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Direct ferry from Ireland to Spain to offer guided whale and dolphin-spotting en route

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Four ‘Sea Safari’ mini-cruises will sail this summer, involving a three-night round trip

The Rosslare to Bilbao route operates twice-weekly year-round, with sailings taking around 30 hours each way.

‘Sea Safari’ packages are returning this summer, and advertised as “mini-cruise departures”. The three-night round trips depart on Friday evenings and cost from €279pp for two people sharing a four-berth inside cabin (without a vehicle).

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Guests will be accompanied by experts from whale and dolphin-watching charity, ORCA, to whom €60 from each ticket will be donated, Brittany Ferries says.

Passengers can upgrade to a four-berth cabin with window and TV for an extra €50, while single occupancy of a four-berth inside cabin incurs a €30 supplement.

A cabin on the Salamanca

The Celtic Sea and Bay of Biscay, which the ferries cross en route to Bilbao, provide “a unique opportunity” to watch whales and dolphins, the company says.

“As shallow waters fall rapidly to depths of over 4,000 metres, it makes Biscay Bay one of the richest locations in the world for whale and dolphin-spotting.”

Possible sightings range from common and Risso’s dolphins to minke and fin whales and, “while it is rare, there have also been sightings of majestic blue whales, the largest creatures to ever roam the planet.

“While views are best enjoyed from Deck 10, guests will also have the opportunity to discover and learn all about whales and dolphins, when not on deck with binoculars.”

A cabin on the Salamanca

The mini-cruises are scheduled to depart from Rosslare Europort on July 12 and 26, and August 9 and 23 this summer.

Passengers will arrive in Bilbao in the morning, and have just a couple of hours to disembark and explore before departing “just before lunch”, it says.

Brittany’s Ireland to Spain service is now shared by three vessels – the “cruise ferry” Salamanca, carrying 1,015-passengers across 321 cabins, as well as sister ships Santoña and Galicia.

All take car and foot and bike passengers alongside freight traffic.

A swordfish spotted on one sailing

‘Sea Safari’ guests are advised to pack binoculars of 8 or 10x magnification (“but not higher”), non-slip deck shoes, appropriate clothing for both warm and cold weather, and sun protection.

As well as cetacean spotting, passengers can enjoy “a wide range of services and activities including a choice of dining options, comfortable well-appointed cabins, video-on-demand entertainment, great value shopping and live entertainment,” the company says.

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