Brittany Ferries have announced a new route from Cork into northern Spain.
Starting at the end of April, the service will link Cork and Santander, making two return-sailings a week.
It will be the first time there has ever been a ferry service linking Ireland and Spain.
A new ship will be chartered to serve the route and to deliver an additional weekly return-sailing from Cork to Roscoff.
“This is a significant move for Brittany Ferries, offering haulage companies a direct route to Spain and passengers a far greater range of holiday options from Cork,” said Hugh Bruton, general manager of Brittany Ferries Ireland.
“As a destination, Spain promises visitors a wealth of opportunities. It hosts sweeping sandy beaches, snow-covered mountains just an hour from the port, fabulous food and offers visitors a welcome as warm as the Spanish will receive when they join us in Ireland.”
The ship will carry around 500 passengers with space for 195 cars.
Dining options will reflect the Spanish regions served, and there will also be a small shop and café-bar, as well as passenger lounges.
Four-legged members of the family will also be accommodated thanks to a small allocation of pet-friendly cabins on the ship.
Tickets from the new service are expected to be on sale by the end of January.
Port of Cork Commercial Manager, Captain Michael McCarthy, said: “The Port of Cork wholeheartedly welcomes a service we have been trying as a port to establish for some time now.
"The option for freight carriers to bypass the UK land bridge will be seen as very attractive, as Brexit uncertainty continues. We have no doubt that both exporters and importers will make this a viable service."
- Digital desk