#FerryFestive – In this week of Christmas Day, ferries on the Irish Sea are as expected to transport thousands of extra passengers as they prepare to embark making travel plans, writes Jehan Ashmore.
For information on sailings dates and schedules visit the ferry operator websites.
WALES-IRELAND (CENTRAL CORRIDOR)
Holyhead-Dublin Port (Irish Ferries)
Irish Ferries have recently transferred the 1,458-passenger Oscar Wilde ferry on to the premier central corridor Wales-Ireland route of Holyhead-Dublin. The cruiseferry having ended Ireland-France duties of Rosslare-Cherbourg sailings for 2016.
Oscar Wilde will assist the influx of inbound traffic bound for Ireland on the Holyhead-Dublin route. In addition traffic demand will also be taken by regular ferries Ulysses, Epsilon and fast-craft Dublin Swift.
Holyhead-Dublin Port (Stena Line)
Also operating on this key Wales-Ireland route is Stena Line which will too be kept busy on the Holyhead-Dublin Port. The route is run by route partners Stena Adventurer and relative newcomer Stena Superfast X which made a debut in 2015.
Liverpool-Dublin (P&O Ferries)
The longer central corridor route linking Liverpool to Dublin are served by P&O Ferries trio, sisters Norbank and Norbay along with European Endeavour.
Noting P&O Ferries on the Mersey-Liffey service do ‘not’ accommodate ‘foot’ passengers.
Liverpool-Dublin (Seatruck Ferries)
Also operating this route Seatruck which is a dedicated freight operator, have a limited service available for passengers (accompanied by motorhomes and cars). In addition Seatruck operate Heysham-Dublin again providing a motorists-only service.
WALES-IRELAND (SOUTHERN CORRIDOR)
Fishguard-Rosslare (Stena Line)
On the St. Georges Channel crossing, Stena's Fishguard-Rosslare route is operated by Stena Europe.
Pembroke-Rosslare (Irish Ferries)
Also on the Wales-Ireland link, Irish Ferries have Isle of Inishmore running Pembroke-Rosslare.
UK- N.IRELAND (NORTH CHANNEL / IRISH SEA)
For information on UK-Northern Ireland operators (except Irish Ferries) visit their respective websites.
ISLE OF MAN -IRELAND
Douglas-Dublin (IOM Steam-Packet)
As previously reported on Afloat.ie, Isle of Man Steam-Packet’s future plans and referred special festive seasonal Douglas-Dublin sailings, which since coverage however at this stage only apply to post Christmas Day sailings.
On Boxing Day there is a Douglas-Dublin sailing which docks in the Irish capital in the early hours of 27 December. A return leg to the Isle of Man departs the same day at 01.00hrs.
#BerthingTrials – A pair of car ferries were on the Waterford Estuary link of Passage East-Ballyhack yesterday but only one vessel was actually operating in service, writes Jehan Ashmore.
Foyle Venture (44 vehicle/300 passenger) was carrying out 'berthing trials' for the Passage East Ferry Company service operated by the routine ferry F.B.D. Tintarn (28 vehicle/130 passenger). The south-east service provides commuters a short cut connecting Waterford City and the Wexford region.
The Ulster ferry had previously stopped winter service of the Lough Foyle Ferry Company's Greencastle-Magilligan Point route. Sailings are to resume between Donegal and Derry in Spring 2017.
The established ferry service in Leinster was founded in 1982 by Derek Donnelly who announced his retirement from the business earlier this year. In that timeframe Dunbrody and Edmund D have run the shuttle service until the current ferry FBD Tintarn. This ferry has been in service for a decade having made a debut in December 2006.
As Afloat covered in May the operation was sold to Frazer Ferries, the Limerick based company behind Carlingford Ferries that has proposed a new service in Northern Ireland. As for the Passage East based ferry FBD Tintarn, the prefix refers to FBD Holdings plc which retains a 70% share in the business, arising out of a legacy investment.
Afloat noted Foyle Venture had berthed in Waterford City earlier this week along the Frank Cassin Wharf, the former Bell Liner container terminal.
The ferry has since returned to the same city berth which in recent years was occupied by a passenger freight-ferry that had a wartime role. Afloat will have more on this soon.
#AranIslands - An Oireachtas committee on Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht were addressed (yesterday) by a group of representatives from Inis Mór, the largest of the Aran Islands as a dispute over a ferry service to the island continues.
RTE News reports that Cathy Ní Ghoill, from the co-op on Inis Mór, said islanders have been battling for four years to keep basic services like air and ferry connections, and a change of policy is needed.
Local secondary school principal Micheál Ó Cualáin said a reliable air and ferry service was essential to bring teachers to and from the mainland.
For more on this ongoing story, click here.
#[email protected] - DFDS celebrates its 150th anniversary today, the giant Danish ferry and freight operator is northern Europe’s largest integrated shipping and logistics company which includes container operations connecting Ireland, writes Jehan Ashmore.
