The newest cross-Channel ferry service between France and England has been suspended indefinitely just days after one of its vessels was impounded in Portsmouth over safety concerns.
Celtic Link Ferries, which markets itself as “the real low fare ferries company”, confirmed today that its sailings on the Portsmouth to Cherbourg route have stopped.
A spokeswoman said: “We regret that the Portsmouth Cherbourg route has been suspended indefinitely. We are in the process of contacting all those who have booked to give a full refund.”
She added that the company’s Cherbourg to Rosslare service is operating as normal. When asked when the service would resume, if at all, she said she was unable to answer the question.
Celtic Link used the Norman Voyager for the cross-Channel sailing. The ship entered service in October but was detained by inspectors at Portsmouth on November 19 just minutes before it was due to sail after the crew failed basic safety tests.
The UK Maritime and Coastguard Agency said the tests related to fire safety, the “watertight integrity” of the vessel and staff safety training.
Passengers already on board the ship, which can take 800 passengers, 200 cars and 120 freight vehicles, had to disembark. It was released two days later but has not sailed on the Portsmouth route since.
Celtic Link sub-chartered the vessel from LD Lines, a rival French low-cost cross-Channel ferry company that used the ship on its routes for a year without problems.
The ship was found to be taking in water following a crossing between Cherbourg and Rosslare just before it started on the Portsmouth route and taken into dry dock in Falmouth for repairs.
It is unclear if the Norman Voyager is now operating on the Rosslare route.