The North Channel has indeed got a good deal of lane metres, with the Superfasts, and P&O's Japanese sisters, but from a business perspective, P&O virtually stood by and let Stena scoop high proportion of freight that would have been traditionally carried by Highlander, Causeway, or Mariner. I would expect P&O's stake in the freight has dropped on the North Channel from about a 70% to 50% (might be less). I think it would be a shame to see more retrenchment of P&O and more expansion of Stena, as before we know it nearly every vessel we will be sailing on will be a 'Stena ...' (almost the case now).
Don't get me wrong, its great to see a company like Stena investing in its fleet, and ports. Superfasts are certainly very fine vessels, well refurbished, and well presented. It would be nice to see Dieppe Seaways join the Adventurer at Dublin, and receive the same treatment as VII & VIII. But Stena's expansion is aggressive and they really do muscle in on the likes of ICG and P&O. North Channel, and Stena's acquisition of Rosslare to Cherbourg being prime examples. And (lets hope not!), Stena absorb so much freight from the likes of P&O's Larne operations, in fifteen years time when it comes time to order replacements for the Highlander and Causeway, P&O use the old 'not sustainable', 'inefficient', 'loss making' line like they did with P&O Portsmouth, and pull out of Larne and Cairnryan.
Personally I think the only way to ensure long term security for P&O in terms of freight and on-board experience, is to be as good, but more importantly, aim to be better than Stena. I think P&O could really win back lost ground, through lower prices, a better customer experience. P&O are investing, but not as much as Stena, I would always say 'Is it not smart to be as big as the bear'. As we all know its survival of the fittest in this sector, and if P&O doesn't keep up, in the future they will have to follow more retrenchment, or face becoming the Trans Europa II, while Stena keep ploughing ahead.
Sorry if I'm rambling a bit folks
. But anyway think I have said pretty much everything.