The completed hull of the new Irish Ferries cruise ferry W.B. Yeats – ceremonially named by Rikki Rothwell – was launched into the water at the shipyard of Flensburger Schiffbau–Gesellschaft in Flensburg, Germany, where the vessel is being built.
Fully painted in familiar Irish Ferries lettering and colours, and bearing the name W.B. Yeats along its bow and stern sections – the name having been chosen after drawing strong support from the public in an online competition that attracted nearly 100,000 entries – the vessel entered the water stern first. There to attend the event, alongside shipyard workers and officials, were representatives of the company led by Irish Continental Group Plc Chairman John McGuckian, Chief Executive, Eamonn Rothwell, Chief Financial Officer David Ledwidge, and Irish Ferries Managing Director Andrew Sheen.
The €150 million, 54,985 gross tonnes cruise ferry will arrive into Dublin next July when it will enter year-round service on Ireland-France and Dublin-Holyhead routes. In the intervening months, remaining construction work on the hull will be completed and the vessel fitted out with all of the technical, operational, décor, furnishings and passenger amenities required onboard. Later, before scheduled services can commence, it will undergo sea trials, crew training and docking procedures at the Irish, UK and French ports into which it will operate.
Set to be the largest and most luxurious ferry ever to sail on the Irish Sea, the W.B. Yeats will have space for 1,885 passengers and crew, 435 cabins including luxury suites with their own private balconies, and almost 3km of car deck space.
Andrew Sheen said: “The launch of our new cruise ferry W.B. Yeats – and the expectation of our second new cruise ferry yet to come – herald in a new era in ferry travel between Ireland, the UK and Continental Europe, bringing with it new standards in terms of passenger and freight capacity, comfort and reliability beyond anything previously envisaged.”