Operator of the Birkenhead to Belfast ferry service Stena Line is reporting a surge in bookings thanks to people taking their own cars on holiday. Tony McDonough reports
Ferry operator Stena Line says bookings on its Irish Sea routes are surging thanks to a rise in people holidaying using their own cars.
Stena operates twice-daily return sailings between the Twelve Quays terminal in Birkenhead and Belfast. Its recently acquired Stena Edda and Stena Embla vessels are popular with both passengers and freight operators.
Figures for the first half of the year show that passenger numbers are back to pre-pandemic levels across Stena’s European network. In particular, its Irish Sea routes are seeing a far higher number of car traffic than in 2019 – up 32%.
Paul Grant, Stena’s trade director for the Irish Sea, said: “Problems in the airline industry, high car hire prices and ongoing concerns over COVID all seem to be encouraging more and more people to switch to ferries and take their own cars with them on holiday.
“Ease of check-in, no queues at security, no baggage charges, no car hire costs, the advantage of being able to put your full allowance of Duty Free in your car and drive from door-to-door, all make taking a ‘car-cation’ by ferry an attractive option for travellers.”
Stena Line has 37 vessels and 18 routes in Europe, operating 25,000 sailings each year. Its vessels are a familiar sight on the River Mersey.
Until 2020, the Birkenhead to Belfast route was operated using the vessels Stena Mersey and Stena Lagan. However, in a £40m investment into its Irish Sea routes, they were replaced by Stena Edda and Stena Embla. These new generation E-Flexer ferries offer 20% extra capacity and better fuel efficiency.
In 2019, Stena Line and Peel Ports, owner of the Twelve Quays terminal at Birkenhead, jointly invested £17m in an upgrade of the facility to prepare it for the introduction of the new Stena Edda and Stena Embla vessels.
Based in Gothenburg in Sweden, Stena Line is a family-owned business that was founded in 1962.