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Dublin based Irish Ferries, owned by Irish Continental Group (ICG) has reported lower pre-tax profits and flat revenues for the six months of this year reports RTE News.

The results from the half-year report to the end of June, is amid the continued return towards pre-pandemic travel patterns after the disruption caused by Covid-19.

The Irish-based maritime transport group said its half year revenues increased by 0.3% to €264m while its pre-tax profits fell by 9.1% to €16.2m from €17.4m the same time last year.

ICG declared an interim dividend of 4.87 cent per share, this is up from the dividend of last year’s 4.64 cent.

In May, ICG chartered the former Baltic Sea cruise ferry Oscar Wilde for an initial 20 month period and Afloat adds with the option to extend by two, plus two years and purchase. The 2,080 passenger ferry entered service on the Rosslare-Pembroke route having replaced another chartered ferry the Blue Star 1.

The continued normalisation in passenger travel levels after Covid had benefitted the Group in all its markets. This was reflected with growth in its Roll on Roll off (RoRo) freight carryings and the strengthening of its position on the short-sea Dover-Calais route competing with P&O Ferries and DFDS.

ICG said the continued return of ferry passenger travel alongside continued support of its freight customers on both its old and new routes (the UK-France route launched in 2021) resulted in the highest ever revenue levels in the ferries division.

More here on the H1 results for 2023.

Published in Irish Ferries

Irish Ferries celebrated the first day of sailings today of the cruiseferry Oscar Wilde, which is the largest and fastest on the Irish Sea and aims to live up to the famous Oscar Wilde quote “I have the simplest of tastes. I am always satisfied with the best”.

The chartered cruiseferry which was built in Finland, likewise of Ulysses (but at different shipyard), has an impressive capacity of 2,080 passengers, 134 well-appointed cabins, and ample space with over 2,380 lane meters for cars, coaches, and freight vehicles.

Oscar Wilde replaced the Blue Star 1 on the Ireland-Wales route with service starting just in time for the peak summer season (see yesterday's Afloat coverage) of Oscar Wilde which last night took over operating the Rosslare-Pembroke route. The newcomer operates twice-daily sailings, offering an elevated experience connecting Ireland to the UK.

Irish customers can sail directly to Wales, a place of natural drama, with beautiful beaches and mountain walks, rich history, and culture to explore, as well as epic national parks and other adventures, perfect for either short getaways or longer breaks. The route is also a gateway to the rest of Britain with the car – Windsor and Legoland can be reached in under 4 hours - thus avoiding security queues, luggage limits, cramped journeys, and excessive car hire costs.

The Oscar Wilde interiors have a classic, modern feel, while the exterior showcases Irish Ferries’ signature colours and branding.

There are facilities for all with comfortable cabins, a Club Class lounge, plenty of choices for food and beverages including a self-service restaurant, a café, a bar, and a freight drivers lounge.

Passengers can enjoy sea views and fresh air on the open decks, and there are also pet facilities, family-friendly features such as a children's play area, and an extensive shopping space, perfect for using the generous post Brexit duty-free allowances.

With a possible top speed of 27.5 knots, Oscar Wilde is the fastest cruise ferry on the Irish Sea, enabling Irish Ferries to provide tourism and freight customers an efficient and reliable service, getting them to their destination quickly and comfortably.

On the latest addition to Irish Ferries’ fleet, Irish Ferries Managing Director, Andrew Sheen, said, "We are delighted that Oscar Wilde is officially in service, offering customers an enhanced Irish Sea journey on board a ship featuring the very best in terms of comfort, speed, and amenities. We are confident that the Oscar Wilde will become a firm favourite with our passengers and freight customers, and we look forward to welcoming them on board."

Irish Ferries encourages travellers to “Sea Travel Differently” – whether for holidays, business trips, reuniting with loved ones, or planning a road-trip to remember. With award-winning hospitality and service, onboard duty-free shopping, and extensive amenities to make the journey even more special, as well as the ability to take as much luggage as they can fit, bring along their pets, and travel in the comfort of their own car – the holiday really does begin once guests step onboard.

