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Everything posted by Ryan_H

  1. Ryan_H

    Harwich-Esbjerg route to close

    Re: Harwich-Esbjerg route to close As i said previously, i can't see how this ship is suitable for the Channel routes; she is a stern-only loader and is very much an overnight vessel. Her facilities are pretty much ideal for a longer route, such as those DFDS already has in the Baltic. Of course, she could operate on another North Sea route, but DFDS will only have one of these left! This is still a young vessel, so i would have thought fitting scrubbers or converting to LNG could be viable. I've just booked one of the special offer hotel breaks to Esbjerg for the end of June, there are also some minicruises available, so to anyone who hasn't tried this route before who fancies it i'd say do it soon before it's too late....
  2. Ryan_H

    Harwich-Esbjerg route to close

    Re: Harwich-Esbjerg route to close I don't know what the wider reaction will be in the coming weeks and months, but for me this news is really significant; Esbjerg-Harwich is *the* DFDS route, the equivalent would be Brittany Ferries closing Plymouth-Roscoff. You have to ask just how far behind other North Sea routes will be; Newcastle-Ijmuiden, Hull-Zeebrugge, even Hull-Rotterdam - is there any future for these routes? I apologise if my reaction seems overly dramatic, but I (like many other people) have enjoyed travelling on and reading about North Sea ferries for almost as long as I can remember and tonight it really does feel as though we seeing the beginning of the end of passenger services in this area. I have a framed advertising poster for the Esbjerg-Harwich route on my living room wall, I'd always thought how great it was that this historic connection was still relevant today; soon this poster really will be nothing more than a piece of nostalgia.
  3. Ryan_H

    Harwich-Esbjerg route to close

    Re: Harwich-Esbjerg route to close If Harwich-Esbjerg isn't deemed viable, then I can't see how Newhaven-Dieppe can be, especially with the over-capacity which exists on the Channel. I also can't see the Sirena Seaways being suited to a channel route, I would have thought a longer route, perhaps in the Baltic, will be sought her for her.
  4. Ryan_H

    Languages used for on-board announcements.

    Re: Languages used for on-board announcements. I think you are absolutely right in what you are saying, the linguistic abilities of Brittany Ferries crews have always impressed me, and certainly compare favourably with the standards of other operators on the Channel.
  5. Ryan_H

    Languages used for on-board announcements.

    Re: Languages used for on-board announcements. My point is that there is greater choice of routes and ships to Spain now than at any time previously, go back less than ten years and there was just two routes, one with BF and the other with P&O. I'm sure that if there is enough of a market for it then LD Lines will start offering facilities for pets in due course. As I see it travellers wanting to drive to Spain can either take one of four direct ferries (from three different ports), or take one of the longer routes to France and drive down, or take Dover-Calais/Eurotunnel. I think we have to remember that taking a ferry to Spain is still quite a 'niche' thing to do, despite it becoming more popular in recent years and so when you bear that in mind, I think the options available are pretty good actually.
  6. Ryan_H

    Languages used for on-board announcements.

    Re: Languages used for on-board announcements. I would say there is plenty of choice at the moment, in fact we have more routes to Spain then at any time I can remember. I think BF in particular has done just about all that could be reasonably expected of them; plenty of choice in terms of vessels (cruise ferries and ro-pax), destinations and timings, plus they have shown that they are prepared to invest in the future and that they do listen to their passengers (look at the facilities planned for the new vessel). I would say customers wanting to drive to Spain have far more attractive options at their disposal than those wanting to travel to places such as Scandinavia, for example.
  7. Ryan_H

    Languages used for on-board announcements.

    Re: Languages used for on-board announcements. I’ve sailed to Spain with BF many times, most recently in September last year, and as far as I can recall all of the public announcements I have heard have been in French, English and Spanish, in that order. The ships are French registered and French crewed, so to me it would seem perfectly appropriate for announcements to be made in that language even if the ship is sailing to/from Spain; it’s also quite possible that some French passengers might be using the route since it is convenient for south-west France. From what I recall the main reason that Spanish announcements were prominent on board the Pride of Bilbao was because there were a number of Spanish crew (some of whom are now on the Hull-Zeebrugge route). I don’t recall any of the British crew (what few there were) making any announcements in Spanish, and that includes the Captain. As others have said, Brittany Ferries has a Breton strong heritage which is reflected throughout the service provided on board and this is (or certainly has been) one of the main reasons people choose to travel with them over other operators.
  8. Re: LD Lines Poole to Santander/Gijon (was Norman Asturais to Santander) I know this might sound trivial to some, but the bar is generally one of my favourite places to spend time whilst at sea, so I'd just like ask: which beer(s) are served on draught and what are the prices like? I'd very much like to visit Gijon so may well try this route later this year.
  9. Ryan_H

