P&O Irish Sea – Fleet

European Causeway/ European Highlander

Built 2000/2002
Mitsubishi, Shimonoeki, Japan
Size 20, 646gt/21,188
159.5M x 23.4
Capacity Passengers: 410
Berths: 331
Cars: 375
4 x Wärtsilä (31,860)
Route Larne-Cairnryan/Troon

P&O significantly upgraded the North Channel link between Larne and Cairnryan, originally started by the Transport Ferry Service, when replacing four vessels – the passenger and vehicle ferry Pride of Rathlin (1973, 12,50Bgt), sold to Indonesia, and three ro-ro freight units – with these Japan-built sisters. Their high service speed enabled crossing times to be reduced by half an hour to 100 minutes and up to 14 return services are provided daily. After delivering European Causeway at the beginning of 2000, Mitsubishi then completed the larger European Ambassador for the Dublin-Mostyn route before European Highlander arrived to complete the Larne line-up in May 2002.


Built 1993/1994
Van der Giessen-de Noord, Rotterdam, Holland
Size 17,464gt,
166.7m x 23.4M x 5.8m
Capacity Passengers 114
Berths 114
Lane Meters 2,040
4 x Sulzer (22,259kW),
22 kts Route
Route Dublin-Liverpool

Built for North Sea Ferries to provide a fast overnight freight link with Rotterdam Europoort from a Humber river berth at Hull, the Dutch-flagged Norbank opened the service in 1993 and was first to leave, moving to the FeIixtowe-Europoort freight route after the introduction of Pride of Rotterdam in May 2001. The British-flagged Norbay came on stream in 1994 staying until Pride of Hull’s debut towards the end of 2001. Both ships switched to the P&O Irish Sea Dublin -Liverpool freight service in January 2002 since when passengers travelling with cars have been carried at special fares inclusive of meals and with cabin accommodation for night crossings. Both route and vessels are included in the sale to Stena Line.

Fast Ferries


Built 1998
InCat Australia Pte Ltd., Hobart
Size 5,902gt,
91.3 x 26 x 3.7m
Capacity Passengers 920
Route Larne – Cairnryan/Troon

Built for Buquebus of Argentina as Catalonia 1, was first used on Buquebus Espana Barcelona-Mallorca service until being chartered to P&O Portsmouth in April 2000 as Portsmouth Express. In winter 2000/2001 she operated between Buenos Aries (Argentina) and Piriaolis (Uruguay) as Catalonia for Buquebus. She returned to Portsmouth for spring 2001 and resumed the name Portsmouth Express. That autumn she returned to Buquebus services as Catalonia, and in spring 2002 returned to Portsmouth. For the winter seasion of 2002/2003 she was laid up in Europe. She returned to Portsmouth services in Spring 2003 and was marketed as the express, that November she was renamed the Express, and in 2004 was marketed as the Cherbourg Express. In 2005 she moved to Larne- Cairnryan and Troon services for P&O Irish Sea, and undertook some Larne-Douglas sailings for the Isle of Man TT races.