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Andy

Irish Ferries Announce Newbuild for UK/Ireland/France

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Andy   

Irish Continental Group plc invests €144 million to build a new cruise ferry

 

Irish Continental Group plc ("ICG") has entered into an agreement, with the German company Flensburger Schiffbau-Gesselschaft & Co.KG ("FSG"), whereby FSG has agreed to build a cruise ferry for ICG at a contract price of €144 million.

 

The cruise ferry will accommodate 1,885 passengers and crew, with 435 cabins and with capacity for 2,800 lane metres of freight (165 freight vehicles) plus an additional dedicated car deck with capacity for 300 passenger cars.

 

The Agreement between ICG and FSG provides that the cruise ferry is scheduled for delivery in May 2018. 20% of the contract price will be paid in instalments during the construction period. The balance of 80% will be paid on delivery. ICG intend to utilise a combination of existing cash resources and loan facilities to finance the cruise ferry. The pre-delivery instalment payments to FSG will be protected by means of bank guarantees.

 

This cruise ferry will be designed and built to the highest standards of cruise shipping, and equipped with efficiency and comfort in mind. Emissions scrubber technology (not included in the above price) and ballast water systems will meet current and known future environmental regulations and will deliver optimal fuel consumption while minimising related costs. The cruise ferry will be powered by four main engines delivering 33,600KW of power which will ensure a high degree of service reliability similar to that already achieved by the existing owned fleet of modern cruise ferries.

 

The cruise ferry will be designed to best meet the operational seasonality of our business. This flexibility in design includes the ability to service all of Irish Ferries existing routes, and will provide even greater route management options. The cruise ferry will also adhere to Ice Class specification which will allow for a wide geographic area of operation.

 

Passenger facilities will be spread over 4 decks and will offer a choice of 435 cabins to include suites with their own private external balconies, along with deluxe and standard class accommodation. In addition to a superb choice of bars, restaurants (to include both á la carte and self-service options), special provision has been made for premium Club Class passengers, with a dedicated lounge featuring private access direct from the vehicle decks. A choice of state of the art entertainment options and cinemas, dedicated facilities for freight drivers, as well as retail outlets and onboard facilities for pets, will ensure that all our passengers will be comfortable and engaged throughout their journey.

 

It is likely that this new cruise ferry will be introduced on routes served by the chartered ship MV Epsilon, (currently year round services Dublin - Holyhead midweek, and Ireland - France on weekends). The cruise ferry will provide additional freight and tourism capacity on both routes and will deliver a much enhanced onboard experience for all customers. In addition to increased capacity, the cruise ferry will deliver significant cost savings to the group and improved route and fleet management efficiencies.

 

Referring to the announcement Eamonn Rothwell, Chief Executive Officer, commented that;

 

"This investment underpins the confidence the Group has in both the freight and passenger tourism markets between Ireland, Britain and France. The construction of a cruise ferry of this size will offer a premium experience for all our customers, in line with our commitment to deliver the best in service, in reliability and flexibility across all our routes. We also expect to be well positioned to accommodate the changing expectations of our customers, and to benefit from significant operational and financial benefits following the delivery in 2018."

 

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jonno   

I see she's not directly replacing the soon to be 30 yr old Oscar Wilde, interesting.

 

Thing is, is she replacing Epsilon on the Dublin-Cherbourg run or joining her? The latter could see BF effected at Cork.

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Gareth   

Yes, if IF are upping their game on the French routes this could be a game changer or moment of decision for BF. It's already been well-aired in the Updates thread around the Pont Aven cancellations how vulnerable the BF operation is to things going wrong and how sparse the one-sailing-a-week operation to Cork is compared with the offerings from Rosslare. If IF are investing in modern purpose-built tonnage with facilities to rival BF then it may well be that BF need to decide where they really want to go with their Cork service. The once a week weekend round trip concept that was invented in the 70s may not cut the mustard any more, especially when the BF attitude to their Irish customers when things go wrong is essentially the sailing is cancelled, find another way to get across.

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I see she's not directly replacing the soon to be 30 yr old Oscar Wilde, interesting.

 

Thing is, is she replacing Epsilon on the Dublin-Cherbourg run or joining her? The latter could see BF effected at Cork.

 

She's replacing Epsilon, which is on charter. ICG have an option for a second vessel according to the yard.

 

With the load factors and rates BF are charging on the Cork Route, I would be very surprised to see them not do something (we were promised a midweek sailing when the Pont Avan was being built, but that never happened for some reason).

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Gareth   
Surely, this will spur BF to building at least one new ship.

 

They have already announced plans to build 2 new ships.

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When and where? Nothing has been confirmed as far as I am concerned.

Peg being one, only to be halted?

When are these two expected to be delivered?

What's the tonnage of both?

What routes will they serve?

What ships will they replace?

 

I don't believe we have this, only us speculating.

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jonno   
When and where? Nothing has been confirmed as far as I am concerned.

Peg being one, only to be halted?

When are these two expected to be delivered?

What's the tonnage of both?

What routes will they serve?

What ships will they replace?

 

I don't believe we have this, only us speculating.

