Stena Returns Ireland – Wales Route To Previous Capacity Levels

By: Gary Andrews
STENA ESTRID departing Dublin for Holyhead. Copyright © Voyager ShipSpotting.
STENA ESTRID departing Dublin for Holyhead. Copyright © Voyager ShipSpotting.

Stena Line has returned the STENA ESTRID to the Holyhead -Dublin route tonight (24 May). The vessel re-entered service on the Anglesey crossing with the 2030 sailing from Wales.

The E-Flexer class ferry has been operating Rosslare – Cherbourg since 2 February. The ship was moved to the Ireland – France service when Ireland – Wales freight crashed dramatically, particularly for “Landbridge freight”. The fall was largely a result of haulier concerns after Brexit checks were implemented on 1 January. Conversely, demand for driver-accompanied ferry capacity increased significantly on the Direct route from Ireland to the EU.

The STENA HORIZON did the reverse swap, operating Dublin – Holyhead instead of Rosslare – Cherbourg.

Nearly four months later, the situation has changed. Freight is returning to more normal levels on both routes due both to lockdowns ending and growng confidence that the post-Brexit arrangements aren’t preventing the flow of most types of freight traffic.

There is also an expectation that Covid travel restrictions between Ireland and Britain will be removed soon. This is expected to create a significant demand for tourist capacity on routes between Ireland and Britain. Stena and Irish Ferries have been campaigning heavily for the restrictions to be lifted.

With STENA ESTRID back on the Holyhead route, STENA HORIZON returns to the Rosslare – Cherbourg service. Her first sailing will be from Rosslare tomorrow (Tuesday). The ro-ro STENA FORETELLER also continues on that route.

STENA HORIZON is the regular vessel on Stena Line's Rosslare - Cherbourg route. Stena Line
STENA HORIZON is the regular vessel on Stena Line’s Rosslare – Cherbourg route. Stena Line

Duty Free Attraction

As well as a demand for Post-Covid travel, Stena Line is expecting Duty Free to prove an additional incentive for ferry travel between Great Britain and the Republic of Ireland.

The company has recently launched a range of new Duty Free shopping trips, starting from just £10. In the first three months of 2021, the company reported that even when carrying only freight drivers and essential travellers there was a significant increase in onboard spend.

According to Stena, overall sales on UK – EU routes were 34% higher in Q1 2021, than they were in Q1 2020. These figures were even better on the Irish Sea where they were up 53%, compared to being 14.6% up on the North Sea. Duty tends to be higher in the UK and the Republic of Ireland, than on the Continent, so there is more incentive to buy onboard. On average, the amount spent in Stena Line’s onboard shops rose by 80% per person.

On the ship swap and prospects ahead Paul Grant, Stena Line’s Trade Director said:

“With huge pent up demand for travel between Ireland and Britain, and the added bonus of Duty Free, now’s the right time to switch STENA ESTRID back. STENA HORIZON will again operate alongside STENA FORETELLER on Rosslare – Cherbourg, offering 12 sailings per week to France. We’ve doubled our frequency on our direct services to the Continent.”

Stena Press Release 19 May 2021
“Making an Entrance”. STENA ESTRID arrives off Dublin Port on her third day of service, 15.01.2020. © Gordon Hislip.

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