Brittany Ferries

Brittany Ferries

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


1970s and 1980s

Following the provision of the deep-water port at Roscoff, the company was founded 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 primary aim of the company at that time was to provide a service to Brittany's cauliflower and artichoke farmers giving them easier access to the British market. The company expanded into the passenger market in summer 1973 when they chartered the passenger only ferry "Poseidon" from Stena Line for the season. "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 were introduced 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, 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 vessel, the "Normandie Shipper" in 1989. In addition to the Portsmouth-Caen services a Truckline ferry ran from Poole to Caen during the summer from 1986 cope with the seasonal demand on Britanny'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 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 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 "Duc De Normandie" was withdrawn from the fleet. The "Bretagne" was 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 saw her being refitted, losing her Truckline 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 has been announced, in part a replacement for the "Coutances". The ship will be named the "Cotentin". "Purbeck" was to have returned from operating in New Zealand and cover the Portsmouth-Cherbourg link but this plan has been 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 have taken a 2 year charter of the DFDS ship "Duke of Scandinavia", which will be renamed "Pont-L'Abbé" and run on the Plymouth-Roscoff route. The "Bretagne" will return to the Portsmouth-St Malo route. Brittany Ferries have 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 latest ship, the "Cotentin", entered service on 26 November 2007 with the 23:45 Cherbourg-Poole service. It was announced on 19 December 2007 that the company had purchased the "Pont-L'Abbé" from DFDS [] . On 1 May 2008 MV Coutances completed her last sailing for the company - having been with Truckline for 30 years and with Brittany Ferries since 1985.

Current fleet

The current fleet is as follows.

Passenger/freight ferries

* MV Barfleur (built 1992)
* MV Bretagne (built 1989)
* MV Mont St Michel (built 2002)
* MV Normandie (built 1992)
* MV Pont-Aven (built 2004)
* MV Pont L'Abbé (built 1978, chartered 2006-2007, purchased December 2007)

Freight ferries

* MV Cotentin (built 2007)

Fast craft

* "Normandie Express" (built 2000, chartered 2005-2007, purchased January 2007)
* "Normandie Vitesse" (formerly known as "Brittany Ferries Condor Vitesse" also known as "Condor Vitesse", in use since 2001. Condor Vitesse is the vessel's official name.)

New ships

* MV Armorique (to be deployed between Plymouth and Roscoff - expected delivery early 2009. This ship is the vessel codenamed "Bretagne II" )

Planned ships

* 'Mont St Michel 2': An article from the French newspaper 'Ouest France' revealed that Brittany Ferries have plans for a new ship for the Portsmouth-Caen route [] . Aker Yards have declared an interest in building the ship for Brittany Ferries. The proposed ship would have capacity for 160 freight vehicles and is codenamed "Mont St Michel 2".


Regular services

*Plymouth-Roscoff ("Pont-L'Abbé", "Pont-Aven", certain winter sailings operated by "Bretagne")
*Plymouth-Santander ("Pont-Aven" with winter service operated by "Bretagne")
*Poole-Cherbourg ("Barfleur", "Cotentin" ("Monday to Friday),"Normandie Vitesse""' ("BF trading name for Condor Vitesse")
*Poole-Santander ("Cotentin" "Freight only weekend service")
*Portsmouth-St Malo ("Bretagne" with winter service operated by "Pont-Aven")
*Portsmouth-Ouistreham (Caen) (""'Mont St Michel", "Normandie", "Normandie Express")
*Roscoff-Cork ("Pont-Aven", occasionally "Bretagne")

easonal 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 on 13 March 2008 and run until 26 October 2008.

On some previous occasions services have run between Plymouth and St Malo/Cherbourg.

Planned services

*Portsmouth-Santander ("Pont-Aven"):Brittany Ferries announced on 24 June 2008 that it would begin operating the "Pont-Aven" on a weekly service between Portsmouth and Santander from April 2009 [] . As a result of the redeployment of the Pont-Aven the Plymouth-Santander service will be operated by the "Bretagne". Brittany Ferries previously operated a winter only Portsmouth-Santander service in the 1990's.

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 a bureau de change on board. 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.

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

External links

* [ Official Brittany Ferries site]
* [ Brittany Ferries Enthusiasts - Unofficial Guide to the Western Channel ferry company.]

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