In November Stena Line celebrated the 25th anniversary of the relocation of its ferry services to Belfast (12th November) from Larne in 1995 as well as launching the Holyhead – Dublin route (18th November). During this time, the Irish Sea’s leading ferry company has achieved a number of key milestones including transporting in excess of 45 million passengers, 10 million cars and 10 million freight units.

When Stena Line established its Belfast operation on 12th November 1995, it operated just three ferries to one port in Scotland.  Today, that service has significantly expanded to include seven vessels operating year-round services to Cairnryan, Birkenhead (Liverpool) and Heysham with a mix of freight and leisure traffic.

Throughout the 25 years, Stena Line have invested significantly in its Belfast operations and the Belfast Harbour hub is currently Stena Line’s largest port operation.

Paul Grant, Stena Line Trade Director on the Irish Sea said: “The last 25 years have been quite a journey for us. Each year we have managed to grow and develop our business which vindicates our initial decision to move our ferry operations to Belfast all those years ago. I have had the privilege to be with the company for all of those years and witness the many transformations that have helped to create the successful business model we have established today.”

Joe O´Neill and Paul Grant is looking forward to another 25 years of success in Belfast, the largest port operation in Stena Line today.

While there have been numerous milestones along the way, Paul Grant summarizes his standout moments with:

“I really feel blessed to have all these wonderful moments to choose from, but my standout moments are the introduction of the HSS Stena Voyager in 1996, the most advanced ferry in the world at that time; the opening of our new Belfast VT4 Terminal in 2008;  the opening of our new purpose built Loch Ryan Port (Cairnryan) with the accompanying introduction of the state of the art Superfast VII and VIII vessels in 2011. That project itself was fantastic, from the conversion of the vessel and creation of a brand new travel product to the amazing teamwork when we opened a new port and started operating two ships on the same day”, says Paul Grant. 

Joe O’Neill, Chief Executive of Belfast Harbour, said: “Stena Line has been a hugely important part of Belfast Harbour’s story for the last 25 years. This special anniversary is an opportunity to celebrate the milestone achievements that have taken place since the arrival of Stena Line’s first vessel in Belfast in 1995. Our close working partnership has been evident since day one and Belfast Harbour’s programme of significant investment in port facilities during the period has helped to facilitate Stena Line’s remarkable growth story in Belfast.

“We are extremely proud of the quality of offering that Stena Line and Belfast Harbour have created over the past 25 years. Today we are the largest hub in Stena Line’s European network and as we celebrate the strong foundations laid by Stena Line’s first 25 years in the city, we look forward to the next chapter of continued partnership working.”

Stena Line’s newest addition to its Irish Sea fleet, Stena Edda started operating on the Belfast – Birkenhead (Liverpool) route in March 2020 and in the beginning of 2021 Stena Embla will join sister ship Stena Edda on the route, providing a combined increase in freight tonnage on the Belfast to Liverpool route of 20 per cent, and each ship also has the space to carry 120 cars and 1,000 passengers.

Stena Embla was successfully delivered to Stena Line at the CMI Jinling Weihai Shipyard in China on 19th November and is currently sailing back to Europe.

1995Stena Line move the operations in Northern Ireland from the Port of Larne to a purpose-built terminal at Albert Quay in Belfast.
Stena Line starts a new route between Dublin Port and Holyhead.
1996World’s largest fast ferry (HSS) Stena Explorer enters service on Dun Laoghaire-Holyhead.
The second HSS ship Stena Voyager enters service on the Stranraer-Belfast route.
2001Belfast-Stranraer celebrates 1 millionth customer.
2003Stena Adventurer enters service on the Dublin-Holyhead route.
2008A brand new Stena Line terminal opens in Belfast Victoria Terminal 4.
2009Stena Seatrader is replaced by Stena Nordica on the Dublin-Holyhead route.
The Stena Navigator joins the Belfast-Stranraer route.
2011Stena Line acquires DFDS routes Belfast-Liverpool and Belfast-Heysham.
Stena Line’s new terminal at Loch Ryan Port officially opens and replaces the terminal at Stranraer.
Stena Line introduce the state-of-the art Stena Superfast VII and Stena Superfast VIII vessels.
2013Last sailing of the Stena HSS Voyager.
2014Stena Line consolidates its services within Dublin Port, with the removal of the Stena Explorer from the Dun Laoghaire-Holyhead route.
2015Stena Line launches the Stena Superfast X on the Dublin-Holyhead route.
2016Stena/Stena RoRo signs contracts for delivery of several new E-Flexer RoPax ferries from the CMI Jinling Shipyard in Weihai, China.
Three of the E-Flexer vessels are destined for Stena Line and the Irish Sea operation. (2016-2018)
2019The first two E-Flexers, Stena Estrid and Stena Edda, are launched.
In November Stena Estrid is delivered at the CMI Jinling Shipyard in Weihai, China.
2020Stena Estrid enters service on Dublin-Holyhead route.
Stena Edda is delivered and enters service on Belfast – Birkenhead (Liverpool).
Stena Embla is delivered and is planned to enter into service on Belfast-Birkenhead (Liverpool) route early 2021.

Stena Line

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