Published in Irish Ferries

Oscar Wilde, Irish Ferries newest addition, freshly repainted in the company’s livery, made its maiden call to Dublin Port yesterday while en route from Belfast to other Irish Sea ports, writes Jehan Ashmore.

The former shuttle ferry the Star that served a Baltic Sea capitals link, had undergone rebranding in dry-dock at Harland & Wolff, following its charter from the Tallink Grupp to the Irish Continental Group (ICG), the parent company of Irish Ferries.

Initially the Oscar Wilde is to serve on Irish Ferries Rosslare-Pembroke route by replacing another chartered ferry, Blue Star 1. The Greek flagged ferry is due in the Irish port this evening before 1900hrs.

Whereas the Oscar Wilde has been tracked by Afloat, having vacated the berth for the inbound Blus Star 1. As for the Oscar Wilde's maiden commercial sailing, it is understood this is to take place possibly tonight or in the next day or so. 

These sailing schedules, follow Afloat's observation of Oscar Wilde when entering Dublin Bay yesterday after an overnight passage from Belfast where also at H&W, the interior facilities had a makeover to match those of the fleet that includes ferries operating Dover-Calais.

Facilities on the Oscar Wilde that have been given the Irish Ferries rebranding treatment include, an a la carte restaurent, a bar, self-service restaurent, club class lounge, gaming zone, pet facilities and a children’s play area.

In addition, the newcomer with a 2,080 passenger capacity with 134 cabins, will have the largest duty-free shop on the Irish Sea.There will also be separate facilities for freight-drivers with use of 2,380 lane meters for freight vehicles as well for coaches and cars.

Once past the Baily Lighthouse on Howth Head, Oscar Wilde headed for the Dublin Bay Buoy yesterday morning at 0900hrs which was  followed by the ferry making a full circle turn before proceeding into the capital port.

Also in the bay was another Irish Ferries fleetmate, the ropax Epsilon which was at anchorage in between sailings that run in tandem with flagship cruiseferry W.B. Yeats on the Dublin-Cherbourg route.

When within the channel fairway, Dublin Port Company tugs Beaufort and Shackleton welcomed the Oscar Wilde with a traditional maritime display as the tug’s gave a water cannon salute over the bow of the ferry.

The call to Dublin Port was to conduct berthing trials at both linkspans of Terminal 1 where Irish Ferries also operate the cruiseferry Ulysses and fastferry Dublin Swift on the Holyhead route.

On completion of trials, which only took a few hours, Oscar Wilde was back in Dublin Bay, this time bound for Holyhead where further trails took place.

As of this morning, Oscar Wilde had arrived in Rosslare, having completed a second overnight passage in the Irish Sea when sailing from the north Wales port. The replacement ferry was preparing in Wexford for its debut on the southern Ireland-Wales route. 

Berthing trails were not necessary in both the Wexford and Pembrokeshire ports as Afloat previously reported, along with those at Cherbourg, as they had occured during the Star’s delivery voyage from Estonia to Ireland.

Published in Irish Ferries

Irish Continental Group (ICG) newly chartered cruiseferry, the Star recently renamed Oscar Wilde for Irish Ferries service, transited the Strait of Dover last night on its delivery voyage from Estonia to Ireland, writes Jehan Ashmore.

The cruiseferry which had operated Tallink Grupp's Tallinn-Helsinki 2-hour shuttle service, is according to Irish Ferries to ‘initially’ operate on the Rosslare-Pembroke route from early June and into the bussier summer months.

Before making its Ireland-Wales debut, berthing trials are to take place at both ports followed by a rebranding into the company's all white livery scheme which is to take place at Harland & Wolff, Belfast. Unlike the first Oscar Wilde that served Irish Ferries on their former Rosslare based routes to France, where this predecessor had sported a dark blue hull.

ICG's charter of Star from Tallink, according to the Baltic state based operator is to start with a 20-month term, with a possible extension period of two plus two years. Also as part of the contract is the option to acquire the 2,080 passenger/134 cabin ferry which has ample vehicle/freight space of 2,380 lane meters.

