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Brittany Ferries Invests in Irish Services with New Ship and Increased Frequency

Rosslare to Get One of Brittany Ferries’ Newest Vessels

Roscoff-headquartered Brittany Ferries has reiterated its commitment to its Irish services with two separate announcements in as many days.  

Earlier today, it was confirmed that the Ro-Pax CONNEMARA is to be replaced on the Rosslare to Bilbao and Cherbourg routes by one of the company’s newest E-flexer ships from November.   The company is to transfer GALICIA to Rosslare from the Portsmouth – Santander route as replacement for the more freight-orientated CONNEMARA.

The Plaza Mayor bar, GALICIA. Brittany Ferries
The Plaza Mayor bar, GALICIA. Brittany Ferries

This move will be made possible by the UK – Spain service arrival of Brittany Ferries’ third new ship in as many years, the LNG-powered SANTOÑA, next year.  The company has confirmed that GALICIA will remain French crewed and flagged when she moves to the Ireland – Spain route, demonstrating the company’s commitment to French seafarer employment.  The current chartered vessel, CONNEMARA is crewed by a multinational crew, supplied by owner Stena RoRo.

Improved Passenger Experience

The introduction of GALICIA at Rosslare will significantly upgrade the passenger experience on the Rosslare – Bilbao and Rosslare – Cherbourg routes.  GALICIA has capacity for over 1,000 passengers and has far more cabins and superior passenger facilities to the ship she replaces.  With freight traffic on the route secured, Brittany Ferries is now turning its attention to attracting more tourists to its unique service linking Ireland and Spain.

Restaurant Azul, GALICIA. Brittany Ferries.
Restaurant Azul, GALICIA. Brittany Ferries.

Speaking of the decision to introduce GALICIA to the route, Brittany Ferries President Jean-Marc Roué said that GALICIA will improve the experience of passengers on the route:

“There is no doubt that the Rosslare – Bilbao route has been successful, and we are pleased with the way Irish hauliers have embraced it. Galicia will continue to provide a strong freight offering. However our research has indicated that there is a demand there from Irish people wishing to holiday in Spain and Galicia will certainly make for a far more enjoyable experience for them. The job now is to work in partnership with tourism bodies in Ireland and Spain to ensure that holidaymakers fill our ships and enrich destinations in both markets.”

A 4-berth outside club cabin onboard GALICA and SALAMANCA. Image: Brittany Ferries.
A 4-berth outside club cabin onboard GALICA and SALAMANCA. Image: Brittany Ferries.

Glenn Carr, General Manager Rosslare Europort, welcomed the announcement of GALICIA’s introduction, saying:

“Brittany Ferries are more than just customers of Rosslare Europort, they are our partners in strengthening our direct links between Ireland and Europe.  The Galicia will ensure that as well as freight customers, holidaymakers will benefit from this partnership, and provide a more sustainable travel choice for tourism to and from Ireland’s South East and beyond.”

GALICIA was completed in 2020, making her one of the newest ferries in operation in Northern Europe.  She was the first of five ferries based on Stena’s E-Flexer platform to be introduced to the Brittany Ferries fleet.  The second of these, the LNG-fuelled SALAMANCA, was recently introduced to the Portsmouth to Bilbao route.

For more information on GALICIA, see our dedicated page here.

Increased Frequency at Cork

Yesterday the company announced that it was to make a mid-week sailing on its Roscoff – Cork route permanent.  The overnight sailing, which is operated by ARMORIQUE, will be offered on a seasonal basis between April and October.  ARMORIQUE’s sailings are additional to the traditional weekend round trip offered by PONT AVEN.  The announcement comes as Brittany Ferries and the Port of Cork renewed their 45 year partnership for a further three years.

ARMORIQUE approaching Ringaskiddy, Cork from Saint Malo 29 May 2021. Image: Gordon Hislip.
ARMORIQUE approaching Ringaskiddy, Cork from Saint Malo 29 May 2021. Image: Gordon Hislip.

Brittany Ferries’ President, Jean-Marc Roué, Honorary Consul for Ireland in Brittany stated:

“Our relationship with Cork and indeed with Ireland has always been a happy and successful relationship. While the last two years have been difficult for us all, I am delighted to be in a position to confirm that this year our early bookings are up by over 35% on 2019 which was our last normal year due to Covid.

“While most commentators focus on our numbers of Irish holidaymakers heading for France, the reality is that Brittany Ferries makes a larger contribution to Irish tourism. This year, once again, the split in our tourism traffic is 55% /45% in favour of the French taking a holiday in Ireland. I have no doubt that our expanded service will enhance these figures even more. The successful promotion of the Wild Atlantic Way in France and the ease of access to that product from Cork, along with the famous Irish welcome, has always been a compelling proposition for French holidaymakers”.

Great News for Tourism

According to Tourism Ireland CEO, Niall Gibbons, the additional Cork sailing alone has the potential to generate €4.3m from a tourism perspective:

“As we restart overseas tourism to Ireland this year, the announcement that Brittany Ferries’ Armorique will operate between Roscoff and Cork this summer is very good news and a real vote of confidence in Irish tourism. As an island, the importance of convenient, direct access cannot be overstated – it is absolutely critical to achieving growth in inbound tourism. We already work very closely with Brittany Ferries and we look forward to cooperating with them to maximise the promotion of their services using Armorique.

“France is one of our top four markets for Irish tourism and in 2019, we welcomed 557,000 visitors from France to the island of Ireland, whose visits delivered €283 million to the economy. We are rolling out an extensive programme of promotional activity in France throughout 2022. Our message is very simple: Ireland is open for business again and we cannot wait to welcome back visitors from France.”

PONT-AVEN at Plymouth. Image: Brittany Ferries
PONT-AVEN at Plymouth. Image: Brittany Ferries

Speaking about the planned introduction of GALICIA, Siobhan McManamy, Tourism Ireland’s Director of Markets, said:

“As we restart overseas tourism to Ireland, the announcement that Brittany Ferries will introduce its “Galicia” cruise-ferry on the Bilbao to Rosslare route is very good news and a real vote of confidence in Irish tourism. As an island, the importance of convenient, direct access cannot be overstated – it is absolutely critical to achieving growth in inbound tourism. We already work very closely with Brittany Ferries and we look forward to co-operating with them to maximise the promotion of this service to Rosslare. Tourism Ireland is rolling out an extensive programme of promotional activity in Spain throughout 2022. Our message is very simple: Ireland is open for business again and we cannot wait to ‘roll out the green carpet’ and welcome back our Spanish visitors.”

Steven Tarbox

Steven is a former retail professional and a ferry writer and photographer. He created NI Ferry Site as a web design project in 2014 to be a news and information source for everyone with an interest in ferries, with a particular focus on Northern Ireland. Steven is the editor of the website and looks after all of the technical aspects.
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