Category: Member news

UK transport gets greener with arrival of first hybrid high speed passenger ferry 

UK transport gets greener with arrival of first hybrid high speed passenger ferry 

The first of three new hybrid boats joins the Uber Boat by Thames Clippers fleet

12 September 2023 – From today, sightseers and commuters in London can make more eco-friendly journeys. Earth Clipper, Europe’s first hybrid high speed passenger ferry, built to the High-Speed Craft Code, and the first of three new Uber Boat by Thames Clippers passenger ferries to operate with zero tailpipe emissions in Central London, starts sailing. 

Leading the way in passenger boat design, Earth Clipper gives an almost 90 per cent reduction in CO2e compared with running solely on conventional marine diesel. The 18th high-speed catamaran in the Uber Boat by Thames Clippers fleet takes strides in improving the ambitious sustainability credentials of the business while also laying strong groundwork for the wider marine sector.

The hybrid boat will operate solely on battery power while transporting commuters and sightseers through the Capital – in the Central Zone, between Tower and Battersea Power Station piers – and recharge while using biofuelled power outside of central London. Offering an emissions reduction of 16.5 per cent when compared with running on biofuel alone throughout all parts of the route. 

As well as being the first hybrid boat for the business, it is also its largest at 40m long – almost the length of two tennis courts laid end to end – and has a capacity of 230 passengers. Earth Clipper has also been designed for optimum passenger experience with the cabin featuring large windows which look out onto the iconic views along the Thames and offers the onboard café service that Uber Boat by Thames Clippers passengers know and love.

“This is a momentous day for us, and something we’ve been working towards for some time” says Sean Collins, Uber Boat by Thames Clippers co-founder and CEO, “Being able to offer greener transport through the capital is no small feat but something we’re incredibly passionate about at Uber Boat by Thames Clippers. 

“We are committed to not only utilising the most advanced technology to drive down our carbon footprint, but also to playing our part in breaking new ground to advance that technology as much as we can. The new boats push the boundaries in catamaran design to deliver a future-friendly option that can be made even greener as and when technology allows. We’re excited to announce too, that Earth Clipper will be joined by two sister vessels; Celestial and Mars Clipper will also join the fleet this year as we work towards our targets of reducing carbon emissions by 50 per cent by 2030 and achieving net zero by 2040 for the overall business.”

The business plans to introduce a hybrid system as a minimum with any new vessels and where possible, fully electrified or zero emission technology. In addition to the three hybrid catamarans, work is under way to deliver London’s first fully electric Zero Emission Cross River Ferry between Canary Wharf and Rotherhithe by the spring of 2025 – the first of its kind in the UK. The company’s plans to 2030 include an investment of £70 million in new fleet.

Sean believes strongly in protecting and preserving the river Thames and the communities close to the river. For over 20 years the business has been at the forefront of innovation for the river marine sector and is committed to supporting the sustainable growth of infrastructure and economic development on and around the river to ensure its long-term importance to Greater London.

Earth Clipper was built at Wight Shipyard Co in East Cowes on the Isle of Wight, where the two sister vessels are currently being completed. An investment that has been transformational and significant for the local economy on the Isle of Wight, with 65 people building the boat over the past year and 14 apprentices involved.

Uber Boat by Thames Clippers offers services that run as far east as Barking Riverside and out to Putney in the west. The business is now in its 24th year of operation and in 2023 alone, will carry over 5 million commuters and visitors through London on the river. 

For more information and to book, visit www.uberboatbythamesclippers.com.  

Wightlink investigates microplastics on Isle of Wight beaches

Wightlink investigates microplastics on Isle of Wight beaches

Vanessa Skipper and pupils from Dover Park Primary search for microplastics on Ryde beach

Wightlink has joined the campaign to find out more about microplastics pollution on Isle of Wight beaches. 

The ferry company has signed up with Just One Ocean and the University of Portsmouth to take part in The Big Microplastics Survey. This is a global citizen science project to gather information about how microplastics are affecting coasts, rivers and lakes and everyone is welcome to join in. 

Across the world, it’s estimated eight million tonnes of plastic gets into our oceans every year. Tides and currents break down some of it into tiny particles known as microplastics. They can have a major impact on marine wildlife as they spread through ecosystems and get into the foodchain. 

Staff from Wightlink have already joined marine scientists at the University of Portsmouth and children from one of its partner schools – Dover Park in Ryde – to examine an area next to Ryde pier. No complicated equipment is needed to carry out microplastics surveys, only household sieves and buckets. More surveys are planned, and the results will contribute to an international database. 

