LD Lines’ new UK-Northern Spain service between Poole and Santander got off to a stormy start at the beginning of November 2013 with the first northbound sailing by Norman Asturias (2007/26,500gt) having to be diverted to Portsmouth. This followed delays encountered in the Bay of Biscay which meant the vessel’s Poole berth would have been occupied by Barfleur on Brittany Ferries’ Cherbourg route.
There will be sailings from Poole each Tuesday and Saturday with Sunday/Thursday departures from Spain for a service with a 26-hour passage time in either direction that is aimed at both freight and passengers. On long-term charter from Stena RoRo, Norman Asturias offers 480 passenger berths in 120 cabins and was switched from LD’s ‘Motorways of the Sea’ route between Saint-Nazaire and Gijon, which she had served since April 2011.
Norman Asturias carried out berthing trials at Santander, while sister vessel Norman Voyager (2008/ 26,904gt), from LD’s Portsmouth-Le Havre service, visited Poole on 15 October when forced to return empty from the French port due to industrial action. The service fills a gap left by the withdrawal of Brittany Ferries’ weekly Poole-Santander and Poole-Bilbao freight connection by Cotentin.