Fastnet Line is a relatively new ferry operator and sails between Wales and Ireland (Swansea – Cork) with regular, comfortable crossings.
Fastnet Line Routes
- Cork – Swansea
- Swansea – Cork
Fastnet Line – “The People’s Ferry”
Fastnet Line revived an Irish ferry link between Cork and Swansea, Wales. Swansea/Cork ferries had stopped service in 2006 cutting off the passenger ferry connection due to commercial losses. The locals in Cork didn’t share this assessment of commercial viability. Locals formed a co-operative in order to re-establish this particular route. Over 300 individuals from shopkeepers to university lecturers contributed about €10,000 each. The resulting €3 million purchased and fit out a ferry to sail that route once more.
The ship purchased was German-built and had been cruising between Germany and Norway. After its overhaul and upgrading of some areas, the “people’s ferry” was renamed The Julia and ready for at least a decade of use by the Fastnet Line.
After a few problems following the reopening, Fastnet carried 78,000 passengers its first year. The company has set 90,000 passengers as its “break even” number. Introducing shorter and more flexible return breaks, lower fares, and more luxury cabins, they hope to make that goal. The freight end of the business is steady and growing as well. Obviously there was a need for this Cork to Swansea route as the local populous had foreseen.
The Julia makes six night-time sailings between Cork and Swansea each week. Staff began coming back to Fastnet from the other ferry lines they had serviced after the route closed in 2006, so locating a quality, well-trained crew was no problem. Most of the first year’s passengers were elderly holidaymakers. The challenge now is to widen the route’s appeal. Fastnet is working on changing public perception by adapting its business model. Lower fares, more advance specials, an online presence, and holiday package marketing are aimed at individual and family travellers. On board cinemas, restaurants, bars, Wi-Fi and luxury cabins make The Julia a modern, luxury cruise ship.
Since the Swansea football team won promotion into the Premier League after a play-off against Reading, Fastnet is hoping for a large increase in demand during the 2012 season. The winter schedule will include a departure on Friday night so that fans can attend the match, shop or enjoy a meal and leave for Cork the next day. The football enthusiasts may prove very helpful in re-establishing this renewed branch of the ferry business.
Between 2006 and 2010 former customers had to use alternative ports and operators. They now need to be wooed back. Fastnet is somewhat like a whole new start-up service, except that the entire community is engaged in seeing it become a viable business. The Julia carries 1,500 passengers, 325 cars, and 630 lane metres (allowing for approximately 30 trucks.)
Fine dining is available on board as well as a self-service restaurant catering to the whole family. The Julia has special areas for children to play safely, a casino for the adults, pet kennels, tourist information areas, and shops to provide all travel necessities. There are 300 cabins ranging in size from singles to large cabins for the whole family. Cabin guests can have a comfortable night’s sleep on the crossing and wake refreshed, ready to start their holiday or journey farther.
Fastnet Line was shortlisted for the Best Overall Ferry Operator by the British Travel Awards. The West Cork Co-op and the Fastnet team provide excellent cruise services to every passenger. It is an amazing feat that after its first year in service Fastnet has received this prestigious honour.