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Brittany Ferries Season to France Opens from Cork

21st March 2015
Brittany Ferries Season to France Opens from Cork

#BrittanyBegins – Brittany Ferries first Cork-Roscoff season sailing for 2015 took place today as the flagship Pont-Aven departed Irish shores on the Cork-Roscoff service, writes Jehan Ashmore.

Pont-Aven is the French operator's custom-built 41,748 tonnes cruiseferry that features luxury cabins with balconies. The 2,400 passenger /650 cabin vessel also boasts an indoor swimming pool, the only ferry to have this unique facility serving in Irish waters.

This year will be the 36th season of Brittany Ferries on the direct Ireland-France link that was begun by Breton based operator Bretagne-Angleterre Irlande (B.A.I) otherwise known as Brittany Ferries. Since then over the decades the company has continued to grow the service with a range of stylish ferries on the 14-hour route between Munster and Brittany. In addition to running a network of cruiseferry-style services on UK-France routes and services also linking the UK and northern Spain. 

It is only since last year that Brittany Ferries have introduced their no frills  'économie' marketed UK sailings on the Portsmouth-Le Havre and Portsmouth-Bilbao routes. This allows passengers to have an option to travel on services with fewer on board amenties while offered at lower-fares.  

Due to passenger demand and no doubt competition from former rivals, LD Lines who subsequently closed all their routes last year, Brittany Ferries have responded.

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, the company are to launch a second ship to join Etretat when the no frills concept service is boosted by the launch in May of chartered ro-pax Baie de Seine.

Published in Brittany Ferries
Jehan Ashmore

About The Author

Jehan Ashmore

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Jehan Ashmore is a marine correspondent, researcher and photographer, specialising in Irish ports, shipping and the ferry sector serving the UK and directly to mainland Europe. Jehan also occasionally writes a column, 'Maritime' Dalkey for the (Dalkey Community Council Newsletter) in addition to contributing to UK marine periodicals. 

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About Brittany Ferries

In 1967 a farmer from Finistère in Brittany, Alexis Gourvennec, succeeded in bringing together a variety of organisations from the region to embark on an ambitious project: the aim was to open up the region, to improve its infrastructure and to enrich its people by turning to traditional partners such as Ireland and the UK. In 1972 BAI (Brittany-England-Ireland) was born.

The first cross-Channel link was inaugurated in January 1973, when a converted Israeli tank-carrier called Kerisnel left the port of Roscoff for Plymouth carrying trucks loaded with Breton vegetables such as cauliflowers and artichokes. The story, therefore, begins on 2 January 1973, 24 hours after Great Britain's entry into the Common Market (EEC).

From these humble beginnings however, Brittany Ferries as the company was re-named quickly opened up to passenger transport, then became a tour operator.

Today, Brittany Ferries has established itself as the national leader in French maritime transport: an atypical leader, under private ownership, still owned by a Breton agricultural cooperative.

Eighty five percent of the company’s passengers are British.

Key Brittany Ferries figures:

  • Turnover: €202.4 million (compared with €469m in 2019)
  • Investment in three new ships, Galicia plus two new vessels powered by cleaner LNG (liquefied natural gas) arriving in 2022 and 2023
  • Employment: 2,474 seafarers and shore staff (average high/low season)
  • Passengers: 752,102 in 2020 (compared with 2,498,354 in 2019)
  • Freight: 160,377 in 2020 (compared with 201,554 in 2019)
  • Twelve ships operating services that connect France, the United Kingdom, Ireland and Spain (non-Covid year) across 14 routes
  • Twelve ports in total: Bilbao, Santander, Portsmouth, Poole, Plymouth, Cork, Rosslare, Caen, Cherbourg, Le Havre, Saint-Malo, Roscoff
  • Tourism in Europe: 231,000 unique visitors, staying 2.6 million bed-nights in France in 2020 (compared with 857,000 unique visitors, staying 8,7 million bed-nights in 2019).

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