Norbank / Norbay Fast Facts
|Current Name: Norbank / Norbay||Previous Names:|
|Shipyard: van der Giessen-de Noord [NL], 961 / 962||IMO Number: 9056583 / 9056595|
|Current Operator: P&O Ferries||Current Route: Liverpool [GB] - Dublin [IE]|
|Length Overall: 166.77 m||Beam: 23.4 m|
|Passenger Capacity: 114||Vehicle Capacity: 2,040 lane metres (approx. 156 x 12.5m trailers, 125 commercial vehicles, or a mix of HGV’s and cars)|
|Tonnage: 17,464||Sister-ships: No direct sister-ships but Norbank and Norbay share a common hull form with a number of other vessels including Ben-My-Chree, Commodore Clipper, and Kaitaki.|
P&O Ferries’ NORBAY and NORBANK are Dutch-built Ro-Pax ferries which operate on the Liverpool – Dublin route. They were built for North Sea Ferries’ Hull – Rotterdam service as dedicated driver-accompanied freight vessels.
NORBAY and NORBANK moved to the Irish Sea in 2002 after they and the Ro-Pax vessels on the Hull – Rotterdam route, NORSEA and NORSUN, were replaced by PRIDE OF HULL and PRIDE OF ROTTERDAM. The much larger capacity of the new ships meant that P&O Ferries no longer needed additional dedicated freight ships on the Rotterdam route.
Since their move from the North Sea, both NORBAY and NORBANK have reliably served the Dublin route, only straying briefly to relieve vessels elsewhere or for their own maintenance.
While primarily aimed at freight, P&O’s Dublin – Liverpool operation is also marketed to passengers as a no-frills service. Although the facilities are more basic than on the ships which operate the shorter Dublin – Holyhead crossing, P&O’s fares are normally lower despite the longer crossing. Two meals are also included in the fare. This makes the service something of a bargain ferry route between England and Ireland.
NORBAY and NORBANK are virtually identical. They have a bar, restaurant, small duty free shop, and passenger cabins onboard. Unlike most ferries, there is no lift access. This reflects the role the vessels were originally designed for but means the route may be unsuitable for those with mobility issues. Car drivers may also be required to turn their vehicle around on the vehicle deck as the vessels are stern-only loading.
Some clues to the ships’ origins can be seen. The North Sea Ferries logo can be seen on the doors into the main lounge area and some signage around the ship – particularly in the cabin area – clearly dates from the early part of their career.
Aboard the still-Dutch registered NORBANK can be seen a painting of King Willem Alexander and Queen Máxima of The Netherlands.
For more detailed information on NORBAY and NORBANK, including technical data, please see the main profile page here.
Norbank / Norbay Deck Plan
Onboard Norbay and Norbank
Whilst many of the photos and comments contained here are based on a trip on the NORBAY whilst providing refit cover on the Larne – Cairnryan route, it should be stressed all details are the same for her sister, the NORBANK.
Reception and Duty Free Shop
As with other passenger vessels linking the U.K. with EU countries, NORBAY has a duty free shop onboard. This takes the form of a kiosk which also doubles as the information desk onboard.
The size and passenger capacity of the vessel means that the duty free shop is smaller and carries less stock and variety than those on other routes, but that doesn’t mean that bargains aren’t available. At the time of writing, the headline offers are up to 50% off liquor and up to 40% off fragrances.
For example, a 1 litre bottle of Smirnoff red vodka retails at just £9.99. That’s less than half the normal price than in U.K. supermarkets. Irish passengers can save even more, with the usual supermarket retail price of the same bottle of vodka around €34 in Ireland due to the higher level of duty there.
Cigarettes and rolling tobacco are also available, with prices starting at £50 for 200 Sterling Superkings cigarettes. Again this is significantly cheaper than prices on land, and a variety of popular brands are available. Discounts are even greater on cartons of 400 cigarettes, though it should be noted that the maximum allowance for arrivals in both the UK and EU is 200 cigarettes per individual so this would need to be shared by travel companions. A selection of fragrances from leading names is also available at a discount onboard.
As with other P&O Ferries ships, the shop on NORBAY is a World Duty Free concession, though it is manned by P&O Ferries staff. Duty free is only available to purchase at certain times during the crossing as communicated onboard.
Passengers are able to purchase alcoholic and soft drinks at the bar. Seating is provided on bar stools opposite the counter itself as well as seats around tables to either side. The bar sits between the information desk/duty free shop and the restaurant.
Operating on the Dublin route, needless to say a good quality pint of draught Guinness is offered!
All meals onboard are taken in the self-service restaurant and on the Liverpool – Dublin route are included in the fare. On all crossings a three-course meal is provided at one part of the crossing and full cooked breakfast at the other. Complimentary hot drinks and juice are also available.
The food isn’t Michelin standard, but it is good quality hearty fare that’s above average for self-service ferry food. Many dishes are prepared from scratch onboard.
When the vessel is used as cover on the Larne – Cairnryan route, passengers can purchase a food voucher from the bar. On her most recent stint at Larne, a three-course meal was offered for just £7.99.
A Visit to Norbay’s Bridge
NI Ferry was kindly invited to the bridge during a crossing between Larne and Cairnryan, these photos are from that visit.
Although NORBAY was built back in 1994, the ship and her sister have been continually updated to keep up with (and exceed) changing legislation.
Rather than dated CRT monitors, the bridge has been fitted with more recent LCD technology and uses digital charts. Satellite navigation takes care of much of the crossing, although there are of course human eyes constantly checking and making adjustments.
Berthing at both Dublin and Liverpool can be challenging for different reasons, and the ships have been customised to reflect this. At Liverpool, the ships have to negotiate the lock system with little clearance on each side.
A CCTV camera is installed on each bridge wing looking down the side of the vessel. The live video from this is shown on a monitor on the opposite wing so that both sides of the vessel can be monitored simultaneously. This is not only useful in the Liverpool lock system, but also when making the tight turn in the River Liffey at Dublin.
In common with other Van der Giessen built ships, NORBAY and NORBANK’s bridge wings overhang the vessel by a significant amount. This means that while manoeuvring the vessel from the bridge console the captains whole body is beyond the side of the ship. This gives him or her an unobstructed 180 degree view of the vessel’s position.
The bridge console is also parallel with the side of the ship aiding accurate manoeuvring onto the berth.
With thanks to P&O Ferries for their assistance with this article, in particular Captain David Crerar, Onboard Services Manager Colin Mansfield and the rest of the crew on NORBAY, for their hospitality.