P&O European Ferries

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P&O European Ferries
Genre Ferry company
Predecessor Townsend Thoresen
Successor P&O Portsmouth, P&O Stena Line, P&O Irish Sea
Founded 1987
Defunct 1999
Area served
English Channel North Channel
Services Passenger transportation, freight transportation

P&O European Ferries (formerly Townsend Thoresen), a division of P&O Ferries, was a ferry company which operated in the English Channel from 1987 after the Herald of Free Enterprise disaster, when Townsend Thoresen was renamed P&O European Ferries, until 1999 when the Portsmouth Operations became P&O Portsmouth and the Dover Operations were merged with Stena Line AB to make P&O Stena Line.


P&O European Ferries was formed after the Townsend Thoresen ship, Herald of Free Enterprise, capsized outside Zeebrugge in 1987. P&O owned the whole of European Group who marketed their ferry services as Townsend Thoresen. After the bad publicity that the Zeebrugge disaster brought to the brand P&O quickly rebranded Townsend Thoresen as P&O European Ferries with all of the former TT fleet, all of the vessels received the Blue P&O hull and blue funnel.

In 1993 P&O launched a new Portsmouth to Bilbao route using the former Olympia and renamed her the Pride of Bilbao. In 1994 when Olau Line ceased operations the 2 German built superferries Olau Britannia and Olau Hollandia were chartered to P&O and they were both renamed the Pride of Portsmouth and the Pride of Le Havre respectively. The new Pride of Le Havre replaced the first ship of that name which was renamed Pride of Cherbourg and replaced the original Pride of Cherbourg on the Portsmouth - Cherbourg route.

In 1998 P&O European Ferries Dover operations and Stena Line's Dover & Newhaven operations merged and became P&O Stena Line with P&O European Ferries putting forward their Dover - Calais and Dover - Zeebrugge route vessels forward and P&O Irish Sea was formed in 1998, following the merger of the Cairnryan-based service of P&O European Ferries (Felixstowe) Ltd and Pandoro (who operated routes between England, Scotland and France to Ireland), while the Portsmouth operations remained unchanged until 1999 when it became P&O Portsmouth.

Past Fleet[edit]

Ship Service Route(s)
Pride of Ailsa 1992-1996 Cairnryan-Larne
Pride of Bilbao 1993–1999 Portsmouth-Bilbao
Pride of Cherbourg (1) 1989–1994 Portsmouth-Le Havre/Cherbourg
Pride of Cherbourg (2) 1994–1999 Portsmouth-Cherbourg
Pride of Cherbourg II 1994 Portsmouth-Cherbourg
Pride of Hampshire 1989-1999 Portsmouth-Le Havre/Cherbourg
Pride of Le Havre (1) 1989–1994 Portsmouth-Le Havre/Cherbourg
Pride of Le Havre (2) 1994–1999 Portsmouth-Le Havre
Pride of Portsmouth 1994–1999 Portsmouth-Le Havre
Pride of Rathlin 1992-1998 Cairnryan-Larne
Pride of Sandwich 1988-1992 Dover-Calais/Zeebrugge
Pride of Walmer 1988-1992 Dover-Calais/Zeebrugge
Pride of Winchester 1989–1995 Portsmouth-Le Havre/Cherbourg
Superstar Express 1998–1999 Portsmouth-Cherbourg
Jetliner 1996-1998 Cairnryan-Larne
Pride of Bruges 1988-1998 Dover-Calais/Zeebrugge
Pride of Dover 1987–1998 Dover-Calais
Pride of Calais 1987–1998 Dover-Calais
Pride of Kent 1987–1998 Dover-Calais/Zeebrugge
European Highway 1992–1998 Dover-Zeebrugge
European Pathway 1992–1998 Dover-Zeebrugge
European Seaway 1993–1998 Dover-Zeebrugge
Pride of Burgundy 1993–1998 Dover-Calais
Ionic Ferry 1987-1992 Cairnryan-Larne
Europic Ferry 1987-1993 Cairnryan-Larne


  • Dover - Calais
  • Dover - Zeebrugge
  • Portsmouth - Le Havre
  • Portsmouth - Cherbourg
  • Portsmouth - Bilbao
  • Cairnryan - Larne
  • Felixstowe - Rotterdam (Europort)
  • Felixstowe - Zeebrugge




  • Hendy, John (2015). Remembering the Chunnel Beaters: The Pride of Dover and the Pride of Calais. Ramsey, Isle of Man: Ferry Publications. ISBN 9781906608842. 
  • Rabson, Stephen; O'Donaghue, Kevin (1988). P&O: A Fleet History. Kendal: World Ship Society. ISBN 0-905617-45-2.