    Cap Finistere Restaurant

    Re: Cap Finistere Restaurant I have eaten in this restaurant for breakfast, lunch and dinner and considered excellent in every respect - certainly every bit as good as Le Flora on the Pont-Aven. I actually think it is better without the buffet as it creates a more intimate atmosphere, more in keeping with an a la carte restaurant. I can't understand a lot of the criticism from some passengers, I think many of them simply enjoy complaining.
  10. On Sunday morning I arrived back in Hull after taking the ‘Valentines’ mini cruise to Bruges, on board the Pride of Bruges. This trip included a special four course dinner on Valentines night, as well as dinner on the return crossing and breakfast each morning. We arrived in Hull just after 4.00pm last Friday afternoon in what I can only describe as just about the worst possible weather conditions. Having ran across the car park to the terminal building, we found there was no queue to check-in and were told that the ship was already boarding, which I was very pleased to hear. On boarding the ship we were welcomed by some very friendly and helpful Filipino crew members, who directed us to our cabin, which was a two-berth ‘Premier’ inside on Green deck (or deck 4). One unusual feature of the ships on this route is that the cabins still have traditional keys, which must be collected from a crew member located on each deck (only one key per cabin). As we would not be sailing until 6.30pm, we had plenty of time to enjoy a bottle of Champagne which I had pre-ordered from P&O (although I was told at the time that we could only consume this in our cabin!) and then to explore the ship. The public areas were all very clean and tidy, with the decks having subtle colour-coding in the décor to indicate the different decks (Green, Red and Blue). We went to the Brasserie restaurant to reserve our sitting for dinner, opting for the later slot of 8.00pm, and then shortly before departure time I decided to brave the elements and venture outside in order to watch us leave which, as always, would involve negotiating the lock before heading out on to the Humber. The Captain, whose name was Alex van der Wal, announced that the weather forecast was for Gale force 8-9 winds and that as a result he thought we would arrive in Zeebrugge at around 11.00hrs the following morning, rather than the advertised 09.30. I watched with interest as we moved away from the berth, aided by two Tugs, one at each end of the vessel. Despite the cold wind, I managed to remain outside as we made our way in to and then slowly through the lock, at which point the Tugs returned to port. We made our way out past the adjacent Pride of Rotterdam, which was occupying the River berth, and out in to the Humber. Having stood the conditions for as long as I could, I made my way back inside in order to change for dinner. A special themed menu was offered in the very pleasant surroundings of the ‘Brasserie’ restaurant. We were each given a glass of Champagne upon sitting down, along with some canapés, which was a nice unexpected touch. The quality of both the food and service were fantastic and I would probably rank this as one of the best meals I have had on board any ship. The restaurant was certainly busy, but the crew were efficient and friendly throughout and were even happy to take photographs. Indeed, the crew throughout the ship seemed a stark contrast to the quite rude and unhelpful attitude displayed by some during my sailing on the Pride of York a few years earlier. A singing duo performed during the meal which added to the ambience as we sailed down the Humber, and whilst some might not regard the twinkling lights of Immingham’s Petrochemical works as the most romantic of backdrops, we certainly enjoyed the view . After dinner we went to the ‘Sunset’ show-bar at the stern of the vessel, where a band performed and other entertainment, (including a competition for the sloppiest ‘why I love you’ messages), was provided. By now we were heading along the Lincolnshire coast and there was some noticeable movement, but certainly nothing too alarming. However, after returning to our cabin shortly after midnight, the conditions seemed to worsen, and there was a significant amount of rolling and ‘cork-screwing’, as well as the occasional loud bang as we smashed in to the waves. To be fair to the ship, she seemed to handle the seas much better than certain other vessels, and things never became too uncomfortable, but It certainly wasn’t the best night’s sleep either of us had ever had and we both felt quite tired when we were woken at around 7.00am by an announcement concerning breakfast! As promised by the Captain we were alongside for 11.00am and whilst the weather conditions remained very windy, there was plenty of sunshine and we were able to enjoy a very pleasant day in Bruges. We returned to the terminal shortly before 6.00pm, ahead of our scheduled departure time of 7.00pm. Once back in our cabin, we were surprised to hear the Captain announce that the ship was ready to sail, and so we actually left the berth at 18.15. This sailing seemed noticeably quieter than the outward crossing, with many people presumably