Ferry News

Irish Ferries’ Isle of Inisheer Channel Bound As Dover Faces Capacity Pressures

Irish Ferries’ latest Dover – Calais vessel, ISLE OF INISHEER departed her overhaul at Fayard, Odense, Denmark around 1930 this evening.  This was a day later than expected earlier in the week.

The Ropax ferry is due to arrive at the Port of Calais on Sunday morning, 10 April.  Alongside in France, the vessel will receive final preparations for service, primarily in the onboard services department.  The ship is also due to undergo full safety inspections and drills by the British and French authorities before getting clearance to enter service.

ISLE OF INISHEER departing Fayard, Odense 8 April 2022. Image: Peter Therkildsen.
ISLE OF INISHEER departing Fayard, Odense 8 April 2022. Image: Peter Therkildsen.

Irish Ferries’ online timetable shows the ISLE OF INISHEER replacing the ISLE OF INSHMORE from 25 April, the latter vessel understood to require annual dry-docking.  A three-ship service is shown from 1 May.

However, in view of the current situation at Dover, it would seem highly probable that Irish Ferries will want a three-ship service in operation as soon as possible. This may only be over the remainder of the Easter period until the ‘Inishmore goes to dry-dock. 

A port under pressure

With the Easter Holiday traffic beginning and the P&O Ferries service suspension now lasting over three weeks, the arrival of the ISLE OF INISHEER comes at a time when the Port of Dover is under immense pressure.

Freight queues were said to be their worst since Christmas 2020, when France rapidly introduced very strict entrance requirements due to Covid-19.

CÔTE D'OPALE at Dover. Image: Matt Sudders.
CÔTE D’OPALE at Dover. Image: Matt Sudders.

During the weekend of 8 – 10 April, tourist passengers were warned by both Irish Ferries and DFDS not to arrive at the port without a booking.  To assist freight, both companies have cancelled the normal weekend downtime for maintenance and re-fuelling.  This means that throughout the weekend Irish Ferries will offer 10 sailings each way per day (20 in total) on the Dover – Calais route.  DFDS will offer a mighty 54 sailings per day in total, connecting Dover with Dunkerque and Calais.

No return yet for P&O Ferries

Despite suggestions earlier in the week that P&O Ferries may re-start some sailings this weekend, this was not to be the case. The company confirmed on Twitter that the Dover – Calais and Larne – Cairnryan services would remain cancelled.

On the evening of 8 April, it was revealed that the EUROPEAN CAUSEWAY had been released from detention.  A spokesman for the MCA said;

“The European Causeway has been released from detention following a re-inspection of the ferry over the past two days. There are no further inspections of P&O Ferries planned for the weekend.”

MCA quoted by The Independent, 8 April 2022.
P&O Ferries EUROPEAN CAUSEWAY. © Steven Tarbox.
P&O Ferries EUROPEAN CAUSEWAY. © Steven Tarbox.

At the time of writing, P&O Ferries is not accepting passenger bookings before;

  • 13 April on Larne – Cairnryan.
  • 18 April on Dover – Calais.
  • 17 April on the PRIDE OF HULL’s Rotterdam – Hull sailings.
  • 20 April on the NORBAY’s Liverpool – Dublin sailings.

Gary Andrews

Experienced Maritime Professional, a specialist in ship and port operations, Business Development and Customer Experience, Gary has worked for some of Europe’s leading ferry companies. You can follow Gary on Twitter at @garyandrews77
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