The introduction of the 269-ft. Austal Auto Express catamaran Felix to a fast ferry service across the Adriatic Sea has reportedly been accompanied by an increase in traffic for its operators.
Linking the Italian port of Ancona with Split in Croatia, the ‘Croazia Jet’ service was previously serviced by a 242.7 ft. Incat vessel. This has now been replaced by the Austal designed and built Felix..
Established in 2000, the ‘Croazia Jet’ service is jointly operated by the Italian ferry operator SNAV and Sea Containers’ subsidiary company Hoverspeed. Sea Containers operates the world’s largest fleet
of fast vehicle-passenger ferries.
Earlier this month, Sea Containers announced that “Felix” carried nearly 59,000 passengers and 13,250 vehicles during the seasonal service. This is an increase of 52% on the previous year and establishes a new record for the operation, which runs from June to September.
Delivered in November 1996, “Felix” (Austal hull number 52) has the capacity to carry 676 passengers and 156 cars (or 10 coaches and 54 cars) at a service speed of 40.5 knots. On-board facilities include a business class section with private bar, two passenger decks and large duty free shop.
Originally built for operation on an eight nautical mile route between Sweden and Denmark, “Felix” makes the 130 nautical mile crossing of the Adriatic in 4.5 hours, at a cruising speed of up to 36 knots.
Sea Containers has already confirmed that “Felix” will resume the Croazia Jet service next June, following the low season layup.
David Collins of Sea Containers passenger
transport division said: “The success of the route has vindicated our investment in this service and ensures that the service has become a firm fixture in the Adriatic. The excellent passenger figures for 2002 ensure that the vessel will be back in service next year.”