Oscar Wilde is to replace the current Rosslare-Pembroke ferry Blue Star 1 in June, as then the charter period expires of the Greek flagged vessel which entered service in 2021. This led to releasing Isle of Inishmore to launch Irish Ferries first ever UK-France service on the busy and competitive Dover-Calais route.

So when Oscar Wilde sailed through the Strait of Dover, it was apt as of the three Irish Ferries 'Isles' running on the short-sea UK-France route, the Isle of Inishmore (tracked by Afloat) from Dover was ahead of the bow of Oscar Wilde when making a crossing to Calais. At the same time, Isle of Inishfree was close to the UK port while Isle of Inisheer was berthed at the French port.

Another French port, Cherbourg, is where Oscar Wilde had called this morning, 13 May, and from where the 185m cruiseferry carried out berthing trials at two link-spans. Such an exercise indicates the potential for Irish Ferries to redeploy Oscar Wilde after completion of high season service on the Ireland-Wales route, as long as another ferry can be secured to take over the Wexford-Pembrokeshire link.

As according to NIFerry, it reports of industry information that suggests the Oscar Wilde will replace the chartered ropax Epsilon which operates on the Dublin-Holyhead/Cherbourg rotation. If such speculation becomes reality, this would take place later this year as Irish Ferries is said to be exploring options for a permanent ship on the Rosslare- Pembroke route and based on current timetables, such a change is likely to occur in early November.

Afloat adds by re-deploying Oscar Wilde on the Ireland-France route, Irish Ferries would then be able to offer more of a match than the freight-orientated (ropax) Epsilon, in terms of increased freight and passenger capacity and superior facilities as featured on W.B Yeats. The flagship built in Germany in 2018, but did not enter service until the following year, firstly made its maiden voyage on the Irish Sea before a debut on the continental connection to France.

It is a decade ago when ICG chartered in the then named Cartour Epsilon to open the Dublin-Cherbourg route for Irish Ferries, though the first such service linking the Irish capital and France was established by P&O Ferries albeit for a short timeframe in the early 2000’s.

In 2014 the ropax was renamed Epsilon and has since continously operated the Wales-Ireland-France routes throughout the year along with the cruiseferry flagship, W.B. Yeats. Sailing times on the continental route subject to which ferry, vary between 17 and 19 hours.

Irish Ferries claim the Oscar Wilde has the largest passenger capacity on the Irish Sea and the likewise its duty-free shop which will be a destination for passengers. In addition they describe the ship to have a possible top speed of 27.5 knots, making it the fastest.

Such speed is not a necessity during this delivery voyage of Oscar Wilde in which Afloat has tracked at various stages of the cruiseferry which has been re-flagged and re-registered.

At time of writing, Oscar Wilde is running at 15 knots while in the west bound shipping lane of the English Channel and is due to make its maiden port of call to Ireland tomorrow morning, 14 May.

Published in Irish Ferries

Irish Ferries is pleased to announce the addition of a new cruise ferry to its fleet with the introduction of the ship to be renamed Oscar Wilde.

Originally the cruiseferry called the Star served in the Baltic Sea and was built in 2007 in Finland for the Tallink Grupp, Afloat adds an Estonian shipping company.

The Oscar Wilde will be the largest and fastest passenger cruise ferry on the Irish Sea with an impressive capacity of over 2,080 passengers, 134 cabins, and ample space with over 2,380 lane meters for cars, coaches, and freight vehicles.

With the largest duty-free shopping space for any cruise ferry on the Irish Sea of more than 17,000 square feet, it will be an ideal shopping destination for those travelling between Ireland and Britain.

The ship interiors have a classic, modern feel and boasts Freight Drivers facilities, Club Class lounge, a self-service restaurant, an à la carte restaurant, a bar, gaming facilities, pet facilities and family-friendly features such as a children's play area.

One of the most exciting features of the Oscar Wilde is its available speed. With a possible top speed of 27.5 knots, it is the fastest cruise ferry with the largest passenger capacity on the Irish Sea.

This will enable Irish Ferries to offer tourism passengers and freight an efficient service, getting them to their destination reliably and comfortably.

