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#CruiseLiners – The cruise and ferry industries were among those gathered at the annual Irish Travel Industry Awards held in association with Aer Lingus.

The prestigious gala awards of the Irish Travel Agents Association (ITAA) ceremony took place recently in the Mansion House, Dublin, where more than 500 travel and tourism professionals from around the world attended. Adding to the glamour, broadcaster, Miriam O’Callaghan was this year's Master of Ceremonies.

Among the big winners on the night from the cruise and ferry industries, were MSC Cruises that was awarded ‘Best Main Stream Cruise Company’. This category has been dominated by Miami USA based, Royal Caribbean since the awards were inaugurated in 2011. The Italian founded Mediterranean Shipping Company are a global cruise operator based in Switzerland. 

Irish Ferries took the title for ‘Best Ferry Company’ which Afloat adds is the eight-consecutive year that the Dublin based transport shipping company has won this award. Voting in this category of the annual ITAA awards that began also eight years ago, were cast by travel agents and their staff from across Ireland.

In the overall ITAA awards, Manning Travel, who are based in Kilkenny, won the title of ITAA Travel Agency of Year 2018 with under ten employees, whilst Tour America was crowned the ITAA Travel Agency of Year 2018 with over ten employees. Both of the winning agencies were praised for their stand-out customer service, their first-rate expertise and the wide range of travel options available to customers.

The annual event is designed to showcase excellence within the industry and the difficult job of judging the Member Award Winners falls to an independent panel of judges, chaired by Bill Smith. Supplier Award Winners were voted upon by Irish travel agents.

The awards are an initiative of the ITTA in association with Aer Lingus, and supported by Travelsavers, Travelcentres and Worldchoice. 

Listed below are the award winners exclusively from those of the cruise and ferry industries.

CRUISE & FERRY CATEGORY - SPONSORED BY TURKISH AIRLINES

BEST MAIN STREAM CRUISE COMPANY
MSC Cruises

BEST PREMIUM CRUISE COMPANY
Celebrity Cruises

BEST SPECIALIST CRUISE COMPANY (INCLUDING RIVER)
Uniworld River Cruises

BEST ULTRA LUXURY CRUISE COMPANY
Silversea Cruises

BEST FERRY COMPANY
Irish Ferries

SUPPLIER STAFF / TRAVEL MEDIA CATEGORY - SPONSORED BY IRELAND WEST AIRPORT

BEST SUPPLIER SUPPORT TEAM
MSC Cruises

BEST SUPPLIER REPRESENTATIVE
Rebecca Kelly - MSC Cruises

For further information on the ITAA click their website here.

Published in Cruise Liners

#FerryNews - Following last week's hull launch of ICG's biggest cruiseferry W.B. Yeats in Germany, Isle of Inishmore completed a routine annual overhaul and departed a drydock in the UK on Monday, writes Jehan Ashmore.

Afloat adds the Isle of Inishmore today made a first sailing in 2018, a year that will mark 21 years of service for Irish Continental Group (ICG) the parent company of operator Irish Ferries.

ICG placed the order for Isle of Inishmore with Van der Giessen-de Noord shipyard in The Netherlands and entered service on the Dublin-Holyhead route in 1997. Then easily the largest ever ferry to operate the Ireland-Wales route having replaced a smaller cruiseferry, Isle of Innisfree. That was ICG's first custom-built ferry when launched into service only two years previously.

Demand for more freight capacity during the run up to the Celtic Tiger era led to this second much larger cruiseferry from the same Dutch shipbuilders. The yard located in Krimpen aan de Ijssel, Rotterdam, however has since closed. 

At 34,031 gross tonnage, Isle of Inishmore with a capacity for 2,200 passengers/ 800 cars and 150 trucks, remains after two decades, the second largest ferry (after Ulysses), currently serving between Ireland and the UK.

The 1,875 passenger flagship Ulysses with vehicle space for 1,342 cars and 330 trucks was introduced in 2001 and replaced Isle of Inishmore from the Dublin service. This morning, the cruiseferry resumed sailings for the first time this year on the Rosslare-Pembroke route.

The Dutch built Isle of Inishmore which has an extensive range of passenger facilities, continues to be the largest cruiseferry in terms of passenger capacity operating in north-western Europe. 

