New Stena Line ferry Stena Embla has arrived in Belfast ahead of being deployed on the Irish Sea route to Liverpool.

The vessel, the third new-build to be commissioned for Stena Line’s Irish Sea routes in the last 12 months, is due to enter service later this month.

The ship can carry 1,000 passengers and 120 cars while raising freight capacity by 20%.

Stena Embla arrived in Northern Ireland on January 2 and will complete preparatory works before going into commercial service. It will make one daily return trip between Belfast and Liverpool.

It will join sister vessel Stena Edda, which entered service in March 2020 and will replace the Stena Mersey.

Stena Line Irish Sea trade director Paul Grant said: “The arrival in Belfast of our newly built Stena Embla is yet another important milestone in the ongoing enhancement programme of our Irish Sea services.

“We have now invested over £400 million in our ferries and port facilities on the Irish Sea in recent years.

“The Belfast-Liverpool route is one of the most popular Irish Sea crossings for both freight and leisure traffic so having a second vessel of the calibre of Stena Embla, with a host of high-quality passenger facilities, will further increase its appeal and expand our capacity.

“In March 2020 we launched our new build Stena Edda onto the Belfast-Liverpool service and the feedback from our freight and leisure customers was extremely positive.

“Now we will have two ships offering identical services and facilities which will help take our service levels on the route to new heights.

“We have real confidence in the future of our Belfast services and our Irish Sea routes in general, which is why this region has attracted three brand new ships in the last 12 months alone.”

He added: “Clearly 2020 has been a difficult year for our business, however, despite this Stena Line has remained resolute in our ongoing commitment to driving our freight and travel business forward in the region.”