P&O certainly have potential on the route. We tend to use P&O a lot, and I have to say the courteous nature of the crews, reliability, comfort, and quality of food, lower prices, really gives the competition a run for their money. Remarkably back in June last year Norbank carried 79 car passengers on her 9:30 sailing to Dublin, I was on this sailing and I have to say it was a little cramped. The restaurant had to serve and re-open.
Exactly what P&O's plans are for Dublin to Liverpool are, well I'm rather baffled. Norbank and Norbay, though reliable (built in same yard as Isle of Inishmore + free), are 20 years old. So how much longer they will be on the route is debatable. I think, P&O will acquire larger tonnage, much higher freight capacity, and preferably passenger capacity (though not too high) than the 'bay' and 'bank'. Perhaps something like the 2007 built Superfast's. If P&O were to develop the route enough, then the Pride of Rotterdam and Pride of Hull, might be suited to the route.
The logical thing to do is either transfer Norbank or Norbay back to the North Sea, or charter them out, and acquire larger better suited vessels, after all they are operating to capacity on most sailings. They are very nice vessels (I was lucky enough to be taken on the bridge of Norbay!). It's the smart thing to do before ICG and Stena get better equipped.
The other option of course is to sell to Stena, and given Stena's 12 quays at Birkenhead, would make sense. One guy I was talking to reckoned P&O were going to build their own riverside quay and new terminal, or move to the 12 quays, given the locking out costs currently. But then again P&O and Stena have a rather 'punch and judy' relationship, and given the situation on the North Channel, I don't think relations are that good.
Ideally if P&O got the 'Rodin' and 'Berlioz', they could release Pride of Kent and Pride of Canterbury, move them onto the North Channel and really heat things up. They certainly would cause a stir, and perhaps help P&O become the more premier provider on the North Channel. Highlander and Causeway could receive more cabins, have refurbishment and replace Norbank and Norbay.
- on a side note: Toilets on European Endeavour have all been refurbished in 'Pride of Kent / Darwin style', and recliner lounge (would make an ideal club lounge if modernised) and cinema is open.