Superstar Express presents a less than sleek profile in the Solent.
P. & O. were tempted to try a fast ferry on their Portsmouth/Cherbourg route in 1998. They chartered Superstar Express on a seasonal basis to operate the crossing. She was the product of a rival of International Catamarans, Austal Ships, hence she did not feature the trademark 'Incat' unsubmerged third hull. In contrast to the unlucky Hoverspeed Great Britain of eight years previously, Superstar Express enjoyed a mainly untroubled first summer operating to Cherbourg. On the slow conventional ferries it was not possible to have enough time ashore in France if one wished to travel there and back in the same day, but Superstar Express opened up new opportunities for daytrippers and brought P. & O. much needed extra revenue. She returned in 1999 before being transferred to the Scotland/Northern Ireland services. Her place was taken by Portsmouth Express. A similar sister to Superstar Express is owned by Irish Ferries and operated between Holyhead and Dublin as Jonathan Swift.
Builder: Austal Ships, Fremantle, Australia.
Yard number: 60.
Dimensions (length, breadth, depth): 82,30 x 23,00 x 3,10 metres.
Tonnages (gross, net, dead weight): 5,300.
Engines: Four M. T. U. diesel.
Power: 24,000 kW.
Speed (knots):. 42.
Passenger certificate: 600.
Car capacity: 175.
11.1997: Delivered to Star Cruises, Port Kelang, Malaysia.
25.11.1997: Entered service.
16.5.1998: Chartered to: P. & O. European Ferries (Portsmouth) Limited. Renamed Superstar Express. Portsmouth/Cherbourg.
11.1998: Laid up at Southampton.
10.1999: Laid up at Falmouth.
20.4.2000: Chartered to: P. & O. European Ferries (Irish Sea) Limited. Cairnryan/Larne.