Irish Ferries splashes out €144m on new vessel
The Irish Ferries fleet is to get a new €144m passenger vessel after owner Irish Continental signed a contract with a German firm to build the ship and deliver it by May 2018.
It will accommodate almost 1,900 passengers and crew, have 435 cabins and capacity for 165 freight vehicles and 300 cars.
Irish Continental said it has placed an order with Flensburger Schiffbau-Gesselschaft for the new vessel.
It will use a combination of existing cash resources and loan facilities to finance the acquisition.
It's understood that Irish Continental, which also owns the Eucon freight line, has also signed an option for another vessel with the shipyard.
Irish Continental, headed by chief executive Eamonn Rothwell, said the new 50,000-tonne ship could be deployed on any of its routes.
However, it's likely to be introduced on routes that are currently served by the MV Epsilon, which is chartered by Irish Continental.
Epsilon sails from Dublin to Holyhead mid-week, and between Dublin and France at weekends.
The new ship will provide additional capacity, but also significant cost savings for the group.
"This investment underpins the confidence the group has in both the freight and passenger tourism markets between Ireland, Britain and France," said Eamonn Rothwell.
"The construction of a cruise ferry of this size will offer a premium experience for all our customers," Mr Rothwell added. Passenger facilities over four decks will include suites with balconies, as well as entertainment including a cinema.
Flensburger Schiffbau-Gesselschaft is currently building two freight ferries that will be chartered by DFDS.
Irish Continental made a €57m profit in its last financial year, which was 75pc higher than in 2014. Revenue climbed 10.5pc to €320.6m.
The group benefited from lower fuel prices, stronger Sterling and an improving Irish economy.
In an interim statement in April, it said that the company had enjoyed a good start to the year.