Afloat had previously tracked Isle of Inishmore from the drydock facility of Cammell Laird in Birkenhead on Merseyside and which led to an arrival to Dublin Port on Monday. The call to the capital was brief as the cruiseferry completed the repositioning voyage to Rosslare Harbour yesterday.

While Isle of Inishmore was off-service on the south Wales route, sailings were covered by Oscar Wilde. Previously, the cruiseferry provided additional capacity over the festive /new year season on the Dublin route. In recent days, however sailings on the Rosslare route were cancelled due to adverse weather conditions.

Also this morning, Afloat tracked Oscar Wilde having rounded Anglesey, north Wales and is bound for Birkenhead to also undergo routine drydocking. At this quite time of year, Irish Ferries Jonathan Swift is already at the drydock facility having completed fastferry crossings on the Dublin-Holyhead route.

Published in Ferry

The completed hull of the new Irish Ferries cruise ferry W. B. Yeats – ceremonially named by Ms. Rikki Rothwell – was launched into the water earlier today at the shipyard of Flensburger Schiffbau–Gesellschaft in Flensburg, Germany where the vessel is being built.

Fully painted in familiar Irish Ferries lettering and colours, and bearing the name W. B. Yeats along its bow and stern sections – the name having been chosen after drawing strong support from the public in an online competition that attracted nearly 100,000 entries – the vessel entered the water stern first.

As Afloat.ie reported yesterday, there to attend the event, alongside shipyard workers and officials, were representatives of the company led by Irish Continental Group Plc chairman John McGuckian, chief executive, Eamonn Rothwell, CFO, David Ledwidge, and Irish Ferries managing director, Andrew Sheen.

The €150 million, 54,985 gross tonnes cruise ferry will arrive into Dublin next July when it will enter year-round service on Ireland – France and Dublin – Holyhead routes. In the intervening months, remaining construction work on the hull will be completed and the vessel fitted out with all of the technical, operational, décor, furnishings and passenger amenities required onboard. Later, before scheduled services can commence, it will undergo sea trials, crew training and docking procedures at the Irish, UK and French ports into which it will operate.

WB Yeats 3The W. B. Yeats will have space for 1,885 passengers and crew, 435 cabins including luxury suites with their own private balconies, and almost 3km of car deck space.

Set to be the largest and most luxurious ferry ever to sail on the Irish Sea, the W. B. Yeats will have space for 1,885 passengers and crew, 435 cabins including luxury suites with their own private balconies, and almost 3km of car deck space.

In a comment, Mr. Sheen said: “the launch of our new cruise ferry W. B. Yeats – and the expectation of our second new cruise ferry yet to come – herald in a new era in ferry travel between Ireland, UK and Continental Europe bringing with it new standards in terms of passenger and freight capacity, comfort and reliability beyond anything previously envisaged”.

Second Irish Ferries Vessel Due 2020

In addition, the Flensburg shipyard in which the vessel is being built will shortly commence building a second, even larger cruise ferry for delivery in 2020 which was commissioned only weeks ago by Irish Ferries parent, Irish Continental Group plc at a contract price of €165.2 million.

Intended for service on the Dublin – Holyhead route, this second new vessel will be the largest cruise ferry in the world in terms of vehicle capacity with accommodation for 1,800 passengers and crew. Its vehicle decks will have 5,610 freight lane metres, providing the capability to carry 330 freight units per sailing – a 50% increase in peak freight capacity compared to the current vessel Ulysses.

Published in Ferry
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#FerryFestive - An Irish Ferries cruiseferry on the French route based out of Rosslare returned yesterday prior to making a repositioning voyage to Dublin Port this morning in preparation of the busy festive season, writes Jehan Ashmore.

Cruiseferry, Oscar Wilde had completed a Cherbourg-Rosslare crossing. This was followed by the 1,400 passenger/700 car ferry transferring to the Irish capital to begin sailings on the core Irish Sea central coridoor route to Holyhead.

Sailings by Oscar Wilde on the French route have been suspended so to enable firstly the above mentioned capacity increased on the premier UK-Ireland route. In addition the absence of the ferry is to permit annual winter dry-docking of the 1987 built cruiseferry that is scheduled to return to the French service in February 2018.

