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#FerryNews - Today, Brittany Ferries announced a new direct Ireland-Spain route, the first time ever a ferry service has linked the countries.

Starting at the end of April, the service between Cork and Santander, will be making two return-sailings a week.

The announcement comes as Brittany Ferries celebrates its 40th year in Ireland as previously reported on Afloat. The popular Cork to Roscoff route opened on St Patricks Day in 1978 and has been serving Irish holiday makers and haulage companies ever since. It has also brought millions of French passengers to Ireland, boosting the local and national economy.

A new ship will be chartered to serve the route to Spain, and to deliver an additional weekly return-sailing from Cork to Roscoff. To be called Connemara, she will follow the successful économie model that the company has established on UK-France and UK-Spain services. As well as opening a new route Connemara will add much needed capacity to the company’s existing line to France, creating more opportunities for short breaks.

“This is a significant move for Brittany Ferries, offering haulage companies a direct route to Spain and passengers a far greater range of holiday options from Cork,” said Hugh Bruton, general manager Brittany Ferries Ireland. “As a destination so-called green Spain promises visitors a wealth of opportunities. It hosts sweeping sandy beaches, snow covered mountains just an hour from the port, fabulous food and offers visitors a welcome as warm as the Spanish will receive when they join us in Ireland.”

The ship is currently operating on routes between Italy and Greece and will be chartered from Stena RoRo for an initial period of two years. She will carry around 500 passengers with space for 195 cars. She hosts 2,225 lane metres of garage space and Brittany Ferries expects a fifty-fifty split between passengers and freight carried.

The Port of Cork welcomed the announcement which will facilitate and enhance significant freight and tourist activity already established in Cork. Commercial Manager Captain Michael McCarthy said, “The Port of Cork wholeheartedly welcomes a service we have been trying as a port to establish for some time now. We are delighted that our long term customer, Brittany Ferries, has committed to this new service which will see an increase in tourism and freight. The option for freight carriers to bypass the UK land bridge will be seen as very attractive, as Brexit uncertainty continues. We have no doubt that both exporters and importers will make this a viable service.’

On board, passengers can expect a comfortable, no-frills service with a distinctly Spanish theme. Dining options will reflect the regions served, reinforcing the company’s drive to reveal more about its destinations at every stage of the journey. There will also be a small shop and café-bar as well as passenger lounges.

Interior and exterior cabins are spacious, with beds for up to four passengers. Four-legged members of the family will also be accommodated thanks to a small allocation of pet-friendly cabins on the ship.

The new service from Brittany Ferries is expected to be on sale by the end of January.

Published in Brittany Ferries

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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