|The announcement on November 22 that the seasonal Liverpool - Dublin service would not resume in 2005 came as something as a shock. Though the lack of mention of the route in the company's Isle of Man Timetables published two weeks previously had set alarm bells ringing. |
However, a rumour did the rounds in early November that the service would return in 2005 provided by another operator using a different vessel. However, this proved to be a "red herring" and nothing materialised.
The route proved to be particularly attractive for ship enthusiasts. Unlike sailing to the Isle of Man, a sail to Dublin provided the opportunity to see a much wider range of vessels en route. Furthermore fares were reasonable and timings made for a convenient and longer day out at sea. Over the years I have built up a large collection of ship photographs taken from the decks of the vessels which have operated this route.
Between June 1998 and October 2004 I must have made over 200 single sector trips or 100 round trips. Unfortunately I can't be exact as I have mislaid my sailing records from mid 2000 until early 2002. However, I can be certain of undertaking 140 single sectors as I have just counted them up.
I have had many interesting trips. The more interesting voyages were when things went wrong of course or the weather proved to be particularly challenging. I have included a selection of the more interesting "Voyage Reports" in this section. Though these focus on the unusual - it should be remembered that after the initial problems with SUPERSEACAT TWO were resolved in 1998 the service settled down to a high level of reliability.
A round trip to Dublin on a Saturday after a stressful week at work appeared a good way to unwind. Being a Blue Riband Club member one could relax away from the crowds down below and contemplate the sea and fine coastal views from the comfort of an armchair. It really was great whilst it lasted.
The decision to withdraw the service appears to be very short-sighted and one must ask was it really necessary to pull the plug for 2005? Surely one more year with better promotion might have been in order?
Next year is "Sea Britain Year" when the UK's maritime past, present and future are being promoted and the public are being encouraged to go to sea.
Furthermore 2005 marks the 175th Anniversary of the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company.
The Steam Packet Company appears to have decided to mark this anniversary by abandoning the Liverpool - Dublin route and restructuring of the Liverpool - Isle of Man schedules in a manner which reduces day excursion opportunities to the Isle of Man from Liverpool. The year 2005 will be remembered more for the cuts than the anniversary.
The way that the closure of the Liverpool - Dublin route has been promoted on the Isle of Man is questionable. It suggests that the closure will result in better schedule timings being available for those living on the Island. To some extent this is true, but it is very insensitive, considering it is mainly the Liverpool based seafarers who will probably be most effected by any redundancies.
As a regular traveller I would like to thank all the crews past and present for their service over the years. It has been appreciated as have the extra kindnesses shown to myself and other shipping enthusiasts in permitting occasional bridge visits etc. Many, Many thanks.
Whilst it is some consolation to hear that Norse Merchant plan to restore a full passenger service from July 2005 between Birkenhead and Dublin it is to be hoped that an other operator has the vision to restore the Liverpool to Dublin direct sea link before Liverpool celebrates European City of Culture year in 2008.
And finally ....
Last weekend I was playing around with Photoshop and an image sent to me of SUPERSTAR EXPRESS, currently laid up at A&P Birkenhead following conclusion of her P&O charter.
I just couldn't help but apply a Steam Packet livery and a more suitable name. Wouldn't she have been a fine vessel to deploy on the Liverpool Dublin sailing and the evening sailing to the Isle of Man?
Original SSE Photo © Trevor Kidd