Fastnet Line recorded carrying over 60,000 passengers up to the end of August since the Cork-Swansea route re-opened in March, served by the 21,699 tonnes M.V. Julia, writes Jehan Ashmore.
Commenting on the inaugural season, Paul O'Brien, general manager of Fastnet Line said figures were ahead in June, July and August by an average of 10%. Over 13,000 passengers were carried during July and 15,000 in August on the 10-hour service.
Businesses in the south-west region have reported increased tourism activity and is it from here and in south Wales that many of the shareholders have invested to form the West Cork Tourism Co-operative, which runs Fastnet Line. In 2006, the previous operator of the route, Swansea-Cork Ferries closed the service after selling their vessel, the Superferry to interests abroad.
Marketshare between Ireland and UK passengers appears to be evenly split with the tourist gateway to south-west Ireland proving particularly
popular with Londoners reaching Swansea using the M4 motorway. Motorists can save over 600km /370 miles on the direct round trip compared to alternative ferry routes between Rosslare and Pembrokeshire ports.
During the first two months of operation, booking revenues were in excess of £3m (sterling) alone, with over 15,000 passengers using the 1,860 capacity and freight-ferry, Julia. Unsurprisingly there was a 100% boost in April bookings arising from travel disruption caused by the Icelandic volvanic ash-cloud.
The year-round overnight service operated eight sailings weekly in the high season and is now down to six. Notably there are no Monday sailings as Julia spends a lay-over period at the Ringaskiddy ferry terminal in Cork.
The freight market will continue to be important factor during the offseason with the British Bermuda flagged Julia capable of loading 40 trucks or trailers. As for passengers, Fastnet are promoting short-break and mini-cruise offers only on sailings up to December 21st.