M/V Isle of Innisfree

Isle of Innisfree when she was in service with Irish Ferries.
M/V Isle of Innisfree. Courtesy Ian BOYLE (Simplon Postcards)

Isle of Innisfree (2) is a RoPax ferry built in 1994 to be operated on Irish Ferries’ route linking Dublin and Holyhead. She was built by the Dutch shipyard Van der Giessen de Noord. Isle of Innisfree (2) is the second to bear this name in Irish Ferries’ fleet.

She now sails for Interislander as Kaitaki, on charter to the Irish Continental Group.


Technical Specifications of M/V Isle of Innisfree
M/V Isle of Innisfree (1995 onwards - Chartered out)
The Ship
Launch 1995
Maiden Voyage 1995
Shipyard Van der Giessen de Noord, Rotterdam (NLD)
Cost £46 millions
Owner Irish Continental Group
Operator Irish Ferries (1995 - 2001)
Routes Dublin - Holyhead (1995 - 1997)
Rosslare - Pembroke Docks (GBR) (1997 - 2001)
IMO 9107942
MMSI 235012190
Port of Registry Dublin (IRL) (1995 - 2002)
Technical Specifications
Length 181.60 m
Breadth  23.40 m
Draught  5.60 m
Gross Tonnage 22,365 GT
Deadweight 5794 t
Engines specifications
Engines 4 engines type Sulzer 8ZAL40S
2 generators Wärtsilä
2 bow thrusters KaMeWa
Power 23,040 kW
Maximum Speed 21 knots
Passengers & Cargo
Passengers 1,650 passengers, 60 crews
Cabins 132 berths
Garage 1,740 lanemeters of car deck, 600 cars

Service History

Isle of Innisfree

Isle of Innisfree at sea.
Isle of Innisfree. Courtesy Ian BOYLE (Simplon Postcards).

Isle of Innisfree (2) was built in 1994 for the Irish Continental Group, as part of their plan of replenishment of Irish Ferries’ fleet, a plan that cost eventually €400 millions.

Isle of Innisfree (2) was launched in January 1995, before being introduced on the Dublin – Holyhead service in March 1995. She replaced Isle of Inishmore (1). However, due to the fast growth of the route’s traffic, Isle of Innisfree (2) soon became to small to cope with this growing traffic, and therefore she was replaced in as soon as 1997 by Isle of Inishmore (2), and transferred on the Rosslare – Pembroke Dock service where she replaced Isle of Inishturk, which was sold.

In 2001, when Isle of Inishmore (2) was replaced on the Dublin – Holyhead service by Ulysses and transferred to the Pembroke Dock – Rosslare service, Isle of Innisfree (2) was laid up in Dublin, and then in Le Havre, offered for charter.

The P&O Ferries charter

Pride of Cherbourg (3). Courtesy Gary DAVIES (Maritime Photographic).
Pride of Cherbourg (3). Courtesy Gary DAVIES (Maritime Photographic).

In July 2002, P&O Portsmouth showed its interest in the charter of Isle of Innisfree for their Portsmouth – Cherbourg-en-Cotentin service. Therefore, it chartered her, before renaming her Pride of Cherbourg (3). Once refitted in the A&P shipyard in Falmouth, with the addition of extra cabins in Deck 07, Pride of Cherbourg (3) was introduced in September, replacing Pride of Cherbourg (2).

Despite the rebranding of P&O Portsmouth into P&O Ferries shortly after her introduction, Pride of Cherbourg (3) has not been repainted until 2004. The last marks of her past with Irish Ferries were removed during this overhaul. Moreover, her accommodations were renamed, to adopt the same names that the ones used aboard the ships that serve the Dover – Calais route.

On 28th September 2004, P&O Ferries announced the closure of all of its Portsmouth operations (apart from the Portsmouth – Bilbao service), and Pride of Cherbourg (3) operated her last crossing on the Cherbourg-en-Cotentin – Portsmouth service on 14th January 2005.

Pride of Cherbourg (3) was then subchartered out to Stena RoRo (although she was still belonging to the Irish Continental Group) to replace its Stena Baltica, that was being overhauled. Pride of Cherbourg (3) was therefore refitted in Gdansk and renamed Stena Challenger. Once she has been repainted to Stena Line’s colours, she was allocated to the Karlskroa – Gdynia service until June 2005.

The sub-charter to Interislander

Kaitaki entering Wellington's harbour.
Kaitaki. Picture Karoka, Public Domain (via Wikimedia Commons).

In June 2005, Stena Challenger was subchartered by Stena RoRo to Interislander, a New Zealander company which operates a route linking Wellington and Picton. Before departing to New Zeland, her name was shortened to Challenger, before being renamed Kaitaki in April 2007. Kaitaki is the Maori translation of Challenger.

In 2009, Interislander announced that Kaitaki’s chartering agreement, which was initially to last five years, would be renewed to five further years, with an option for an extra-three years. Therefore, Interislander is to charter Kaitaki until 2017, with an option to extend her charter until 2020.

Aboard Accommodations

Aboard Dining and Bar

  • Café;
  • Bar.

Aboard Shopping

  • Duty Free Shop.

Passengers Accommodations

  • Cabins with a total of 132 berths ;
  • Allocated seats.


  • TV Lounge;
  • Children Play Room.

See Also


  • "M/F Kaitaki". In The Ferry Site, Koefoed-Hansen, M., 2015. [retrieved 26th August 2015]. Available at www.ferry-site.dk;
  • Irish Ferries Enthusiasts, Irish Ferries Enthusiasts Group, 2014. [retrieved 26th August 2015]. Available at irish-ferries-enthusiasts.com;
  • "Irish Ferries". In Simplon Postcards, Boyle, I., 2008. [retrieved 26th August 2015]. Available at www.simplonpc.co.uk;
  • "MV Kaitaki". In Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation and its writers, 2015. [retrieved 26th August 2015]. Available at en.wikipedia.org.