Category: Member news

The fastest ferry on the Channel is back

The fastest ferry on the Channel is back

  • Brittany Ferries resumes fast ferry sailings for 2023 summer season.
  • Fast sailings depart from Portsmouth to Cherbourg and return from Cherbourg to Poole
  • The service will operate Friday-Sunday during key school holiday periods
  • Sailing time is just 180 minutes: the fastest Channel crossing west of Dover
  • Passengers using the service can enjoy breakfast in Portsmouth and lunch in Cherbourg

Today Friday 26th May, fast cross-Channel ferry sailings return to the Western Channel. The weekend summer service operated by the Condor Liberation fastcraft departed Portsmouth at 07:00 this morning, arriving at Cherbourg (Normandy) at 11:00. The return sailing departed Cherbourg at 11:50 and arrived at Poole at 13:35.

The service which welcomes passengers travelling on car and on foot will operate on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays during school holiday periods from 26th May – 4th June and from 14th July – 3rd September 2023.

Amongst the very first passengers to use the service this summer will be dozens of Normandy veterans sailing to Normandy to commemorate the 89th anniversary of D-Day (6th June, 1944).

The fast service will complement Brittany Ferries’ conventional cruise-ferry routes to Cherbourg from Poole and Portsmouth, and passengers can mix and match routes, sailing out to France by fast ferry and returning by cruise-ferry or vice-versa.

Christophe Mathieu, CEO Brittany Ferries said:

We’re delighted to bring even more choice and flexibility for our customers crossing the western Channel this summer.

“These fast sailings will complement our conventional cruise-ferry services operated by Barfleur on the Poole-Cherbourg route, and our overnight sailings from Portsmouth to Cherbourg with our latest ships Galicia and Salamanca. Across our route network this summer customers will now be able to choose from up to 130 departures a week.”

Condor Liberation carries 850 passengers and 235 cars, crossing the English Channel at speeds of up to 42 knots (48 miles per hour) making it the fastest ferry currently sailing the English Channel.

On board a wide range of onboard facilities comes as standard. The craft offers several spacious open seating lounges, meanwhile for an extra fee, a Club Lounge offers luxurious reclining seats, free Wi-Fi and complimentary hot drinks. The craft also offers an extensive duty-free shop, bistro café and bars.

Customers can book their summer sailings over the phone on 0330 159 7000 or online at

Raise a glass to Guillaume de Normandie

Raise a glass to Guillaume de Normandie, the name for Brittany Ferries’ next hybrid ship (… and the first king to be crowned at Westminster Abbey)

(4 May 2023) Brittany Ferries has today announced the name of its forthcoming hybrid ship, which will sail between Portsmouth and Caen. Guillaume de Normandie will be the joint-largest hybrid vessel at sea when she joins the Brittany Ferries fleet in May 2025, sailing alongside sister-ship Saint-Malo.

She will also be the fourth vessel in the fleet to be fuelled by cleaner liquefied natural gas (LNG). Powered by two 13,740 kW engines, she will be configured to run on LNG, on battery power or on a combination of the two in hybrid mode.

Guillaume de Normandie will replace Brittany Ferries’ Normandie, a loyal servant sailing since 1992. The change will mark the final step in the largest fleet renewal journey in the company’s 50-year history. Five new vessels will have joined the fleet between 2020 and 2025.

Caen and the King:  

The name was confirmed at a press conference held in Caen, where Guillaume de Normandie (William the Conqueror) is buried. And, in the spirit of a partnership that has endured and strengthened since the first Portsmouth-Caen sailing in 1986, the event was hosted jointly by Brittany Ferries and the Normandy region.

Today Caen-Portsmouth is the company’s busiest route. Three departures a day in each direction carry two in every five passengers travelling with Brittany Ferries. Around 30 per cent of those who arrive in Normandy ports stay in the region, to visit treasures like the Bayeux Tapestry, the famous cliffs of Étretat and the Palais Bénédictine outside Fécamp. Many thousands use the route to pay homage to the brave souls who landed on five Normandy beaches during D-Day in June 1944.

