For Brittany Ferries and its customers – it’s summer, but not as they know it. An ever-changing coronavirus context has seen a web of travel restrictions on the Channel, including testing before and after travel and a period of quarantine when arriving home.
In early July the storm clouds appeared to lift, with the announcement that double-jabbed Brits could now sail to amber-listed France without the need to self-isolate on their return home. This led to a welcome surge in late bookings as near-normal summer holidays seemed in reach.
But then France moved to the ‘amber-plus’ list, meaning that even fully-vaccinated travellers must isolate for ten days on their return, and take two PCR tests. Anything near a normal summer was off the menu once again.
For the ferry company and its customers this means reduced demand from holidaymakers, and consequently, fewer routes and sailings. Currently, passenger routes from Portsmouth to Le Havre and Cherbourg are suspended, as is the Poole-Cherbourg route. Sailings from Plymouth to Roscoff are running but at reduced frequency.
However: the popular links from Portsmouth to Caen and St Malo are running as normal throughout the summer and beyond, as are services to Spain, which are also popular for accessing southern France.
Many travellers can and will continue to cross the Channel this summer, come what may. Brittany Ferries advises them to check its frequently updated Coronavirus pages where all the latest travel requirements for entering France and the UK are listed.
Despite the challenges it’s currently navigating, the company remains optimistic. This year it opened its 2022 sailings earlier than in previous years, and so far booking levels are extremely encouraging. It’s also releasing its 2022 sail and stay holidays to France with a great choice of chalet camping, gites, casa and hotels.
And looking further ahead, it has just made orders for two brand new vessels to replace Normandie on the Portsmouth-Caen route and Bretagne on Portsmouth-St Malo.
Arriving in 2024 and 2025, the two new ships will be hybrid LNG-electric powered. As well as significantly cutting emissions, the vessels will deliver less noise and less vibration, and a comfortable, contemporary onboard experience for passengers. At sea, power will come from cleaner LNG (liquefied natural gas). But in a first on the English Channel, they will also operate partially or completely on battery power – for example when arriving and departing ports.
“Fleet renewal is not a choice for Brittany Ferries; it is an imperative to secure our future,” said Christophe Mathieu, CEO Brittany Ferries. “Our customers rightly demand cleaner, greener vessels and our port partners expect us to be good neighbours. Furthermore, we will certainly face tighter regulation in the years ahead. The future of our company depends upon our ability to rise to the challenge today, to prepare for tomorrow. That is why I am so proud to announce these new vessels.”
“They bring with them a host of innovations just as Bretagne and Normandie did when they were launched. Both vessels have served us well and we are grateful for the support of the regions that bear their name. They are much loved by freight drivers, passengers and crew, but now is the time for us to look to the future and to plan for a brighter future, even as we battle the crisis we face today.”