On 11 December 1866, the famous Danish industrialist Carl Frederik Tietgen formed Det Forende Dampskibs-Selskab (The United Steamship Company) DFDS, following the merger of three of the nation’s largest steamship lines of the day. DFDS became a domestic and international shipping company, carrying both goods and passengers throughout the North Sea and the Baltic, later expanding to the Mediterranean. For decades, DFDS also sailed routes to the Americas, but closed in 1935 albeit a brief return to the US with a New York-Bahamas-Miami service in the early 1980's.
The DFDS Group currently has a network of around 30 routes and 50 passenger ships and freight ships involving ports in Ireland, the UK, France, Holland, Germany, Denmark, Norway, Sweden and the Baltic region. Afloat in the summer reported on the North Sea Tall Ships Race 'Parade of Sail' hosted by the Port of Blyth where DFDS Seaways cruiseferry Princess Seaways made a special excursion for spectators to view the ‘Parade of Sail’.
A sister, King Seaways (see photo above) also operates the Newcastle-Amsterdam (Ijmuiden) route. Beforehand she was an Ireland-France serving ferry, Val de Loire of Brittany Ferries which was introduced in 1993. Prior to entering service the bow was rebuilt to cope with notably notorious Bay of Biscay weather conditions when also operating UK-Spain services and a France-UK link.
A slanted forward superstructure was also added. Having made a crossing from Ireland this area revealed an internal observation zone. While on the deck directly above this too was a viewing area but exposed to the open elements.
One of the Danish shipping group's subsidiaries, DFDS Logistics operates container services connecting Ireland, Belgium and The Netherlands. This involves a network of ports: Dublin, Cork, Waterford (see previous coverage) and Belfast with European ports of Antwerp and Rotterdam.
A decade ago in 2006, DFDS had acquired Norfolk Line Containers BV, the Dutch operator having previously introduced a pair of newbuild sisters given names to reflect the geographic regions they served. They were Maerk Westland and Maersk Waterford which was aptly named at the Port of Waterford (Belview). An opportunity arose to board the brand new vessel was taken months later at its namesake port where Irish owned former Bell Lines were once the 'Kings' of a similar service.
The south-east port is Ireland's nearest to that of mainland continental Europe, noting in the early stages a joint Norfolkline / Marline service saw en-route calls via Cherbourg.
Four years after DFDS acquired the Dutch container subsidiary, the Danes for first time entered the Irish Sea ferry marketplace in 2010. This arose following DFDS largest and most important decision in its history by acquiring the remaining businesses of Norfolkline, from another yet even larger Danish clongomerate, AP Møller-Maersk. These pale-blue hulled ships are very much a familiar sight as they operate worldwide.
The purchase transformed the DFDS Group into a major shipping company. Albeit the presence of the ‘Maltese’ cross symbol synonymous with the company would only be around a mere six months.
Another Scandinavian shipping heavyweight, as Afloat reported almost six years ago was Stena's £40m acquisition deal of DFDS Irish Sea's unprofitable routes over the winter of 2010/2011. The Swedish-based ferry operator took over freight-only Belfast-Heysham route along with Belfast-(Birkenhead) Liverpool but not the closed Dublin-Heysham /Liverpool links.
It was on the Dublin route that sisters Dublin Seaways and Liverpool Seaways served, however the ropax pair are now operating far away from the Irish Sea.
Dublin Seaways is serving in the southern hemisphere for operator Bluebridge linking New Zealand’s north and south islands. The Cook Strait service is where other former Irish Sea ferries operate.
As for Liverpool Seaways (for photo at Dublin Port, scroll down page) she surprisingly still retains the Mersey link name. In addition she remains with DFDS in Scandinavia plying the Baltic Sea between Kapellskär, Sweden and Paldiski, Estonia.
The ramps on the vessel reports BBC News which was specifically built for the Strangford Lough crossing, will have to be modified before it can be used.
As it stands, cars would be unable to disembark from the vessel at high tide.
The Stormont Executive paid £5.7m for the bespoke ferry.
It is intended for use on the half-mile crossing between Portaferry and Strangford.
During recent sea trials in Strangford Lough, it emerged that the ramps on the ferry do not drop low enough to allow cars to drive off them when the ferry docks at high tide, as the ramps stop before they reach the slipway.
For much more including photos of the newbuild's ramps click here.
#FerryFuture - Nationalisation or acquisition of the Isle of Man Steam Packet, franchising of ferry services to a private operator and keeping or extending the user agreement are among options being reviewed as part of a proposed new sea services policy.
But no decision writes IOM Today will be made on whether or not to accept the Steam Packet’s £170m offer [including a pair of newbuilds] to government until the April Tynwald.
Infrastructure Minister Ray Harmer MHK will seek Tynwald support this month for the next step in his department’s bid to secure reliable and affordable lifeline ferry services into the future.
Members will be called on to endorse the Strategic Sea Services Policy which suggests that a level of state intervention is needed in ferry services. For more click here.
