Liverpool - Dublin - Liverpool
Sunday May 2, 1999
This was to be my first sail on the SuperSeaCat Three and I was looking forward to the comparison with her sister. Boarding began at 07.20 and everything seemed to go smoothly as we cast off on time at 08.00.I had gone straight on to the open deck and I have to admit I had mixed feelings. More of that later.
The ship proceeded slowly up river passing New Brighton light at 08.15 but then she quickly picked up speed passing the Formby light at 08.30.The morning was dull and overcast and the visibility was poor. However the Irish coaster ARKLOW MEADOW was observed heading up river followed by the coaster KIM and the larger vessel KAPITAN KUROPTEV (Russian?)
The Bar was passed on the port side at 08.38.
The mist had closed in and vessel identification at the Bar was not possible. The Welsh coast did not appear until 09.25 when the weather brightened up and Anglesey came into view. The Skerries was passed at 10.00 and at 10.45 the STENA CHALLENGER was observed heading for Holyhead followed at 10.55 by the magnificent ISLE OF INISHMORE . Then from the sublime to the not so sublime as the HSS STENA EXPLORER was also observed heading for Holyhead. A speed of 38 knots was announced from the bridge.
As the S.S.C.3 began her slow approach into Dublin harbour the ship's whistle was sounded as we passed the SEACAT ISLE OF MAN on her way to Douglas. This was at 11.35. We were alongside at 11.50 after a fine passage.
Observed in Dublin were the SIR JOSEPH BAZALGETTE at her usual berth-does she ever move? [Yes - she does - usually on weekdays, but I gather her days like many other sludge boats are numbered thanks to EU regulations - J.L.] The BRAVE MERCHANT was at her berth, bow on and the RIVER LUNE was on the south side of the river.
There is no time even for a walk around the harbour area these days. It's a quick turn round. The upper waiting room seemed crowded so I assumed the return sailing would be busy. I estimate about 400 passengers each way. Once on board I went straight up to the open deck and observed the COASTAL ISLE shifting berths to the one opposite the BRAVE MERCHANT.
Ropes were let go at 12.42 and a very smooth crossing commenced. 14.25 we were off the Skerries and at 15.35 the coaster LINDA KOSAN was observed heading out into the Irish sea. The Douglas gas rig was observed at 15.30 and we passed to the south of it. The Bar was passed at 15.46, New Brighton at 16.13 and we were alongside at the second attempt at 16.43.
My impressions of the SUPERSEACAT THREE are generally very favourable. The internal design is far better than the SUPERSEACAT TWO. The bar area is a lot better as are the eating outlets. Although both sailings were busy there were no queues on either trip. Aircraft type seating is very similar to her predecessor.
My only gripe is the outside deck. Sea Containers have gone to a lot of trouble to develop a much more sheltered deck than on S.S.C.2. and they have succeeded. It's great. But why oh why is about two thirds of it railed off with access though a small gate. There does not seem any point in reducing the size of an excellent passenger amenity. People did wander through but a "busy" asked them to vacate the area. Why? It's safe, sheltered from the wind ,far better than that on S.S.C.2.so come on Sea Containers-don't spoil a fine vessel by restricting the open deck.