 

 

BF announced in March that Bretagne & Normandie are priority for replacement within 5 years, they are also planning a third new build...

 

http://bfenthusiasts.com/forum/forum...in-2016/page11

 

If you scroll down, Fine Whine translated the relevant text for us.

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Ryan_H   

Personally I think it's right that BF haven't rushed in to anything and that they ensure they build the right ships for the future. I think they should be congratulated for the manner in which they have adapted the current fleet to meet the new emissions regulations, despite some of the aesthetic results ;). We have to remember the existing BF fleet is hardly that old or 'past it' in any way, especially if we look at other operators around Europe.

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neilcvx   

I don't think it's a matter of them not rushing into things I think it's probably a case of there not being a government in charge in France that will help with the funding of ships.

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hf_uk   

Daily Mail kicking up a right fuss about this - http://www.dailymail.co.uk/travel/tr...balconies.html

 

BF do need to order tonnage asap, but it's a little harsh to portray Irish as trailblaizers with "restaurants, balconies" etc, what other stunning features will it have as well.... toilets?! :)

 

Also - not being harsh but they have hardly been very inventive on the design front. Basically, its' exactly the same as the Ullyses?

Edited by hf_uk

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hf_uk   

Something to consider I guess is that this new build will also be serving Ireland - France market with a another reasonably luxurious ship, potentially eating into BF's share. BF have a very infrequent, seasonal only offering to Ireland currently but it is with Pont Aven. With the exception of Oscar Wilde, most ships from any line to serve France from Ireland have not been great. Incidentally - the premium cabins on Oscar Wilde are already at a par with BF's commodore I would say - http://www.irishferries.com/uk-en/ships/oscar-wilde/

Should BF be looking at expanding their Irish operations?

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I'm slightly surprised that there's such a demand from Ireland to France for there to be 3 good quality ferries serving the routes plus a couple of others here and there. Given Ireland's relatively small population I would have thought it wouldn't have been much of an earner. Clearly I'm wrong.

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I think Irish Ferries move could be very damaging to BF’s Cork to Roscoff operation. Dublin and it’s hinterlands is a major catchment area for self-drive holidays to France. Moreover, Dublin is closer to Northern Ireland than Cork. As the success of Portsmouth has shown, “port + proximity to catchment area + cruise ferry” area seems to be a winning formula for a viable route (certainly in the tourist market). Why should people drive to Cork for a “nicer ferry” when one leaves from their own backyard? The only problem with this Dublin-Cherbourg route is that a substantial number of Irish holiday makers head for Western France from which Cherbourg is a bit of a drive. Roscoff is still miles more convenient. This begs the question, is the next move from Irish Ferries going to be an announcement of a Dublin-Roscoff service?

 

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As we know from PA's recent unscheduled visit, it is possible to load and unload vehicles in Brest at the commercial port. If IF are serious about competing on the Dublin-France routes, and as Zuludalta says there are a lot of potential customers with an hour or two of the port, why not ignore Cherbourg and Roscoff and go straight into Brest. They have got two years before delivery to get the port infrastructure sorted and the motorway access to the south and west is much better. Provide a real alternative, not just a carbon copy service, and you might find it works. Ed

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As we know from PA's recent unscheduled visit, it is possible to load and unload vehicles in Brest at the commercial port. If IF are serious about competing on the Dublin-France routes, and as Zuludalta says there are a lot of potential customers with an hour or two of the port, why not ignore Cherbourg and Roscoff and go straight into Brest. They have got two years before delivery to get the port infrastructure sorted and the motorway access to the south and west is much better. Provide a real alternative, not just a carbon copy service, and you might find it works. Ed

 

Great suggestion CB but maybe IF might not want the hassle of a new port opening and all the sort of business risks which that entails. But, then again BF and Port de Bloscon (who I'm sure are closely allied) might not grant IF convenient "slots" in their port. So yeah I guess Brest could be a viable and fresh alternative. In addition, a city-to-city service would be a great attraction for the mini-cruise market (if that is a market IF have an interest in).

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In terms of port costs and risks for IF I think they would be minimal. I suspect it would be the local Chambers of Commerce and city authorities who would invest the money to refresh the existing docks. In my experience that is usually how it works in France (except perhaps at Roscoff) and passenger taxes help to fund the work. There are already cruise ships which call at Brest and if they were to improve the infrastructure then maybe this market would also expand. It is also possible to catch TGVs (albeit at a relatively sedate speed as far as Rennes) from Brest to Paris which would mean foot passengers could travel from Dublin or Belfast to Paris without flying. Ed

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Gareth   

On BF operating from Cork rather than Rosslare/Dublin, isn't a factor that the route is as much about servicing those living in France wanting to holiday in Western Ireland as it is about the Irish wanting to go to France? And even for the latter, I'd have thought that in Cork BF have a market niche that is different from that served by IF?

 

On Brest v Roscoff, I'm sure I read somewhere once (might even have been on here) that when BF opened their Cork service they originally wanted to sail to Brest but that they were required to sail to Roscoff because of the investment that had already gone into the development of Roscoff for the Plymouth route.

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