Ireland's sailing, boating & maritime magazine

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Festive Shopping at Sea Day-Trips
#ChristmasShopping – Special €10 day-trip Christmas shopping sailings from Stena Line are available up to18 December on the Dublin Port-Holyhead and Rosslare-Fishguard routes. The special rate will apply to daily trips for foot passengers departing Dublin Port at 8.20am and…
Dublin-Bound Ferry Forced to Return to Anglesey
#FerryReturns – A ferry on the Stena Line Holyhead-Dublin Port had to return to Anglesey after reports of a fire on board. Emergency services were called after smoke was spotted coming from a refrigeration unit on the car deck of…
Transport Minister Welcomes New French Route for Car-Tourism Link from Europe
#France-Ireland - Minister for Transport, Tourism & Sport Leo Varadkar has welcomed a new direct French ferry route linking Cherbourg to Dublin as good news for Irish tourism and will build on the success of The Gathering. "This weekly ferry…
Irish Ferries to Launch New Direct Dublin Port-France Route
#NewFerryRoute - Irish Ferries are to launch in 2014 a new direct passenger car ferry service linking Dublin with the French port of Cherbourg with the first sailing departing from Dublin Port on Saturday 18 January. The once-weekly, year round…
Oscar Wilde to Start New Extra Dublin-Holyhead Sailings
#NewFERRY - As previously reported on, Irish Ferries introduction of Epsilon as a third vessel on the Dublin-Holyhead route will be in mid-December and not tomorrow as previously indicated, writes Jehan Ashmore. During this interim period the new extra…
Celtic Link Ferries Support Chernobyl Ireland
#FerryChernobyl - Celtic Link Ferries are delighted to support Chernobyl Ireland Humanitarian Aid as the charity continue to help the children of Grozovo School in Minsk, Belarus. The ferry operator would like to take the opportunity to wish Chernobyl Ireland…
Second Year of Stena Line Superfast Service
#BelfastCairnryan – Today Stena Line marks the second anniversary in opening the Belfast-Cairnryan route. The £200m investment in new port facilities and a pair of Superfast sisters have proven to be very popular with tourist and freight customers. The introduction…
Stena Line replaces Former Irish Sea Ferry on Sweden-Poland Route
#BrittanyBaltic – Stena Line are to introduce a larger ro-pax vessel on the Karlskrona-Gdynia route next week with Stena Baltica II, the Brittany Ferries former freight-ferry Cotentin (2007/19,909gt), writes Jehan Ashmore. The 2,188 lane metre ro-pax Stena Baltica II which…
Santa’s Ferry-Tale Christmas Cruises
#SantaFerry – Ho! Ho! Ho! as Santa Claus sets sail by swapping his reindeer instead for the Superfast ships on Stena Line's Belfast-Cairnryan route this festive where the operator is hosting Santa at Sea weekend cruises. The magic of Christmas…
Weather Concerns for IOM Steam Packet Sailings
#FerryDisruption – According to, the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company says bad weather this week may mean travel disruption for ferry passengers. Near-gale force winds in the Irish Sea are forecast for later tonight (Wednesday) and early tomorrow,…
Irish Ferries New ‘Epsilon’ Set for November Debut in Run Up to Seasonal Competition
#NewFERRY - As previously reported, Irish Ferries announcement to boost capacity with a third vessel on the core Dublin-Holyhead increases the competitive stakes with rivals Stena Line in the run up to the festive period, writes Jehan Ashmore. The chartering…
Busier Times for Birkenhead
#Birkenhead – Busier times lay ahead for Birkenhead Twelve Quays Terminal next week when Stena Line introduce a third ship on the route to Belfast while today the Isle of Man Steam Packet resumed a winter service, writes Jehan Ashmore.…
P&O to Bring BBC's The One Show's Rickshaw Challenge for Children In Need
#BBCgoesP&O - The BBC One Show's Alex Jones will be passing through the Port of Larne's P&O Ferry terminal tomorrow evening (8 November) as part of the show's Rickshaw Challenge for BBC Children In Need. This eight-day relay challenge will…
Minister Welcomes Boost to Tourism & Trade as Irish Ferries Announce New Vessel
#FerryBOOST- Minister for Transport, Leo Varadkar has welcomed Irish Ferries decision as previously reported, to add two extra daily services on the Holyhead-Dublin route next month and with a new vessel to boost tourism and significantly increase freight capacity. "This…
Irish Ferries Increases Capacity on Irish Sea Dublin to Holyhead Route
#ferry – Irish Ferries is to increase its capacity and frequency on the Dublin to Holyhead route through the introduction of a third ship in December 2013. Currently, the ferry company operates eight sailings per day on the key Irish…
Delayed Freight-Ferry's Launch on Belfast-Liverpool Route
#FreightFerry – Stena Line's plan to launch a freight-only ferry on the Belfast-Liverpool (Birkenhead) on Tuesday as previously reported, has been delayed to next week, writes Jehan Ashmore. Having had technical issues, the 114-trailer capacity Stena Hibernia (1996/13,007grt) also encountered…

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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