Brittany Ferries has begun to take bookings for 2021 to kickstart its recovery longer term.

From today, it is taking reservations for most routes between the UK and France, excluding Portsmouth to St Malo and Portsmouth to Le Havre, for crossings up to the end of October next year. It will take bookings for crossings to Spain from next week.

The company, which recommenced passenger services on June 29, said it was encouraging holidaymakers to book as soon as possible to ensure the best choice of sailing, lowest fare and flexible ticket option.

Chief executive Christophe Mathieu said re-opening for reservations was the first major step towards recovery.

He said: “Today is the day when we really start to turn a corner and look forward to the future. This year is a write-off. We are therefore opening next year’s books as early as possible to give holidaymakers something to look forward to, and to ensure our comeback is robust and successful.

“We are also making sure that those who have supported us through this difficult time, by accepting vouchers for sailings we were forced to cancel, are offered the first choice of available crossings in 2021.”

Brittany Ferries expects to carry around 240,000 passengers this summer, compared with around 780,000 for a normal year, as a result of the Covid-19 lockdown, travel restrictions and capacity limits on ships.

Mathieu forecast strong demand for next year. He said: “Looking to next year, we expect particularly strong demand for travel to destinations near our ports. Taking our British customers for example, Normandy, Brittany and the western Loire promise the exoticism of an overseas holiday – but with the security that comes from taking your own car while staying in a region that is not too far away from home. Psychologically, I think that will be very important for all travellers next year.”

He added: “We hope that ferries may continue to be more attractive to travellers than some other modes of transport post-crisis. Our ships are huge and that makes social distancing easier. Furthermore, there are plenty of open areas with access to open-air decks, while fresh sea air pumped throughout the vessel including every cabin.”

As part of its safety procedures on its ferries it has restricted capacity on board to less than 50% of normal passenger traffic, staggered embarkation and disembarkation and is ensuring every passenger takes a cabin or is allocated to a reserved seat.