Stena Estrid – A First Look Inside Stena Line’s New Holyhead to Dublin Ferry

"Making an Entrance". STENA ESTRID arrives off Dublin Port on her third day of service, 15.01.2020. © Gordon Hislip.
"Making an Entrance". STENA ESTRID arrives off Dublin Port on her third day of service, 15.01.2020. © Gordon Hislip.

On Monday 13th January, Stena Line’s brand-new ‘next generation’ ferry STENA ESTRID made her maiden commercial voyage. At the invitation of Stena Line, NI Ferry was onboard this first sailing from Holyhead to Dublin, which was unfortunately delayed a couple of hours due to Storm Brendan.

Despite the less than favourable conditions the new ferry performed well, and considering the 6m waves she was battling on the crossing was actually quite comfortable! Her crew are obviously (and rightly so) very proud of their new ship, which is the first of three joining Stena’s Irish Sea services over the next year or so.

Signage from the stairwell between Deck 7 and 8. © NIferry.co.uk
Signage from the stairwell between Deck 7 and 8. © NIferry.co.uk

Sister-ship STENA EDDA was delivered yesterday, 15.01.19. She will replace STENA LAGAN on the Belfast – Liverpool (Birkenhead) route once she is ready for service. Another sister, STENA EMBLA, is expected to arrive next year and will also serve the route between Birkenhead and Belfast. The arrival of the two new ships means that STENA LAGAN and STENA MERSEY will go for lengthening later this year in preparation for deployment to a different route.

Stena Line promotional video featuring Stena Estrid.

As I feel it takes more than one crossing to get a true feel of a vessel, I will limit this post to photographs of the passenger spaces, some basic info, and some deck plans. It would also perhaps be unfair to judge a brand-new vessel on its maiden voyage when some niggles are inevitable, especially on such a challenging crossing on a day when other Irish Sea ferries were cancelled. My impression on the day was that STENA ESTRID performed fantastically well given the conditions, and has a spacious interior, but as I’ve said above I believe it takes more than one crossing to get a true sense of a vessel. Of particular note was the wealth of outside deck space – something of a rarity on modern ferries. There are no less than five outside decks accessible to the public on STENA ESTRID, including promenade decks either side of deck 7 and a large sun deck on deck 10.

STENA ESTRID arrives at Dublin Port on her third day of service, 15.01.2020. © Gordon Hislip.
STENA ESTRID arrives at Dublin Port on her third day of service, 15.01.2020. © Gordon Hislip.

Interior Photographs

Now follows a selection of photographs taken onboard STENA ESTRID as well as some plans of the layout of the ship as she was when introduced into service on 13.01.2020. All photographs are copyright of this website unless otherwise stated – some additional photos have been provided by Stena Line and David Faerder. At present the deck plans are photographs of onboard signage – these will be replaced in due course by higher quality images.

A photograph taken onboard STENA ESTRID of the side layout plan. On this plan you can see which staircases go to which decks. The green and purple staircases also have lifts. © NIFerry.co.uk
A photograph taken onboard STENA ESTRID of the side layout plan. On this plan you can see which staircases go to which decks. The green and purple staircases also have lifts. © NIFerry.co.uk

Deck 7

This deck is where most passengers will first arrive and houses Guest Services, a coffee shop, onboard shop, the first of two ‘Happy’ branded play areas, and a large ‘Taste’ branded restaurant. The ships galley and stores area are also located on this deck. Stores are loaded from the vehicle deck on Deck 5 via a lift which is also used as the green passenger lift when the vessel is in service. Separate doorways into the lift are provided for passengers and stores.

Deck Plan

A photograph taken onboard STENA ESTRID of the Deck 7 layout plan. © NIFerry.co.uk
A photograph taken onboard STENA ESTRID of the Deck 7 layout plan. © NIFerry.co.uk

Car Deck

Passenger cars can be accommodated on their own dedicated garage on Deck 7. This allows passengers to simply walk from the car deck and into the passenger accommodation without the need to use any lifts, steps, or stairs. Additional cars and freight can also be stowed on Stena Estrid’s 3 other vehicle decks; Deck 1, Deck 3, and Deck 5. Cars access and leave Deck 7 via a tilting ramp from Deck 5. The doorways to the stairwells and passenger lifts on Deck 5 are a pneumatic airlock style. Rather than having a large step like other vessels, passengers only have to cross a small ledge instead. Although a wheelchair ramp is provided, this was found to be unnecessary in practice when travelling with an electric wheelchair user. Parents with prams or buggies were also able to easily cross this ledge which is only raised 2 or 3 centimetres off vehicle deck level.

