Ferry News

P&O Ferries Resumes Full Irish Sea Timetable

DOVER UPDATE 26.04.22: @ 09:30 As expected, P&O Ferries’ SPIRIT OF BRITAIN crossed from Dover to Calais earlier this morning carrying freight only. Passengers will reportedly only be carried from next week.

With the return to service of the EUROPEAN HIGHLANDER over the weekend, P&O Ferries is now offering its full timetable of Irish Sea services for the first time in over a month.  

The ship had been inspected by the UK Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) on Thursday 21 April, but was only cleared to sail if a “small number of deficiencies” were rectified.  

P&O Ferries' EUROPEAN HIGHLANDER leaves Larne on her first commercial sailing in over a month, 23 April '22. Image: © Trevor Kidd.
P&O Ferries’ EUROPEAN HIGHLANDER leaves Larne on her first commercial sailing in over a month, 23 April ’22. Image: © Trevor Kidd.

Her operating partner and part-sister EUROPEAN CAUSEWAY had already returned to service on 11 April having been detained for two weeks after a record number of defects were found.

Having received clearance to sail, EUROPEAN HIGHLANDER operated a single round trip for freight only on Saturday, before resuming her normal timetable on Sunday.  

Both EUROPEAN HIGHLANDER and EUROPEAN CAUSEWAY will offer three trips in each direction Monday – Friday and two trips at weekends for the next fortnight.

EUROPEAN CAUSEWAY leaves Larne for Cairnryan on 9 April 2022. This was her first departure from the port since 17 March when P&O Ferries sacked most of its seafaring staff. Image: © Trevor Kidd.
EUROPEAN CAUSEWAY leaves Larne for Cairnryan on 9 April 2022. This was her first departure from the port since 17 March when P&O Ferries sacked most of its seafaring staff. Image: © Trevor Kidd.

At Liverpool, NORBAY returned to service on Saturday having been given clearance to sail by the MCA.  Her operating partners on the Liverpool – Dublin route, NORBANK and CLIPPER PENNANT, had only stopped sailings for a few days after P&O Ferries sacked almost 800 staff over a month ago, as they were unaffected by the action.  

The fourth vessel on the route, STENA FORECASTER, has been returned to owner Stena RoRo.  She is presently covering the dry docking of Stena Line’s STENA FORETELLER on the Belfast – Birkenhead route.

STENA FORECASTER leaves Belfast Dry Dock on 18 April 2022. Image: © Steven Tarbox.
STENA FORECASTER leaves Belfast Dry Dock on 18 April 2022. Image: © Steven Tarbox.

It is understood that the P&O vessels have only returned to service after a significant number of long-serving officers returned to the company on revised terms and conditions after being made redundant.

Limited Dover – Calais services could resume tomorrow

At Dover, P&O Ferries flagship SPIRIT OF BRITAIN has been released from detention and has been observed undertaking trials in The Channel.  She is the first of the company’s four Dover – Calais vessels to have been cleared to sail.

The PRIDE OF KENT remains on the detention list, while sister-ship PRIDE OF CANTERBURY has yet to receive clearance to sail.  SPIRIT OF FRANCE will remain out of service for a number of weeks while she undergoes repairs in Holland.  

The BBC reports that P&O Ferries currently expects to resume Dover – Calais services from tomorrow, Tuesday 26 March.

New Irish Ferries ship yet to debut

Irish Ferries’ latest acquisition, ISLE OF INISHEER, has yet to enter commercial service despite having arrived fresh from refit in Denmark two weeks ago.  It is understood that the vessel has yet to receive clearance from the MCA to enter service.  

ISLE OF INISHEER at Fayard Shipyard on 18 March 2022. Image: © Peter Therkildsen.
ISLE OF INISHEER at Fayard Shipyard on 18 March 2022. Image: © Peter Therkildsen.

Fleetmate ISLE OF INISHMORE is known to require dry docking imminently for a number of items which have already been postponed since February. 

ISLE OF INISHEER had been expected to release ‘Inishmore for her shipyard visit last week but so far remains out of action at Calais.

Steven Tarbox

Steven is a former retail professional and a ferry writer and photographer. He created NI Ferry Site as a web design project in 2014 to be a news and information source for everyone with an interest in ferries, with a particular focus on Northern Ireland. Steven is the editor of the website and looks after all of the technical aspects.
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