Report from Spain say the first sailing had 198 passengers, 94 cars, 17 motorcycles, and 7 freight units onboard (this included a convoy of 20 performance cars taking place in a charity run). However, Port of Cork previously said in an article by the county echo that the sailing was fully booked - intrigued I checked if I could make a booking on Monday, as well as Tuesday, and not only was there space, but a choice of cabins as well (though the outside cabinsand reserved seats had been fully booked).
BF repeat the fully booked claim here: http://www.eveningecho.ie/corknews/New-Cork-to-Spain-ferry-completes-its-first-sailing-f2236239-c06a-485b-989a-da1cf2d053a8-ds
My definition of fully booked would be no space left for any more passenger bookings, I’m not sure what there’s is! They will need a big uplift in traffic to meet their expectations in any case as BF have told the Spanish press they are aiming for 20,000 freight units in the first year (and 40,000 passengers). Based on 2 round trips over 52 weeks that’s just under 100 freight units per sailing in each direction. As for passengers, I imagine the vast majority will need to be carried over summer as the tourist traffic will fall away after. They certainly can’t be accused of being unambitious anyway!
She looks very smart. The livery is a big improvement - the LD Lines derived colours on Etretat and Baie de Seine certainly were a departure from the traditional BF standard.
I think the pricing is fairly appalling, especially considering this is a very basic freighter. Connemara is certainly not up to the standard of Stena Mersey / Lagan, yet the pricing is far greater. Likewise BF are charging vastly more than Irish Ferries (Dublin to Cherbourg) on Epsilon or W.B. Yeats (A brand new, state of the art cruise ferry!).
€169 for an inside basic 2 berth economy cabin is more than twice the price of P&O / Irish Ferries.
(€194 + €194 + €169 + €155 = €712 - Without meals, drinks etc....)
If those are fares for Spain then you aren’t comparing like for like. The pricing does seem a little on the high end though, but I suppose it’s a niche market they are tapping into and it is a 27-29 hour long journey. Even so it’s a new service and perhaps enticing people on with low fares could get the ball rolling.
They are probably more worried about year-round freight I imagine, something that will be a real challenge to build up (especially if reliability due to weather or tech problems becomes an issue).
While unsurprising, the union action at Roscoff will be concerning too. What if she gets stuck or delayed there in the future? It will throw out the entire timetable and will probably require a Spain round trip to be cancelled to rectify, something that will p off customers no end!
It’s a case of wait and see with this route I suppose. After all, it hasn’t even got through its first full week yet.