Third time lucky as ferry's maiden voyage is plain sailing
Published 12/03/2010 | 05:00
An Irish ferry celebrated its maiden voyage yesterday.
Fastnet Line's MV Julia arrived to a rapturous reception in Ringaskiddy Port, Cork, at 10am yesterday on her inaugural sailing from Swansea.
The maiden sailing came after two postponements over the past fortnight -- but Fastnet Line said they are confident the route will now match the success of the Swansea Cork Ferry (SCF) operation which suspended sailings in 2006.
Bookings for the new ferry service are already running ahead of schedule -- and passengers disembarking yesterday were confident the route will prove a winner.
"It is a lovely ferry and we had a great crossing," Cork native, but Cardiff resident, David O'Brien said.
West Cork Tourism (WCT) chairman Conor Buckley, who was instrumental in launching the new ferry operation, said they were delighted the operation was finally up-and-running.
"It is a great day for Cork, a great day for Swansea and a great day for the economies of both countries," he said.
Fastnet's flagship, MV Julia, was purchased for €3m last year from a Finnish bank after WCT ran a successful campaign to revive the Swansea-Cork sailings.
The route proved profitable for almost two decades before SCF sold their vessel in 2006 -- and then had to abandon the route after being unable to secure a suitable replacement.
WCT claimed that the loss of the ferry route has cost the south-west tourism industry more than €50m a year in lost tourism and freight business.
The MV Julia can accommodate 1,860 passengers, 400 cars and up to 30 articulated lorries for the 10-hour crossing between Cork and Swansea.
The vessel boasts four restaurants, a cinema and shops.
Fastnet now aim to have the vessel operational all year round -- except for a fortnight for annual dry-dock maintenance.
The key benefit of the Fastnet service is that it offers tourists to Ireland's south-west, Wales and southern England a saving of 600km compared to other ferry routes.