“I think this name perfectly captures the enduring partnership between Brittany Ferries, the region of Normandy and the British people,” said Christophe Mathieu CEO Brittany Ferries. “Guillaume was the favourite son of the Normandy region, but he was also the first king to be crowned at Westminster Abbey. In two days’ time King Charles III will be the 40th.  So of course, while this is a nod to the past, it is also a celebration of our present and future together. It’s something I hope all our British friends will appreciate as they celebrate the King’s coronation this weekend.”

Prince Charles visited Brittany Ferries at its head office in Roscoff back in 1988. He was hosted by the company’s founder Alexis Gourvennec, a working farmer and one of the many farmer-shareholders who launched the company in 1973. In 2006, Gourvennec was awarded the Honorary Commander of the Civil Division of the Order of the British Empire by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.

Today the farming community remain the largest shareholders in a business that is as proud of its roots in the land as it is in its achievements and routes at sea.

1988: Prince Charles alongside Maurice Chollet (finance director), Alexis Gourvennec (president) & Christian Michielini (managing director)

A more sustainable ship:

Guillaume de Normandie’s hybrid technology will work like a hybrid car, running on fuel, electricity, or a combination of the two. Powered by cleaner LNG at sea, she will switch to LNG-electric and full-electric mode mainly on the approach to harbours and at quay. Preliminary studies suggest a fuel consumption reduction of up to 9 per cent when in service, thanks to her hybrid technology.

She will also be plug-in ready, meaning zero-emissions when alongside. The aim in Caen is to have shore-side power in place by 2027 thanks to investment by the Normandy region and Ports de Normandie. Portsmouth International Port is investing too. Plans are progressing well on funding and infrastructure development.

When Guillaume de Normandie’s huge batteries can be charged at quay in Portsmouth and Caen, there will be a further estimated 15 per cent reduction in climate change emissions. That’s in addition to a 20-25 per cent reduction in CO2 emissions that comes courtesy of more efficient combustion in an LNG engine.

As well as her innovative propulsion system, Guillaume de Normandie benefits from the latest innovations in naval architecture. Her hull design, for example, is long and sleek (33.5m longer than the ship she will replace) reducing energy consumption by up to 10 per cent, as well as cutting noise pollution and promising a smoother ride for passengers.

Air quality pollutants will be cut to a minimum too. Whether operating in LNG or hybrid mode, her funnel will emit no soot (particulates) and virtually no sulphur. There will also be a significant reduction in nitrogen dioxide emissions, compared with a diesel-powered ship. This means Guillaume de Normandie will be a good neighbour to those living and working around ports.

So Guillaume de Normandie will be cleaner from day one in service. And she has the potential to become even greener in the years that follow, as shore-side power is turned-on and thanks to engines that can work with e-fuels of the future like e-methane, when these are available to shipping.

On board Guillaume de Normandie:

  • Passengers: 1,310
  • Cars: 460
  • Freight: 120 lorries (or 52 cars + 63 lorries). 2,390 lanemetres
  • Cabins: 220 (including 6 Commodore suites, 32 Commodore Club cabins, 5 accessible cabins, 48 freight driver cabins).
  • Pet accommodation: 21 pet-friendly cabins and 12 kennels
  • Four restaurants and bars
  • VIP lounge
  • Two boutiques
  • Two children’s play areas
  • Two engines (13,740 kW each)

Timetable changes at Wightlink

Wightlink Fastcat service to Ryde Pier

Timetable changes at Wightlink

Wightlink is making some minor amendments to its timetables to improve connectivity with rail services. They affect both the Portsmouth Harbour-Ryde FastCat foot passenger service and Lymington-Yarmouth vehicle ferries.

FastCat route

From Monday 24 April 2023 every day, the 21:20 sailing from Portsmouth Harbour will depart at 21:45 and the 22:00 sailing from Ryde Pier will depart at 22:15.

