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One in three passengers will be first-timers on Brittany Ferries ships this year

(24 May 2022) Nearly one in three passengers booked with Brittany Ferries this year have never travelled with the company before. That compares with just 23 percent who travelled with the ferry and holiday company in 2019.

So far 28 percent of total bookings in 2022 have been made by first timers, but the proportion is rising week-on-week. In the last four weeks (to May 20th) 33 percent of reservations came from new customers while 35 percent of those travelling in the peak summer holiday months will be new to the company.

Brittany Ferries says a number of factors are fuelling the trend.

Re-thinking low-cost air travel:

A generation of holiday maker has been weaned on a diet of low-cost air travel. Covid however has raised concerns among travellers about mixing in crowded airports and flying on packed aircraft. Many are now turning to destinations accessible by sea.

Travelling through ports in your own car, arriving in spacious cabins onboard and fresh sea-air pumped throughout a ship is seen as a more appealing option.  Social distancing comes as standard on board and there is no need for a holiday to be bookended by the misery of airport queues.

Less lead time between booking and travel:

Covid has also driven a change in booking patterns. Traditionally, the travel sector enjoyed a large spike in reservations just after Christmas, dropping away steadily in the months that follow. Brand loyalty was also strong.

This year Brittany Ferries’ reservations have remained consistently high into April and May, with far more first-timers booking a month or two in advance of travel. The company says this shift in mindset is almost certainly a consequence of unpredictability that hit travel plans in the last two years. Last minute changes to travel advice and border restrictions knocked confidence in long-term planning.

Value and security:

Around a quarter of first-time Brittany Ferries customers will be families this year. As the cost-of-living crisis bites, many are seeking holidays that offer good value with companies they can rely upon. Brittany Ferries is a trusted name, celebrating 50 years in operation this year: sail-and-stay holidays can be secured for under £1,000 for a week for a family of four, even in the height of summer.

Ethical business:

In every sector, more people seek ethical, sustainable companies with which to do business. As well as bringing four new LNG (liquefied natural gas) ships to market, cutting emissions and readying the business for a greener future, Brittany Ferries’ has a unique ownership structure. This ensures benefits are shared by those living and working in the communities in which the company operates.   

 “We are still largely owned by the cooperative of Breton farmers, that launched the business fifty years ago,” explained Christophe Mathieu, Brittany Ferries CEO. “The aim then was the same as it is today: to connect people, enrich regions and to facilitate trade. Ours is a responsible business that treats everyone with respect, from loyal seafarers to customers and onto the wider business community. I think that’s something that resonates with more and more travellers.”

About Brittany Ferries

Brittany Ferries operates from three ports in the UK, Portsmouth, Poole and Plymouth. It connects with five beautiful destinations in Brittany and Normandy and two in northern Spain, Santander and Bilbao.

In total it operates 12 ships and 14 routes and has three new ships on the horizon, one powered by LNG called Santoña arriving in 2023. It will be followed by two LNG-electric hybrids for 2025.

Brittany Ferries was conceived in 1972, starting life as a freight-only service on 2nd January the following year. The first ferry (Kerisnel) linked Roscoff in Brittany with Plymouth in the South of England and carried a cargo of artichokes and cauliflowers. Since then the company has progressively launched, then strengthened its shipping routes.

Today millions of passengers and businesses transporting goods by sea across the so-called Atlantic Arc (France, UK, Spain and Ireland) rely on the links forged over the decades. In addition to cutting congestion and emissions on busy roads, these motorways-of the sea have helped bolster local communities, creating jobs and nurturing international tourism.