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Everything posted by Ryan_H

  1. Many thanks for the positive comments, I realise that I can go on a bit in these reports Just to respond to a couple of things, the point about the dog exercise area and it's proximity to the café salad bar is a valid one, I did notice a rather unpleasant 'whiff' at times as I walked past, but fortunately there was more than enough free seating on this crossing to escape it. I must admit that I have only ever bought drinks and snacks from the café, eating all my meals in the restaurant. It is a difficult one to resolve because I think the vessel's interior works very well as it is, but in the end perhaps a full self-service restaurant or even an enlarged petit marche will need to be created? With regard to the comments on trip advisor, I have not read any regarding Cap Finistere but if they are anything like the type of comments which I have read in the past, in relation to other ferries, I don't think they should be taken too seriously; to me, trip advisor (as with many other similar websites) does seem to attract a certain type of person who, if they do not happen to get precisely what they want, will tend to exaggerate their overall experience in a negative way. The passenger capacity on Cap Finistere has been limited for a reason and I think that the range of facilities provided is broadly in keeping with this. I've heard quite a few people saying negative things about the ship and in particular that she is not as goods as the Pride of Bilbao, personally I think that such people are not taking account of the commercial realities of operating a ferry service to Spain. The Pride of Bilbao ultimately failed because she was the wrong ship for the route, she did not have enough freight capacity and was too reliant on the 'booze and cigarettes' crowd, who ultimately cannot sustain a successful, long-term operation. In Cap Finistere we have a ship with a more appropriate passenger capacity, excellent vehicle space, the ability to maintain her schedules year-round and quality facilities for passengers who are not just going to Spain in order to drink and buy cigarettes, such as kennels, pet-friendly cabins etc.
  2. What fantastic photos. They really illustrate just how beautiful the Santander area is.
  3. When a friend in Catalunya told me that he was coming back to the UK via Bilbao-Plymouth, my first reaction was to try to correct him, saying you mean Bilbao-Portsmouth. But then he emailed me a screen shot of the Brittany Ferries booking system, and my reaction then changed to can I come along for the ride? Im still not sure of the exact reasons for this unusual crossing, but after a £23 Ryanair flight from East Midlands to Barcelona, and then a very pleasant overnight stay in Zaragoza en route to Bilbao, we were ready to board the 15.30hrs sailing of the Cap Finistere on 9th October, bound for Plymouth. We arrived at the port in warm sunshine, which seemed a distinct contrast to the stormy weather which had been forecast for the Bay of Biscay for the previous few days. As we joined the vehicle lanes, a number of handsome classic cars could be seen waiting to drive aboard, including a number of Rolls Royces and Jaguars, dating from the sixties onwards. After a short wait we were soon driving over the ramp and were directed down to the lowest of the car decks, G1. A very friendly crew member soon came over to welcome us on board and inform of us of where we were parked and which door and stairs we should use, which I thought was a very pleasant touch. We then grabbed our bags and started the long climb up to our cabin, number 8014. After dropping our things off we went outside to the stern area of deck nine where to my surprise the outdoor belle view bar was open and had plenty of customers, all enjoying the weather. On my previous two crossings this bar had remained closed, so it was nice to finally make use of it, which we certainly did over the next couple of hours We left the berth precisely on time and it was interesting to see the effects of the previous days stormy weather almost as soon as we were past the breakwaters, with the ship starting to gently pitch as she hit what was still a moderate swell. As the bar remained well patronised and the weather still warm, we remained in our seats and enjoyed a few San Miguels; whilst doing this we were treated to a number of Dolphin sightings. At one point, something rather strange happened in that the ship suddenly started to vibrate quite a lot and at the same time noticeably slowed down. After about two or three minutes there was a puff of black smoke from the funnel and we then started to pick up speed again, and with this the vibration simply stopped. Once the bar had closed I decided to take a look around the shop, which as many will know is not very big, but quite well stocked nonetheless. As I made my way to the shop it was apparent that the swell was causing a noticeable amount of movement , but personally I did not find this at all uncomfortable. I then took a walk along to the restaurant du Port