The final of a trio of P&O Ferries vessels replaced by the state-of-the-art hybrids P&O PIONEER and P&O LIBERTÉ completed its last ever sailing on Wednesday, 18 January. At around 13:15 (UTC), the PRIDE OF CANTERBURY was beached at Aliaga, Türkiye following a period of layup. Former operating partners PRIDE OF BURGUNDY and PRIDE OF KENT were beached in April and October 2023 respectively.
As with the PRIDE OF BURGUNDY and PRIDE OF KENT before her, P&O Ferries had attempted to sell PRIDE OF CANTERBURY to a non-scrap buyer, but was unsuccessful.
Meanwhile, as-built sister-ship BLUE WAVE HARMONY (ex EUROPEAN SEAWAY) is returning Europe after the new route she was acquired to serve failed. BLUE WAVE HARMONY, which was the only one of four “Super European class” freighters ordered by P&O in the 1990’s to remain in her original configuration throughout her time with the company, is currently making her way back across the Atlantic to Gran Canaria where she is expected to arrive tomorrow, 19 January.
Although BLUE WAVE HARMONY has less passenger accommodation than part-sisters PRIDE OF BURGUNDY, PRIDE OF KENT, and PRIDE OF CANTERBURY had, she was fitted with a large stern loading ramp and an internal ramp between her two vehicle decks by Sea Lines, the company which acquired her from P&O Ferries. This makes the former EUROPEAN SEAWAY potentially much more useful to operators outside of the Dover Strait than her part-sisters would have been. She also retains passenger cabins that her sisters lacked. The Super European class was originally designed solely for the twin-level shore to ship ramp arrangement used by Dover Strait ferries and so the three recycled vessels would have required expensive conversion to serve most other areas.
It remains to be seen where BLUE WAVE HARMONY ends up, but with good freight capacity for her size and an original design capacity for 200 passengers (all with berths) she may prove to be an attractive proposition for some operators. Her return to Europe suggests there is at least some interest in further use of the vessel. All eyes will be on her next destination after Las Palmas, though due to her age a return to Northern Europe would seem unlikely.
The second of P&O Ferries’ impressive new double-ended Dover to Calais ferries, P&O LIBERTÉ, departed China on her delivery voyage to Europe on 15 January just after 1600 local time. The ship is expected at Dover on or around 1 March.
P&O LIBERTÉ’s delivery voyage will be a number of weeks longer than that of P&O PIONEER as it is currently planned for ‘Liberté to sail around the Cape of Good Hope rather than use the Suez Canal. This is due to the ongoing risks associated with passing through the Red Sea. The diversion will add thousands of nautical miles to the delivery voyage of P&O LIBERTÉ.
The vessel’s first call on her sail to Dover is expected to be Colombo, Sri Lanka on 23 January.
Presently the P&O Ferries Dover to Calais passenger booking engine indicates that from 19 March P&O PIONEER and P&O LIBERTÉ will each offer up to four round trips per day, while SPIRIT OF FRANCE and SPIRIT OF BRITAIN will each offer up to three round trips per day.