Commenting on the new addition, Irish Ferries Managing Director, Andrew Sheen, said, "We are delighted to announce the addition of the Oscar Wilde to our fleet. This new ship will be a fantastic addition to our service, offering customers the very best in terms of comfort, speed, and amenities.

Along with usual advantages of ferry travel in terms of no luggage restrictions or security queues, we are confident that the Oscar Wilde will become a firm favourite with our passengers and freight drivers, and we look forward to welcoming them on board."

The Oscar Wilde will initially enter service on the Rosslare-Pembroke route in early June, replacing the chartered Blue Star 1 for the busy summer period.

With its impressive size, speed, and range of facilities, it is set to become the ultimate choice for those travelling between Ireland and the UK on the southern corridor between Wales and Ireland.

Published in Irish Ferries

Following a successful implementation in selected countries, global container line Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC) is now extending its the MSC Carbon Neutral Programme to clients worldwide throughout 2020.

Since early 2019, MSC has partnered with leading global climate solutions provider South Pole to develop the MSC Carbon Neutral Programme, an initiative which it claims “complements MSC’s strategic approach to sustainability and massive investment in reducing emissions across its fleet”.

MSC said it was the first major shipping line in 2019 to offer an option to fully compensate the unavoidable carbon emissions caused by the transport of their cargo through supporting climate protection projects managed by South Pole. MSC highlighted that it recently completed the launch of the largest class of container ships which produce the lowest CO2 emissions per container carried by design – MSC’s Gülsün Class.

For much more LloydsLoadingList reports here. 

In addition to Afloat coverage of a European Commission first, a report on CO2 emissions from maritime transport - that estimates merchant ships added over 138 million tonnes to EU carbon emissions in 2018.

Afloat adds that the landlocked shipping giant based in Switzerland acquired ICG's Oscar Wilde, operated by Irish Ferries on their Rosslare-Cherbourg/ Roscoff (seasonal) routes. The sale of the 1987 cruiseferry involved a bareboat hire purchase agreement with MSC to their ferry subidiary Grandi Navi Veloci (GNV) which renamed GNV Allegra under the Italian flag and operating a Genoa-Olbia (Sardinia) service. 

Irish Ferries had Oscar Wilde operate the Rosslare based routes to France until 2018 however in the following year the introduction albeit late of newbuild W.B.Yeats onto the Dublin-Cherbourg route considerably enhanced the service with the 'cruiseferry''s summer sailings.

This compared to 'economy' based year-round sailings served by Italian flagged ropax Epsilon which recently returned full time on the Dublin-Holyhead route. While WB Yeats concentrates on high-season sailings. 

Published in Ports & Shipping

#ferries - Irish Ferries cruiseferry Oscar Wilde which operated Rosslare based routes to France until last year has according to owners Irish Continental Group to be disposed following an agreement to sell the 1987 built ship to a new owner.

Under the terms of a bareboat hire purchase agreement, ICG has agreed to sell the Oscar Wilde to MSC Mediterranean Shipping Company SA.

The Swiss based group Afloat adds is a major player in the global container market and has divisions involved in cruiseships and ferries serving in the Mediterranean Sea. 

The total gross consideration for the sell of Oscar Wilde is €28.9 million, payable in instalments over 6 years, is to take up to 2025. Delivery to the buyer of the 1,400 passenger/580 car capacity cruiseferry is expected to take place during April 2019.

As for Rosslare Europort based routes to France this season, Irish Ferries have yet to confirm with an update following a decision in December that they were unlikely to operate a service between Rosslare and France in 2019 but added then this situation was under review.

Kronprins Harald was acquired by ICG from Norwegian operator Color Line in 2007 to begin a Irish Ferries career on the French services to Cherbourg and Roscoff. Since Autumn last year, the ship was transferred to Dublin to provide cruiseferry services on the Cherbourg route in advance of the much delayed newbuild W.B. Yeats. This much larger cruiseferry entered service on the direct Dublin-France route almost a month ago. 

The proceeds according to ICG less the net book value of the Oscar Wilde (€7.7 million) and related disposal costs will result in a profit on disposal. It said this will be reported as part of the 2019 financial results of ICG. 