Deck 5 (upper Vehicle Deck)

As mentioned above, stores for the ship are loaded through the green lift on this deck. Like the lower vehicle deck (Deck 3), Deck 5 has a free height of 5.2m meaning it can accommodate the highest of trailers. From the shore, Deck 5 is accessed via the upper tier of the linkspan. A tilting ramp on the port side also connects deck 5 with deck 3 should it be necessary.

Deck 7 car garage looking forward towards the guest services entrance. © NIferry.co.uk.
Deck 7 car garage looking forward towards the guest services entrance which is completely level with the vehicle deck area. © NIferry.co.uk.
Deck 7 car garage looking aft from the guest services entrance. © NIferry.co.uk.
Deck 7 car garage looking aft from the guest services entrance. © NIferry.co.uk.

Guest Services and Barista Coffee House

On entering Deck 7 from the car deck passengers arrive in a large full-width area occupied by Guest Services and the Barista Coffee House. Guest Services and Barista share a counter space. As is the norm for Stena’s ‘Barista Coffee House’, a range of beverages and snacks is available for purchase. This area also has seating for around 130 people as well as access to the outside promenade decks on either side of the vessel. The messages on the deck are projected from above.

Entrance lobby.
Entrance lobby. “Nice to see you” is projected onto the floor from the deckhead above. © NIferry.co.uk

The starboard promenade deck (see below) can also be accessed through a doorway in this area.

Outlet Onboard (shop)

The onboard shop offers the usual selection of perfumes, gifts, newspapers and magazines, and travel essentials. Interestingly the tills are designed to be used both attended and in a “self-scan” mode. To convert to self-scan operation the main LCD display is simply turned around.

Happy World (Childrens Play Area) and Lounge

There are two ‘Happy World’ branded children’s play areas onboard, the first of these is on Deck 7 and also has an attached lounge for parents to relax in. The play area itself is inside a windowed enclosure which helps reduce the chance of the noise of children enjoying themselves annoying other passengers!

Deck 7 'Happy World' Lounge Area looking towards the enclosed Children's play area. © NIferry.co.uk.
Deck 7 ‘Happy World’ Lounge Area looking towards the enclosed Children’s play area. © NIferry.co.uk.
Deck 7 'Happy World' Lounge Area. © NIferry.co.uk.
Deck 7 ‘Happy World’ Lounge Area. © NIferry.co.uk.

Taste (Restaurant)

The ‘Taste’ branded restaurant is a much larger facility than the ‘Met Grill’ onboard STENA SUPERFAST X, the ship STENA ESTRID replaces. Seating is provided for around 325 people, and there is a generous open area forward of the counter. The ‘Taste’ restaurant overlooks the bow of the ship and is a full-width space. Unlike other Taste branded restaurants on Stena Line ships to-date, the seating is a selection of different colours rather than being dominated by green or red.

Promenade Decks

Either side of Deck 7 there is an outside deck which is fully accessible to passengers. Ash trays are provided in a sheltered area at the stern end of each promenade deck. Additionally there is also a sun deck forward of the funnel on Deck 10. Unfortunately the sun deck was not accessible on our crossing due to adverse weather.

Kennels

Dogs can be accommodated in the specially designed kennel facility located starboard on Deck 7. Although accessed from the outside deck, the kennels are fully heated and lit and totally sealed from the elements.

Doorway to the kennels on the starboard promenade deck. © NIFerry.co.uk.
Doorway to the kennels on the starboard promenade deck. © NIFerry.co.uk.
The kennels on the starboard promenade deck are isolated from the elements and fully heated and lit. © NIFerry.co.uk.
The kennels on the starboard promenade deck are isolated from the elements and fully heated and lit. © NIFerry.co.uk.

