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Storm Jorge Forces to Revise Tomorrow's Maiden Sailing Departure On New Ireland-Spain Route

27th February 2020
Brittany Ferries chartered ropax Kerry is tomorrow (Friday 28 Feb). due to make a revised maiden crossing departure time as Storm Jorge dictates sailing schedules on the new Ireland-Spain route between Rosslare Europort and Bilbao. Brittany Ferries chartered ropax Kerry is tomorrow (Friday 28 Feb). due to make a revised maiden crossing departure time as Storm Jorge dictates sailing schedules on the new Ireland-Spain route between Rosslare Europort and Bilbao. Photo: Brittany Ferries-facebook

Bad weather has brought forward the departure time of Brittany Ferries maiden commercial crossing tomorrow on the new Rosslare-Bilbao, Spain route, writes Jehan Ashmore.

The looming weather system of Storm Jorge as named by the Spanish met office, has forced in the re-scheduling of the inaugural Brittany Ferries sailing on the new Ireland-Spain service. The launch of the Iberian service will be a first for the French operator to provide a passenger ferry service using Rosslare Europort.

Afloat has consulted the Brittany Ferries website (sailing updates) which cites due to poor weather, (the sailing from Rosslare at 23.30) will now instead depart at the earlier time of 11.00 (tomorrow morning), Friday, 28 February.

An expected arrival into Bilbao is at 08:00 on Saturday, 1 March and the operator added their apologies for the inconvenience caused. For the latest sailing information click here in addition to the operators Reservations Team on (021) 427 7801 (Mon - Fri: 09:00 - 17:30).

The new twice weekly Ireland-Spain route to be operated by ropax Kerry, replaced the Cork-Santander service which ceased recently after a two-year trial period when launched by ropax Connemara. The route received enouraging passengers numbers however Brittany Ferries added the closure arose from freight figures that were not robust and hauliers expressed better road connections and shorter driving distances.

In addition to the relocation of both Irish and Spanish ports, the Kerry will also serve Brittany Ferries which is to launch another new Rosslare to Roscoff route on a weekly return basis starting next month on Monday, 23 March.

This route in addition to Rosslare-Cherbourg was not revived in 2019 as Irish Ferries abandoned these French routes based out of the 'Europort' following the introduction of newbuild W.B. Yeats serving Cherbourg but out of Dublin Port from where the cruiseferry currently operates on the Irish Sea during the winter months to Holyhead. The company however on the St. Georges Channel continue to operate through the Wexford port to Pembroke Dock in Wales.

Likewise of the former Britanny Ferries Cork based route to Spain, Kerry will continue to provide an économie service ship to compliment the weekly seasonal offering from Cork to Roscoff, operated by flagship cruiseferry Pont-Aven.

Afloat this morning tracked Kerry having departed Santander for the final time last night as the ropax makes a repositioning crossing across the Bay of Biscay bound for Rosslare Europort.

The Cypriot flagged ropax is due to arrive in the Co. Wexford ferryport tomorrow morning around 07.30 and remain until the revised morning departure sailing to Spain.

Also tracked by Afloat is Pont-Aven which recently had a new engine installed while in dry-dock at the Remontowa Yard, Gdansk, Poland, following last year's fire on board as previously reported.

The incident caused damage to one of the ferry's port-side MAK 12VM43 engine units resulting in the cruiseferry running on the three remaining engines during 2019 which caused disruption and cancelled sailings. Also berthed nearby at the Polish shipyard is Irish Ferries cruiseferry Ulysses. Afloat will have more to report.

As for the resumption of Brittany Ferries Cork-Roscoff seasonal service, this is scheduled to start with the first inward sailing from France departing on Friday, 20 March. The corresponding outward sailing from Ringaskiddy in lower Cork Harbour is to take place the next day, Saturday, 21 March.

Published in Ferry
Jehan Ashmore

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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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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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