A sizeable representation of the port community of Bilbao, together with representatives from government institutions and the tourism and culture sectors of the Basque Country, the United Kingdom and Ireland, celebrated the 50th anniversary of Brittany Ferries on board the Salamanca ferry.
In his speech, Ricardo Barkala, President of the Port Authority, commented that the port community of Bilbao “is working with Brittany Ferries to increase trade relations with the United Kingdom and Ireland, because there is still a lot of freight that goes by road and can be transported by ship”. He also highlighted the collaboration between the Port Authority and the Breton shipping company for the development of tourism and ferry travel to and from Bilbao, “a comfortable, attractive, sustainable and different option”.
“The charm of Ireland and the route that the Salamanca takes is unquestionable, as is our own personal attraction, not to mention our characters. We are two peoples, two cultures who understand and admire each other, and our trade and personal relations must continue going from strength to strength”, Barkala stressed.
Christophe Mathieu, CEO of Brittany Ferries, said: “Brittany Ferries has a long history of connecting the dots, of connecting places. When we do it in collaboration with others, like the port of Bilbao, something wonderful can happen”. Mathieu commented on the characteristics of the Salamanca, the ship on which the anniversary was celebrated, “a much bigger ship and also more accessible. It offers a better service and many more possibilities on board, providing a much more attractive proposition for all those who wish to travel more comfortably from Spain to Ireland. For the first time, the Salamanca will carry passengers on foot and by bicycle, allowing more people to travel without a car, thus boosting sustainable tourism”.
Brittany Ferries and the Port of Bilbao
Founded in 1973, the result of the union and joint efforts of Breton farmers who wanted to take their products beyond their borders, Brittany Ferries’ activity in the Port of Bilbao began in 2011, since when it has become one of the leading shipping companies for the transport of cargo and passengers between Bilbao and the United Kingdom and Ireland, with three crossings and six weekly calls.
On the one hand, the company connects Bilbao with the Irish port of Rosslare twice a week thanks to the Salamanca, a cruise ferry equipped with all the comforts for up to 1,050 passengers and with the capacity to transport up to 2,714 linear metres of passenger vehicles and lorries. Following the refurbishment work carried out at the berth by the Port Authority of Bilbao and the construction of an LNG refuelling station by the company Repsol, the Salamanca, the French shipping company’s first LNG-powered ship and one of the most efficient in the world thanks to the innovations applied to its design and construction, made its maiden voyage last March.
On the other hand, in April, the Galicia cruise ferry will join the service linking Bilbao with the port of Portsmouth, in the south of the United Kingdom, with two weekly calls. Except for the use of LNG, the Galicia shares with its twin Salamanca all the innovations in terms of efficiency to reduce the carbon footprint, such as the design of the hull or the use of silicone paint to reduce friction and, consequently, fuel consumption.
Finally, Brittany Ferries’ Pelican, with a capacity for around 100 unaccompanied goods vehicles and up to 8 drivers, offers a twice-weekly freight service between Bilbao and Poole, in the United Kingdom.