First ever direct ferry route announced from Ireland to Spain
Cork to Santander
Brittany Ferries has announced what it says is the first ever direct ferry link between Ireland and Spain, with tickets for sale by the end of January.
The company will operate two direct return sailings weekly from Cork to Santander in Northern Spain, it says, from the end of April to November of this year.
A new ship will be chartered to serve the route, based on the économie model it already runs on services from the UK to France and Spain.
It will offer "a comfortable, no-frills service with a distinctly Spanish theme".
Crossings will take approximately 26 hours, with departures from Cork on Wednesdays and Fridays. Lead-in prices have yet to be announced.
The 'Connemara' will carry around 500 passengers with space for 195 cars, and the company expects a 50/50 split between passengers and freight carried.
120 cabins on the ship will feature beds for up to four passengers, and some will be pet-friendly. There will also be a small shop, café-bar and passenger lounges.
The ship will also deliver an additional weekly return sailing from Cork to Roscoff, a route that started 40 years ago, on St. Patrick's Day in 1978.
“This is a significant move for Brittany Ferries, offering haulage companies a direct route to Spain and passengers a far greater range of holiday options from Cork,” said Hugh Bruton, general manager with Brittany Ferries Ireland.
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Santander is a short drive from Bilbao and San Sebastian, offering motorists willing to undertake the long journey a direct drop-off in 'green Spain'.
Until now, travellers wishing to take their car or a ferry to Spain had to travel via the UK or France. In 2014, LD Lines launched a connection from Rosslare to Spain (Gijón) via a 'landbridge' service in St Nazaire, but this ran only for a brief period.
The option for freight carriers to bypass the UK land bridge will be seen as very attractive, as Brexit uncertainty continues," added Captain Michael McCarthy, Commercial Manager at the Port of Cork, which welcomed the service.
The news comes as Irish Ferries prepares to take delivery of a new, €144 million cruise ferry for its Dublin-France service, the W.B. Yeats.
It, together with Brittany's new investment in the Cork-Roscoff route, will provide a big injection of capacity to France in 2018.