David Jones from Just One Ocean adds: “Plastic pollution poses a significant threat to marine and coastal ecosystems, and human health. We are grateful to Wightlink for carrying out microplastic surveys on Ryde beach to add to our data. Anyone is welcome to take part in this citizen science initiative and contribute their results to the international database.” 

Louise Lea from Wightlink took part in the survey on Ryde beach. She says: “Surveying Island beaches for microplastics is just part of Wightlink’s Green Solent Project. This initiative aims to protect the land, air and sea that surrounds our three routes linking the Isle of Wight with the mainland.” 

Wightlink’s flagship Victoria of Wight is England’s first large ferry powered by hybrid energy and the company is planning to introduce an all-electric ferry with zero carbon emissions. 

To find out how to get involved in The Big Microplastics Survey see: http://justoneocean.org/portfolio/big-microplastic-survey 

The Isle of Wight turns up the heat with its first beach sauna

The Isle of Wight turns up the heat with its first beach sauna – thanks to celebrity DJ Rob da Bank 

The Isle of Wight’s first beach sauna has opened in Freshwater Bay, providing an opportunity to indulge in heat therapy alongside invigorating swims on one of the Island’s most picturesque beaches. 

Wightlink Ferries carried this unusual cargo across the Solent for its owner Rob da Bank, a celebrated DJ, music promoter and festival mastermind. The mobile wood-fired sauna for up to eight people is the latest addition to the Slow Motion wellness brand, which he runs with his wife Josie. 

Stunning views of the sea are on offer through a panoramic mirrored window. The beach itself is covered in a mixture of grey flint and chalk pebbles that make a unique sound as the waves rise and fall onto the shore. Saunas are said to promote relaxation, improve circulation, lower blood pressure, improve the immune system, reduce joint soreness and improve mood. To enjoy the full benefits of contrast therapy, Rob suggests spending time in the sauna, before dipping in the sea and repeating. 

Freshwater Bay, isle of Wight © Wightlink

From autumn, the sauna will travel from place to place, popping up at festivals and charity events over the year. 

Rob said: “Leaving your worries (as well as your mobile phone!) at the door is a liberating and truly relaxing experience that can often result in a spiritual high and recharge of the batteries. 

“We’ve been running Wim Hof breathing workshops, meditation courses, and rejuvenating sleep retreats at our home on the Isle of Wight for several years. The mobile sauna perfectly complements our wellness offering and we’re delighted to share the experience with visitors.” 

The sauna is now open on Saturdays and Sundays between 7am and 6pm throughout July and August 2023. Prices start from £10 per person. Sessions should be booked in advance and 45-minute slots are available at www.slowmotionretreats.net 

Manxman arrival in home waters

Manxman arrival in home waters

(29 June 2023) The Isle of Man Steam Packet Company is confirming its new flagship, Manxman, will arrive in Douglas Bay around 09:00 on Sunday, 02nd July.

The vessel, which is registered in Douglas, will leave its current berth at Southampton’s Western Docks on Friday evening. Manxman’s route to the Isle of Man will see it travel down Southampton Water, out of the Solent, around Land’s End and into the Irish Sea.

Manxman’s delivery voyage began in May and has seen the vessel cover over 12,000 nautical miles through eight different seas in three different oceans. As the journey has progressed to the west, Manxman’s crews have had to adjust their clocks ten times to match local times zones.

The well-travelled ship has made calls at numerous ports along the route, to take on fuel and supplies. As well as some of the World’s busiest ports such as Hong Kong and Singapore, Manxman’s itinerary has taken the vessel to fascinating historical locations including Muscat, Jeddah and Valletta.

Along the way, the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company’s crew have seen many unforgettable sights, including Orcas, flying fish and pods of dolphins.

For the final leg of her homeward journey, Manxman will be under the command of Captain Jonathan Palmer.

Following her arrival in Douglas, Manxman has to undergo inspections by the Isle of Man Ship Registry, including a test deployment of its Marine Evacuation System.

The new vessel will also have to undergo berthing trials in Douglas and Heysham, as well as giving the masters an opportunity to update their Pilot Exemption Certificates for the new flagship.

Alongside that, crew training, staff familiarisation, stocking and all the myriad other items that need to be put in place for the Company to deliver the high-quality passenger experience it strives for need to be completed.

It is anticipated that if all goes to plan, Manxman will begin limited service before the end of July.

A ‘Round the Island Cruise’ is being planned in order to give some customers a chance to sail on the new flagship without having to make a return crossing. Further details of this will be released shortly.

A welcome Ceremony for Manxman is planned for Sunday 9th, with further details to be released shortly.

