France-based shipping company Brittany Ferries has confirmed the charter of two new cruise-ferries to serve its long-haul UK to Spain routes.
To be chartered from Swedish shipping company Stena RoRo, the ships will be built at the Avic International Weihai shipyard in China, with the first arriving in 2021.
The latest investment comes after work began this spring on a brand new LNG cruise ferry called Honfleur to serve the Portsmouth – Caen crossing. Like Honfleur, which arrives in 2019, both ships announced today will be registered under the French flag and will be crewed by French seafarers.
“Together the three ships will spearhead a wide-ranging, five-year fleet-renewal and modernisation programme worth around GBP 400m,” Brittany Ferries said in a statement.
Portsmouth is Brittany Ferries’ UK hub and will serve as the base for both ships. Upon arrival they ships cater for an ever-increasing demand for long-haul ferry travel to Spain. In 2017 the company, operated 844 sailings on routes from Portsmouth, Poole and Plymouth to Santander (Cantabria) and Bilbao (Basque Country), carrying 331,000 passengers and 150,000 cars. That was around 80 percent more than ten years earlier, as informed by Brittany Ferries.
“Spain is by far the most popular foreign destination for UK holidaymakers, and we have seen significant growth in demand. Post-Brexit, we expect this to continue and today’s announcement is a clear statement of intent. As well as passenger traffic, we believe that an increase in freight capacity will open the door to more hauliers seeking direct access between Britain and the Iberian peninsula,” Jean-Marc Roué, Brittany Ferries’ president, commented.
With a length of 215 meters and a width of 27.8 meters, the new 42,200-ton vessels will be the longest in Brittany Ferries’ fleet. The new ships, belonging to Stena RoRo’s new generation of ‘E-Flexer’ vessels, will be gas-ready. They will have around 300 cabins that will cater for approximately 1,000 passengers, according to the company.
The announcement follows the launch of the first ever direct ferry service linking Ireland with Spain in April. Brittany Ferries’ Connemara made its first call into Santander from Cork on May 9, 2018.