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Irish Continental Group (ICG)’s new time-chartered ropax from P&O Ferries is today making its first sailing for Irish Ferries on the Dublin-Holyhead route, in the context of providing a full service except for ‘foot’ passengers, writes Jehan Ashmore.

The Norbay which is on charter for six-months and with the option to extend, is understood to had previously made several sailings on the Dublin-Holyhead route, albeit based on a freight-only mode. As for this afternoon's departure at Terminal 1’s berth 49, which took place on time at 14.30 as some 20 minutes after the mooring ropes had been cast off from the quay, with the Dutch-flagged vessel observed passing through the entrance of the port.

The 120 trailer unit freight-ferry with a 125 passenger capacity and a P&O crew (at time of writing), is currently crossing the Irish Sea and is scheduled to arrive at Holyhead at 1800hrs.

Since Afloat’s last report, Norbay has been monitored at Dublin Port's berth 33 used by CLdN’s large freight-ferries within Alexandra Basin, during a layover period. This was followed yesterday by taking a river-berth at the former P&O Ferries terminal at North Wall Quay Extension, where Seatruck/CLdN also have their Irish Sea and direct mainland Europe operations, which includes today’s officially opened Terminal 4 (T4) as Afloat reported earlier, where the facility is a redeveloped RoRo freight terminal costing €127m.

On completion of discharging and loading at the north Wales port this evening, Norbay is scheduled to depart at 20:15 and sail on the three-hour 30 minute crossing, returning to Dublin at 23:30. On the next day, in the early hours, Norbay departs at 02:00 hrs and arrives at the Anglesey port at 05:25. The next sailing from Wales is at 08:15 hrs with the freight-orientated ferry to berth in the Irish capital at 11.45 hrs, thus completing the full sailing roster of day and night sailings of the ropax’s introductory of Irish Ferries round-trips.

With Norbay making its debut, Irish Ferries now have three vessels operating the Ireland-Wales route, cruise-ferry Ulysses and the ropax Epsilon which also runs on the Dublin-Cherbourg route. In an update (8 Nov.) Norbay has in effect taken over the roster of Epsilon which Afloat tracked last night depart Dublin bound for Cherbourg, to relief cruise-ferry W.B. Yeats which arrived yesterday to Harland & Wolff’s Belfast to undergo annual dry-docking.

The Bermuda-flagged Norbay is to directly replace the Italian flagged Epsilon as the term of the 2011 built ropax is to expire, which is to see the P&O ferry operate the route to Wales and also to France. The vessel has less freight capacity compared to Epsilon's 165 trailer units and space for 500 cars and equally the same number of passengers. 

As for Norbay’s Dutch-flagged twin, Norbank continues to maintain P&O Ferries central Irish Sea corridor route which is experted to cease operations towards the end of next month. As Afloat previously reported, the Peel Ports Group which is an owner and operator of Liverpool, stated that they had no berth availability for P&O Ferries Gladstone Dock facility in 2024.

Published in Irish Ferries