Hybrid Ferry Launch Marks a Major Milestone in Sustainable Transport on Dover-Calais Route

Hybrid Ferry Launch Marks a Major Milestone in Sustainable Transport on Dover-Calais Route

  • P&O Ferries launches new hybrid ship, P&O Pioneer, on Dover-Calais, marking the realisation of £250M investment in UK trade and travel.
  • New hybrid ferry promises cleaner, greener cross-channel travel, bringing a 40% reduction in carbon emissions.
  • The ship will be the world’s largest double-ended hybrid ferry, with two bridges meaning there is no need for it to turn in port, saving fuel on every roundtrip.

19th June 2023 – London, UK: Today, P&O Ferries’ new hybrid ship, P&O Pioneer, will make its maiden voyages, sailing tourist passengers and vital trade business across the channel between Dover and Calais.

P&O Pioneer has been designed to reduce carbon emissions on the UK’s most important trade route, which carries over £144bn of goods by ferry alone.

The ship is propelled by a combination of traditional fuel and battery power and has been designed with the capacity to become carbon neutral in future. The major investment in these two 230m long hybrid ships allows P&O Ferries to cut fuel use while maintaining capacity.

P&O Pioneer is the next step in P&O Ferries’ commitment to the Dover-Calais route, with the P&O Pioneer expected to do more than 100,000 crossings of the Channel in its lifetime.

The introduction of new, more efficient ships comes after the integrated transport and logistics company’s best-ever sustainability performance in 2022 – when it achieved a nine per cent carbon reduction.

The modular elements of the ship mean its electric power capabilities will develop in the future. As technology develops and charging stations are brought in at ports, the installation of additional batteries will allow fully electric operation.

The ship will also be the world’s largest double-ended hybrid ferry, with two bridges meaning there is no need for it to turn in port, saving fuel on every trip.

As the longest ferry to sail between Dover and Calais, P&O Pioneer and its sister ship P&O Liberté, which will join the fleet later this year, will replace the capacity of three older vessels with just two, delivering further efficiency benefits.

Peter Hebblethwaite, CEO of P&O Ferries said: “P&O Pioneer marks a new era in low-carbon travel and trade for the UK and France, with the investment of £250m in new hybrid ships on the iconic Dover-Calais route.

“For the millions of passengers who sail with P&O Ferries between the UK and France, our two ultra-modern vessels being introduced this year will deliver a fantastic travel experience.

“We are determined to make P&O Ferries the best ferry company in Europe. That means: the best ships, the best routes, and the best value for our customers.”

On P&O Pioneer, freight customers moving goods between the UK and EU on the busy Dover-Calais route will benefit from:

  • Increased capacity for trade – P&O Pioneer has the capacity to carry up to half a million goods units a year between the UK and the EU, an increase on the class of ship it replaces.
  • Reduced emissions – In service, the two new ferries Pioneer and Liberté will produce 40% less carbon emissions than the ships they replace, helping industries across the economy, such as freight and logistics operators, retailers, and manufacturers, to meet their emissions targets.
  • Flexible travel: Companies will get continued access to our space charter partnership with DFDS, giving them access to more turn up and go services.
  • Better driver facilities: The largest ever dedicated space for freight drivers on the Dover-Calais route, including a separate dining area, lounge, and showers, giving them the chance to relax, refresh and recharge.

The ferry crossing from Dover to Calais offers passengers the chance to stretch their legs, relax and take in the view, enjoy a drink or a meal, and take advantage of duty-free shopping.

P&O Pioneer Food Market

P&O Pioneer provides an even better travel experience for tourists, including:

  • Kids Zone & Teen Zone – P&O Pioneer provides more entertainment options for children of all ages. The bespoke design has a maritime-themed soft play area with thoughtfully placed seating areas for parents. Older children and teenagers are well catered for with interactive digital screens, including a Digital Selfie Wall, Arcade Games, plenty of charging points and excellent Wi-Fi.
  • Pet Lounge ​– The Pet Lounge provides an upgraded experience for pet owners to travel in comfort with a bright, welcoming space, complimentary hot drinks and an outdoor exercise area which can be directly accessed from its own dedicated lift. P&O is the first ferry company to offer a pet lounge on the Dover-Calais route, providing travellers with an alternative way to travel with their pets.
  • World Duty Free Shopping –The new ship will have P&O’slargest onboard duty-free shopping (588m2) from P&O’s travel retail partner World Duty Free. Travellers will be able to get up to 40% off high street prices on a range of products.
  • Food Market –The new layout has been inspired by food markets seen in train stations and airports with ‘grab and go’ options and self-serve tills. The design elements incorporate greenery and woodland scenes to create a natural, calm feel for the food market. There is something for all tastes, including pizzas, paninis and a delicious selection of salads, sandwiches, sweet treats and drinks.
  • The Kitchen – The bright and airy dining area, with feature floor to ceiling windows, delivers our new hot food grab and go menu; including our very popular hand battered haddock and chip, our new buttermilk chicken burger and our moving mountains vegan burger.  We also have a new children’s offering, including chicken nuggets and a cheeseburger.
  • Accessibility – P&O Ferries assist, wherever possible, to make their services accessible and easy for those with additional needs. P&O Pioneer has two additional passenger lifts (five lifts in total) aiding those with reduced mobility, all seating areas have space for wheelchairs and counters have been designed to ensure wheelchair accessibility. P&O Pioneer will also be the first to have a ‘Changing Places’ toilet on the Dover-Calais ferry route. The Changing Places toilet is a larger facility with a changing bench and hoist to support disabled people who need assistance.
  • Club Lounge – The private lounge has been designed to offer an elegant environment with a subtle colour palette, high-quality materials, soundproofing, soft and comfortable seating and a dedicated outside deck area. Guests can enjoy all-inclusive premium hot and cold food and drinks, which will be in the self-service style seen in an airport lounge. This ticket upgrade is truly the perfect space to start and finish your journey with P&O Ferries.

