When words take to the seas…

Ship-owner. Our job isn’t just moving goods and passengers … Words, ideas surreptitiously embark on long voyages, like stowaways. Thus, over the centuries, with the migrations and geopolitical events, they have travelled invisibly between the five continents to enrich our languages.

Words from afar that we use every day; they account for almost one third of the 30,000 entries in the French dictionary . To examine the etymology of words, artist Alexandre Perigot takes us beyond the words themselves, with his work entitled “Amiral Doubitchou”, an ephemeral exhibition whose title is nothing more than a juxtaposition of two words of foreign origin. The second of these refers to a fictional Bulgarian cake made famous by the French comedy film “Le Père Noël est une Ordure”.

The exhibition stretches over more than 200 metres of the Digue du Large, the breakwater protecting Marseille’s Eastern Harbour, where our company’s vessels dock every week. Each of the 38 words in the compendium has been neatly painted on the side of a 40’ dry container loaned to Alexandre Perigot by Marfret’s logistics department, which manages a fleet of 20,000 containers.

The standardized steel box was the artist’s natural choice as a canvas, since it is a vector of international trade. This mode of unitising cargoes has flooded the planet. It can be found in the avocado orchards of Peru, porcelain factories of Italy and in the hundred or so ports called at by Marfret’s regular services across the world.

Painted on one side, these “container-words” will remain stacked side-by-side from June to October, 2019, and can be viewed by residents and tourists alike from the MuCem , Pharo Palace, the Silo, Terrasses du Port and the road viaduct, as well as by sailors and passengers leaving the port bound for Corsica, Radés, Algiers or La Goulette.

Amiral (admiral), cacao (cocoa), acajou (mahogany), digue (breakwater), tarif (tariff)… as many words as we have destinations. This exhibition is being held at a time when Marfret, while asserting its Provençal roots, once again finds itself at the heart of world trade with its new MedCar service linking the Mediterranean and Caribbean now extended to ports in Mexico and the United States.

There are the cargoes, of course, but also the men and women from all these countries who are tasked with representing Marfret, all of whom we have had the pleasure of welcoming to the company’s headquarters.

A profusion of cultures, an abundance of warmth arrived from Latin America, Spain, the French West Indies… In November, the container-words will re-join the Marfret fleet and take their turn sailing under the company’s colours. Thus, words will continue to travel and reach out to those in search of meaning.

Raymond VIDIL



Change of scale for the MedCar line

As from June 11th, 2019, starting with m/v Bomar Juliana in Genoa, the Mediterranean-Caribbean (MedCar) line operated by Marfret between the Mediterranean, the French West Indies and central America will be getting an upgrade. This will provide a huge market opportunity for the American and European continents and involve an increase in vessel capacity, with the service being extended to new destinations in the Gulf of Mexico.

Eight 6900-TEU container ships will gradually replace the six 2500-TEU vessels operated on the MedCar service. This capacity increase is accompanied by a 160% increase in the number of reefer plugs. From now on, the 1300 reefer plugs on each vessel will mean more space for exports of perishable goods such as avocado, melon and pineapple.

“Another new feature of the MedCar service will be its serving of Caucedo in Dominican Republic and of the Gulf of Mexico, with two port calls each week, one at Veracruz and the other at Houston,” says Marfret’s managing director Guillaume Vidil. The company has announced that Transpac will be its port and sales agent for Mexico.

15 port calls in 56 days

The MedCar’s full rotation will take 56 days, with 15 key port calls: 7 in the Mediterranean (Algeciras, Malta, Livorno, Genoa, Marseille, Barcelona and Valencia) and 8 in the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico (Pointe-à-Pitre, Fort-de-France, Caucedo, Cartagena,  Houston, Veracruz, Manzanillo Panama and Moin).

Offering both capacity and speed, the MedCar service can be likened to a maritime motorway, with the shortest transit times available. Indeed, Marfret’s Medcar service offers the best transit time in the market for reefer cargo with only 12 days between Moin and Algeciras. Westbound, Valence to Pointe-à-Pitre takes only nine days and Marseille to Caucedo a mere 16. Moreover, via MIT and Cartagena, Marfret’s Turbofeeder service provides unbeatable connections from/to Turbo, Barranquilla and Santa Marta in Colombia. The new service contributes to Marfret’s intra-Caribbean development. “Thanks to our long-established presence in the West Indies, we are able to cover the entire Caribbean,” adds Guillaume Vidil. The MedCar’s expansion towards Ecuador and Peru is made possible by the vast network of maritime links.

This change of scale offered to shippers is one solution provided by the industry to the new challenge posed by the introduction of stricter sulphur emission regulations as from 1st January, 2020. As part of the MedCar’s revamp, Marfret has chartered the 6900-TEU Skiathos I. Measuring 270 metres in length and 43 in width, the vessel will replace the two currently operated by Marfret. “We have taken up the economic option of reducing fuel consumption using a single, high-capacity vessel,” explains Guillaume Vidil.

The new MedCar service was unveiled on 13th and 14th May in Marseille at a meeting bringing together forty or so Marfret agents from around the world. The meeting included two days of discussions and exchanges aimed at fine-tuning sales strategy, in particular regarding the new market opportunities in Mexico and the United States.

Launched in the 1990s, the MedCar line has continued to grow and mature to become one of Marfret’s most emblematic lines.




All sails out for the Rouen Armada

In keeping with tradition, the most beautiful rigs and galleons from around the world will gather for the Armada of Rouen to participate in this great maritime parade between the 6th and 16th of June. The event this year gives Marfret an opportunity to invite its customers to participate in this great celebration of all things maritime and to discover the company’s new multimodal offer.

Around one hundred specially invited guests (freight forwarders, importers and exporters) will be able to take their seats on board the Corsaire with a front row view of the Armada and the chance to discover Marfret’s multi-modal facilities at the Grand Couronne-Moulineaux. Guillaume Vidil says “Together with DLS, our partner, we are developing significant logistics services behind the terminal in Rouen with container stuffing and unstuffing services and cross docking operations included in the package. In Rouen Marfret has 6 quayside warehouses including the 10,000 m2 taken over from Novandie. We are also in the running to takeover two additional warehouses .”

Whilst many of the major shipping lines have abandoned direct calls at Rouen, Marfret intends to maintain the historic links to the rest of the world, particularly for imports and exports from and to Asia, via its twice weekly Fluviomaritime shuttle service which connects Rouen and Le Havre. The terminal at Rouen is at the heart of the Haropa system and the international distribution platform “Rouen Vallée de Seine Logistique”. Through its partnership with DLS, Marfret is able to be as close as possible to its customers, offering them tailor-made services, including ‘last mile’ logistics.