From Monday 22 May 2023 on weekdays, the 05:15 sailing from Portsmouth Harbour may depart early, as soon as all customers are onboard. The 05:45 sailing from Ryde Pier Head will depart at 05:40.

Lymington-Yarmouth route

From Sunday 30 April 2023, Sunday evening sailings will depart five minutes earlier.

 Previous timeNew time Previous timeNew time

Wightlink Chief Executive Keith Greenfield says: “We are pleased to make these minor changes to the timetable which will benefit customers who want to make connections with rail services.

“Our decision follows meetings with Bob Seely MP and discussions with South Western Railway. The rail company has also made adjustments to its timetable.”

Irish Ferries introduces new Cruise Ferry on Irish Sea route

Irish Ferries new ship which will be renamed Oscar Wilde

Irish Ferries introduces new Cruise Ferry on Irish Sea route

Irish Ferries is pleased to announce the addition of a new cruise ferry to its fleet. The ship, originally called the STAR, was built in 2007 in Finland for Tallink Grupp.  

Irish Ferries new ship which will be renamed Oscar Wilde
Irish Ferries new cruise ferry will be renamed OSCAR WILDE

The ship will be renamed as the OSCAR WILDE. 

The OSCAR WILDE will be the largest and fastest passenger cruise ferry on the Irish Sea with an impressive capacity of over 2,080 passengers, 134 cabins, and ample space with over 2,380 lane meters for cars, coaches, and freight vehicles.

With the largest duty-free shopping space for any cruise ferry on the Irish Sea of more than 17,000 square feet, it will be an ideal shopping destination for those travelling between Ireland and Britain.

The ship interiors have a classic, modern feel and boasts Freight Drivers facilities, Club Class lounge, a self-service restaurant, an à la carte restaurant, a bar, gaming facilities, pet facilities and family-friendly features such as a children’s play area.

OSCAR WILDE children’s play area

One of the most exciting features of the OSCAR WILDE is its available speed. With a possible top speed of 27.5 knots, it is the fastest cruise ferry with the largest passenger capacity on the Irish Sea. This will enable Irish Ferries to offer tourism passengers and freight an efficient service, getting them to their destination reliably and comfortably.

Commenting on the new addition, Irish Ferries Managing Director, Andrew Sheen, said, “We are delighted to announce the addition of the OSCAR WILDE to our fleet. This new ship will be a fantastic addition to our service, offering customers the very best in terms of comfort, speed, and amenities.

“Along with usual advantages of ferry travel in terms of no luggage restrictions or security queues, we are confident that the OSCAR WILDE will become a firm favourite with our passengers and freight drivers, and we look forward to welcoming them on board.”

The OSCAR WILDE will initially enter service on the Rosslare / Pembroke route in early June, replacing the chartered BLUE STAR 1 for the busy summer period.

Irish Ferries is now taking bookings on for the new ship with fares starting from just £206 for a return journey with a car plus 1 adult. With its impressive size, speed, and range of facilities, it is set to become the ultimate choice for those travelling between Ireland and the UK on the southern corridor between Wales and Ireland.

Hovertravel launches recycled skirt souvenirs

Hovertravel launches recycled skirt souvenirs

Jayne Myles of ByMrsM Ltd with the new HoverGreen range of souvenirs

Hovertravel has, in conjunction with local Isle of Wight artist Jayne Myles (trading as By Mrs M), launched a new range of souvenirs using pieces of used skirt rubber from its hovercraft.

Loretta Lale, head of commercial at Hovertravel, explains: “In the past we have explored ways to re-cycle our used skirt material, although none celebrated the past life of the rubber as much as this new HoverGreen souvenir range.  Having served their original purpose of supporting 45 tonnes of hovercraft and flying over the Solent up to 70 times a day, these skirts are now being transformed into individually designed unique souvenirs.”