Published in Ferry

#Lifeboats - The RNLI’s all-weather lifeboat based in Rosslare Harbour was launched at 10.38pm on Saturday night (2 March) to assist a passenger onboard an Irish Ferries vessel bound for Pembroke in Wales.

The passenger ferry Oscar Wilde, which was located 20 miles off the Wexford coast at the time, asked for assistance in evacuating a passenger who had become ill.

Sea conditions were unfavourable for the volunteers on the Rosslare Harbour lifeboat to go alongside the ferry.

The Irish Coast Guard helicopter Rescue 117 from Waterford was also tasked and quickly arrived on scene. After attempts to airlift the casualty it was deemed too dangerous.

The Oscar Wilde returned to Rosslare Europort at 1am, where an ambulance was waiting to bring the casualty to hospital. The RNLI volunteers in their Severn class lifeboat stood by the passenger ferry for the duration.

Sea conditions were very poor at the time, with a strong Force 7 to 8 gale and heavy rain.

Coxswain Eamonn O’Rourke commented that the volunteer crew of the lifeboat had to endure very challenging conditions.

Speaking afterwards, Rosslare Harbour RNLI lifeboat operations manager David Maloney said: “Conditions at sea tonight were challenging for our coxswain and lifeboat crew and I would like to commend them for their efforts in enduring a rough passage in the dark, and late at night on a Saturday evening, to be of assistance.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

#FerryFault- RTE News reports that passengers numbering around 1,000 had to spend the night on board an Irish Ferries vessel in the French port of Cherbourg after the crossing to Rosslare was cancelled.

Tonight's sailing from Rosslare to Cherbourg has also been cancelled. The 1987 built cruiseferry Oscar Wilde of 31,914 tonnes, was due to leave the French port at 8pm yesterday evening, but a fault with its radar system meant the journey could not go ahead.

An Irish Ferries spokesperson said that a ship may be able to get permission to sail in these circumstances provided there are good weather conditions, but the port of Cherbourg was enveloped in fog at the time.

All passengers on-board the ferry in Cherbourg, have now disembarked and alternative travel is being arranged for them.

An Irish Ferries spokesperson said that the nature of the technical problem necessitated the use of an expert technician and it would not be possible to have the ferry sail today.

For the latest information on sailings updates and contact details from ports, visit this link from Irish Ferries website.


Published in Ferry

#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 sailings will intially be operated by the company's French routes ferry Oscar Wilde. She is scheduled to run the extra sailings with two round-trips daily, with the first crossing departing Dublin Port in the early hours of tomorrow morning.

When the Epsilon (2011/26,375gt) the chartered Italian-flagged 500 passenger ro-pax ferry comes on stream next month she will take over the sailing roster of Oscar Wilde in the run up to the festive period schedule.

Currently there are no Rosslare-Cherbourg sailings and according to the operator's website, the French service resumes on 8 December.


Published in Ferry
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Irish Sailing Club of the Year Award

This unique and informal competition was inaugurated in 1979, with Mitsubishi Motors becoming main sponsors in 1986. The purpose of the award is to highlight and honour the voluntary effort which goes into creating and maintaining the unrivalled success of Ireland's yacht and sailing clubs. 

In making their assessment, the adjudicators take many factors into consideration. In addition to the obvious one of sailing success at local, national and international level, considerable attention is also paid to the satisfaction which members in every branch of sailing and boating feel with the way their club is run, and how effectively it meets their specific needs, while also encouraging sailing development and training.

The successful staging of events, whether local, national or international, is also a factor in making the assessment, and the adjudicators place particular emphasis on the level of effective voluntary input which the membership is ready and willing to give in support of their club's activities.

The importance of a dynamic and fruitful interaction with the local community is emphasised, and also with the relevant governmental and sporting bodies, both at local and national level. The adjudicators expect to find a genuine sense of continuity in club life and administration. Thus although the award is held in a specific year in celebration of achievements in the previous year, it is intended that it should reflect an ongoing story of success and well-planned programmes for future implementation. 

