A trip to Ireland or the British Isles can be excellently combined with a culinary excursion to Brittany. Regardless of their different mentalities, the European countries have, after all, always grown closer. Faced with the isolationist prospect of Brexit with uncertain consequences, every trip through Europe counters the isolationism somewhat.
An understanding of evolved transport links is particularly well established on a ferry, where you have time and don’t just meet tourists. Even as you board the ship, you get a sense of the scale of international freight traffic. The routes operated by Brittany Ferries across the western and central English Channel seem equipped as an alternative in case the eastern Channel ports, already congested today, reach their capacity limits as a result of Brexit and its consequences.
Farmers’ cooperative as shipping company
The history of the shipping company is interesting. Founded and still operated by Breton farmers, in the early years it was mainly freight traffic that enabled Brittany Ferries to open up new markets in Ireland, England and Spain. The fleet of currently 9 own and four chartered ships was actually to be increased by three more ferries. The Honfleur, the new flagship powered by liquefied natural gas, was actually scheduled to be launched in Flensburg in 2020. Due to delays in completion and declines in sales during the Covid pandemic, the shipping company backed out of the order.
From storm Lorenzo, the sea is a bit more agitated than usual at the beginning of our crossing. Pont Aven is big enough to handle the swell of the Irish Sea without any problems. Nevertheless, all trucks and motorcycles are secured with tension belts. In passenger cars, the handbrake is sufficient. In contrast to the usually punctual connections to Ireland, the longer route across the Atlantic to Santander (Spain) can sometimes be delayed due to weather conditions.
Pont Aven – The flagship of Brittany Ferries
Since 2004, the luxurious Pont-Aven has been operating on the long routes between the United Kingdom, France, Ireland and Spain. There is room for up to 2,416 passengers on 2,012 beds in 650 cabins and 47 reclining seats. Two cinemas, two restaurants, several bars, an indoor swimming pool, plenty of room to move around and a very cultured atmosphere mean there is no room for boredom.
A total of 1,300 works of art from the extensive Brittany Ferries art collection are on display on the fleet’s nine ships. Each ship has a thematic reference. The Brittany community of Pont Aven is closely associated with the impressionist painter Paul Gauguin.
After a restful night, gently awakened by Celtic music and greeted with a continental breakfast, you arrive rested in the Irish port city of Cork.
Highest concentration on the bridge
We are allowed to witness the close approach to Cork with Captain Gilles Marré at his command post, where a junior captain is currently completing a training station. Because each port has its own special characteristics, the captains of the Brittany Ferries fleet specialize in the routes with which they are most familiar. Accompanied by a pilot boat, the crew navigates the ship with the utmost concentration through the natural harbor, which is located at the mouth of the River Lee. Only a few quiet words are exchanged here.
As was the case on the Armorique crossing, the Pont Aven’s relaxed, confident atmosphere stands out, setting Brittany Ferries apart from other ferries. From the vehicle deck to the service in the restaurant, passengers feel very attentively treated.
The cost of the cruise was not calculated