travelling to the continent for half-term. One feature of the ship which I did find a bit disappointing was the condition of the outside decks. Plenty of rust can be seen on the railings, around windows, and elsewhere, which is particularly surprising considering the ship has only recently returned from refit. Compared with the DFDS vessels on the Newcastle-Ijmuiden route, which are a similar age and operate on a very similar schedule, the Pride of Bruges does look rather neglected, as did her sister when I sailed on her back in 2011. As we had enjoyed our meal the previous evening so much, we decided to again visit the Brasserie for dinner. We had been given meal vouchers for the ‘Kitchen’ buffet restaurant to use on the homeward journey as part of the package, but we were informed by one of the very helpful crew that we could put the £16.75 value of these vouchers towards a meal in the Brasserie instead, though you are required to order at least two courses. We enjoyed another excellent meal with almost perfect service and some very pleasant English wine. After dinner we enjoyed a few drinks in the very pleasant ‘Moonlight’ lounge, where a Pianist was playing, before finally finishing off the night by taking in some of the entertainment in the ‘Sunset’ show lounge, which included a disco. The weather conditions during the homeward crossing were much more benign than the previous night’s gales, and there was barely any movement as we sailed through moderate seas. Consequently we would berth on time in Hull at 09.00am, but not before we had enjoyed one last meal on board, this time an excellent full English breakfast, again in the Brasserie. Being able to eat whilst watching our ship slowly progress up the Humber, and then reverse through the lock, was particularly enjoyable and, for me, rounded our trip off nicely. All in all it had been a very enjoyable weekend away, and pretty good value too. However, as we disembarked I couldn’t help but wonder about just how much longer it will be possible for people to take trips like this; will this route still be around in a few years time? The ships are heading towards thirty years old, and (as far as I can tell) their owners do not seem to have a strategy to deal with the arrival of the new environmental regulations. Of course, other routes are in a similar position, such as Newcastle-Ijmuiden, and so sadly it seems a distinct possibility that there could be yet more bad news on the horizon for the already much-curtailed North Sea passenger routes; but I really hope to be proved wrong!
  11. Re: ETRETAT: Brittany Ferries to operate former Norman Voyager to Le Havre & Santande With the new service being more freight-orientated and not carrying foot passengers, I would have thought that Bilbao would have been more suitable as the Spanish destination?
  12. Re: P&O Hull / Zeebrugge - Anyone managed a bridge visit? Yes I think you are right about this, I have only sailed on UK (now Bahamas) flagged ships, so maybe a Dutch ship will be different.
  13. Re: P&O Hull / Zeebrugge - Anyone managed a bridge visit? Hi there, I have visited the bridge on a number of BF and DFDS ships, but sadly not P&O. They do seem to have a different attitude to this (perhaps a sign of British 'health and safety' culture at work) and unfortunately all I have ever been told is no, regardless of how politely I've asked. A crew member on the Pride of Bilbao told me that you have no chance 'unless you're a celebrity or something'. I suppose it's still worth a try though! When are you going on your minicruise? I am off on the Pride of Bruges this Friday for the Valentines day trip.
  14. Re: Brittany Ferries to operate the Norman Voyager to Le Havre & Santander Spot on. Surely they won't actually paint the word 'Economie' on the side of the ship? That would just look/sound awful. Reviving the Truckline brand would be a much better idea. With this new service, will we not very soon have over-capacity on UK-Spain routes? There cannot be enough of a market for BF and LD Lines to co-exist for long...
  15. Re: PEGASIS: New vessel for 2017 Since the new vessel won't enter service for another three years, it's probably too early to say exactly what the future vessel deployments will be; many things could change over the next few years. What I am curious to know is what is the exact date that the new regulations come in to force, and is there any chance of this being delayed? If it is 2015, what will happen with vessels like the Bretagne, which have not been converted in any way? We've heard about BF's plans, and we know that DFDS are fitting scrubbers to a number of vessels, but what about other operators around the UK, such as P&O and Stena Line?
  16. Re: PEGASIS: New vessel for 2017 Thanks for the info - sounds great, although hopefully the finished article will be better looking than the artists impression
  17. Re: PEGASIS: New vessel for 2017 I understand that the Viking Grace can run on both LNG or diesel; given that BF will probably want to use this vessel on a variety of routes and that LNG is still largely untested as a fuel for such vessels, would they not be wise to do the same with this new ship?
  18. Ryan_H