Deck 8

Where Deck 7 is focused on eating and retail, Deck 8 is more of an entertainment and lounge deck. A large ‘Stena Plus’ premium lounge is located forward, offering seating for around 140 passengers above the age of 8 overlooking the bow. Behind is the 170-seat ‘Truckers Lounge’ with its dedicated freight driver facilities to starboard, and the ‘News Room’ lounge to port. A 32-seat ‘Hygge’ premium recline lounge is located off centre immediately aft of the ‘Stena Plus’ lounge with an interactive ‘Experience Wall’ on the News Room side of the bulkhead which separates the truckers lounge from the other passenger spaces.

Sky Bar. © Stena Line
Sky Bar. © Stena Line

Midships is the 170-seat ‘Sky Bar’ with its glass atrium and staircase from the lobby area on Deck 7. There’s another ‘Happy’ children’s play area to port and a gaming and video machines area to starboard immediately behind the truckers lounge. Aft of the Sky Bar are two movie lounges, each of which has three screens. Behind the public accommodation is the first of two passenger cabin blocks which houses 87 cabins including 3 deluxe cabins with balconies. Unfortunately we didn’t get the opportunity to take photos of the cabins on this occasion, but these will be added in the future.

Deck Plan

A photograph taken onboard STENA ESTRID of the Deck 8 layout plan. © NIFerry.co.uk
A photograph taken onboard STENA ESTRID of the Deck 8 layout plan. © NIFerry.co.uk

Movie Lounges

There is a Movie Lounge on either side of the ship aft of the Sky Bar. These eschew the normal layout in cinema areas of rows of seats in favour of a more homely experience of a limited number of seats angled towards the screens. Each Movie Lounge is equipped with three 65″ screens with a limited number of seats facing each screen as can be seen in the pictures below.

Stena Estrid Movie Lounge. © Stena Line.
Stena Estrid Movie Lounge. © Stena Line.

The Sky Bar

STENA ESTRID‘s ‘Sky Bar’ midships is dominated by its large central atrium which floods much of the area with natural light. Seating is provided for 170 persons and a range of beverages and snacks is available.

Happy World (Childrens Play Area)

A second ‘Happy World’ children’s play area is provided to the port side of the Sky Bar. Unlike the facility on Deck 7 it does not have its own dedicated lounge area but is overlooked by the Sky Bar. Like the Deck 7 facility, Deck 8’s Happy World is also fully enclosed.

Gaming and Video Machines

A gaming and video machine area is situated forward of the Sky Bar on the starboard side of the ship. This is sandwiched between the Sky Bar and Truckers Lounge to the side of the blue stairwell.

Gaming and Video Machines area. © niferry.co.uk

Truckers Lounge

The large 170-seat ‘Truckers’ Lounge is located on the starboard side of the vessel and accessed from the side from the green stairwell, or from behind from the blue stairwell via the Gaming and Video Machines area. The facility is totally separated from the other passenger areas of the ship.

The large 'Truckers' lounge. This is totally segregated from the other passenger spaces onboard. © niferry.co.uk
The large ‘Truckers’ lounge. This is totally segregated from the other passenger spaces onboard. © niferry.co.uk
The large 'Truckers' lounge. This is totally segregated from the other passenger spaces onboard. © niferry.co.uk
The large ‘Truckers’ lounge. This is totally segregated from the other passenger spaces onboard. © niferry.co.uk

Living Room Lounge

The ‘Living Room’ is located on the port side in part of the area occupied by the Truckers Lounge on the starboard side. Unlike on other Stena Line vessels, the Living Room is totally separate from Barista and located on a separate deck.

Experience Wall

An ‘Experience Wall’ is located to the right of the main corridor opposite the ‘Living Room’. This consists of an interactive touch-screen game which moves along the four screens as you progress.

This 'Experience Wall' faces the 'Living Room' across the corridor to 'Stena Plus' and Hygge. © niferry.co.uk.
This ‘Experience Wall’ faces the ‘Living Room’ across the corridor to ‘Stena Plus’ and Hygge. © niferry.co.uk.

