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Brittany Ferries

Brittany Ferries is a French ferry company that runs ships between France, the UK, Ireland and Spain.



1970s and 1980s

Current Brittany Ferries routes

Brittany Ferries' MV Pont-Aven off the coast of Santander
Brittany Ferries' MV Pont-Aven off the coast of Santander
MV Normandie departing Portsmouth for Caen, 11 October 2010. MV Cap Finist re departing Portsmouth bound for Bilbao 26 November 2010.

Following the provision of the deep-water port at Roscoff, the company commenced in January 1973 at the instigation of Alexis Gourvennec, when existing ferry companies showed reluctance in providing a service from Roscoff to Plymouth. The company began sailings between Roscoff in Brittany and Plymouth in the South West of England using the freight ferry Kerisnel. The company's primary aim at that time was to provide a service to Brittany's cauliflower and artichoke farmers giving them easier access to the British market. In summer 1973, Vedettes Armoricaines operated a service between Plymouth and Roscoff using the passenger only ferry Poseidon which they had acquired from Stena Line; Brittany Ferries acted as UK agents for this service.[1] Kerisnel was replaced in 1974 by Penn-Ar-Bed which also carried passengers and their vehicles. Such was the success of the Plymouth-Roscoff service a larger ship, the Cornouailles, was ordered and entered service in 1977. New routes commenced throughout the 1970s, and the company continued to grow. The Saint-Malo, Santander and Cork routes were operated by the Armorique and Prince of Brittany. In the early 1980s a second ship was chartered for the Saint-Malo route. The Goelo was an attractive-looking vessel, but left the fleet in preparation for the new ship to be introduced in 1982. The Quiberon replaced the Armorique on the Santander and Cork services, allowing her to operate alongside the Prince of Brittany on the Saint-Malo route. The Cornouailles maintained the original Roscoff route.

The Benodet operated Plymouth-Roscoff for just one year before being used as part of Brittany Ferries' new venture, Channel Island Ferries. The Tregastel replaced her and continued on the route until 1989. In 1985 Brittany Ferries further expanded by buying Truckline Ferries, which operated freight-only ships Coutances and Purbeck between Poole (UK) and Cherbourg (France).

In 1986, Brittany Ferries introduced the Duc de Normandie, which operated a new route between the increasingly popular port of Portsmouth and Caen. The former Roscoff ship Cornouailles was transferred to the Truckline Ferries route from Poole to Cherbourg, introducing passenger services on this route. This service was also very successful and new ships were introduced over the next few years. Meanwhile, a second (chartered) ship, the Gotland was installed on the Caen service in 1988, as well as a new Truckline Ferries vessel, the Normandie Shipper in 1989. In addition to the Portsmouth-Caen services a Truckline Ferries ferry ran from Poole to Caen during the summer from 1986 cope with the seasonal demand on Brittany's standard ships by holiday maker. with the introduction of larger ships in 2006 and the fact that the original "truckliners" were sold meant this service was discontinued.

In 1989 the cruise ferry Bretagne was introduced on the Santander and Cork routes. She displaced the Quiberon, which transferred to the Roscoff route. Tregastel replaced Cornouailles on the Poole-Cherbourg Truckline Ferries passenger route along with Corbiere (formerly the Benodet who had been transferred to Channel Island Ferries). Cornouailles was sold to British Channel Island Ferries and was renamed Havelet. A second-hand purchase was introduced on the St Malo route, the Duchesse Anne. which was to run alongside the Armorique. This allowed the Prince of Brittany to be transferred to the Caen route under its new name the Reine Mathilde.


At the end of 1991, the Reine Mathilde left the fleet ready for the introduction of the new cruise ferry the Normandie on the Caen route. The Corbiere and Tregastel also stepped down in preparation for the new Truckline Ferries ship, the Barfleur. During 1992, the Truckline Ferries freight vessel, Purbeck, and the St Malo ship Armorique both stepped down.

In 1993, the final new ship of the 1990s was introduced. The Val de Loire was purchased from TT-Line and partially rebuilt for service on the Santander and Cork routes. The vessel replaced the Bretagne which transferred to the St Malo route, allowing the Duchesse Anne to operate new services between Poole, St Malo, Cork, Roscoff and Plymouth. Following further financial difficulties in the mid 1990s, these new routes were ended and the Duchesse Anne left the fleet. The Normandie Shipper was also sold, but the ex-Truckline Ferries vessel Purbeck was later chartered back by the company for use on various routes, primarily Portsmouth-Caen. In 1999, the Barfleur was repainted in Brittany Ferries colours, ending the Truckline Ferries tradition on the route.