The HoverGreen souvenirs range includes keyrings, hanging art, bookmarks and coasters – with each item featuring a uniquely different design. The skirt material on hovercraft wears out over time, losing its elasticity and its ‘bounce’ so to keep the craft operating to its optimum, the rubber needs to replaced. When the engineers remove the rubber they sort the used material as some of it can be used for reinforcing repairs with the remainder put aside for repurposing. Working to the requirements provided via By Mrs M, the engineers then select and cut the used rubber to size.

Inspired by her working environment, namely her own kitchen table in East Cowes, Jayne uses discarded materials such as wood, slate and tiles as the canvas for her vibrant designs. For the HoverGreen range the dull, black rubber creates the perfect background for the colourful patterns which characterise Jayne’s artistic style.

Jayne Myles of ByMrsM Ltd commented: “What an amazing opportunity to re-purpose the skirt of the hovercraft with my art to be able to sell as part of the HoverGreen product range. This is recycling at its most basic and also most colourful and I am proud and excited to be working with Hovertravel on this. Creating art on recycled products is at the very heart of the ethos of By Mrs M”.

The HoverGreen range is available now at Hovertravel’s terminals in Ryde and Southsea. For more prices and more details please visit:

Last of Wightlink’s ships returns home after annual refit 

Last of Wightlink’s ships returns home after annual refit

Wight Sun sails home from Falmouth to Lymington 

The last of Wightlink’s ships has returned home after her annual refit, completing a six month programme of maintenance. The ferry company’s eight-strong fleet is now ready for Easter and a busy summer taking holidaymakers across the Solent and supplying the Isle of Wight. 

Wight Sun set sail from the A&P shipyard in Falmouth in bright sunshine for her home port of Lymington on Monday (27 March), her journey along the south coast took 15 hours. 

“Every ship and FastCat in our fleet has spent time in dry dock this season and they look magnificent,” says Wightlink Chief Executive Keith Greenfield. “Our engineers and crew take great pride in keeping their vessels in good order, ready to welcome customers.” 

Wightlink invests £6million in the upkeep of its fleet every year. One of the main tasks for Wight Sun’s refit crew of seven this year was to remove, refurbish and replace one of the ship’s propellers. They also used more than 700 litres of paint and anti-fouling for the hull to keep her looking smart throughout the summer. 

Condor Ferries secures second ‘ropax’ vessel

The Straitsman currently in New Zealand before coming to the Channel Isles

Condor Ferries secures second ‘ropax’ vessel

The Straitsman currently in New Zealand before coming to the Channel Isles
Condor’s new ropax ferry, the MV Straitsman, which will enter service with the company later this year on its UK, French and inter-Island services

CONDOR has made a major investment in Channel Islands’ freight and passenger services through the introduction of a second, conventional roll on, roll off ferry.

The acquisition follows a year-long search for a vessel which meets the Islands’ criteria and will provide resilience, add capacity and improve connectivity on the company’s key routes between Guernsey, Jersey, the UK and France. Currently operating in New Zealand as the MV Straitsman, the 125m long ‘ropax’ vessel, is similar in design to Commodore Clipper and is initially planned to enter service this Autumn. 

John Napton, Condor’s CEO, confirmed this showed the company’s determination to develop its freight and passenger services.

‘Condor has always maintained that its primary focus is to support the three strands of the Islands’ economies – lifeline freight, connectivity for Islanders and inbound tourism – which is clearly demonstrated through this additional vessel.

‘We have been interested in purchasing another vessel for a while and would have already done so had it not been for the challenges caused by Covid and the limited availability of these size of vessels. This is a fundamentally important step in showing our commitment to the Islands and demonstrates we have listened to the needs of our clients and key stakeholders.’

The Straitsman was built in 2005 at the Dutch shipyard, Merwede BV and has operated under different names in both Europe and New Zealand. The ferry will be renamed and undertake berthing trials in Guernsey and Jersey later this year prior to her entry into regular service.

