P&O Ferries 2002-built Ro-Pax EUROPEAN HIGHLANDER arrived at Birkenhead this morning for dry docking at Cammell Laird, having left Larne for the Mersey at around 7 pm yesterday. She was released from the Larne to Cairnryan route yesterday (Thursday) by the Dover based freighter EUROPEAN SEAWAY, herself fresh from a period of maintenance at Falmouth. This year P&O Ferries Larne dry dockings are scheduled to take around six weeks, with EUROPEAN CAUSEWAY also due to visit Cammell Laird once near-sister EUROPEAN HIGHLANDER returns to service.
While facilities onboard relief vessel EUROPEAN SEAWAY are more limited than on the regular vessels on the route, tea, coffee and soft drinks are available free of charge in the restaurant forward. A passenger lift is also available, as are male, female and disabled toilets and baby changing facilities. All onboard facilities are shared between freight drivers and all other passengers. Passengers are advised to bring something along to entertain younger passengers during the two-hour crossing as there is no children’s play area onboard.
EUROPEAN HIGHLANDER joins Irish Ferries DUBLIN SWIFT at Cammell Laird, with the latter vessel understood to be undergoing further upgrade work aimed at improving her manoeuvrability by adding azimuth thrusters. The catamaran spent winter in Belfast where in addition to routine maintenance a new mezzanine vehicle deck was added to increase her car carrying capacity. The former military vessel was, of course, converted back to civilian use at Harland & Wolff early last year.