Wightlink supports ambitious plans to restore native oysters to the Solent

Wightlink supports ambitious plans to restore native oysters to the Solent

Wightlink Commercial Director Phil Delaney with Dr Luke Helmer in the laboratory 

Wightlink Commercial Director Phil Delaney rolled up his sleeves to join volunteers cleaning and sorting more than 15,000 native oysters at the University of Portsmouth’s Institute of Marine Science.  

The oysters were sourced from an estuary in Wales and have now been placed on a newly created reef on the bed of the River Hamble. Dr Luke Helmer organised the sessions as part of the Blue Marine Foundation’s ongoing programme to restore native oysters to the Solent. 

Wightlink already hosts oyster nurseries in the Lymington River near its ferry port for Blue Marine Foundation where millions of larvae are being released into the Solent. Oysters improve water quality as just one of them can filter up to 200 litres of water every day. They are also ‘ecosystem engineers’ providing a home for more than 130 other sea creatures in the Solent region. Reefs also have the potential act as a natural defence against coastal erosion.  

Between 1972 and 2006, the Solent supported the largest native oyster fishery in Europe. But since then, the oyster population has fallen significantly and the fishery collapsed in 2013. Across the UK, native oyster reefs have declined by 95 per cent as a result of overfishing, pollution, disease, habitat loss and other pressures. 

Phil Delaney says: “I enjoyed getting involved in cleaning the oysters ready for their new home in Solent waters and am delighted we at Wightlink are playing our part in the restoration project.” 

Dr Luke Helmer adds: “Our volunteers are invaluable in helping us prepare the oysters for their new home in Solent waters as we work to create a healthy self-sustaining population and highlight their importance to both people and nature.” 

wightlink.co.uk

Final plank laid on Wightlink’s new Ryde Pier walkway

Final plank laid on Wightlink’s new Ryde Pier walkway

Andy Whitlock from Knights Brown screws in the final plank with Wightlink’s Dean Murphy

The final plank has been laid in Wightlink’s new pedestrian walkway linking the FastCat terminal at Ryde Pier Head with Ryde Esplanade, which will be opened this summer.

Wightlink’s Head of Port Operations Dean Murphy was on hand to watch the final screws being driven into the last decking board by Andy Whitlock from contractors Knights Brown.

Built in 1814, Ryde Pier is the UK’s oldest and the second-longest seaside pier in the country at half a mile. The walkway has been built on the Victorian cast-iron piles of the old tramway, next to the railway pier. Horse-drawn trams first carried holiday makers along the Pier when the tramway opened in 1864, then steam, electric and petrol-driven trams were used. Trams were withdrawn in 1969.

“Strollers now have their own path, away from cars and bicycles, making Ryde Pier more pleasurable for people who want to walk by the sea or travel on foot to and from Wightlink’s FastCats,” says Dean Murphy. “New shelters and seats will offer everyone a chance to relax and enjoy the beautiful views across the Solent.”

Knights Brown rose to the challenge of transforming the historic pier, working through the night around high and low tide to complete the project. Crews removed more than 350 tonnes of old steelwork, replacing them with new steel, and installed almost 3,000 decking boards (more than two kilometres of greenheart timber) and 1.5 km of decorative handrails.

The works to Ryde Pier are part of a £10 million project by Isle of Wight Council as part of the Government’s Transforming Cities Fund to upgrade Ryde Transport Interchange. It includes improvements to Ryde Esplanade railway station and the bus station, and enhanced cycle-links. Network Rail is also carrying out essential maintenance and improvement work including strengthening the railway pier for the next 60 years. www.wightlink.co.uk

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)

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 www.irishferries.com 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.

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.