Mr Napton added: The new ship is similar to Clipper in size, speed and capability so we plan to use her on the important freight supply route from Portsmouth, offering an overnight service in both directions and creating an overall more weather resilient service. She will also enable the larger fleet to assist with inter-Island frequency and continue to develop freight services from France, which are showing real growth and potential.

‘There is considerable amount of work to be done before she enters service but this is very positive news for the Islands.’

Brittany Ferries Santoña is the latest LNG-powered ferry to call Portsmouth home

Brittany Ferries Santoña is the latest LNG-powered ferry to call Portsmouth home

Brittany Ferries new LNG-powered ferry Santona arriving at Portsmout Port escorted by two Hovertravel hovercraft.
Brittany Ferries new LNG-powered ferry Santoña arriving at Portsmout Port escorted by two Hovertravel hovercraft. Credit: Strong Island

(3 March 2023) A new Brittany Ferries ship has sailed into Portsmouth International Port for the first time this week.

Named Santoña, the luxurious cruise-ferry will voyage to Santander in northern Spain twice a week, with a single weekly return-crossing to Cherbourg in France.  Her first commercial crossing to Santander departs tonight, Friday 3 March 2023, after a champagne reception to toast her arrival.

Santoña is powered by cleaner liquefied natural gas (LNG). That means passengers, freight drivers and crew can expect a smoother and quieter ride on this state-of-the-art E-Flexer class ship. Crucially, it also means far fewer air quality and CO2 (carbon dioxide) emissions from her funnel.

She is the third in a series of five new vessels to join the fleet, covering the period 2019 – 2025.  It’s all part of the biggest ship renewal programme in Brittany Ferries’ 50 year history, a multi-million pound investment in a more sustainable future. Like LNG-powered sister-ship Salamanca, which entered service in 2022, Santoña will be a good neighbour to the port and to Pompey residents.

That’s because LNG is cleaner than diesel fuel. Virtually no air quality emissions like soot, sulphur or nitrogen dioxide are emitted from the funnel following combustion. Carbon dioxide emissions (CO2) are also up to 20% lower than for diesel fuel. She therefore comes with the promise of cleaner air from day one in service, with the potential to realise further improvements in the years to come when new bio and e-Fuels are available to power what are sometimes described as “fuel agnostic” ships.

“We are proud to be long-term partners of Portsmouth international Port and the great waterfront city,” said Christopher Mathieu chief executive Brittany Ferries. “But we want to be more than just a company that contributes significantly to the local economy, taking people to beautiful destinations in France and Spain. We also want to be partners for change, boosting moves to improve air quality across the city and to tackle climate change. That’s why ships like Santoña and the hybrids to come are so important.”

The next two Brittany Ferries vessels on the horizon will feature hybrid technology. Like a hybrid car, they will run on fuel (LNG), on electric power or on a combination of the two. At sea the ships will be powered by cleaner LNG. But upon the approach to the city, while manoeuvring in port and at quay, hybrid technology takes charge.

Arriving in 2024/2025, the ferries will replace two grande dames and favourites of the Brittany Ferries fleet, Bretagne and Normandie. They will serve Portsmouth-Caen and Portsmouth-St Malo and both will be shore side power ready.

They are configured to be plugged-in to recharge batteries and to run systems on board while alongside, cutting emissions to zero. Portsmouth International Port and the City Council has been key to lobbying for – and securing – the large increase in power supply needed, as well as investment in infrastructure to get power to the port gate. Work is continuing to secure the final piece of the jigsaw, connecting power from the port gate to the quayside where ferries and cruise vessels will dock.

Cllr Gerald Vernon-Jackson, Leader of Portsmouth City Council said: “We are proud of our long-term partnership with Brittany Ferries, and hugely impressed to see their plans for sustainable expansion going from strength to strength.

“Brittany Ferries shares the city’s ambitions for a future focussed on protecting the environment, we are committed to supporting them to achieve their clean growth goals, which is why we are securing additional green energy to provide power for ships in the future that can plug in when in port.

“As expected from Brittany Ferries Santona is an impressive ship and we look forward to seeing her sail regularly through Portsmouth.”