Afloat adds that the historic company dating to 1830 operates a network of routes including summer services among them Douglas-Belfast and Douglas-Dublin. In addition sailings between the Manx and Irish capitals during the festive season operating on selected dates.
#FreightRise - Freight levels at Seatruck have grown by a third with further gains expected in the coming months as the Port of Heysham now has a new £125m Bay Gateway relief road.
The operator headquartered at the port according to Insider Media has revealed that freight levels so far in November 2016 have been 30% up on November 2015.
Chief executive Alistair Eagles also forecasted that Seatruck will win even more business from hauliers switching ferry operators as a result of the opening of the relief road on 31 October 2016. The route bypasses the previous bottleneck of Lancaster, slashing journey times between the M6 and the port.
He said: "The new Bay Gateway relief road is a game changer. It sends a massive message to the transport industry that the Port of Heysham is now a hugely more competitive alternative to more remote ports like Holyhead and Cairnryan.
"Hauliers no longer have to wrestle with congestion around Lancaster and the Heysham peninsula."
In October, Seatruck added a larger vessel Clipper Point to its Heysham-Dublin route, almost doubling capacity. At the same time, the company added a fourth vessel, Clipper Ranger to its Liverpool-Dublin service.
#AranIslands - Ferry services to Inis Mór, the largest of the Aran Islands will resume this evening, while talks continue to find a long term solution with regard to a year-round service.
The Connacht Tribune writes that Island Ferries, Gaeltacht Minister Sean Kyne and County CEO Kevin Kelly met for talks this morning as Inis Mór residents faced into a second day without a ferry service.
The Island Ferries service ceased on Wednesday, and was due to remain out of action until March.
Last evening, County Councillors gave CEO Kevin Kelly a mandate to meet with Island Ferries on their behalf.
Today’s meeting was also attended by Gaeltacht Minister Sean Kyne and as Afloat previously covered he had called for the Naval Service to provide a short-term service to residents.
In a statement to NewsBreak, Galway County Council has confirmed that Island Ferries, as a gesture of goodwill, will resume its service to Inis Mor from 5 this evening until January 4th.
In the interim, talks will continue in a bid to ensure a year-round service for islanders and visitors.
#AranIslands - The use of the Irish Naval Service to provide a short-term service to residents on Inis Mór (largest of the Oileán Árann /Aran Islands) is being explored by Gaeltacht Minister Sean Kyne.
As Galway Bay FM reports the proposal follows the planned withdrawal of the winter service to the largest Aran Island until March 2017, with the last ferry set to depart at 6pm this evening (yesterday, 30th November).
Operator Island Ferries Teoranta has reaffirmed it’s intention to suspend the service – citing the ‘negative fiscal conditions’ created by the local authority with the introduction of passenger levies.
For more on the developing story, click here.
Afloat.ie adds that vital sea transportation links to Inis Mór are still been maintained albeit by a cargo-only operator, Lasta Mara Teoranta. This company serves the three islands from the mainland not just out of Rossaveel in Connemara but also Galway Port.
As of this morning Afloat.ie monitored their coastal freighter MV Bláth na Mara that departed Inis Oirr bound for Galway Port's outer pier. This is the final leg of a round trip that previously included calls firstly to Inis Mór followed by Inis Meáin.
Another crises that faced islanders was in August when Lasta Mara's other freight ro-ro vessel MV Chateau-Thierry came to the aid of two of three islands with generators that were used to restore electricity. This followed power-cuts caused by a damaged subsea cable connecting the mainland.
#SeaTrials – Off the Leinster seaboard an Arklow built car ferry contracted by Northern Ireland’s Department of Infrastructure continues to carry out sea trials today, writes Jehan Ashmore.
As previously reported on Afloat.ie the Spirit of Rathlin, a 6 vehicle /140 passenger capacity ferry was launched in September by Arklow Marine Services for the Ballycastle-Rathlin Island route.
The twin-screw car ferry with Belfast as a port of registry departed Arklow from where this morning the 28m long vessel with a beam of 8m is currently underway on sea trials.
Earlier this month the identity of the new operator of the Co. Antrim service to use Spirit of Rathlin following a procurement process was according to Dfi to be announced shortly.
It is rare to have an Irish built car-ferry as previously reported when the newbuild was hoisted from the North Quay in Arklow to be lowered into the River Avoca. The yard owned by the famous Tyrrell family whose generations have built small ships and boats at the shipyard stretching to 1864.
The yards founder John Tyrell opened the boatbuilding facility then on the south quays of the river. In more recent years one of the yard's most iconic vessels built was the brigantine Asgard II. This two-masted tallship was the Irish state’s first custom built sail training vessel launched in 1984.
In terms of car ferry construction the yard for example built in 1999 the Ikom K a 4 car / 60 passenger capacity ferry and likewise of Spirit of Rathin ordered for domestic service. The Ikom K though operates for clients in southern waters for owners Murphy Ferry Service linking Castetownbere to Bere Island, Co. Cork.