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  • Writer's pictureJustin Merrigan

The Swift way to Dublin

High speed to Dublin from Holyhead with Irish Ferries

Irish Ferries Dublin Swift
Irish Ferries' Dublin Swift

For passengers looking for a faster crossing to and from Ireland Dublin Swift is Irish Ferries high speed ferry zipping passengers across the Irish Sea between Dublin and Holyhead.

Although Dublin Swift has been in service with Irish Ferries since April 2018 a trip onboard has eluded me - until now! Joining the craft for a busy 1040 sailing from Holyhead I was most impressed by how well the she swallowed a near full load. But perhaps I should not have been surprised given her previous career. She is a craft full of interest and one wonders just how many of her passengers, if any, were aware of her career before arriving on the Irish Sea!

Built in Australia in 2001 as Westpac Express, the craft primarily supported the Third Marine Expeditionary Force of the United States Marine Corps by transporting personnel, vehicles and equipment between Okinawa, Japan and other ports in the Asia Pacific region. In May 2016, Irish Ferries' parent company ICG purchased Westpac Express and agreed to continue her charter to Sealift (Military Sealift Command). The transition was managed with the change of head owners and head charterers going smoothly overnight so that the vessel could continue its operation in Naha, Okinawa. This arrangement continued until 2018 when plans to bring her into Irish Ferries service were put into action.

Dublin Swift, main cabin

Replacing the smaller Jonathan Swift, which had been in service since 1999, Dublin Swift became the largest fast ferry on the Irish Sea Delivering a larger car and passenger capacity than her predecessor Irish Ferries implemented a completely redesigned interior and upgraded passenger accommodation and now I was getting to see this for myself. Onboard, passengers were greeted by a delightful and well presented crew and initial impression was one of great pride in their ship - all public spaces were spotlessly clean! Passengers can enjoy spacious seating accommodation in the standard cabin, or reclining seats with views to sea, in-seat charging points and complimentary refreshments in the Trinity Club Class Lounge. Food onboard features locally sourced ingredients in several different dining options - in Club Class, Café Lafayette, and Boylan’s Brasserie self-service restaurant. Other onboard facilities include a dedicated TV area, and a games area.

Boylan’s Brasserie self-service restaurant

With over 600 passengers onboard, there was absolutely no feeling of being cramped and all seemed to move freely about the cabin. All outlets were reasonably busy but excessive queuing was not evident. Moving around The Shop was smooth and with the return of Duty Free some fine gin was purchased! Again, even for such a simple transaction, service at the cashpoint was warm and friendly.

Irish Ferries
Dublin Swift

Within two hours of leaving Holyhead we were sailing through Dublin Bay and taking in the vista of the Dublin and Wicklow Mountains; always in my mind's eye even in far away Australia. Soon we were driving over Dublin Swift's vehicle ramp and just two short hours later, we had joined our friends on the banks of Lough Bofin in Dromod, Co Leitrim.

Irish Ferries fast ferry
Outward from Holyhead, Irish Ferries' Dublin Swift © Justin Merrigan

In 2021, Irish Ferries was voted ‘Best Ferry Company’ for the 14th year in a row at the Irish Travel Trade Network Awards and were awarded in the UK ‘Best Ferry or Fixed Link Operator’ in the Group Leisure & Travel Awards for the third year running. It is not difficult to see why!

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