Hygge Recline Lounge

A 32-seat ‘Hygge’ premium recline lounge occupies an area immediately behind ‘Stena Plus’. This is accessed via a code. Passengers can purchase access using a touchscreen kiosk beside the entrance doorway. Unlike the Hygge lounges on the Stena Superfast ships, the seating is upholstered in fabric rather than leatherette.

Hygge lounge. © Stena Line
Hygge lounge. © Stena Line

Stena Plus

The 140-seat ‘Stena Plus’ premium lounge is located forward overlooking the bow of the ship. Dedicated toilet facilities are provided with female toilets to port and male toilets to starboard. A range of different seating is provided and passengers are free to help themselves to a range of hot and cold drinks and snacks. Table service is provided for food and there are a selection of books and magazines for passengers to read as well as a number of large TV screens. Like ‘Hygge’, access is via a digital key panel and passengers can upgrade using a touchscreen kiosk beside the entrance doorway.

STENA ESTRID‘s Stena Plus lounge is laid out differently to that on the Stena Superfast ships, with blue, white, wood, and brushed metal the predominant colours. As we have become accustomed to, Stena have scattered various designer objects throughout the space on shelves. in glass cases, and even on the floor!

Passenger Cabins

All passenger cabins onboard STENA ESTRID are located aft of the public areas. Unfortunately we do not yet have any pictures of the cabins themselves, but these will be added in the future. In the meantime here are some renders Stena Line released prior to Stena Estrid entering service. All cabins onboard are equipped with a Bazeport infotainment television system.

Deluxe cabin with Balcony Access. © Stena Line
Deluxe cabin with Balcony Access. © Stena Line

Outside Deck / Deluxe Cabin Balcony Area

Deck 9

Deck 9 is mainly occupied by crew areas and also houses the navigation bridge forward. A further 88 passenger cabins are housed aft on this deck including a 3 deluxe cabins with their own balconies facing aft. The crew area incorporates the ships hospital, as well as 62 crew cabins, a day room, and a mess room. As with the passenger cabins, all crew cabins contain an infotainment television system.

STENA ESTRID Looking down on the outside deck aft on Deck 9 from the Sun Deck above. © David Faerder.
STENA ESTRID Looking down on the outside deck aft on Deck 9 from the Sun Deck above. © David Faerder.

Deck Plan

A photograph taken onboard STENA ESTRID of the Deck 9 layout plan. © NIFerry.co.uk
A photograph taken onboard STENA ESTRID of the Deck 9 layout plan. © NIFerry.co.uk

The Navigation Bridge

The Navigation Bridge is located forward on Deck 9. As STENA ESTRID complies with all the latest standards and incorporates the latest technology, the bridge area houses a lot more equipment than other ferries which do not comply with standards such as Safe Return to Port (SRtP). STENA ESTRID is the first vessel in the Stena Line fleet to use digital charts, and although the bridge makes use of extensive touchscreens (which can be configured to show different information as required) important functions use more traditional manual controls such as buttons. A second bridge housing essential controls is housed on Deck 10 for use in emergency situations in the unlikely scenario that the main bridge cannot be used. As this is a secure area we cannot publish extensive photographs. The following photograph is published with permission of Stena Line and already in the public domain.

The Navigation Bridge on STENA ESTRID seen during her maiden voyage. © Simon Palmer / Stena Line.
The Navigation Bridge on STENA ESTRID seen during her maiden voyage, 13.01.2020. © Simon Palmer / Stena Line.

Passenger Cabins

STENA ESTRID‘s Deck 9 passenger cabins are again located aft. Unfortunately we do not yet have any pictures of the cabins themselves. These will be added in the future.

Deck 10

A photograph taken onboard STENA ESTRID of the Deck 10 layout plan. © NIFerry.co.uk
A photograph taken onboard STENA ESTRID of the Deck 10 layout plan. © NIFerry.co.uk

Sun Deck

The following photos were taken by David Faerder the week after the maiden voyage as the Sun Deck was closed during Storm Brendan.

