A new ferry service connecting Ireland and Spain has completed its first sailing.

The Cork to Santander route is the first direct link by sea connecting Ireland and Spain, and will allow tourists and hauliers alike to avoid the UK after Brexit.

Brittany Ferries has chartered the MV Connemara for two years. The vessel has the capacity to carry 300-400 car passengers and offers cabin accommodations, a self-service restaurant, a small shop, and café/bar.

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“The Connemara is an ideal start up vessel for this type of service - she has capacity for around 100 trailers and 80 to 100 cars so she will cater for commercial haulage as well as tourists going to Spain while we are also very confident that she will generate a lot of reverse traffic,” says Capt Michael McCarthy, Commercial Manager at the Port of Cork.

🎥 #Santander (#Cantabria) recibe a los primeros pasajeros procedentes de la ciudad de #Cork. Arranca la nueva ruta de la naviera @BrittanyFerries, la primera que comunicará por mar #España con #Irlanda 🇵🇱🇪🇸🇮🇪 pic.twitter.com/Ix99VIswdB

— Gobierno Cantabria (@cantabriaes) May 10, 2018

The service will operate two sailings per week from each port. The ferry will leave the Spanish port on Thursdays and Sundays, and Cork on Wednesdays and Fridays. The trip takes about 26 hours, depending on weather.

Capt McCarthy said that the direct route will offer significant advantages for hauliers. The direct sailing will trim around 1,200kms off the road journey for those currently using a land bridge via the UK, The Irish Times reports.

“We estimate that hauliers will save around €1 per kilometre on fuel so for hauliers who have been going through the UK and taking a ferry to one of the ports in northern France, that’s a saving of €1,200 per trip per truck so that’s very significant and makes Cork-Santander very attractive.”

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The MV Connemara is even more attractive now with Brexit looming.

"It's a game changer in relation to Brexit - it's EU direct into EU so compared to the land bridge route via the UK, you are avoiding all the possible tariffs and taxes that may come with Brexit and the huge delays forecast at British ports serving the continent so it's going to be very attractive," says Capt McCarthy.

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H/T EveningEcho.ie, Irish Mirror