Over the years, the adjudication system has been continually refined in order to be able to make realistic comparisons between clubs of varying types and size. With the competition's expansion to include class associations and specialist national watersports bodies, the "Club of the Year" competition continues to keep pace with developing trends, while at the same time reflecting the fact that Ireland's leading sailing clubs are themselves national and global pace-setters

Irish Sailing Club of the Year Award FAQs

The purpose of the award is to highlight and honour the voluntary effort which goes into creating and maintaining the unrivalled success of Ireland's yacht and sailing clubs.

A ship's wheel engraved with the names of all the past winners.

The Sailing Club of the Year competition began in 1979.

PR consultant Sean O’Shea (a member of Clontarf Y & BC) had the idea of a trophy which would somehow honour the ordinary sailing club members, volunteers and sailing participants, who may not have personally won prizes, to feel a sense of identity and reward and special pride in their club. Initially some sort of direct inter-club contest was envisaged, but sailing journalist W M Nixon suggested that a way could be found for the comparative evaluation of the achievements and quality of clubs despite their significant differences in size and style.

The award recognises local, national & international sailing success by the winning club's members in both racing and cruising, the completion of a varied and useful sailing and social programme at the club, the fulfilling by the club of its significant and socially-aware role in the community, and the evidence of a genuine feeling among all members that the club meets their individual needs afloat and ashore.

The first club of the Year winner in 1979 was Wicklow Sailing Club.

Royal Cork Yacht Club has won the award most, seven times in all in 1987, 1992, 1997, 2000, 2006, 2015 & 2020.

The National YC has won six times, in 1981, 1985, 1993, 1996, 2012 & 2018.

Howth Yacht Club has won five times, in 1982, 1986, 1995, 2009 & 2019

Ireland is loosely divided into regions with the obviously high-achieving clubs from each area recommended through an informal nationwide panel of local sailors going into a long-list, which is then whittled down to a short-list of between three and eight clubs.

The final short-list is evaluated by an anonymous team based on experienced sailors, sailing journalists and sponsors’ representatives

From 1979 to 2020 the Sailing Club of the Year Award winners are:

  • 1979 Wicklow SC
  • 1980 Malahide YC
  • 1981 National YC
  • 1982 Howth YC
  • 1983 Royal St George YC
  • 1984 Dundalk SC
  • 1985 National YC (Sponsorship by Mitsubishi Motors began in 1985-86)
  • 1986 Howth YC
  • 1987 Royal Cork YC
  • 1988 Dublin University SC
  • 1989 Irish Cruising. Club
  • 1990 Glenans Irish SC
  • 1991 Galway Bay SC
  • 1992 Royal Cork YC
  • 1993 National YC & Cumann Badoiri Naomh Bhreannain (Dingle) (after 1993, year indicated is one in which trophy is held)
  • 1995 Howth Yacht Club
  • 1996 National Yacht Club
  • 1997 Royal Cork Yacht Club
  • 1998 Kinsale Yacht Club
  • 1999 Poolbeg Yacht & Boat Club
  • 2000 Royal Cork Yacht Club (in 2000, competition extended to include class associations and specialist organisations)
  • 2001 Howth Sailing Club Seventeen Footer Association
  • 2002 Galway Bay Sailing Club
  • 2003 Coiste an Asgard
  • 2004 Royal St George Yacht Club
  • 2005 Lough Derg Yacht Club
  • 2006 Royal Cork Yacht Club (Water Club of the Harbour of Cork)
  • 2007 Dublin Bay Sailing Club
  • 2008 Lough Ree YC & Shannon One Design Assoc.
  • 2009 Howth Yacht Club
  • 2010 Royal St George YC
  • 2011 Irish Cruiser Racing Association
  • 2012 National Yacht Club
  • 2013 Royal St George YC
  • 2014 Kinsale YC
  • 2015 Royal Cork Yacht Club
  • 2016 Royal Irish Yacht Club
  • 2017 Wicklow Sailing Club
  • 2018 National Yacht Club
  • 2019 Howth Yacht Club
  • 2020 Royal Cork Yacht Club

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