Ferry group Irish Continental is betting €165m that Brexit won't have an adverse impact on its business between Ireland and the UK, after confirming that it has taken an option on a huge new vessel for the Dublin -Holyhead route.
The ship will be delivered in 2020 - the year after the UK is due to leave the EU - and will be the largest cruise ferry in the world in terms of vehicle capacity. CEO Eamonn Rothwell said the investment "underpins the confidence" the group has in the markets in which it operates.
The new ferry will accommodate 1,800 passengers and crew, with capacity for 5,610 freight lane metres, allowing it to carry 330 freight units per sailing.
Irish Continental Group (ICG) said the vessel effectively provides for a 50pc increase in peak freight capacity compared to the company's Ulysses ship.
Irish Continental, which operates vessels under brands including Irish Ferries, will also receive delivery this year of the 50,000-tonne WB Yeats passenger ferry.
It's being built at a cost of about €154m at the German shipyard of Flensburger Schiffbau-Gesselschaft & Co.
That cruise ferry will accommodate 1,885 passengers and crew, have 435 cabins and space for 165 freight vehicles as well as 300 cars.
The latest ferry that has been ordered by ICG will also be built by the German shipmaker.
"The construction of a cruise ferry of this size will offer both additional capacity and an enhanced experience for both our tourism and freight customers," said Mr Rothwell. "This infrastructural investment enhances 'the bridge' to the UK and continental Europe that is a vital part of the continued success of Ireland's open economy."
The cruise ferry is being built specifically for Irish Ferries' Dublin-Holyhead services.
Irish Continental said it is expected that the new, as yet unnamed vessel, will replace the schedule of the Ulysses, which in turn will replace the currently chartered vessel, Epsilon.
"This will allow for the deployment of the WB Yeats full-time on the direct Ireland-France route alongside the Oscar Wilde," said ICG.
The new vessel will have a three-tier freight bow loading for quick turnarounds.