Yard Number:

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Shimonoseki [JP] #1065 / 1069


9208394 / 9244116

European Highlander leaves Larne in the freshly applied new P&O livery. Copyright © Gary Andrews.

EUROPEAN HIGHLANDER leaves Larne in her freshly applied new P&O livery.  Copyright © Gary Andrews.

Also known as:

No previous names.

Designed by Danish naval architects Knud E Hansen and built by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries at Shimonoseki in Southern Japan, EUROPEAN CAUSEWAY and EUROPEAN HIGHLANDER are the first and third of a series of 3 vessels (the second, European Ambassador, later became STENA NORDICA), built for P&O Ferries Irish Sea services.  They operate the Larne to Cairnryan service together for P&O and are the first purpose-built vessels to operate on the service.  As EUROPEAN HIGHLANDER and EUROPEAN CAUSEWAY were designed specifically to operate the Larne – Cairnryan link, their facilities reflect the short 105 minute crossing time they were designed for.  At the time of writing, the advertised crossing time is now 120 minutes.  EUROPEAN CAUSEWAY replaced Pride of Rathlin as the conventional passenger ship during August 2000.  She was joined by EUROPEAN HIGHLANDER in July 2002, which replaced the veteran freighters European Endeavour and European Pathfinder.

The second (and largest) of the series operated for Stena Line between Dublin and Holyhead until the start of 2015 as the STENA NORDICA, having previously operated the unsuccessful Dublin – Mostyn route for P&O until 2004 as European Ambassador as well as Dublin-Liverpool and Rosslare to Cherbourg before a spell with Stena in Scandinavia.  At the end of March 2015 having been replaced at Dublin by STENA SUPERFAST X, STENA NORDICA began a charter for DFDS on the English Channel, and so again became the only vessel of the series not to operate on Irish Sea services.   She is currently back with Stena operating in the Baltic Sea following a spell as the refit relief vessel for Stena Line's Irish Sea services in early 2017.

Artists impression of European Causeway
Artists impression of European Causeway. © P&O.

There are some differences between the two Larne to Cairnryan conventional vessels, as EUROPEAN HIGHLANDER was completed 2 years after EUROPEAN CAUSEWAY, having only been ordered 3 months after the earlier vessel was introduced.  As a result the opportunity was taken to make some tweaks to the design including extending the overall length of the vessel and making some revisions to the layout of the passenger accommodation.  Most significantly a second passenger lift was added to EUROPEAN HIGHLANDER.  From the outside EUROPEAN HIGHLANDER is slightly longer and has an extra lifeboat on each side, making it easy to tell the two vessels apart.  This lifeboat replaces the MES system fitted to EUROPEAN CAUSEWAY.

Despite the differences between the two vessels, passenger and vehicle capacity for both vessels is the same.  Vehicles are accommodated over 3 decks (decks 1, 2 and 3) with 2 of those decks (2 and 3) directly accessible from the double-decked link spans at Larne and Cairnryan.  Vehicle access between decks is possible via 1 x 50m long hoistable ramp, and a single fixed ramp to the lower hold (deck 1).  All passenger facilities are located on deck 4.  Both vessels were refurbished by Blu Marine whilst dry-docked at Cammell-Laird Birkenhead during 2017.  These refurbishments involved installing a new Food Court, replacing and reupholstering furniture, and the replacement of the flooring in the passenger corridors.

P&O's EUROPEAN CAUSEWAY passes Corsewall Point lighthouse while enroute form Larne to Cairnryan. Copyright © Steven Tarbox 2017.
P&O's EUROPEAN CAUSEWAY passes Corsewall Point lighthouse while enroute form Larne to Cairnryan on 21/03/17. Copyright © Steven Tarbox 2017.


Deck plan

Click on the deck plan below to enlarge it.

Official P&O deckplan for European Causeway/European Highlander.
Official P&O deckplan for European Causeway/ European Highlander from 2013.

Technical Data

Side profile of European Highlander. Copyright © Steven Tarbox.
Side profile of European Highlander. Copyright © Steven Tarbox.



European CausewayEuropean Highlander
IMO Number92083949244116
ClassificationLloyds Register of Shipping
DesignKnud E Hansen A/S, Copenhagen, Denmark
Interior Design (as built)Knud E Hansen A/S, Copenhagen, DenmarkDugdale Management and Design, Ipswich, England
Technical consultantThree Quays Marine Services, London, England
(Now BCTQ)
Building YardMitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI), Shimonoseki, Japan
Hull Number10651069
Year Completed20002002
Construction Cost£33m£36m
In service14th August 2000
(replacing Pride of Rathlin)
3rd July 2002
(Replacing European Endeavour and European Pathfinder)
Call signC6RG7C6SN6
Length overall159.5m162.7m
Gross Tonnage20,64621,118

Main Engines : 4 x Wärtsilä 12V38 (Max 7.92kW each @600 rpm, NOR 6,732kW)

Auxiliary Engines: 2 x Daihatsu 6DK-28 (1,900kW each @750 rpm)

Bow Thrusters: 2 x Kawasaki (1.260kW each)

Engine power is delivered to 2 x 4.25m KaMeWa propellers driven at 182 rpm

Sperry Marine Gyrofin® stabilizers

Litton Vision 2100 integrated bridge system

Interswitched Decca BridgeMaster E 340 ARPA radars and 250 docking radar

(See more at: http://www.sperrymarine.com/news/litton-marine-systems-supplies-electronics-new-po-irish-seas-ro-ro-ferry/)

Power(Max/Pme  @ 75%)31680kW/23760kW
Operational speed (designed/in service)22.7/18 Knots

24.95 knots achieved in trials

22.5/18 Knots
Capacity410 passengers 1750 lane metres of freight -107 trailers, 84 trucks, or 315 cars or a combination of all 3410 passengers 1825 lane metres of freight -107 trailers, 84 trucks, or 315 cars or a combination of all 3
Onboard Facilities in use
(Following May 2013 refits)
  • Club lounge (Chargeable extra)
  • Onboard Wi-Fi (Chargeable extra)
  • Family Bar
  • Food Court
  • Video game arcade
  • Children’s play area
  • Shop
  • Freight drivers restaurant
  • Freight drivers lounge
  • Freight drivers showers
  • Outside deck

General arrangement of European Causeway. Mitsubishi Heavy Industries.

P&O Promotional Video about the 2013 refit of European Highlander


Photo Gallery


Article Copyright © Steven Tarbox (NIFerrySite).

Last Updated: 02.07.18




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