The first Brittany ferry was set up in early 1973 by Alexis Gourvannec. At this point in history, there was a gap in ferry crossings. Very few ferry services provided a crossing between Plymouth and Roscoff, a relatively new deep-water port. The first sailing was on the freight ship ‘Kerisnel’, and was at first very popular with farmers from Brittany who came to the UK to sell their wares at markets. But by the summer the same year, the company acquired a passenger ship called ‘Poseidon’, and it was Brittany Ferries who provided customers with tickets for these services.
As the seventies went on, the popularity of the ferry crossings that were provided by Brittany Ferries began to grow. Larger ships were acquired, and different routes were added to the timetables. In addition to the Roscoff service, the ‘Prince of Britanny’ and the ‘Armonique’ were the two ships that sailed to Santander, Cork, and Saint-Malo.
In the eighties, Brittany Ferries took on a new venture, the Channel Island Ferries, as well as buying out Truckline Ferries, meaning that they acquired freight ships that travelled between Poole and Cherbourg. By 1986, another new service between Portsmouth and Caen had been added, which was massively popular during the summer months with holiday makers, meaning more services were added, and extra routes to Caen from Poole were added to cope with the influx of passengers.
The company continued to acquire, add, and replace ships through the nineties. But one of the most exciting times for the company came in 2001, when Brittany Ferries joined forces with Condor Ferries to provide a fast service between Poole and Cherbourg, which took a mere two hours. Another ship called the ‘Pont-Aven’ was bought in 2004 which could travel a great deal faster than most of the company’s other ferries, decreasing the time of the journey by a quarter. She was put on the Cork and Santander routes, and a mid-week service from Cherbourg to Portsmouth was added to the timetable.
The most recent addition to the service has been the Portsmouth to Bilbao route. Brittany Ferries leapt on this crossing just as P&O ferries ceased its own running of the route. Journeys commenced in May 2011, and have been enormously successful. There are now daily ferries to Spain leaving from three different destinations in the UK.
Brittany Ferries gives the customer a variety of routes and flexibility with the travel times. They also provide good value for money and there are often online deals for tickets. The facilities on-board the ships are award-winning, including fine dining, entertainment and shopping. Another bonus is that you can travel overnight on the ferry, meaning you don’t waste your waking hours travelling. You can book either a cabin, or for a cheaper option, reclining seats. Brittany Ferries also provide holiday packages, meaning that they will organise your accommodation at your destination as well as your travel there.