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The 'Galicia', which will operate on the Rosslare-Bilbao route
Ferry nice

Brittany Ferries to operate 'huge' tourist-oriented vessel on Rosslare to Bilbao route

Unveiled in February 2020, originally as a freight route, the link from Wexford to the Basque city has proved popular.

BRITTANY FERRIES HAS confirmed plans to add a “huge” new tourism-oriented cruise ferry on its Rosslare Europort to Bilbao route by the end of the year.

The company’s president,  Jean-Marc Roué — who was named Ireland’s Honorary Consul in Britany earlier this year — made the announcement on a visit to the Wexford port this morning.

It follows the operator’s announcement yesterday that two new weekly sailings from the Port of Cork to Roscoff in France will become permanent additions to its schedule, after launching the services earlier this year.

Unveiled in February 2020, originally as a freight route, the link from Wexford to the Basque city has proved popular.

Brittany confirmed last year that freight volumes between the two ports had jumped 70% in the route’s first year of operation.

Brittany is now looking to capitalise on that popularity, adding the tourism-oriented ship ‘Galicia’ to the route from November.

The ship will still provide a “strong” freight offering, Roué said, but can carry over 1,000 passengers and has better facilities for holidaymakers.

“There is no doubt that the Rosslare – Bilbao route has been successful and we are pleased with the way Irish hauliers have embraced it,” he said.

“Our research has indicated that there is a demand there from Irish people wishing to holiday in Spain and the ‘Galicia’ will certainly make for a far more enjoyable experience for them.

“Currently, the Rosslare-Bilbao route is serviced by the “Connemara” a predominantly freight vessel with limited facilities for holidaymakers,” the port said in a statement this morning.

“This befitted the company strategy of establishing freight links from Ireland to Spain. Now the route has proved a success however, attention is turning to passenger traffic.”

Direct trade routes between Ireland and continental Europe flourished in the wake of Brexit as exporters and importers looked to bypass the UK ‘landbridge’ altogether to avoid additional red tape.

Ireland’s closest sea trading hub to the continent geographically is Rosslare Europort, operated by Iarnrod Éireann, which has taken full advantage of the post-Brexit shift in trading patterns.

It now operates over 30 weekly sailings to the continent, compared with just three before Brexit, carrying almost 95,000 units of freight last year, up over 370% from 2020.

Brittany Ferries has been a huge part of that expansion, Glenn Carr, the port’s general manager told The Journal last year.

Speaking today, Carr welcomed the addition of the ‘Galicia’ to the Rosslare-Bilbao route.

“Brittany Ferries are more than just customers of Rosslare Europort, they are our partners in strengthening our direct links between Ireland and Europe,” he said. 

“The ‘Galicia’ will ensure that as well as freight customers, holidaymakers will benefit from this partnership, and provide a more sustainable travel choice for tourism to and from Ireland’s South East and beyond.”

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