Representatives of the Port Authority of Bilbao and Brittany Ferries will take active part in FITUR, the international tourism fair being held from 18 to 22 January, to publicise the services and competitive advantages offered by the Port of Bilbao for travelling by cruise ship or ferry.
On the one hand, they will visit the Basque Country stand, where they will network with various inbound tour operators and representatives of state-owned tourism organisations, and where Brittany Ferries will present its latest products at 16.00h on Thursday 19 January. They will also visit the stand of the State Ports Authority to network with professionals from the sector.
In its presentation, Brittany Ferries will showcase the advantages that Bilbao offers as a gateway for tourism between the Iberian Peninsula, the United Kingdom and Ireland. Brittany Ferries has been operating in the port of Bilbao for twelve years, and last year upgraded the services it provides to and from Bilbao as a sign of its clear commitment to the port. At present, the company offers twice-weekly ferry crossings between Bilbao and Portsmouth (UK) and Rosslare (Ireland). The connection with the UK will be serviced by the Salamanca, and from March onwards, the Galicia will make the crossing with Ireland.
The Galicia is an E-Flexer type ferry, with a hull and bow design that provides excellent seaworthiness in all weather conditions. This, together with the high-performance real-time data analysis and state-of-the-art machine learning facilities on board the vessel, ensures optimum energy efficiency at all times during its voyages. “With an approximate crossing time of 28 hours, the Galicia can accommodate a maximum of 1,050 passengers and is equipped with 343 cabins with private bathrooms, some of which are adapted for passengers with reduced mobility. Passengers will be able to board the vessel on foot or by bicycle, a new way of travelling that we are going to promote to showcase the spectacular landscapes and gastronomy of Ireland and the Basque Country,” Roberto Castilla, Director of Brittany Ferries in Spain, explains.
The Salamanca was launched last March and is the first of the Brittany Ferries fleet to be powered by liquefied natural gas (LNG), a fuel which reduces carbon dioxide emissions by 20% compared to traditional fossil fuels, as its combustion process is more efficient. The Salamanca is the result of a EUR 550 million investment by Brittany Ferries to renew its fleet, including three new LNG-powered vessels. “The Salamanca will be our flagship vessel operating in the port of Bilbao, with two weekly sailings linking the English port of Portsmouth with Bilbao,” Castilla points out.
Brittany Ferries’ vessels are cruise ferries, on account of their quality and comfort, and the port of Bilbao is a strategic point of entry for numerous British and Irish tourists who come to the Basque Country to enjoy its countryside and natural areas, both inland and on the coast, its cultural heritage, its rich and varied gastronomy and many other attractions that the region and the north of Spain has to offer.
Cruise tourism in the Port of Bilbao
The port of Bilbao also hosts a considerable amount of cruise traffic. In 2022, 78 cruise ships and 108,154 tourists, mostly British, followed by Americans and Germans, docked at the Getxo terminal.
In 2022, cruise ships arrived both from companies that are regularly to be seen in the port of Bilbao and from shipping companies that have opted for this destination for the first time. These companies value the facilities and services on offer in the port, such as Wi-Fi, as well as the operability of the cruise terminal and the flexibility and problem-free management and handling of stopovers and their tourists. They also highlight the proximity of the Getxo terminal to the airport, which makes it possible to offer boarding operations, the tourist attractions of Bilbao and the immediate area and the different attractions which Bizkaia, Donostia-San Sebastian and Alava-Rioja Alavesa have to offer.
As a result of its promotional work, such as its involvement in Fitur and presence in all the major specialised trade fairs in the sector alongside those responsible for promoting tourism in Bilbao, Bizkaia and the Basque Country, the Port Authority of Bilbao is hoping that the results achieved in 2022 will be exceeded in 2023. In fact, the turn around in May to Israel, which will depart from Getxo, and the six calls to be made by MSC, a company whose confidence and trust in the Port of Bilbao is progressively consolidating, have already been confirmed.