Built for P&O's Irish Sea central corridor services to Dublin, the European Ambassador was the company's Irish Sea flagship when she entered service in January 2001.
Soon after her debut, the ship reopened direct Dublin - Cherbourg weekend sailings with a crossing time of 17 hours. This became a very popular option with both freight drivers and passengers, and was extended beyond its initial summer operation to include calls at Rosslare outbound in the winter time. The European Ambassador quickly showed her worth and popularity in no uncertain manner.
It therefore came as a surprise, and indeed a bitter disappointment to staff, when on 1 March 2004 it was announced that Stena Line would acquire P&O's Fleetwood-Larne route and its three ships, and the two P&O ferries then operating on the Mostyn-Dublin route, the European Envoy and of course the European Ambassador. The Mostyn link was terminated and the European Ambassador sailed for Scandinavia and a new career in Stena Line colours as the Stena Nordica.
Built: Mitsubishi Heavy Industry, Japan, 2000
IMO No: 9215505
Deadweight: 4,488 tonnes
Draught: 6.0 m
Class: Lloyds Register +100A1
LOA: 169.8 m
Beam: 24 m
Depth: 5.5 m
Capacity: 405 passengers, 222 berths
1,949 lane metres
Access: Bow and stern, twin level.
The Stena Nordica replaced the Stena Traveller on the Karlskrona-Gdynia route where traffic had increased significantly. The former P&O ship increased passenger capacity by around 60 per cent and freight capacity by around 30 per cent. After a major refit including the fitting of new ramps to speed up loading and unloading, the ship entered service under the Swedish flag in May 2004.
In a relief role, the ship made her first return to Dublin in almost four years on 10 January, 2008, when she arrived from Fishguard and Rosslare, where she had conducted berthing trials. After trials in Dublin she then sailed to Holyhead to take up the roster covering the Stena Seatrader's refit.
On the 'Seatrader's' return, the Stena Nordica was scheduled to cover the Stena Europe’s two week refit, sailing between Fishguard and Rosslare from 28 January until 11 February, before returning to the Baltic.
It came as no surprise when in October 2008 it was announced that the Stena Nordica would be returning to the Irish Sea from her usual route between Sweden and Poland as a replacement for the Stena Seatrader. The ship transferred to the Irish Sea on 4th November, initially providing refit cover on the Fishguard – Rosslare before taking up her new role on 12th November.
In March 2009 the Stena Nordica received a £2M refit and refurbishment to include new passenger lounges and bar, a new Stena Plus lounge, a Food City restaurant, a new freight drivers area and refurbished seating and flooring.
New sailing times for the Stena Nordica, including an additional sailing from both Holyhead and Dublin Port, came into effect from 15th March 2009. The ‘Nordica’ departing from Holyhead at 08:20 and an additional daily eastbound sailing time created, departing Dublin Port at 02:15 and arriving in Holyhead at 05:45. The new departure time provided another option for customers who were unable to make the earlier Stena Adventurer 21:15 sailing from Dublin Port. In tandem with the changes made to the conventional service, the HSS Stena Explorer was rescheduled to depart from Holyhead each day at the slightly later time of 10:25. The return from Dun Laoghaire to Holyhead was retimed to leave at 13:30.
In January and February 2013 the Stena Nordica was used to provide annual overhaul relief on the Fishguard-Rosslare and Belfast-Cairnryan routes. In her place at Holyhead came the chartered Finnlines vessel, Finnarrow. Initially, the Stena Nordica replaced the St. Georges Channel ferry Stena Europe, which sailed north to drydock at Harland & Wolff, Belfast. Next it was into North Channel service to and from Scotland, bringing something of a reunion with her P&O Ferries half sisters European Causeway and European Highway. Returning to Holyhead during the first week of March, the ship took up the schedules of running mate Stena Adventurer, allowing her in turn to sail for drydocking.