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New Cork-France Ferry Route Offering Six-Day-a-Week Service Is on the Cards

6th January 2024
A new Cork-France route could be up and running from Spring, should discussions progress to start the first ever direct ‘passenger’ /freight route between Munster and Boulogne-sur-Mer in the very north of France, where historically routes have served further to the west, among them Le Havre.
A new Cork-France route could be up and running from Spring, should discussions progress to start the first ever direct ‘passenger’ /freight route between Munster and Boulogne-sur-Mer in the very north of France, where historically routes have served further to the west, among them Le Havre. Credit: CorkBeo-facebook

A major new ferry connection of a Cork-Europe route this Spring/early Summer looks likely as a company is reported to be in the final stage of starting the direct link to Boulogne in northern France.

As Cork Beo reports, plans of the Ireland-France route by a new operator, Hibernia Line, would run six days a week using a ropax ferry, with passengers having 350-berth cabins along with space dedicated for freight capacity.

The direct route would provide a great link for Cork based businesses and open up brand new options to those travelling to and from mainland Europe. The Port of Boulogne is close to the borders of the lowland nations, Paris (Olympics) and beyond the tourist attractions of the Alps.

According to a speciality ferry/freight sector sources, the newly formed Hibernia Line, which could be operated on a joint basis involving established ferry operators. Such discussions are at an advanced stage of completing plans of the Ireland-EU member state route.

More here on this ferry development. adds, the nearest equivalent to the Hibernia Line route is DFDS existing Rosslare-Dunkirk route which began in January, 2021 as a Brexit-Busting freight-only alternative to the UK land-bridge. A 'trial' passenger service took place last year, whereas 2024 is to offer an expanded such service due to high demand.

If the new Hibernia Line launches, Afloat adds the direct-continental route would be geographically (the longest ‘passenger’ route based out of Cork to France), since Irish Ferries served to Le Havre until ceasing the connection more than a quarter century ago.

The Munster-Normandy route of Irish Ferries had taken 21 hours 30 minutes, whereas the current DFDS Ireland-France route is some 23-24 hours. As for the Hibernia Line link would be around 15-20 hours passage time using faster ferries compared to those of the past.

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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!