In 2001 a new fast ferry service operated between Poole and Cherbourg in partnership with Condor Ferries. The Normandie Vitesse operated the service in just over two hours. In 2002, a new ship, the Mont St Michel, was due to enter service between Portsmouth and Caen. The Duc de Normandie was transferred to the Roscoff route in July, whilst the Quiberon was sent to Caen to cover until the new ship arrived. The Mont St Michel was delayed until December however. The Quiberon spent the remainder of the year on the busiest Brittany Ferries route. She had been with the company for almost 21 years when she was sold in 2003. In 2004, another new ship, the Pont-Aven, was introduced on the Santander & Cork routes. She could travel much faster than the rest of the fleet, cutting journey times by a quarter. This allowed the Val de Loire to join the Bretagne on the St Malo route. Both ships also provided a new mid-week link to Cherbourg from Portsmouth.

In late 2004, the company withdrew the Duc de Normandie from the fleet. The Bretagne transferred to the Roscoff route, leaving the Val de Loire at St Malo. The Coutances was also earmarked for disposal, but then a change of heart resulted in its refit, losing her Truckline Ferries livery in favour of the new Brittany Ferries logo.

More changes occurred in 2005 with the withdrawal of P&O's French routes from Portsmouth. A new fast craft, the Normandie Express was chartered to operate between Portsmouth and Cherbourg and Caen. In addition, the Poole-Cherbourg ship Barfleur was redeployed to operate a triangular service between Portsmouth, Poole and Cherbourg. A new ship was announced, in part a replacement for the Coutances. The ship was named the Cotentin. Purbeck was to have returned from operating in New Zealand and cover the Portsmouth-Cherbourg link but this plan was dropped. Barfleur returned to the Poole-Cherbourg link in November 2005.

The former flagship of the fleet (from 1993 until the arrival of the Mont St Michel) Val de Loire left the fleet in February 2006, having been sold to DFDS and renamed King of Scandinavia. In the meantime, Brittany Ferries had taken a 2 year charter of the DFDS ship Duke of Scandinavia, which was renamed Pont-L'Abb and ran on the Plymouth-Roscoff route. The Bretagne returned to the Portsmouth-St Malo route. Brittany Ferries also announced a new build for the Plymouth-Roscoff route, to be launched early 2008. In February 2006 the Normandie Express was brought under the French flag, she was later purchased by the company in early 2007. Brittany Ferries new freight ship, the Cotentin, entered service on 26 November 2007 with the 23:45 Cherbourg-Poole service. The new ship also operated a weekly service to Santander from Poole. It was announced on 19 December 2007 that the company had purchased the Pont-L'Abb from DFDS.[2] On 1 May 2008 MV Coutances completed her last sailing for the company - having been with Truckline Ferries] for 30 years and with Brittany Ferries since 1985. In early 2009, the Armorique was launched on the Plymouth-Roscoff route, replacing the Pont L'Abbe. For 2009, the Pont-Aven operated a new Portsmouth to Santander service once a week (cutting the previous Plymouth to Santander route to once a week).


In late 2009, the new Poole-Santander freight-only service was deemed a success and the frequency was doubled: there would now be two services a week operated by Cotentin. In November 2009, the Armorique was laid up for the rest of the Winter season. Major changes were announced in December 2009. The Barfleur was withdrawn from service at the end of January 2010 after nearly 18 years service on the Poole-Cherbourg route. The service was temporarily serviced by the Armorique which came back to service earlier than originally planned. The Poole-Santander service reverted to one sailing a week with the Cotentin covering freight on the Poole-Cherbourg service in the absence of Barfleur. The Condor Vitesse continued to operate one round sailing a day in the summer months between the two ports. The Cap Finist re ran between Portsmouth and Santander twice a week and also operated three round trips a week between Portsmouth and Cherbourg. In September 2010, Brittany Ferries announced plans to serve the Portsmouth-Bilbao route recently abandoned by P&O Ferries.[3] The route started on 27 March 2011.

In February 2011, Barfleur returned to the Poole-Cherbourg route on a seven month trial basis after being laid up for a year. Her final crossing of 2011 was 3 October. The return of Barfleur allowed Cotentin to run two Poole-Santander trips a week. However, with Barfleur being laid up again, the Poole-Santander sailings have reverted back to one trip a week.