Supplier Information

STENA ESTRID is the first of nine (to date) Ro-Pax ferries being built for Stena Line’s sister company Stena RoRo. Five of these ships will enter service with Stena Line with at least three (STENA ESTRID, STENA EDDA, and STENA EMBLA) operating on Irish Sea routes. STENA ESTRID is the first Stena passenger vessel to be built in China and was constructed at AVIC Weihai (now named China Merchants Jinling (Weihai)) to Stena’s E-Flexer design which was developed with Finland-based Naval Architect Deltamarin. The new ferry is the product of around six years intensive design and building work by Stena and their partners. Despite having been built in China, STENA ESTRID and her near-sisters make extensive use of components from European suppliers. Some of these are listed below:

ShipyardAVIC Weihai Shipyard Co., Ltd, China
(now China Merchants Jinling (Weihai) Shipyard)
Design and ConceptStena AB, Sweden
Consulting Naval ArchitectDeltamarin, Finland
Hull DesignDeltamarin, Finland
Tank TestingMARIN, Netherlands
Technical ConsultantStena Teknik, Sweden
Project ManagementStena RoRo, Sweden
Interior Architecture and DesignFigura Arkitekter, Sweden
Certification SocietyDNV-GL, Norway
OutfittingR&M (Reinhold & Mahla), Germany / China
Additional fit-out
(undertaken at Holyhead)
Madden Marine, Northern Ireland (Happy Play Areas, Hygge Lounge)

Norgi Marine, Poland

The Irish Joinery Company, Northern Ireland
Main EnginesCaterpillar Marine (MaK), Germany
Gearbox and Controllable Pitch PropellersCaterpillar Marine / Caterpillar Propulsion Production, Sweden
(Packaged gearbox’s manufactured by Renk, Germany)
Variable-Frequency Shaft Generators and Electrical SwitchboardWe Tech, Finland
Auxiliary EnginesWärtsilä, Finland (Manufactured in China)
Bow ThrustersWärtsilä, Finland
Stabilizers 
RuddersRolls-Royce Commercial Marine, Norway
(Now part of Kongsberg Marine)
Heating, Ventilation, and Air ConditioningNovenco, Denmark / China
GlazingSaint-Gobain S.A., France
Galley EquipmentAluminox S.A., Greece
FurnitureVarious (including R&M; Capdell, Spain; and vitra, Switzerland as well as bespoke furniture)
FlooringHerculan Asia, China
LiftsKone, Finland
LifeboatsJiangsu Jiaoyan Marine Equipment Co., Ltd, China
Marine Evacuation SystemSurvitec / RFD, United Kingdom
Access EquipmentTTS, Norway

Some Acknowledgements

I’d like to mention the crew of STENA ESTRID, who on this maiden voyage remained friendly and professional throughout and could be heard praising their new ship to fellow passengers. The are evidently very proud of their new ship, and nothing was too much for them despite the challenging sea conditions. Stena Line Irish Sea South’s Travel Commercial Manager Diane Poole deserves a special mention for giving up her time on a very busy day and for suggesting and arranging the trip.

Senior Master Captain Matt Lynch and his bridge crew also deserve a mention, especially for the warm welcome and for allowing a bridge visit on a day when it would have been easy to make excuses to decline – not to mention getting us to Dublin safely and keeping passengers well informed of our progress. Stena Line PR and Communications Manager Simon Palmer also deserves a mention for giving up his time, and giving his blessing to the use of his photographs in this feature. Special thanks go to David Faerder who provided additional photographs to fill some gaps in this feature. Thanks also to Bronagh and Ciara at Duffy Rafferty for their assistance.

FULL DISCLOSURE: In line with the ethos of this site as being independent from the ferry companies it concentrates on, I wish to make the following declaration (and hope other outlets such as magazines follow suit). The cost of this crossing was covered by Stena Line, however, there were no conditions attached to this and I am/was free to make a positive or negative review of the vessel and/or service based on my experience – all opinions are my own. The cost of travel to and from Dublin Port, meals, and overnight accommodation in Holyhead was covered by myself personally, and I was also left to have “free roam” of the vessel as a passenger and not chaperoned. The only omissions to this post are pictures of the bridge which have been omitted due to security reasons at the request of Stena Line. Additional photographs from other non “sponsored” photographers will also be added in due course as they become available.

Last Update: 03.02.20 -added additional photos courtesy of DavidFaerder.
19.01.20 – layout tweaks and cabin renders added