright the…
IOM Steam Packets' ropax ferry Ben-my-Chree sailing in rough seas.
#FerryNews - Manx history was made as the islands parliament, the Tynwald voted to take the Isle of Man Steam Packet into public ownership (last) week. Following a three-hour debate, reports IOMToday, Tynwald voted by 23 votes to one in…
DFDS closed the only Scotland-Belgium 'ro-ro freight-only' route last month. Afloat adds that the original service began in 2002 with 'passenger' and freight sailings served by Superfast's Blue Star Ferries whose Blue Star 1 passes under the Forth Bridge en-route for Zeebrugge. This port is where 'Brexit-Buster' ro-ro only vehicle giant Celine (operated by CLnd)  has a direct service to Dublin and Rotterdam, The Netherlands.
#FerryNews - Scottish M.P. for Dunfermline and West Fife, Douglas Chapman has held "positive" talks about a new passenger and freight ferry service between Rosyth and Belgium. As the Dunfermline Express writes the M.P. believes Brexit could actually enhance the…
Main Arran-Ardrossan ferry, Caledonian Isles underway on the Firth of Clyde operates for CalMac.
#FerryNews - In south-west Scotland, the Arran Ferry Committee has urged the powers that be to keep the ferry travelling to Ardrossan during the planned upgrades at the Harbour. The committee met on Monday, May 14 and numerous groups, businesses…
In a troika involving Irish Shipping Ltd, M.V. Leopard (originally in all white livery) began the first ever direct Ireland-mainland continental Europe passenger/car ferry service 50 years ago this month between Rosslare and Le Havre, France. In addition to running later in the winter of 1968 a UK-Iberia-Africa service. Above: the 6,000 tonnes French flagged ferry is seen in 1979 with pale blue colours of P&O Normandy Ferries which acquired the ship three years previously and still operated on the English Channel. Before the ship left northern Europe, she spent a stint on the North Channel for Townsend Thoresen.
#FerryNews - The first ever direct Ireland-mainland continental Europe ferry service began on this date 50 years ago when on 17 May, 1968, M.V. Leopard made a historic crossing from Rosslare to Le Havre, France, writes Jehan Ashmore. The pioneering…
Manx politician Lawrie Hooper, MHK wants islanders to have a stake in the government's approval to acquire the IOM Steam-Packet
#FerryNews - The Manx public should have the chance to share in the fortunes of the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company in the years to come. That's the view of Ramsey Member of the House of Keys (MHK) Lawrie…
Tynwald, the Manx Parliament makes history as it backs the Isle of Man Steam Packet take-over. Above Afloat adds is the operator's main ferry, the ropax Ben-My-Chree docked in Douglas Harbour.
#FerryNews - Tynwald, the Manx Parliament made history as it voted to take the Isle of Man Steam Packet into public ownership. According to IOM Today, following a three hour debate, Tynwald voted by 23 votes to one in the…
Twelve Quays Terminal in Birkenhead on the Wirral Peninsula, Merseyside where major works are to take place to enable 'next-generation' ro-ro ferries that Stena Line are to introduce on the Belfast route from next year
#FerryNews - Major works are to be carried out at an Irish Sea ferryport at the Wirral dock connecting Merseyside with Northern Ireland, as a scheme to accommodate bigger ferries is completed. As the Wirral Globe reports, the works will…

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!

Featured Sailing School

INSS sidebutton

Featured Clubs

DBSC
Howth Yacht Club
Kinsale Yacht Club
National Yacht Club
Royal Cork Yacht Club
Royal Irish Yacht club
Royal Saint George Yacht Club

Featured Brokers

mgm sidebutton

bjmarine sidebutton
xyachts sidebutton

Featured Associations

ISA sidebutton
ICRA
isora sidebutton

Featured Events

tokyo sidebutton
sovscup sidebutton
vdlr sidebutton

Featured Chandleries

CHMarine Afloat logo
viking sidebutton

Featured Sailmakers

northsails sidebutton
uksails sidebutton

Featured Marinas

dlmarina sidebutton

Featured Blogs

W M Nixon - Sailing on Saturday
podcast sidebutton
BSB sidebutton
sellingboat sidebutton

Please show your support for Afloat by donating