Stena Explorer returned to the Irish Sea route between Holyhead and Dun Laoghaire on 1 April, nearly two months earlier than expected. Stena say the move was in response to higher passenger and vehicle demand on the Central Corridor crossing, although the 1,500-passenger/350-car vessel, previously advertised to run from 26 May, will still make only a single daily return trip until 13 September.
Originally the 86m Incat Stena Lynx III was due to cover early season Dun Laoghaire crossings, as last year, before her own summer stint on the Fishguard-Rosslare route.
The days of sister craft Stena Voyager on the Belfast-Stranraer route are numbered, however, with conventional ferry twins Superfast VII and Superfast VIII taking over later this year when the Scottish terminal moves from Stranraer to the newly-created Loch Ryan base close to Cairnryan. The remaining HSS, Stena Discovery, ran between Harwich and Hook of Holland for ten years from completion in 1997 and was laid up in Belfast for two years until being sold to Venezuela in 2009, but she has yet to enter service.