According to the Belfast Harbour Booking system, Irish Ferries’ flagship ULYSSES is currently planned to leave dry dock at Belfast’s Harland & Wolff next Tuesday 17th July. This however is a provisional date which is subject to change, and doesn’t not take into account any sea trials which are likely to be needed given the 50,938gt vessel has been out of service with propulsion issues, nor any further work which may be needed following trials.
Irish Ferries have not yet made any official announcement about when they expect ULYSSES to be back in service however. It is understood the company are under a lot of pressure from customers, with the Dublin – Cherbourg route affected as well as ULYSSES‘ Dublin to Holyhead route due to EPSILON being required to cover ULYSEES instead of making her weekend trip to France. The fast-craft DUBLIN SWIFT was to make an additional evening round trip in order to offer additional passenger capacity according to an Irish Ferries’ statement, however this does not appear to have happened.
Rival operator Stena Line are understood to be operating at capacity with both operators putting freight customers on a waiting list (external link). ULYSEES‘ absence has been made worse by the fact that some of the passengers who had been due to sail on EPSILON had previously been booked (external link) on W.B. YEATS before they were moved following the cancellation of that vessels sailings. With the Irish holiday season now well underway as well as there being the usual heavy freight demand on the Holyhead service, Irish Ferries will be hoping that their flagship will return to service sooner rather than later.