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Ireland-France ferry links (Read 6082 times)
Ireland-France ferry links on: February 01, 2018, 02:22:08 am
From around 1973-1997 there was a time when Irish Continental Line/Irish Ferries operated a direct passenger car ferry service from Rosslare Europort to Le Havre, France and also a annual summer service from Cork to Le Havre (in addition to their former Cork to Cherbourg annual summer service).

Why did Ireland cease it's direct passenger car ferry & freight services to/from Le Havre all those years ago?

I understand Le Havre is the 5th largest port in France in recent years.

Nowadays we have the following Ireland to France sailing options:

Rosslare to Cherbourg (Irish Ferries),
Rosslare to Cherbourg (STENA Line)
Dublin to Cherbourg (Irish Ferries)
Rosslare to Roscoff (Irish Ferries)
Cork to Roscoff* (Brittany Ferries)

*service to be expanded with chartered vessel "Connemara"
Cherbourg and Roscoff seem to be the current flavours of the month but I'm surprised there is such a lack of choice when you could have other options too including ports like: Le Havre, St. Malo, Saint-Nazaire, Brest or other options.



Re: Ireland-France ferry links Reply #1 on: February 01, 2018, 04:59:26 pm
Brittany Ferries ran a midweek Cork-St Malo service using the Duchess Anne (ex B&I Connacht) in the mid 90s. Only lasted a year or 2. Swansea Cork ferries ran a Cork-St Malo service for one summer in 1999?



Re: Ireland-France ferry links Reply #2 on: February 01, 2018, 06:02:09 pm
100% correct regarding ex- B+I Line "Connacht" which I understand was built at Verolme Dockyard in Cork and it sailed for Brittany Ferries as the vessel "Duchess Anne" on the Cork to St. Malo route as I travelled the route back in 1994.

I was not aware that Swansea Cork Ferries ran a Cork to St.Malo service in 1999 or any time.

As far as I know, the "Celtic Pride" vessel was used on Cork to Swansea for Swansea Cork Car Ferries Ltd. and this vessel was also used to operate a Cork to Roscoff service for Brittany Ferries at certain times of year depending on capacity constraints at the time. 

Further info below on this blog:

https://www.irish-ferries-enthusiasts.com/swansea-cork-ferries/



Re: Ireland-France ferry links Reply #3 on: February 01, 2018, 06:38:09 pm
100% correct regarding ex- B+I Line "Connacht" which I understand was built at Verolme Dockyard in Cork and it sailed for Brittany Ferries as the vessel "Duchess Anne" on the Cork to St. Malo route as I travelled the route back in 1994.

I was not aware that Swansea Cork Ferries ran a Cork to St.Malo service in 1999 or any time.

As far as I know, the "Celtic Pride" vessel was used on Cork to Swansea for Swansea Cork Car Ferries Ltd. and this vessel was also used to operate a Cork to Roscoff service for Brittany Ferries at certain times of year depending on capacity constraints at the time. 

Further info below on this blog:

https://www.irish-ferries-enthusiasts.com/swansea-cork-ferries/

The Cork St Malo route is mentioned at the end of the above link. I have a few pics somewhere of the vessel I'll try and find them. Pre digital days so could be anywhere  8)

Quote
Early in 1999, Strinzis slod Swansea-Cork ferries at a profit to an Irish business consortium headed by Briar Star Ltd, headed by Dennis Murphy and Thomas Hunter McGowan. The Superferry was retained on charter and a second route was launched between Cork and St. Malo using an ex-DFDS North Sea ship Dana Hafnia, then the Cyprus flagged Venus. The service was advertised as Cork St. Malo Ferries and sailings continued erratically until November when Venus returned to Greece and only Superferry reappeared in 2000.



Re: Ireland-France ferry links Reply #4 on: February 01, 2018, 07:15:21 pm
Few pics of Duchess Anne arriving in Cork from St Malo in July 1994








Re: Ireland-France ferry links Reply #5 on: February 01, 2018, 10:58:06 pm
Great photos, thanks for posting. Remember being on Connacht in the B&I days. One of my favorites (along with Leinster).
« Last Edit: February 01, 2018, 11:27:29 pm by HSS »



Re: Ireland-France ferry links Reply #6 on: February 02, 2018, 04:45:10 pm
100% correct regarding ex- B+I Line "Connacht" which I understand was built at Verolme Dockyard in Cork and it sailed for Brittany Ferries as the vessel "Duchess Anne" on the Cork to St. Malo route as I travelled the route back in 1994.

I was not aware that Swansea Cork Ferries ran a Cork to St.Malo service in 1999 or any time.

As far as I know, the "Celtic Pride" vessel was used on Cork to Swansea for Swansea Cork Car Ferries Ltd. and this vessel was also used to operate a Cork to Roscoff service for Brittany Ferries at certain times of year depending on capacity constraints at the time. 

