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Brittany Ferries Add New Rosslare-Cherbourg Service Bringing More Capacity & Much Earlier

16th January 2021
Brittany Ferries is to open a second route out of Rosslare to Cherbourg but by two months ahead of schedule to meet driving freight demand between Ireland and mainland Europe. The service is to be operated by Cap Finistère, at 204m long and of 33,000 gross registered tonnes. The ferry first entered service with the French operator in 2010, on long-haul routes connecting Portsmouth (UK) and Santander and Bilbao (Northern Spain). The ‘Superfast’ class ferry has plenty of space for drivers and passengers, with 265 en-suite cabins. The garage decks offer nearly 2km of space for freight vehicles, and the ferry is the fastest in the fleet with a top cruising speed of 28 knots. Brittany Ferries is to open a second route out of Rosslare to Cherbourg but by two months ahead of schedule to meet driving freight demand between Ireland and mainland Europe. The service is to be operated by Cap Finistère, at 204m long and of 33,000 gross registered tonnes. The ferry first entered service with the French operator in 2010, on long-haul routes connecting Portsmouth (UK) and Santander and Bilbao (Northern Spain). The ‘Superfast’ class ferry has plenty of space for drivers and passengers, with 265 en-suite cabins. The garage decks offer nearly 2km of space for freight vehicles, and the ferry is the fastest in the fleet with a top cruising speed of 28 knots.

Hot on the heals of Stena Line's new Dublin-Cherbourg route announced today, Brittany Ferries has also acted quickly to support the freight sector and meet the needs of an industry battling Brexit by confirming a new weekly Rosslare-Cherbourg service.

As Afloat reported back in July, this new Ireland-France service which was due to commence in March, will begin service on Monday, 18 January 2021. This new service will initially be served by the Cap Finistère.

Afloat adds Stena Line increased freight space with the brand new Stena Embla but on the Rosslare-Cherbourg route with the ferry completing a first round trip today. This follows Irish Ferries which only last week deployed W.B.Yeats onto the Dublin-Cherbourg route but much earlier so to alleviate pressing freight concerns over capacity.

As Brittany Ferries highlight, Irish and French hauliers have traditionally relied on the UK-land bridge when transporting goods to and from mainland Europe. However, since the beginning of the year, more companies have sought an alternative to the additional administration, new formalities, greater costs and potential delays that come from carrying goods though the UK.

Therefore, the French operator confirms today that Cap Finistère will cover the twice weekly sailing connecting Rosslare and Bilbao, taking over from Connemara until 10 February. As a consequence of this ship’s flexibility, Brittany Ferries will also add a weekly rotation connecting Rosslare with Cherbourg to the schedule, opening this Ireland-France route two months earlier than originally planned.

“Brittany Ferries prides itself on decisive action, based on the flexibility of its fleet and we can meet the needs of the marketplace quickly,” said Christophe Mathieu, Brittany Ferries CEO. “Cap Finistère is our fastest Ro-Ro vessel and she is therefore well suited to opening this new Brexit by-pass, making an additional sailing each week connecting France and Ireland.”

Glenn Carr, General Manager, Rosslare Europort said “all at Rosslare Europort welcome Brittany Ferries’ swift response to the needs of Irish industry in commencing this year’s Rosslare to Cherbourg services two months earlier than planned. We have worked closely with Brittany Ferries in ensuring that arrangements for the service were quickly put in place, further cementing Rosslare Europort’s position as Ireland’s Gateway to Europe.”

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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