    King Seaways Fire (DFDS Seaways)

    Re: Passengers taken off fire-hit ferry (King Seaways) North Sea This story is certainly an unpleasant one in every respect; I'm just glad that the damage appears to have been minimal and that no-one was seriously hurt, because as we all know, it could so easily have been a different story. With regard to DFDS and the ship itself, having sailed on both the King and Princess a few times in recent years (including last year's new year cruise) I would say that the vessels are generally very well run and that the facilities and ambience on board are of a high standard -certainly compared to the old Pride of Bilbao, standards are much higher, in line with BF. The problem is with a small (and we must remember it is small) proportion of the clientele, who do not know how to behave, whether on land or at sea. No doubt the destination (Amsterdam) is a significant factor, as I don't remember such incidents being as common on the routes to Norway and Sweden. It is very hard to say how DFDS, or any other operator, can actively stop such people from travelling; they already have a healthy number of security personnel on board to deal with any trouble whilst at sea. A lot of the marketing for this route is already heavily aimed at motorists and couples/families taking short breaks, and I understand that DFDS have achieved significant growth in attracting more travellers from the continent, who will be paying full price. So it is not as though 'booze cruises' are being disproportionately promoted over everything else (as P&O did with the Bilbao route). Perhaps increasing the prices a little and a longer-term move towards more ro-pax style vessels may help, but is the route deemed profitable enough for such measures?
  19. Ryan_H

    Cotentin becomes Stena Baltica

    Re: Cotentin withdrawal 2013 With this in mind I do wonder why P&O felt it necessary to re-flag the Prides of Hull & York away from the British to the Bahamas flag?
  20. Ryan_H

    The future of P&O Ferries

    Re: the future of P&O Ferries Much as I prefer the current Newcastle-Ijmuiden route and the ships on it, I can just see taking over some or all of P&O's Hull business as a relatively easy solution for DFDS and a good fit with their existing business.
  21. Ryan_H

    The future of P&O Ferries

    Re: the future of P&O Ferries I had been thinking that perhaps DFDS might be interested in some or all of the North Sea business? They will have to make some decisions regarding the Newcastle-Ijmuiden route at some point, could we see some sort of consolidation involving the routes from Hull/Middlesbrough?
  22. Re: Norman Asturais to Santander If DFDS have an influence on this route then in my opinion they should try to model this ship on the Sirena Seaways, in terms of the on-board product, or maybe look at what Stena Line have done with their sister vessels? This is assuming the route will be around long-term of course. I'm sure others are right about pricing etc and people looking for the cheapest deals these days, but I just have a feeling that the routes to Spain might be different in terms of UK passenger expectations, compared to the shorter routes. I'd be more than happy to give this ship a try though...
  23. Re: Norman Asturais to Santander I haven't sailed on this ship or any of it's sisters, so I can't comment from experience, but, from what I have seen, I think you may have a point, based on customers expectations when it comes to taking a ferry to Spain. This vessel has virtually nothing in common with the various BF ships or the Pride of Bilbao and the difference in obaord facilities could seem quite stark. Of course, lower prices will attract people, but will the experience of 26 hours at sea on this vessel create many returning customers? (I'm solely talking about passengers here). Bearing in mind that I heard some people on the Cap Finistere complaining that there wasn't much to do, how will passengers react to the Norman Asturias? People like myself are quite content to spend many hours outside on the open decks, or in the bar, but I suspect that I am probably in the minority! No doubt time will tell...
  24. Re: BF prepraing to order new ship... I'm sorry but I don't see how the Cap Finistere is any way below the standards of other vessels; she is very nicely fitted out, the cabins are just as comfortable and quiet, and she has just about all of the amenities which are available elsewhere, with the exception of a self-sevice restuarant (which personally I do not think is an issue). Yes the Cap Finistere's interior may not have been designed for BF, but I don't see how this in any way detracts from the standard of the accomodation. I would say she compares very well with the other conventional vessels.
  25. Ryan_H

    Scillonian III

    Re: Scillonian III I've always wanted to visit the Scilly isles and wanted to do it by sea, but reading some of these comments is a bit off-putting; I'm wondering if a trip on the Scillonian is really that bad, or any worse than a rough Biscay crossing for example?