Further info below on this blog:

https://www.irish-ferries-enthusiasts.com/swansea-cork-ferries/

The Cork St Malo route is mentioned at the end of the above link. I have a few pics somewhere of the vessel I'll try and find them. Pre digital days so could be anywhere  8)

Quote
Early in 1999, Strinzis slod Swansea-Cork ferries at a profit to an Irish business consortium headed by Briar Star Ltd, headed by Dennis Murphy and Thomas Hunter McGowan. The Superferry was retained on charter and a second route was launched between Cork and St. Malo using an ex-DFDS North Sea ship Dana Hafnia, then the Cyprus flagged Venus. The service was advertised as Cork St. Malo Ferries and sailings continued erratically until November when Venus returned to Greece and only Superferry reappeared in 2000.

Thank you for highlighting this clarification. I read most of this interesting blog some time ago but reference to a Cork St. Malo Ferries service in 1999 never stuck in my mind for some reason. Things became unreliable after the end of the 2006 season. Once the Cork Swansea link was eventually restored in 2010 under the Fastnet Line name after an absence of several years it was always going to be up against it as some of the more regular clients from the Swansea Cork Ferries days may have made alternative arrangements for 2007/2008/2009 seasons as there had been no direct crossing between Cork and Swansea. Unfortunately the new Fastnet Line service seemed to have been plagued with problems which must have made it extremely difficult to grow the business going forward. Any other parties considering a restoration of the service would really need to operate it with an established carrier involved in some shape or form.

I recall that Swansea Cork Ferries Limited had an excellent business relationship with Brittany Ferries as both have used the Port of Cork for many years. It would be great to see any new operator enter into a similar arrangement with the likes of Brittany Ferries or another established carrier such as P+O Ferries or others which could be of mutual benefit to each party as sharing resources and maximising assets is the best way of achieving a positive outcome as has been shown in the past. If BREXIT was to bring about a return to Duty Free Shopping between Ireland and UK, it may help kick-start such a service in the years ahead.   



Re: Ireland-France ferry links Reply #7 on: February 02, 2018, 04:50:45 pm
Great photos, thanks for posting. Remember being on Connacht in the B&I days. One of my favorites (along with Leinster).

Also credit for supplying these fascinating photos - I had mentioned that I travelled on this route and vessel back in 1994 and and it was probably a mid-week departure like a Wednesday evening towards end June or early July 1994 so; I may have been on the ship same time those photos were taken! Happy Days & thanks for sharing  8)



Re: Ireland-France ferry links Reply #8 on: February 03, 2018, 09:55:51 am
From around 1973-1997 there was a time when Irish Continental Line/Irish Ferries operated a direct passenger car ferry service from Rosslare Europort to Le Havre, France and also a annual summer service from Cork to Le Havre (in addition to their former Cork to Cherbourg annual summer service).

Why did Ireland cease it's direct passenger car ferry & freight services to/from Le Havre all those years ago?

I understand Le Havre is the 5th largest port in France in recent years.

Nowadays we have the following Ireland to France sailing options:

Rosslare to Cherbourg (Irish Ferries),
Rosslare to Cherbourg (STENA Line)
Dublin to Cherbourg (Irish Ferries)
Rosslare to Roscoff (Irish Ferries)
Cork to Roscoff* (Brittany Ferries)

*service to be expanded with chartered vessel "Connemara"
Cherbourg and Roscoff seem to be the current flavours of the month but I'm surprised there is such a lack of choice when you could have other options too including ports like: Le Havre, St. Malo, Saint-Nazaire, Brest or other options.
Le Havre is further away than Cherbourg or Roscoff and I'd imagine its quicker to drive there than sit on a ferry the extra distance.  Cherbourg seems to have the most demand (and importantly availability of suitable berthing facilities).  The direct Ireland - France market isn't huge tbh when compared with other markets which is why there is a lack of alternatives.  Theres already been an expansion in capacity in recent years and it makes sense to do that using the existing ports.
Steve in Belfast (suburbia)

Flickr: www.flickr.com/tarbyonline



Re: Ireland-France ferry links Reply #9 on: February 04, 2018, 05:15:02 pm
I hear the logic of what you are saying in relation to less demand for services direct to Le Havre nowadays.

I just wondered with Le Havre having had strong connections by sea with Ireland along with it being the 5th largest port in France. With all ferry operators using either Cherbourg and Roscoff as French entry points, it just seemed odd that Le Havre is no longer served albeit on a less frequent basis. I sailed Rosslare-Cherbourg in Oct/Nov 1985 which was 18hrs approx and our return sailing was Le Havre-Rosslare which took 21hrs approx. I gather Le Havre is 197.2km via A13 road which is closer to the French capital, Paris whereas; Cherbourg is 355.5km via A13/N13 away from Paris. Maybe flights from Irish airports to Paris have reduced by such a degree post mid-1990's that lead to Le Havre losing it's importance for Irish customers over the years as Le Havre was probably the ferryport most favoured for those heading to the Paris region in times past. Will we ever see any future passenger/car ferry service from Ireland to Le Havre even if only during the summer season I wonder?   

