The multipurpose 1,599gt/2003 built Coruisk (above) will enter service on the Dunoon-Gourock ferry route as a peak-time winter replacement for Argyll Ferries’ Ali Cat from 19th December. The Coruisk will be providing replacement sailings in the morning and in the evening peak hours. She will also be on standby as a relief vessel for the remainder of the day should either the Ali Cat or the Argyll Flyer be cancelled due to bad weather. The Coruisk will also provide refit cover for the Wemyss Bay-Rothesay route prior to 19th December when the Argyle and Bute are off for their annual refits. The new 499gt Hallaig suffered propulsion issues whilst on trials on 1st November and dropped anchor prior to being given precautionary assistance by the 206gt/1986 built Loch Striven.
At 1100 on the morning of 30th October the 26,433gt/1987 built Ostend Spirit (above) was due to sail from lay-up at Tilbury for scrapping in Aliaga, Turkey. Alas bow thruster problems saw attempts to leave her dock aborted and the ship eventually departed under the cover of darkness that evening under her own power on a one way journey. The ship passed Malta on 7th November where she was expected to arrive on 13th November. End of an era. Meanwhile her older former fleet mate Gardenia (8,097gt/1978) was sold to Oilchart NV, one of the creditors of TEF at a price of 750.000 Euro. The company bought the ferry to recover as much as possible of their money. She has since been sales listed again for 1 million Euro. The 14,458gt/1976 built Larkspur will be auctioned in the near future and both ships remain at Ostend. Sadly Antwerp Shiprepair has also been declared bankrupt, perhaps at least partly due to TransEuropa’s debts.
In early November a British company announced plans to restart the ferry between western Norway and the UK, with two weekly sailings planned from April 2014. Norwegian Seaways, which is launching the route, announced a firm start date of 14th April 2014 with sailings plying between Newcastle and Stavanger/Bergen, reprising a route discontinued in 2008. The ship to be used is a former Greek vessel, 200 metres in length and 27,000gt. Hopefully the timescale for the service launch has not been overambitious.
The fleet of Paradise Cruise & Ferry has been expanded with the acquisition of the 24,727gt/1990 built Poseidon Express, built as the Translubeca (Finnlines). She will be operated from the Russian port of Novorossiysk to Trabzon and Poti. The company’s other vessel is the 21,473gt/1981 built Isabella I (formerly the Nordlandia) and she will serve Crimea-Caucasus Line on the Batumi-Sochi-Yalta-Odessa route. The former Brittany Ferries ship Cotentin (19,909gt/2007 – above) has now been confirmed as Stena Line’s new Stena Baltica for Karlskrona-Gdynia replacing the Stena Alegra. She enters service on 24th November. Stena Line is also considering dispensing with the 8,631gt/1997 built HSS Stena Carisma. Tallink’s 18,345gt/1980 built Regina Baltica has completed her charter to the German offshore company Bard as a hotel ship and has returned to Tallinn to await her future. DFDS Seaways has now sold the 34,093gt/1981 built Queen of Scandinavia (now Princess Maria). The ship has been chartered to the Russian shipping company St. Peter Line since 2010.
The Greek Government has ruled out increasing subsidies to the ferry services serving the Greek Islands. Alas the €80m reserved in the budget for loss-making services to remote islands paled by comparison with the funds used to support the public bus and train networks. Sadly a somewhat uneven playing field exists considering that this is a maritime nation and the ferry services continue to struggle.