As P&O Ferries Norbank returns from dry-docking, what next for European Endeavour?

P&O Ferries’ NORBANK returned to Liverpool from drydocking in Poland on Easter Monday, allowing EUROPEAN ENDEAVOUR to come off-service prior to her own drydocking at Cammell Laird.  There has been speculation that the latter vessel may not return to the Dublin to Liverpool route, with P&O no longer taking tourist passenger bookings for her services and stating on their website that tourist passengers will no longer be carried on the 15:00 and 03:00 services (which are normally operated by EUROPEAN ENDEAVOUR).  While it is, of course, possible EUROPEAN ENDEAVOUR will continue to serve the Liverpool to Dublin service as a freight-only vessel, it appears that if this is the case she will no longer carry any passengers apart from freight drivers going forward.  Redeployment options within the current P&O Ferries network would appear to be limited, with significant work required to even return to her previous Dover to Calais route now that her bow doors have been welded together.  When asked directly on Twitter earlier today, the company were unable to “confirm the situation” when asked why it wasn’t possible to make a booking in July.

P&O Ferries NORBANK passes Crosby inbound to Liverpool from Gdansk following dry-docking at the Remontowa shipyard, Easter Monday 2019 (22.04.19). Copyright © David Faerder.

Having remained alongside at the P&O Ferries berth at Liverpool’s Gladstone Branch Dock No.3 on Monday morning since arriving with her overnight sailing from Dublin, EUROPEAN ENDEAVOUR moved to Gladstone Branch Dock No.1 during the afternoon before making her way across the river to Cammell Laird Birkenhead on Tuesday afternoon (23.04.19).  Her place in the timetable is covered by the chartered Ro-Ro freight vessel MISTRAL, which also covered the same sailings while NORBAY and NORBANK went to drydock in Poland allowing EUROPEAN ENDEAVOUR to act as a relief vessel for her running mates. MISTRAL, which is on charter from Godby Shipping, only has capacity for 12 (freight driver) passengers and has around 20% less freight capacity than EUROPEAN ENDEAVOUR but is significantly less expensive to run.  While she is the largest vessel in terms of dimensions P&O regularly operate on the route, EUROPEAN ENDEAVOUR also has the least (although by a small margin) freight capacity but the largest passenger capacity and is effectively the “third-ship” on the route. Passenger demand for EUROPEAN ENDEAVOUR‘s sailings is also understood to be limited with the 3 o’clock departure time (with arrival around 11) in either direction not that attractive to passengers.  P&O Ferries’ direct competitor on the route, Seatruck Ferries, only run Ro-Ro vessels themselves, using the highly efficient FSG built sisters SEATRUCK POWER and SEATRUCK PROGRESS alongside SEATRUCK PACE and CLIPPER POINT on the Dublin to Liverpool route at the time of writing.

European Endeavour moored on berth 21 with NORBAY on berth 19 & FREEWAY on berth 18, Dublin Port, 17.02.19. Copyright © Robbie Cox.

EUROPEAN ENDEAVOUR was originally built in Spain as one of four sister-ships for now-defunct Cenargo subsidiary Merchant Ferries. Originally called MIDNIGHT MERCHANT, she was ordered to open a new route between Belfast and Liverpool in competition with Norse Irish Ferries. She was chartered to Norfolk Line instead after Cenargo took over Norse Irish Ferries and decided to merge their ferry operations as Norse Merchant Ferries. MIDNIGHT MERCHANT became EL GRECO for Transmediterranea in 2006 once Norfolk Line replaced her with their own purpose-built tonnage, before being purchased by P&O and adopting her current name in 2007.