As of late this morning Oscar Wilde made a first crossing to Holyhead and is due to return to Dublin this afternoon. Also running services to cope with the inward bound influx of seasonal passengers on the Wales-Ireland link are flagship cruiseferry Ulysses, fast-craft Jonathan Swift and ropax ferry Epsilon.

The chartered-in Epsilon, will operate Ireland-France sailings during the absence of Oscar Wilde from Wexford based sailings in 2017, but take heed of the following next scheduled sailings and ports used in both directions.

Afloat can confirm the next outward sailing to the continent is Dublin-Cherbourg and will be after Christmas, on Wednesday 27th December. The next inbound sailing to Ireland will however call instead to Rosslare, arriving on Friday 29th December. For further subsequent sailings details consult Irish Ferries through this link.

Rivals, Stena Line are expected to transport 65,000 passengers over the festive period also on their service between Holyhead-Dublin and on the St. Georges Channel link of Fishguard to Rosslare.

Information on Irish Sea routes, sailing dates, crossing times and more click here for Irish Ferries and for those travelling with Stena Line click here. From this webpage there are also links to their Cherbourg-Rosslare service. 

For those travelling on P&O Ferries click this link, noting the weatherline applies to both routes: Liverpool-Dublin and Cairnryan-Larne.

In addition should there be any ferry travel delays, disruptions and cancellations, they are included on the AA’s Roadwatch newsroom here.

Published in Ferry

The 26th Irish Travel Trade Awards ceremony was an event to celebrate once again for Irish Ferries as they were honoured with the ‘Best Ferry Company’ title for the 11th year in succession.

Held at a gala ceremony in Dublin recently and attended by a large number of guests from the travel industry, awards were presented on foot of independent votes cast by travel trade professionals working in agencies across Ireland, north and south.

Their latest success means Irish Ferries continues to hold the two key ‘Best Ferry Company’ titles from Ireland’s travel trade, having also been awarded the top honour at the 2017 Irish Travel Industry Awards. In addition, the Company also received the ‘Best Ferry Company’ award at the Group Leisure & Travel Awards in the UK earlier this year.

Accepting the accolade, Irish Ferries head of passenger sales Dermot Merrigan thanked Irish travel agents for their continued support, adding: “Irish Ferries is honoured to receive this award which, in our eyes, is an independent acknowledgement of the work we have been doing and the investment we have made over many years to improve the standard and quality of service that our customers can expect.”

Currently, the company is building the new €144million, 55,000 tonnes cruise ferry, W. B. Yeats – which will be the largest and most luxurious ferry ever to sail on the Irish Sea when it enters service on Irish Ferries’ Dublin - Holyhead and Ireland - France routes next Summer.

Published in Ferry
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#FerryNews -Consolidated revenue at Irish Continental Group (ICG) operator of Irish Ferries, increased by 3.1pc to €288.9m year-on-year in the ten months to 31 October.

Total revenues writes The Independent for the group’s ferries division was €184.4m, a 1.4pc increase on the prior year. The increase in revenue was driven by an increase in the number of cars and container freight that ICG carried.

For the year to 11 November, Irish Ferries carried 385,100 cars, an increase of 2.2pc on the previous year. Freight carryings for the year to 11 November were 247,700 roll-on roll-off, an increase of 0.5pc compared with 2016.

Despite the weakness in sterling, ICG managed to partly mitigate revenues affected by sterling with improvements in its sterling-based costs. However the company said that fuel costs continued to be impacted by higher global fuel prices compared to this time last year.

Total revenues recorded in the group’s container and terminal division recorded in the period to 31 October amounted to €111.2m, a 5.9pc increase on the prior year. For the year to 11 November container freight volumes shipped were up 5.5pc on the previous year at 281,000 teu, with the rate of growth slowing to 3.8pc in the period since 30 June.

Units handled at the group’s terminals in Dublin and Belfast increased 3.2pc year on year to 258,400 lifts. For more on the maritime transport logistics operator, click here.

Published in Ferry

#DailytoFrance - A new sailings schedule from Irish Ferries will be introduced following the arrival in mid-2018 of its new 55,000 tonnes cruise ferry W. B. Yeats currently being built in Flensburg, Germany.

Highlights of the plan will see a doubling in the number of summer sailings between Ireland and France – offering daily departures alternatively from both Dublin and Rosslare ports. This is coupled with an increase in autumn/winter sailings frequency, and an expansion in passenger, car and freight carrying capacities on the company’s prime Ireland – UK route between Dublin and Holyhead.

