The ETRETAT is set to stay in service with Brittany Ferries for eleven days more than expected.
The Visentini RoPax ferry is bareboat chartered from Stena RoRo. She had been expected to finish on the Portsmouth – Le Havre route in just under a month. However, Brittany Ferries decision to extend the suspension of some passenger services due to the ongoing Covid restrictions on travel affected this plan.
The Portsmouth – Le Havre route was suspended for much of last year with the ETRETAT laid-up due to the Covid crisis. However, it re-opened on 31 December due to Brittany Ferries successfully securing UK Department for Transport Brexit capacity contracts. The contract for freight capacity on the Le Havre route is due to run for six-months.
The BARFLEUR was due to replace the ETRETAT on 22 March. She was then to switch to her normal Poole – Cherbourg route in place of the COTENTIN on 4 April. The COTENTIN was then due to move to the Le Havre route.
With the BARFLEUR now delayed from re-entering until at least mid-May, this created a gap in the Le Havre schedule as the COTENTIN is required on the Poole – Cherbourg route to fulfil the 3-month Brexit contract there.
The result is a pragmatic decision by Brittany Ferries to retain the services of the ETRETAT for this extra period to avoid the need to re-activate any of the laid-up vessels.
The Final Stint
ETRETAT is due to complete service with Brittany Ferries on 2 April. Her final sailings will be a 1700 trip from Le Havre to Portsmouth arriving at 2300, followed by Portsmouth – Cherbourg at 2300.
After de-storing at Cherbourg, it is expected that the ETRETAT will receive an end of charter drydock and handover to Stena RoRo.
The future of the ETRETAT is still unconfirmed but it is widely believed that she will replace the URD or STENA GOTHICA on the Liepāja – Travemünde route. The STENA FLAVIA is expected to become the second vessel on the route, replacing the remaining older ship.
URD is currently the oldest operational vessel in the Stena Line fleet, followed closely behind by STENA EUROPE and STENA GOTHICA.
Portsmouth Dominated Career
The ETRETAT has spent much of her career operating from Portsmouth.
She was built as the NORMAN VOYAGER, beginning life chartered to LD Lines by Epic Shipping. As the NORMAN VOYAGER she operated the Portsmouth – Le Havre – Rosslare route from November 2008 to September 2009.
A two year sub-charter to Celtic Link Ferries followed for the Rosslare – Cherbourg route. She kept her LD Lines name for that role.
On return to LD Lines, the NORMAN VOYAGER operated on the Saint Nazaire (Montoir) – Gijón route in November 2011, before returning to her original Portsmouth – Le Havre life the following month.
The Visentini-built ferry has remained there ever since, despite a sale to Stena RoRo in April 2012.
Following their acquisition of LD Lines’ English Channel ferry business in 2012, DFDS took over the NORMAN VOYAGER’s operation until the end of her charter in 2014 . Although she lost most of her LD Lines branding, she was never renamed by DFDS.
In March 2014, Brittany Ferries took both DFDS and LD Lines by surprise by chartering the ship and placing it on new Portsmouth – Le Havre and Santander ‘économie’ services. This was in competition with both companies that had previously had the ship in their fleet.
We present a collection of pictures taken on a Portsmouth – Le Havre trip in 2014.