Meanwhile; I can recall similar arguments when the former B+I Line originally ceased it's Dublin Port to Liverpool route after many years in favour of adding further capacity on it's Dublin Port - Holyhead which came at a time when Sealink (now Stena Line) also operated from nearby Dún Laoghaire - Holyhead as well. It was greeted by dismay at the time and the semi-state owned B+I Line was in serious financial trouble for a number of years. Of course Stena Line switched all operations from Dún Laoghaire to Dublin Port in subsequent years. Meanwhile, Dublin - Liverpool ferry route did make a return and I think it's currently operated by P+O Irish Sea Ferries and Seatruck Ferries also operate a service between these two ports.
« Last Edit: February 04, 2018, 05:21:40 pm by awaityourreply »



Re: Ireland-France ferry links Reply #10 on: February 04, 2018, 05:55:23 pm
Liverpool-Dublin as operated by B&I Line was a passenger-oriented operation which would never survive today. The current Liverpool-Dublin operators are exclusively or predominantly for freight. I'm sure to a degree Irish Ferries and Stena wish their predecessors had somehow managed to gift them a Liverpool operation rather than closing them when they did - but even in retrospect it's hard to say the actions of B&I and SBF were anything other than the right ones at the time.

As for Le Havre, like Steven says the geography is probably the killer. The crossing is plenty long enough already and Cherbourg balances the crossing time vs location conundrum pretty well in comparison. Paradoxically, Cherbourg's location up on its peninsular has been faulted for the demise of its UK ferry operations - although the degree to which that is historical misfortune (BF will always prioritise Ouistreham and they are the only operator left) rather than absolute destiny is hard to say.



Re: Ireland-France ferry links Reply #11 on: February 04, 2018, 07:47:37 pm
If der was a demand for a service to le harve im sure some one would have started it.  theres only so much traffic to go around.  dublin to Liverpool was tried by merchent ferrys and didnt pay even with those cheap italian boats.  its too long for passengers who can just get a plane.  just because a port is big doesnt make it a good idea.  Rotterdam and dover are big ports but they dont have a ferry service



Re: Ireland-France ferry links Reply #12 on: February 05, 2018, 06:51:30 am
As HHV says, Dublin to Liverpool today serves a totally different market to the B&I service.  P&O and Seatruck between them probably shift nearly as much freight in a day as all the Ireland to France routes in a week, and that’s before you add Holyhead into the equation as it is counted as the same market due to the proximity of the ports by road.

In the grand scheme of things the Ireland to France market is small compared to U.K. to France or Ireland to U.K.  In many cases it makes sense to use the land bridge anyway (as I detailed in another thread, often a truck from Ireland will pick up more cargo in the U.K. on its way to France).  If proximity to Paris was a major factor then Dieppe would be one of the busiest ferry ports in France, but in reality it’s ferry service operates under a type of subsidy.  The argument that Le Havre is closer to the likes of Paris is irrelevant anyway when you consider it is about 2.5 hours drive from Cherbourg to Le Havre vs an additional 3hrs or more sailing time.  With a decent amount of Ireland to France freight actually bound for Spain and others it could be argued that Brest or St Nazaire would be better options for an additional service.  The reason Le Havre ranks so highly as a busy port is due to its container operations I believe.  If history mattered then the likes of Folkestone and Fleetwood would still be ferry ports! 
Steve in Belfast (suburbia)

Flickr: www.flickr.com/tarbyonline



Re: Ireland-France ferry links Reply #13 on: February 06, 2018, 05:46:18 pm

Interesting decisions often lie behind why certain services are launched, operated, expanded/consolidated or even terminated altogether based on a number of key factors. The loss of services from Rosslare-Le Havre and Cork Le Havre* (Summer seasonal*) since around 1997 was one of those route closures that intrigued me. The sale of vessels owned by a ferry company or; if a vessel that had been available "on charter"  but is no longer renewed such changes in circumstances can also have a major impact on a route particularly if nothing suitable can be sourced to replace same. Although; changing trends that lead to a continuous slide in customer numbers that cannot be easily reversed is often one of the common factors behind such route closures. I understand that LD Lines had a short-lived service from Rosslare-Le Havre between 2008/2009 period but I gather it was mainly aimed at freight cargo.

Meanwhile, I understand that Irish Ferries had previously signalled an interest in opening a route from Ireland to Brest about 20 years ago however; Irish Ferries eventually decided to establish links with the port of Roscoff instead. Brittany Ferries had already been running a well established service from Cork to Roscoff for almost 20 years by that stage so; I gather that Irish Ferries had initially expressed a preference to use Brest as an alternative gateway to Brittany as a region. Of course, 2018 marks the 40th anniversary of Brittany Ferries Cork-Roscoff link which will see an expansion of sailing departures/arrivals along with it's new Cork to Santander service to Spain from the end of April.




Re: Ireland-France ferry links Reply #14 on: February 06, 2018, 07:59:07 pm
On 28th Match 1992 Brittany Ferries made it one and only visit to Cork. It was the week after the Havelet incident  Full story of that is here https://afloat.ie/port-news/cork-harbour-news/item/35357-25-years-since-french-duc-made-one-only-call-to-cork and more here http://oireachtasdebates.oireachtas.ie/debates%20authoring/debateswebpack.nsf/takes/dail1992032400020?opendocument

Few pics of the Duc in Ringaskiddy that Saturday afternoon