On 23 March, it was announced that Barfleur was to be chartered to DFDS Seaways for use on their Dover - Calais route. Her first sailing on the route will be on 27 April.

In 2012, for the first time since 2001, the Condor vessel operating the Poole-Cherbourg summer service will be the Condor Express rather than the Condor Vitesse.

Current fleet

Passenger/freight ferries

Ship Built Entered service Current status
1989 1989 In service
1992 1992 In service
2002 2002 In service
2004 2004 Flagship - In service
2007 2007 In service
2009 2009 In service
2001 2010 In service

Fast craft

Ship Built Entered service Current status
2000 2005 In service

Past ships

Ship Built In service Current status
MV Kerisnel 1972 1972 1974 Since 2001, Laid up in Las Palmas, Greece
MV Penn-Ar-Bed 1974 1974 1984 Scrapped in India, 2004
MV Armorique 1972 1976 1994 Since 2005, MV Tirta Kencana with Dharma Lautan Utama
MV Cornouailles 1977 1977 1989 Since 2000, MV Sveti Stefan with Montenegro Lines
MV Prince of Brittany 1970 1978 1991 Scrapped in India, 2005
MV Breizh Izel 1970 1980 1989 Since 2001, MV Duchess M with Marlines
1975 1982 2002 Scrapped in India, 2010
MV Tregastel 1971 1985 1991 Since 2002, MV Barakat with Baaboud Shipping
1978 1985 2008 Since 2008, MV Rosa Eugenia with Conferry
MV Purbeck 1978 1985 2003 Since 2006, MV Maria Rosario with Conferry
1978 1986 2005 Since 2006, MV Wisteria with Acciona Trasmediterr nea
MV Duchesse Anne 1979 1988 1996 Since 1996, MV Dubrovnik with Jadrolinija
1992 1992 2012 Since 2012, MV Deal Seaways with DFDS Seaways
1987 1993 2006 Since 2011, MV King Seaways with DFDS Seaways
1978 2006 2009 Since 2010, MV Moby Corse with Moby Lines


Regular services

  • Plymouth-Roscoff (Armorique, Pont-Aven)
  • Plymouth-Santander (Pont-Aven)
  • Poole-Cherbourg (Cotentin, Condor Express)
  • Poole-Santander (Cotentin)
  • Portsmouth-St Malo (Bretagne with winter service operated by Pont-Aven and Armorique)
  • Portsmouth-Ouistreham (Caen) (Mont St Michel, Normandie, Normandie Express)
  • Roscoff-Cork (Pont-Aven)
  • Portsmouth-Santander (Pont-Aven, Cap Finist re)
  • Portsmouth-Bilbao, (Cap Finist re)

Seasonal services

  • Portsmouth-Cherbourg (Normandie Express)
Brittany Ferries began operating on this route in 2004 using the Bretagne and Val de Loire in direct competition with the P&O Ferries service. Following P&O's withdrawal from the route Brittany Ferries introduced the Normandie Express to operate during the summer season with a conventional service for the rest of the year. The route became a seasonal service after the end of the 2006 summer season with the service recommencing on 23 March 2007 and closing again on 29 October 2007. A limited conventional service for freight was provided by the Coutances to reposition the ship from Portsmouth to Poole once a week between the end of November 2007 and 1 May 2008. Regular passenger services resumed in Summer 2008 and Summer 2009.

Exceptional services

During the 'refit season' (roughly early January until before the Easter break), many ships undergo major maintenance and refurbishment. It is not uncommon to, as a positioning move, operate a service from Plymouth - St Malo - Portsmouth, or vice-versa. These services are generally noted in the printed and on-line timetables, and are open to passengers.

Onboard facilities

Brittany Ferries' vessels have a variety of onboard facilities. These include shops, self-service and A la carte restaurants, bars and cafes. All vessels have their own bureau de change, except for the Cap Finist re and the Armorique which, alternately, provide an ATM that dispenses Euros. Most vessels have a cinema and gambling/gaming machines. In the past, the on-board shops often included a photography shop with film developing and printing facilities; however, the increase in popularity of digital photography has led to these shops being removed. In late 2009 Brittany Ferries have installed a paid wifi service across its fleet of traditional ferries.

The fast craft has more limited facilities, such as a smaller shop and a bar/cafe.


External links

es:Brittany Ferries fr:Brittany Ferries

Source: Wikipedia | The above article is available under the GNU FDL. | Edit this article

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