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

7th November 2018
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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. Photo: 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 Ferry
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. 

Ferry & Car Ferry News The ferry industry on the Irish Sea, is just like any other sector of the shipping industry, in that it is made up of a myriad of ship operators, owners, managers, charterers all contributing to providing a network of routes carried out by a variety of ships designed for different albeit similar purposes.

All this ferry activity involves conventional ferry tonnage, 'ro-pax', where the vessel's primary design is to carry more freight capacity rather than passengers. This is in some cases though, is in complete variance to the fast ferry craft where they carry many more passengers and charging a premium.

In reporting the ferry scene, we examine the constantly changing trends of this sector, as rival ferry operators are competing in an intensive environment, battling out for market share following the fallout of the economic crisis. All this has consequences some immediately felt, while at times, the effects can be drawn out over time, leading to the expense of others, through reduced competition or takeover or even face complete removal from the marketplace, as witnessed in recent years.

Arising from these challenging times, there are of course winners and losers, as exemplified in the trend to run high-speed ferry craft only during the peak-season summer months and on shorter distance routes. In addition, where fastcraft had once dominated the ferry scene, during the heady days from the mid-90's onwards, they have been replaced by recent newcomers in the form of the 'fast ferry' and with increased levels of luxury, yet seeming to form as a cost-effective alternative.

Irish Sea Ferry Routes

Irrespective of the type of vessel deployed on Irish Sea routes (between 2-9 hours), it is the ferry companies that keep the wheels of industry moving as freight vehicles literally (roll-on and roll-off) ships coupled with motoring tourists and the humble 'foot' passenger transported 363 days a year.

As such the exclusive freight-only operators provide important trading routes between Ireland and the UK, where the freight haulage customer is 'king' to generating year-round revenue to the ferry operator. However, custom built tonnage entering service in recent years has exceeded the level of capacity of the Irish Sea in certain quarters of the freight market.

A prime example of the necessity for trade in which we consumers often expect daily, though arguably question how it reached our shores, is the delivery of just in time perishable products to fill our supermarket shelves.

A visual manifestation of this is the arrival every morning and evening into our main ports, where a combination of ferries, ro-pax vessels and fast-craft all descend at the same time. In essence this a marine version to our road-based rush hour traffic going in and out along the commuter belts.

Across the Celtic Sea, the ferry scene coverage is also about those overnight direct ferry routes from Ireland connecting the north-western French ports in Brittany and Normandy.

Due to the seasonality of these routes to Europe, the ferry scene may be in the majority running between February to November, however by no means does this lessen operator competition.

Noting there have been plans over the years to run a direct Irish –Iberian ferry service, which would open up existing and develop new freight markets. Should a direct service open, it would bring new opportunities also for holidaymakers, where Spain is the most visited country in the EU visited by Irish holidaymakers ... heading for the sun!

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