In June 2023, Irish Continental Group, a company that owns Irish Ferries, and also car carriers/Ro-Ro ships, and containerships, will deploy its biggest and fastest cruiseferry on an Irish Sea route. This move reflects the strong rebound in passenger demand and profitability for the company in 2022.
The vessel (currently named Tallink Star) will long-term chartered from Tallink Grupp, starting on May 5th, 2023. This will provide future employment for the vessel which was replaced on its current Baltic Sea route (between Helsinki and Tallinn) by Tallink's newer ferries. The initial charter period is for 20 months and can be extended for two 2-year periods. Irish Continental also has the option to purchase the vessel.
The 36249 GT ship is Finland-built and introduced in April 2007. It operated consistently on the route between Finland and Estonia until its final trip, which is now scheduled for May 1st. Irish Continental plans to rename it "Oscar Wilde" and introduce it in June 2023.
The cruiseferry has several advantages, including a top speed of 27.5 knots (32 mph) that allowed it to make its trips in ~2 hours. Irish Continental cites this as one of the benefits of adding the new ship to its route between Rosslare (southeast Ireland) and Pembroke (Wales UK). Additionally, the ship will have the largest duty-free shopping area (17,000+ ft2 / 1580 m2) on the Irish Sea.
Tallink Grupp’s CEO Paavo Nogene said they had been looking for alternative work for their vessel Star and the search had become more focused as the arrival of their new shuttle MyStar had drawn closer last year.
“There has been great interest in chartering her over the years and I am pleased we have secured a good agreement for her now with Irish Continental Group.”