Described by its managing director, Andrew Sheen, as a plan “to be welcomed by all interests and one that will give a significant boost to Irish tourism and trade”, the proposed new sailings and scheduling arrangements will, he said, “give passengers and freight customers alike, more choice in terms of routes and departure dates, particularly on services to France.”

When delivered, the new W. B. Yeats will be the largest and most luxurious ferry ever to sail on the Irish Sea. It will have space on board for 1,885 passengers and crew, 1,200 cars in 4kms of vehicle deck space, and 441 cabins, with a variety of cabin grades including luxury suites. A waiter service a la carte restaurant, choice of lounges, an outside promenade deck and a host of entertainment options are amongst its other features.

Ireland – France

On Ireland – France routes, the introduction of W. B. Yeats will enable Irish Ferries to double the current number of sailings between the two countries with planned daily departures in alternate directions.

On the Dublin – Cherbourg route, new arrangements will see the W. B. Yeats operate up to four return sailings weekly on what is becoming an increasingly popular route for the summer season. In parallel, the company’s scheduled services from Rosslare to the French ports of Cherbourg and Roscoff - operated by the cruise ferry Oscar Wilde - will include an increase in the number of summertime departures to the popular Breton port of Roscoff. In the off-peak winter season, the vessel Epsilon will replace the W.B. Yeats providing a year–round service from Dublin to the Continent for both freight and tourism customers.

Ireland – UK

From mid-September next, W. B. Yeats will transfer to the busy Dublin – Holyhead route. There it will take up service alongside the existing Irish Ferries vessel Ulysses to deliver a ‘significant three-fold benefit’ that Irish Ferries believes will be wholly welcomed by tourist, business and import/export customers.

Adding its passenger and vehicle carrying capacity to that of Ulysses – the world’s largest car ferry when introduced in 2001 – the move will see customers benefit from an increase in sailings frequency and an expansion in the passenger, tourist car, coach and freight carrying capacity that its introduction on this busy route will bring. Given this additional investment in the route, the Dublin Swift fast ferry will operate a summer only schedule next year and will return to Irish Sea service in early April 2019.

July 2018 arrival

Looking ahead to the launch of W. B. Yeats and its arrival into Dublin next July, Andrew Sheen said: “the service we envisage post its introduction is one that will raise ferry travel to new levels of luxury, comfort and reliability never before offered in the Irish marketplace”.

”We know our customers will be pleased with our investment and we look forward to welcoming them onboard our new luxury cruise ferry next summer,” he added.

Published in Ferry

Hello and you’re welcome to the weekly MacSweeney Podcast

The procedures and practices involved in the naming of ships once appeared to be the product of evolution and tradition, then became the choice of politicians – at least as far as the Irish Naval Service is concerned - and of on-line polling where the ferry company, Irish Ferries, is involved.

So, there will be two vessels called after the poet William Butler Yeats……

The Naval Service’s L.E. William Butler Years - P63 - is the third of the recent additions to its fleet. Classed for offshore patrol, she cost €71m  and was commissioned a year ago in Galway and named by a granddaughter of the poet.

Irish Ferries has decided to name its new €144m ferry, costing double the price of the Naval vessel and now being built in Germany, also after the poet who was born in Sandymount in Dublin and died in France…. The company says the name will be “important in overseas markets drawing a high degree of recognition” and that it chose ‘WB Yeats’ after an online competition which attracted 100,000 entries.

Managing Director Andrew Sheen said the name “continues the tradition adopted by the company of selecting names from the world of Irish literature.” The name, he said, will “sit comfortably alongside those other great literary figures whose names adorn other vessels in the Irish Ferries fleet” but some of which are registered outside of Ireland – in Cyprus and the Bahamas.

The Government decision, which was opposed by Naval officers past and present and by sections of public opinion, ended the tradition of naming Irish Navy patrol vessels after mythical female figures. It was controversial when the Cabinet ignored Naval opinion. The Department of Defence said the naming of ships after “world renowned literary figures” would “facilitate greater recognition for the Naval Service in the international maritime domain”.

On that score Irish Ferries’management seems to agree….

It is not uncommon in the shipping world for vessels to have similar names, but is generally avoided to prevent confusion. Two ships operating in Irish waters - named after the same Irish poet does invite questions – why – and will the duplication of names cause confusion?

