Brittany Ferries cancels services due to Covid travel restrictions with hundreds of passengers left stranded at Portsmouth port
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The cancellations follow France imposing travel restrictions on journeys from the UK until 11.59pm tomorrow, with the aim of curtailing the spread of a more contagious form of Covid-19.
More than 1,000 passengers and 400 freight vehicles had been due to travel with the ferry service.
Last night, a total of 355 passengers were left stranded onboard the Normandie ferry overnight after its 10.45pm sailing was suddenly cancelled, with some travellers reduced to tears according to one passenger.
Simon Wolf, an English ex-patriate living in France and back in the UK for a weekend business trip, said: ‘We were sat down for our meal at about 10.30pm when the announcement was made over the tannoy.
‘There were a lot of people very upset – one woman burst into tears.
‘We had been checking the news and thought we were just inside the midnight deadline.
‘We have managed to book into a Travelodge for a couple of nights. We can’t leave the area and don’t know when we can get back to France.’
The cancelled service also left 40 freight vehicles onboard stuck in the UK.
Brittany Ferries was only made aware that last night’s journey couldn’t go ahead after boarding had taken place, according to a spokesman for the business.
He said: ‘Only once loading was complete and the ship was ready to depart did we receive information that the ship no longer had clearance from the French authorities to disembark passengers in Caen on Monday morning.
‘The ship therefore remained in Portsmouth overnight with passengers using the ship as a floating hotel.
‘We are very sorry for the inconvenience to our passengers, but unfortunately we received very late notice that the ship would be unable to dock in France.
‘We are still operating services carrying unaccompanied freight vehicles from Portsmouth to France, and all passengers and freight from France to the UK. Services to and from Spain are currently operating as normal.
‘We are very sorry to all our customers who have been affected and are contacting them.’
Affected Brittany Ferries services include last night’s 10.45pm sailing, today’s services at 8.00am, 2.45pm and 11pm, as well as tomorrow’s 8.15am and 3.15pm journeys.
Passengers whose sailings will not go ahead will receive a full refund or alternative travel arrangements, according to the company.
Portsmouth Port said it was only accepting freight with a valid Brittany Ferries booking, and that only unaccompanied freight has permission to travel.
It does not affect freight to Spain or the Channel Islands.