Displaying items by tag: Seasonal service
#KintyreService – Operator Caledonian MacBrayne (CalMac) during 2016 carried more than 5m passengers, began crossings mid-week on the seasonal Ardrossan-Campbeltown route, writes Jehan Ashmore.
Calmac the largest UK ferry operator achieved the 5m figure which was their busiest in more than two decades. A fleet of 32 serve a network of 20 routes stretching 200 miles from the Mull of Kintyre in the south and as far north to the Isle of Lewis, Outer Hebrides.
This will be the second year that Calmac are to operate the Kintyre service on a permanent basis following a three-year pilot period served by Isle of Arran. The 446 passenger, 68 car and 8 lorry capacity vessel returned to the route on Thursday. The southernmost route provides a tourist 'gateway' to the Kintyre Peninsula and a considerable saving on mileage.
In addition Isle of Arran, the oldest of the larger ferry fleet dating to 1984 and based out of Ardrossan is to boost capacity on the busier Forth of Clyde route to Arran. The Ardrossan-Brodick service is maintained year-round by Caledonian Isles that caters for 1,000 passengers, 120 cars and 10 lorries.
As previously reported on Afloat, Campeltown is also where the ‘passenger’ only Kintyre Express service began in Easter seasonal sailings too but to Northern Ireland using Ballycastle. These RIB craft operated crossings to and from the Antrim harbour are also where the Rathlin Ferry Co currently employ Canna, a former Calmac ferry.
The ‘Island’ class Canna dating to 1976, shares the route along with passenger only Rathlin Express, though the car ferry is to be replaced by newbuild Spirit of Rathlin. According to the operator's website, the new car ferry is expected to enter service in a couple of weeks.
Stena Line's HSS fast-ferry the Stena Explorer will be re-introduced on its Dun Laoghaire to Holyhead route this Friday, writes Jehan Ashmore.
The HSS (High Speed Service) operated 19,638 tonnes craft will run between 1 April to 13 September to cope with the additional demand over the summer period.
A single daily round trip is scheduled with a 10.00 hours sailing from Holyhead and a 13.15 hours sailing from Dun Laoghaire. Passage time is 120 minutes (2 hours).
The HSS can 350 vehicles and with 1500 passengers, the craft can handle higher volumes of seasonal summer foot passengers compared to the last route serving vessel, the 4,113 tonnes Stena Lynx III. The return of the HSS service links in with those intending to make onward journeys from Dun Laoghaire's DART commuter rail service to Dublin city centre and beyond on the national rail network.
Up to early January the route had been served by the Stena Lynx III which remains moored alongside Dun Laoghaire's St. Michaels Wharf. The craft which can take 627 passengers and 120 cars and marketed as the Stena 'Express' is to resume high season sailings starting in July between Rosslare-Fishguard.
In total the company carries over two million passengers on its four Irish Sea routes each year. An additional route between Belfast-Liverpool (Birkenhead) was taken over by the Swedish owned ferry company from DFDS Seaways late last year, is subject to regulatory clearance.
Until such clearance has been granted, this route will be operated separately from all other Stena Line routes. In the meantime the company advise until further notice to make bookings which will remain acceptable through the use of the DFDS website.
According to Stena Line over 70% of its passengers business is carried by the HSS Stena Explorer in the high season. It is felt that the 1996 Finnish built fast-craft is better suited for the service due to a loyal customer base which was reflected by repeat bookings and their preference of the HSS craft on the 120 minute (2 hour) route.
A daily single round trip is scheduled with sailings from Dun Laoghaire to Holyhead departing at 13:15hrs. The corresponding sailing from the Anglesey port departs at 10.00hrs and arrives at the Irish port at 12 noon. Sailings will operate through the summer until 13 September.
From there on Stena will make a decision as to its continuing schedule, though it is widely believed that the prospects of the fuel-thirsty, expensive to run HSS fast-craft service are likely to be at an end of an era.
Last month negotiations over the core issue of harbour fees were held between Stena Line and Dun Laoghaire Harbour Company. It is understood that the annual fee of €6.5m was dropped to €2m. The board of the harbour company has given a 'conditional green light' of a new ferry contract to Stena Line to run the service for the next two years with an option of a third year.
The service closed for its seasonal break earlier this year on 5 January with the 'Lynx' going into temporary lay-up at Holyhead's inner harbour to join the HSS Stena Explorer. The HSS had been 'wintering' at the port since September sailings were taken over by the Lynx.
Earlier this month the Stena Lynx III came to Dun Laoghaire to continue her lay-up period. The 1996 Tasmanian built craft will stay there before resuming seasonal sailings between Rosslare-Fishguard in tandem with the conventional ferry Stena Europe.
In the meantime the craft is berthed at the harbour's two-berth ferry terminal at St. Michaels Wharf. The HSS berth is only designed for this type of fast-craft whereas the other berth now occupied by the Lynx was built originally for conventional ferries but was re-configured last year to suit the fast-craft.