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Brittany Ferries Final France Seasonal Sailing Sees Former Flagship Due to Route du Rhum

7th November 2018
Bretagne, berthed at its homeport of St. Malo, Brittany, is a former flagship of the operator's Cork-Roscoff service, which was redeployed to cover the final Ireland-France seasonal crossing last weekend as route flagship Pont-Aven carried out race start duties at the Route du Rhum off St. Malo. The race held every four years saw the stylish Bretagne back in Cork in 2014 and on the previous occasion in 2010, it was recalled when visiting the port the cruiseferry sported a more dynamic livery scheme involving zig-zags emblazoned on the hull. Bretagne, berthed at its homeport of St. Malo, Brittany, is a former flagship of the operator's Cork-Roscoff service, which was redeployed to cover the final Ireland-France seasonal crossing last weekend as route flagship Pont-Aven carried out race start duties at the Route du Rhum off St. Malo. The race held every four years saw the stylish Bretagne back in Cork in 2014 and on the previous occasion in 2010, it was recalled when visiting the port the cruiseferry sported a more dynamic livery scheme involving zig-zags emblazoned on the hull. Credit: Brittany Ferries - twitter

#FerryNews - Brittany Ferries final Ireland-France seasonal sailing saw a former flagship cover for routine route flagship Pont-Aven, which otherwise was engaged in Route du Rhum duties, writes Jehan Ashmore. 

This year, Cork-Roscoff which achieved the best performing service of the French company's route network (incl. UK, France and Spain) saw the return of former flagship Bretagne to Irish waters. The 1989 built Bretagne first operated on the Irish service until 1992. The ferry normally operates St. Malo-Portsmouth was redeployed to the Roscoff-Cork (Ringaskiddy) last Saturday morning before returning overnight to Brittany arrival on Sunday morning.

On that same day, fleetmate Pont-Aven, given it's flagship status is required as the official Route du Rhum start vessel to depart St. Malo where the race began in the afternoon. Earlier upon completion of Bretagne final end of season from Cork, disembarked passengers and vehicles in Roscoff. From the Breton port is where the cruiseferry carried spectators to the race start further along the 'Granite' coast off St. Malo.

The practice of deploying a different ferry on Cork-Roscoff's final sailing is a routine occurrence every four years as this is to facilite the start of the Route du Rhum. Since its inception in 1978, Brittany Ferries have been an official partner. This year is also significant as it aptly coincides with the 40th anniversary of establishing the Ireland-France link, when the Armorique made the maiden sailing as Afloat reported earlier this year.

Roll on 40 years, as when Bretagne reached the waters off St. Malo for the Route du Rhum, the near 30 year old cruiseferry joined Pont-Aven. In addition, Afloat having tracked ferry activity, noted the specially reactivated, Normandie Express having departed Cherbourg, Normandy, is from where the fast-ferry also ended seasonal service to Portsmouth albeit back in September.

The trio of ferries were all chartered to allow spectators and sponsors of the Route du Rhum watch the start of the race spectacle. The yachts headed off on a transatlantic spectacular as the loan skippers brave the elements in a dash to Guadeloupe, an insular region of France located in the Caribbean Sea.

Following the departure of the main flotilla heading further west into the English Channel, Normandie Express it was noted was the first ferry to leave the sailing scene by returning to Cherbourg, while Pont-Aven proceeded to St. Malo. The flagship then began sailings on the company's cross channel crossing to Portsmouth. This service otherwise operated routinely by Bretagne which returned to Roscoff to disembark race followers.

For the first time the Port of Cork continues with a Brittany Ferries presence year round, as in the summer a newly launched 'direct' Ireland-Spain (Santander) service began. The économie branded service is operated throughout the year. 

As for traffic figures (click here) this is where the Irish-Iberian link's use of chartered-in ropax Connemara has contributed. The next scheduled departure from Cork is this Friday.

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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