Less than six months after P&O discontinued its Portsmouth-Bilbao ferry route, claiming that it was uneconomical and they couldn’t find a suitable new ferry, Brittany Ferries is restarting the route, in addition to its existing Portsmouth-Santander and Plymouth-Santander routes.
Admittedly, Brittany Ferries will be using its two existing UK-Spain ferries when the new Portsmouth-Bilbao service starts running on the 27th March, so it won’t have to fund the cost of an additional ship and will be able to increase utilisation of its existing ferries.
Whatever the economics of the matter, the new service means that motorhomers wanting a driving-free trip to and from Spain will be able to choose from five weekly return crossings and two UK departure ports.
For journeys down to the south of Spain, there is not much to choose between Bilbao and Santander, which are about 60 miles apart on Spain’s north coast. Bilbao is to the east, making it a better choice for Barcelona and the east coast (e.g. Valencia, Alicante, Murcia), while Santander might be a slightly better starting point for Portugal (e.g. the Algarve) and more westerly parts of Spain. In reality, there isn’t much in it, wherever you are going in Spain or Portugal.
Bilbao is also handy for south-west France – it’s less than two hours drive from Biarritz, for example.