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'Oui' Says Brittany Ferries to Returning Ships Set to Re-Opening Routes

20th March 2022
It's a 'Oui' as operator Brittany Ferries ships return to full service across the French firm's route network, among them Irish services, notably the 'seasonal' Cork-Roscoff service starts this month. The Ireland-France route will resume routinely with the flagship cruise-ferry Pont-Aven which Afloat adds also operates on France-UK-Spain services. It's a 'Oui' as operator Brittany Ferries ships return to full service across the French firm's route network, among them Irish services, notably the 'seasonal' Cork-Roscoff service starts this month. The Ireland-France route will resume routinely with the flagship cruise-ferry Pont-Aven which Afloat adds also operates on France-UK-Spain services. Credit: Brittany Ferries

Following two years of Covid, Brittany Ferries looks forward to a full complement of ships and a re-opening of routes this summer across its network linking the UK and Ireland with France and Spain.

In addition Afloat adds, the year is significant as the Breton based company celebrates its 50th anniverary in which further coverage will be made to mark the founding origins of the ferry venture in 1972.

As for this month, the ferry company confirmed the return of favourite ships like Bretagne, the re-start of services from Plymouth and Poole, and an increase in the number of ships sailing between Ireland and France.

Strengthening Irish-Franco links

Since Brexit, Ireland has become increasingly important for Brittany Ferries and its freight customers. This has been reflected in the opening of direct trade routes between Le Havre (freight-only) to Rosslare Europort, sometimes described as the Brexit by-pass.

Now, there’s more good news for freight, but also for passengers. Flagship of the fleet Pont-Aven, will return to serve French and Irish passengers as well as freight drivers on Roscoff to Cork. In addition there will be two round trips per week on the flagship cruise-ferry.

(According to the Brittany Ferries website, Afloat adds the first seasonal sailing by Pont-Aven from Ireland to Roscoff takes place from the Port of Cork (Ringaskiddy) on Wednesday, 30 March. Noting, the operator also runs the year round routes of Rosslare-Cherbourg and Rosslare-Bilbao in Spain).

Commenting on the re-opening of services, Christophe Mathieu CEO Brittany Ferries said “We are delighted to confirm our ships and schedules for the summer season, which will bring renewed optimism and reassurance to staff, customers and port partners”

He added “The return of favourites like Bretagne at the end of March, coincide with the arrival of our first LNG-powered vessel Salamanca. The newbuild is a symbol of our commitment to our customers, our routes and to a more sustainable future". Three more of the same class of ships will join Salamanca (see services below) as fleet renewal gains pace in the years ahead.

Schedule highlights for 2022 include:

Hola! Salamanca on Portsmouth – Bilbao route

Brittany Ferries’ first LNG powered vessel, Salamanca will sail for the first time with passengers from Portsmouth to Bilbao next week, on the 27 March. As well as connecting the UK with Spain, the new vessel will run a weekly rotation between Portsmouth and Cherbourg.

LNG power promises far lower emissions in ports and while at sea, cutting particulates (PMs) and sulphur (SOx) almost completely and slashing nitrogen dioxide (NOx) by 90 percent. That’s good news for those living and working around ports like Portsmouth.

Bretagne: A Grande Dame returns on Portsmouth – St Malo route

A return to service after nearly 18 months for the grande dame of the Brittany Ferries’ fleet and perhaps most popular ship with Club Voyage (loyalty scheme) members. Bretagne will serve Portsmouth – St Malo, beginning 26 March 2022, as well as delicious meals in the à la carte restaurant.

Ships Return on Plymouth to Spain & France Routes

After a winter service hiatus, Britain’s Ocean City will welcome Pont-Aven and Armorique back to Plymouth's Millbay Docks. There’s more good news for holiday makers in the south-west seeking a Spanish get-away.

Pont-Aven will serve two weekly rotations to Santander (previously one) starting on 26 March, as well as a weekly round-trip to Roscoff in France.

Armorique returns to daily rotations two days later, linking Plymouth with Roscoff, the company’s beautiful Breton home.

Cherbourg to Poole Resumes in April

Barfleur was laid up for almost two years during the Covid crisis. However, after a period serving freight on Portsmouth-Caen, the ferry returns to the ship's home route on 4 April.

The Barfluer will connect Cherbourg with Poole, two of the most striking destinations in the Brittany Ferries portfolio.

Passengers and freight drivers will once more take-in magnificent Napoleonic sea-defences on the approach to France and the natural beauty of Poole Harbour and Old Harry Rocks when arriving back into the UK.

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).