Channel ferry company Brittany Ferries is slowly reintroducing passenger services, three months after it stopped all crossings other than freight due to the coronavirus crisis.
The first passenger service left Caen on Monday, June 29, destined for Portsmouth. Connexion reader Julie Bosworth was on the return sailing and said though passengers had been warned loading would take longer than normal and they left 45 minutes late, the whole process was well organised and not much different from pre-pandemic sailings, though all passengers had to reserve cabins or seats.
On the Brittany Ferries website, CEO Christophe Mathieu said the company is still some way from returning to full service. Not every ship will operate this summer, not all routes will be served and capacity will be reduced to ensure passengers and crew can maintain social distancing.
He said if you have a reservation this summer and do not hear from Brittany Ferries, “please assume [a sailing] is taking place.” If a sailing is cancelled, he said, “we will get in touch as soon as we reasonably can.”
Brittany Ferries confirmed to Connexion that for France this week the ferry Mont St Michel has started sailings between Portsmouth-Caen, and the Armorique between Plymouth and Roscoff.
The Pont-Aven will sail between Plymouth and Roscoff, starting July 2.
The Connemara will sail from July 10 on the Portsmouth-Cherbourg route on Thursday - Sunday and on Monday - Wednesday between Portsmouth and Le Havre.
The Normandie will begin sailing between Portsmouth-Caen on July 12 and the Bretagne between Portsmouth-St Malo from July 17.
Meanwhile, passenger numbers for each ferry have been slashed. On the Armorique on June 29 there were 550 passengers instead of the usual 1,500. Numbers will depend on ship size but Brittany Ferry says that all services connecting France and the UK were limited to 550 passengers from June 29.
This measure reduces capacity by more than 60% and will apply until mid-July at the earliest.
Current rules for travelling on Brittany Ferries
On board changes that have been made for passengers on ferries are:
- Masks must be worn at all times when in public areas of the ports and ships
- Passengers must check-in at least 90 minutes before departure
- Boarding and disembarkation will be staggered to avoid queues
- A cabin or reserved seat is compulsory on all sailings and passengers are asked to remain in this personal space as much as possible
- Restaurants and bars will be open but meal choices may be limited and spaces adapted
The company promises that enhanced cleaning with virucidal cleaners will take place during and between sailings and in all public areas, crew will wear masks when interacting with passengers and medical assistance is available in the event of a suspected COVID-19 case, including a dedicated cabin for isolation.
Many Connexion readers have commented on our Facebook page that it is difficult to get hold of anyone from Brittany Ferry customer services either by phone or online as the site keeps crashing.
The advice is to avoid the busiest times of the day and keep trying.
Christophe Mathieu acknowledged contacting the company has been difficult and apologised to customers: “It has been an extraordinarily difficult time with around 450,000 passengers impacted and we have had to make some really tough decisions about contact channels – including closing phone lines.
"This has left some of you frustrated and angry but a cautious, service-focused reopening of several contact channels has begun and I expect this to accelerate through the coming days and weeks.”
Brittany Ferries has confirmed that prices are no different to previous years.
It has still not been announced when quarantine restrictions imposed three weeks ago on almost everyone arriving in Britain will be lifted.
The UK government was due to review the restrictions on Monday, but no formal announcement has yet been made. Official guidance on their foreign travel advice website is still to avoid all non-essential travel. This means France’s reciprocal voluntary 14-day quarantine period for visitors from the UK is still in effect.
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