So far, there’s been no comment from the Navy or the Department of Defence on the duplication…

Published in Tom MacSweeney
Tagged under

Irish Ferries has chosen W. B. Yeats as the name for its new €144 million cruise ferry now being built in Germany for service on routes between Ireland, UK and France. The name was chosen after it had drawn ‘strong support’ from the public in an online competition that attracted nearly 100,000 entries.

According to a spokesman: ‘it was clear from the poll that there is widespread public affection for W. B. Yeats, due in the main to the magnificence of his writings and his contribution to Irish society, theatre and the arts generally’.

Acclaimed as one of the greatest poets of the 20th century and one of Ireland’s foremost literary figures, W. B. Yeats was born in Dublin and educated in Ireland and London.

Recipient of a Nobel Prize for Literature, he helped to found Dublin’s Abbey Theatre. Amongst the poems for which he is most fondly remembered is ‘The Lake Isle of Innisfree’, a composition inspired by his many holiday visits to Sligo, where, in a churchyard beneath Ben Bulben, his remains now rest.

The decision by Irish Ferries to name their new vessel W. B. Yeats is one that continues the tradition adopted by the company of selecting names drawn from the world of Irish literature.

Commenting, its managing director, Andrew Sheen said: “In choosing W. B. Yeats from the many whose works are revered by Irish people and students of literature the world over, we have selected one that will give the new vessel its own distinct identity and stir memories of a poet who is held in high esteem by so many, here and abroad”.

In addition to the weight of public support that W. B. Yeats received, operational factors that influenced its choice included the importance of picking a name that would have a high degree of public recognition and appeal in those overseas markets into which the vessel will operate and from which Ireland draws a significant volume of its tourism and trade.

Ships’ registration, regulation and other operational and legal aspects also ranked amongst the factors that needed to be considered, as was the desire to choose a name that would sit comfortably alongside those other great literary figures whose names adorn other vessels in the Irish Ferries fleet.

Noting that W. B. Yeats is one that will need no introduction to people across the world, Andrew Sheen said: “It is a name that will convey a sense of the magnificence and grandeur that passengers can expect when travelling on our new vessel, sailings of which are expected to commence on the Dublin – Holyhead and Ireland – France routes from mid-Summer next year”.

When built, the W. B. Yeats will have space for 1,885 passengers and crew, 1,200 cars and 440 cabins including luxury suites with their own private balconies. Other facilities will include a Club Class lounge with direct passenger access from the car decks, á la carte and self-service restaurants, cinema, shopping mall, choice of bars and lounges and exclusive areas for freight drivers. Pet owners will also be comforted in knowing that dedicated facilities for pets are also being provided on board.

Noteworthy in the context is that Sandymount, where Yeats was born, is located on the city’s southern coastline from where residents can look out upon the shipping channel into Dublin port along which the vessel that will bear his name will sail.

Leitrim woman wins free travel for life after suggesting Yeats’ name

The choice of W. B. Yeats as the name for the new vessel has proven to be a lucky link for Co. Leitrim woman, Lee Maxwell from Manorhamilton. Living close to Yeats’ beloved Co. Sligo, Lee’s good fortune in being chosen from the huge number of participants who suggested the poet’s name is said by Irish Ferries to be proof of what a ‘magical’ choice the name W. B. Yeats is. Picked from the thousands who shared her choice, Lee’s prize of free travel for life will be presented to her shortly.

Published in Ferry
Tagged under

When it arrives here next July, Irish Ferries says it will be the largest and most luxurious cruise ferry operating on the Irish Sea. Little wonder then that it would be built in a very large shipyard indeed.

Yesterday, Afloat.ie reported on the keel laying ceremony that took place in the shipyard of Flensburger Schiffbau-Gesellschaft where it is being built with a photograph of the Irish Ferries delegation, led by managing director Andrew Sheen, that was present to witness the proud occasion.

In this view of the giant yard taken at the event, a number of those present can be seen dwarfed by the huge keel section as they examine it close up, and by the overall scale of the shipyard building itself in which the new ferry is being built. All going well, the vessel is expected to arrive into Ireland in mid-2018, July being the date mentioned.

Afloat.ie readers have been making suggestions for the new ship's name here

Published in Ferry
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