Brittany Ferries to Move Most Cork Sailings to Rosslare

By: Steven Tarbox
Last updated:
Brittany Ferries KERRY. Brittany Ferries / Jose Luis Diaz Campa.
Brittany Ferries KERRY. Brittany Ferries / Jose Luis Diaz Campa.

Switch could mean easier access to services to Spain And France for Northern Ireland traffic

France-based Brittany Ferries confirmed yesterday that it is moving the Irish port for its year-round ferry service to Spain from Cork to Rosslare. The switch will also see the Spanish port move to Bilbao from Santander. The move is being made after feedback from hauliers, who’s year-round business the service depends on, and who have voiced a strong preference for the new ports. With recent road upgrades the port of Rosslare is also theoretically less driving time from Northern Ireland than Cork. The opening of the N25 New Ross Bypass should also cut travel times between Cork and Rosslare.

Glenn Carr, General Manager, Rosslare Europort said:

“We are delighted to welcome Brittany Ferries to Rosslare Europort.  This new Rosslare to Bilbao service will be attractive for trade and tourism alike.  We very much welcome that this service is being launched because of demand from freight customers, due to Rosslare’s strategic position and access to key markets.  Brittany Ferries will also benefit from our €25 million investment in port facilities, infrastructure and technology, as part of the Port’s strategic plan.  We look forward to working closely with Brittany Ferries to ensuring the success of their new service.”

The change of route will happen from February 28 this year. Passengers who already have bookings between Cork and Santander will be offered travel between the new ports. They will also be offered an amount of compensation to account for travel expenses to the alternative ports. Alternatively, passengers can also get a full refund from Brittany Ferries.

Brittany Ferries updated route map reflecting the services offered after the move of Ireland - France sailings to Rosslare and Bilbao. Brittany Ferries
Brittany Ferries updated route map reflecting the services offered after the move of Ireland – France sailings to Rosslare and Bilbao. Brittany Ferries

Seasonal Service at Cork to Continue

Brittany Ferries‘ decision to change Irish port means that Rosslare now has three passenger ferry operators with year-round services sailing from the port. In contrast, Cork’s services are reduced to just one Brittany Ferries seasonal weekly sailing to Roscoff using flagship PONT AVEN. Brittany Ferries has offered a service between France and Cork for over 40 years, and has reiterated its commitment to that route. The Cork – Rosslare route traditionally runs between March and October.

Brittany Ferries CEO Christophe Matthieu said:

“I want to make it clear that we remain committed to Cork, with our flagship Pont-Aven cruise-ferry service to Roscoff.

“We’re also committed to an Ireland-Spain route, now via Rosslare, and we’ll look after existing passengers whose future travel will be affected by this change”

Brittany Ferries PONT AVEN. © Brittany Ferries.
Brittany Ferries PONT AVEN. © Brittany Ferries.

The Cork – Santander route had been a two year trial which started during 2018, and the operator has decided to switch the ports in an attempt to attract more traffic after disappointing freight figures. The aim of the route is primarily to serve the freight market, though passengers are accommodated for with an “Economie” offer which consists of more basic facilities than they would be accustomed to on Brittany Ferries “cruse ferry” services.

Stena Line remains the largest operator at Rosslare, with sailings to Fishguard in Wales and Cherbourg in France. Irish Ferries also operate sailings from the Wexford port to Pembroke Dock in Wales. In addition, Neptune Lines offer a trade-car and freight service linking the port with Southampton, Le Havre, and Santander.

Brittany Ferries PONT AVEN in Cork. Brittany Ferries.
Brittany Ferries PONT AVEN in Cork. Brittany Ferries.

Return of Roscoff Route from Rosslare

With Brittany Ferries Ireland – Spain services switching to Rosslare, “Economie” sailings to Roscoff will also move to the port. These additional sailings were added when the Cork – Santander route started in 2018 and are operated by the same ship. At present this is KERRY which replaced the original vessel, CONNEMARA, towards the end of last year. As a result, Brittany Ferries will offer a weekly return trip to Roscoff from both Cork and Rosslare during the routes period of operation which starts in March. The addition of the Brittany Ferries sailings restores Rosslare’s link to Roscoff which ended when Irish Ferries switched its French services to Dublin last year.

Brittany Ferries CONNEMARA arrives at Cork on 16.08.19. Copyright © Patrick Healy.
Brittany Ferries CONNEMARA arrives at Cork on 16.08.19. The ship inaugurated the company’s Ireland – Spain service in 2018 but was subsequently replaced by KERRY. Copyright © Patrick Healy.

Disappointment for Cork

In a statement, the Port of Cork said:

“The Port of Cork have been informed by Brittany Ferries that the weekly Ro-Pax ferry service from Cork to Santander which includes a midweek Roscoff sailing is to cease operating.”

“This surprising decision by Brittany Ferries is very disappointing, however we will continue to pursue other options for linking Cork and Northern Spain.”

“We remain supportive of Brittany Ferries who have operated out of Cork for over 40 years and we will continue to facilitate Brittany Ferries on their weekly service from Cork to Roscoff re-commencing in March 2020.”

There had been speculation towards the end last year that Italian operators Grimaldi and GNV may be interested in a venture linking the Spanish Port of Vigo with Cork and Plymouth, however, both companies subsequently denied any knowledge of the venture. Despite the loss of these Brittany Ferries sailings, the Port of Cork remains a key seaport in the south of Ireland. Along with Dublin it remains one of only two ports in the Republic of Ireland that can fully cater for Lift-on Lift-off, Roll-on Roll-off, Liquid Bulk, Dry Bulk, Break Bulk and Cruise traffic.

The full Brittany Ferries press release is reproduced here.

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