Irish Continental Group has ordered a new cruise ferry from Flensburger Schiffbau-Gesselschaft & Co at a contract price of €165.2m. ICG said that upon completion, it would be the largest cruise ferry in the world in terms of vehicle capacity. The cruise ferry will accommodate 1,800 passengers and crew, with capacity for 5,610 freight lane metres, which provides the capability to carry 330 freight units per sailing. The group said that overall, it would effectively be a 50% increase in peak freight capacity compared to the MV Ulysses. The agreement between ICG and FSG provides that the cruise ferry is scheduled for delivery before mid-2020. ICG said 20% of the contract price would be paid in instalments during the construction period. The balance of 80% would be paid on delivery. ICG said it intended to utilise credit facilities to finance the cruise ferry. The ferry is being built specifically for Irish Ferries' Dublin-Holyhead services. It is expected to replace the schedule of the MV Ulysses, which in turn will replace the currently chartered vessel MV Epsilon in the fleet. This will allow for the deployment of the W.B. Yeats (arriving mid 2018) full-time on the direct Ireland-France route alongside the MV Oscar Wilde. The cruise ferry will also adhere to Ice Class specification which allows for a wide geographic area of operation. Chief executive Eamonn Rothwell said: 'This investment underpins the confidence the Group has in the markets in which we operate. 'Alongside the recent investment in the MV W.B. Yeats, it brings our total investment to €315m for these two vessels designed for our operations on the Irish Sea. 'The construction of a cruise ferry of this size will offer both additional capacity and an enhanced experience for both our tourism and freight customers. 'This infrastructural investment enhances "the bridge" to the UK & Continental Europe that is a vital part of the continued success of Ireland's open economy.'
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