Santoña – on board

Santoña is a ship that brings the art of travel to all. Its capacious interior spaces are designed to be accessible to every passenger, with boutique shopping, a cinema and atrium bar with sky roof on the menu.

Cabins are roomy and boast mattresses that are said to be the most comfortable on the Channel. A C-Club Lounge is offered to those seeking a premium experience, to complement the comfort and relaxation that comes as standard when travelling on board a Brittany Ferries ship.

There’s ample space for 1,015 aboard this 215-metre ship. She hosts 343 cabins and pets are welcome too. There are 22 pet-friendly cabins, meaning Fido can join the family on holiday to France or Spain.

Artworks and meals on board are inspired by Santoña and the regions of Spain served by the ship. So Brittany Ferries can rightly claim to walk-the-talk when it says your holiday begins the moment you step on board.

While dreaming of beautiful destinations that await upon arrival in Santander, passengers can while away the hours on deck whale and dolphin spotting. The Bay of Biscay is one of the richest places on Earth for spying these magnificent creatures in their natural environment. Lucky travellers might even spot a blue whale, the largest creature ever to have lived on the planet.

Half-term treats for sea dogs travelling with Wightlink

Staff from raw dog food manufacturer Paleo Ridge with a dog on board Wighlink ferry

Half-term treats for sea dogs travelling with Wightlink

Staff from raw dog food manufacturer Paleo Ridge with a dog on board Wighlink ferry
The Paleo Ridge team sampling onboard Wightlink’s St Clare

Wightlink’s four-legged customers enjoyed some tasty half-term treats on the busy St Clare ferry.

Dog food specialist Paleo Ridge from Waterlooville in Hampshire set up sampling stations to introduce dog owners to its new naturally air-dried treats, keeping pets happy during Friday afternoon’s sailings between Portsmouth and Fishbourne.

Wightlink Chief Executive Keith Greenfield says: “This is just part of Wightlink’s commitment to supporting local businesses on both sides of the Solent, looking after the environment and welcoming dogs on board our ferries.”

Gill Synnuck, Trade Account Manager, of Paleo Ridge adds: “We’re delighted to set sail with Wightlink, meet a few four-legged friends and introduce them to our new meaty treats.

“All of our ingredients are 100% natural, ethically sourced and of the highest quality. Our aim is to promote healthy dogs through a natural, species-appropriate diet and we also use sustainable packaging to reduce their impact on the environment.”

Dogs travel free on Wightlink’s three ferry routes between the Isle of Wight and Hampshire. Vehicle ferries have special pet areas where both people and dogs can relax, and they can also enjoy the outer decks when the weather is good.

Wightlink customers can save 20% and enjoy free shipping* on raw dog food delivered to their door with Paleo Ridge, see

*Terms & Conditions Apply. A minimum order weight of four kilograms must be met and this offer expires on 30 April 2023

Fly Away for a Day with Hovertravel

Fly Away for a Day with Hovertravel

(Fri 27 January 2023) Hovertravel has launched a full calendar of day trips for 2023, combining coach trips to a broad variety of destinations and attractions with day returns from the Island in great value package deals.

Loretta Lale, head of commercial at Hovertravel, explains: “Following the popularity of our coach trip to Winchester for its famous Christmas market last year, we have created a series of Hover Days. These trips start by flying island residents across the Solent to get the day trips started as soon as possible and allow customers to have more time enjoying the destination.

In terms of destinations we have packaged several different trips which include cities, historical locations, world-class attractions and family-friendly experiences. We are also looking to add some more specific event day trips alongside our 2023 Winchester Christmas Market Day Trip.”

The Hover Days calendar has outings to suit all interests; whether you want to shop in the West End of London, see the royal residences at Windsor and Arundel,  meet Peppa Pig or Chitty Chitty Bang Bang or enjoy an ice cream on the beach in Brighton.

Day trip to Windsor

Full details including dates, itineraries and fares are all available at