Irish Continental Group (ICG) has selected German company Flensburger Schiffbau-Gesselschaf (FSG) to build a cruise ferry at a contract price of €144m.
ICG will capitalise on their existing cash resource and credit facilities to finance the construction of the vessel, which is scheduled to be delivered in 2018.
The new cruise ferry will be fitted with emissions scrubber technology and ballast water systems aligned to current and the forthcoming environmental regulations.
It will be propelled by four main engines with a capacity of 33,600KW of power similar to the existing fleet.
The design of the ferry will enable to operate on all Irish Ferries existing routes and will allow the company to expand routes to take advantage of more of the operating season.
ICG CEO Eamonn Rothwell said: "This investment underpins the confidence the Group has in both the freight and passenger tourism markets between Ireland, Britain and France.
"The construction of a cruise ferry of this size will offer a premium experience for all our customers, in line with our commitment to deliver the best in service, in reliability and flexibility across all our routes.
"We also expect to be well positioned to accommodate the changing expectations of our customers, and to benefit from significant operational and financial benefits following the delivery in 2018."
The ferries will be built to Ice Class specification enabling the vessel to explore more locations.
It will feature four decks with 435 cabins including suites with private external balconies allowing passengers to choose between deluxe and standard class accommodation.
The vessel will offer an array of bars, restaurants with special arrangements for premium Club Class passengers, with a dedicated lounge featuring private access direct from the vehicle decks and cinemas to entertain guests.
Freight drivers will be provided with dedicated facilities and the vessel will also offer retail outlets and onboard facilities for pets.
The new cruise ferry will according to the company most likely be introduced on routes currently served by the chartered ship MV Epsilon, which provides year round services between Dublin and Holyhead midweek and Ireland to France on weekends.
Image: ICG invests for its new cruise ferry. Photo: courtesy of Irish Continental Group.