There are fears that hordes of Pembrokeshire rugby fans may not be able to get to the Wales vs Ireland Six Nations match, after a luxurious passenger ferry has been replaced with an ‘economy ferry’ that can’t take foot passengers.

The Oscar Wilde, billed as the ‘largest duty-free shop to sail the Irish Sea’ sailed out of Pembroke Dock at the end of last month to be replaced with economy ferry the Norbay ‘until further notice’.

Differences between the two ferries are stark. The Oscar Wilde, which took over the Pembroke Rosslare run in June last year, has the largest passenger capacity of any vessel on the Irish Sea; she can take 2,080 passengers and has 131 cabins providing berths for 520 passengers.

She has space for 2,380lm of freight, separate facilities for freight drivers as well as a large duty-free shop, a Club Class lounge, self-service restaurant, an a la carte restaurant, a bar, gaming facilities, pet facilities and a children’s play area.

It is understood that after a spell in dry dock, the Oscar Wilde will be deployed by Irish Ferries on the Dublin to Holyhead run.

The Norbay, in contrast, is described as having ‘limited passenger facilities’ in the form of a simple restaurant and bar, a basic shop/reception desk, and two bed standard en-suite cabins.

Irish Ferries says that the ship is unsuitable for travellers with a disability or reduced mobility, or young children and buggies, as there are no lifts to the main passenger area and access is by steep staircase only.

Importantly, the 17.464 tonne vessel does not take foot passengers and, according to NI Ferry Site only has space for 114 passengers.

With no ferry running on the Fishguard Rosslare route until at least February 19, there is currently no way for foot passengers to travel between Pembrokeshire and Rosslare.

The Fishguard Rosslare run is anticipated to resume on February 19. It was initially hoped that the run would start back on January 29 but issues with the relief ferry put it back.

There are fears that if problems continue with the Fishguard run, potentially hundreds of local rugby fans will not be able to make it to the Ireland Wales game on February 24 at Dublin’s Aviva Stadium.

Despite repeated requests for more information, Irish Ferries has remained tight- lipped on the Norbay replacing the Oscar Wilde and whether the Oscar Wilde will return to the Pembroke Rosslare run.

However, the Port of Milford Haven confirmed that the Norbay will be on the run ‘until further notice’ and confirmed that the ferry does not take foot passengers.

“We continue to provide excellent port services to support this important UK and International trade route,” said a port spokesperson.