Birkenhead to Belfast ferry operator Stena Line is seeing an increasing number of four-legged furry passengers setting sail on its European network. Tony McDonough reports
Swedish ferry operator Stena Line is seeing a growing number of furry, four-legged passengers on vessels, including on its Birkenhead to Belfast route.
Stena operates 37 vessels across 18 European routes. They include the popular service operated up to twice a day between the 12 Quays terminal in Birkenhead and Belfast via two recently-introduced ships, Stena Edda and Stena Embla.
In February, Stena unveiled a €1m refit of its two largest vessels, Stena Hollandica and Stena Britannica. They sail twice-daily between Harwich in the UK and Hoek van Holland in the Netherlands.
As part of the upgrade, Stena decided to meet the growing demand from pet owners from passengers. In the decade leading up to the pandemic, pet ownership in the UK remained steady with animals resident in 45% of households. However, since COVID-19 arrived this percentage has soared to 59%.
In response, Stena decided to offer dog-friendly cabins on 15 of the 500 cabins available on both the North Sea vessels. It was an option the comment said passengers have been requesting via the company’s satisfaction surveys.
Erik Thulin, Trade Director for the North Sea, said: “We listened to our many customers who have requested this option and they can now have up to three dogs with them in each of our 15 dog-friendly cabins.”
There is also growing demand for pet facilities on Stena Edda and Stena Embla sailing between Birkenhead and Belfast. Although pets aren’t allowed to stay with their owners in cabins they do have their own dedicated on-board facilities.
Simon Palmer, head of media for Stena Line in the UK, told LBN: “The two ferries that serve Birkenhead, Stena Edda and Stena Embla, as well as Stena Estrid that covers on the route, already have great facilities for dogs, cats – and even ferrets.
“There are are 14 animal cabins in each vessel, of varying sizes. Booking ahead is advised, but they are free and are available on a first-come first-served basis. They are heated and lit too.
“They have them on the passenger deck next to reception. Guests have key code access and can visit them whenever they like during the voyage. There is even an exercise area to walk them during the crossing.”