With effect of 31st March, the Irish Ferry company Celtic Link ferries ceased to exist as a separate entity and became part of Stena Line. Celtic Link previously ran the year round Rosslare – Cherbourg service, which they took over from P&O in 2005 after that company abandoned the route the previous year. The current vessel, the chartered Visentini built ropax Celtic Horizon, is to be renamed Stena Horizon, and the process of repainting her funnel in the Stena house colours began on Monday in Rosslare. Stena Horizon is a sister ship of Stena Lagan and Stena Mersey, however she has not yet been refurbished to the high standard of the Birkenhead vessels. Stena subsidiary NMM (Northern Marine Management) are to take over the management of Stena Horizon in line with practice for the rest of the fleet operating to Ireland.
Celtic Link ferries established the route as an important export link for livestock and fish to France and beyond, and was set up by the O’Flagherty brothers with the backing of local investors. The O’Flagherty’s own a number of trawlers and a fish processing plant in Wexford and the route is an important source of exports for this business, hence their decision to re-instate the link. As well as livestock and fish exports the route is also popular with French students, and carries cars and foot passengers as well as freight and trade cars. Stena Line also recently announced that they are accepting livestock on the Rosslare to Fishguard route which is currently the only livestock export route from the Republic of Ireland to Britain.
Stena Line are already accepting bookings for Ireland to France sailings on their website.