A massive operation to replace three ships with two and move to a new Scottish terminal clicked into gear for Stena Line’s Irish Sea North Channel service from Belfast in the final week of November. Fresh from conversion in Poland from 640-bed night ferries to day vessels taking 1,200 passengers, Stena Superfast VII and Stena Superfast VIII were due to inaugurate the new Loch Ryan Port, Cairnryan on 21 November with the £85 million facility’s official opening four days later.The Superfast twins, bare-boat chartered from Tallink, provide up to 12 return sailings a day with two-hour 15 minute passage times. Previous route vessels Stena Caledonia, Stena Navigator and the HSS1500 catamaran Stena Voyager covered the final services in and out of Stranraer, a ferry port since the 1860s, over the weekend of 19-20 November and are now for sale.The changeover period was a major challenge for Stena, who had to man all five vessels during a two/three week spell with personnel brought in from other Irish Sea services to cover the existing three-ship schedule, and collect Stena Superfast VII and Stena Superfast VIII from the Remontowa Shipyard.


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