to see if I could reserve a table for dinner that evening, and was told that I would need to go to the opposite side (starboard) to do this. With dinner organised I then went back to our cabin for a bit of a rest before the evening arrived. We had reserved a table for 7.30pm and when we arrived our side of the restaurant had plenty of diners, in fact it was the busiest I have seen this restaurant. We both ordered a main and desert each, along with a bottle of wine between us, and I have to say that this must rank as one of the best meals I have enjoyed yet at sea. I ordered sea bream in a citrus fruits sauce, followed my mini lemon-meringues with tequila ice cream and brandy snaps. Everything was beautifully presented and served with fantastic professionalism by the crew. When I think of the dismal service which we encountered on the Sirena Seaways back In June, it was all the more enjoyable to have Brittany Ferries demonstrate how things should be done. Ironically I had overheard another passenger earlier that afternoon whilst on deck who was bemoaning the dining options on board, saying that the food was not as good as it was on the old Pride of Bilbao; all I can say is that I could not disagree more, I personally think that the quality of what is on offer more than makes up for the lack of full self service restaurant. We spent the remainder of the evening in the planets bar, where the live entertainment featured a jazz band (Panama jazz band I think) followed by a magician. Both were good, but it was the jazz band which I enjoyed the most, as this is was the first time I had actually sat and watched any live jazz, in what must be quite an unlikely setting. Their music seemed well matched to what is a laid-back, comfortable bar. After a few Stellas I decided to call it a night. The following morning after an excellent nights sleep in our near-silent cabin, there was an announcement to say that we would be arriving in Plymouth at 10.00 instead of 09.30; could the mysterious vibrations the previous day have anything to do with this I wondered? We decided upon a full English breakfast in the restaurant du port, and this proved to be a good decision. The food was again excellent, served with efficiency and a smile; my friend was quite surprised when the waiter removed the metal domes from our plates at the same time. As we ate the coastline rapidly started to pass us by and once we had eaten there was ample time to vacate our cabin and watch the very delicate manoeuvre which took us stern-first on to the berth; from the deck I really did struggle to believe that such a large ship could fit in to the space available. And so to summarise, this had been my third trip on the Cap Finistere and, I think, probably the most enjoyable yet. This ship is rapidly becoming not only my favourite of Brittany Ferries fleet, but my favourite UK-based ferry overall. There is just something about the atmosphere on board that really appeals to me. On this sailing the crew seemed particularly friendly, attentive and efficient and in general you felt as though you were on board a very well-run ship. As others have said I think she is ideally suited to an off-season crossing, because of her excellent sea-keeping and intimate surroundings. I have just one request for next time please change the draught beer back to stock Kronenbourg and Murphys! [ATTACH=CONFIG]n241489[/ATTACH] [ATTACH=CONFIG]n241497[/ATTACH] [ATTACH=CONFIG]n241496[/ATTACH] [ATTACH=CONFIG]n241495[/ATTACH] [ATTACH=CONFIG]n241494[/ATTACH] [ATTACH=CONFIG]n241493[/ATTACH] [ATTACH=CONFIG]n241492[/ATTACH] [ATTACH=CONFIG]n241491[/ATTACH] [ATTACH=CONFIG]n241490[/ATTACH]
  4. I was on the sailing to Plymouth, it was a fantastic crossing on what is my favourite BF ship. It was not easy trying to photograph her on the berth due to her length and various obstacles in the way, but I took some photos anyway. I will post a report later for anyone interested.
  5. I am due to be sailing from Bilbao to Plymouth on Thursday, so am looking forward to this crossing with particular interest! I wonder how likely it will be that we leave/arrive on time?
  6. I am due to be sailing from Bilbao to Plymouth on Thursday, so am looking forward to this crossing with particular interest! I wonder how likely it will be that we leave/arrive on time?
  7. I thought that Stena Line had contacted their customers, informing them of the closure, and that they would now charter space on the Immingham route instead? I remain of the view that there is room for a passenger service to Scandinavia, whether it will be this route that is re-instated remains to be seen. Despite their claims, I do not think that DFDS did enough to preserve the route; there was very little marketing and standards were clearly not in line with the pricing. I hate saying these things because I've long been a big fan of DFDS and their ships, but It is hard not to conclude that they have definitely lost their way in recent times, as far as passengers are concerned.
  8. Re: Brittany Ferries to operate the Norman Voyager to Le Havre & Santander Personally, I choose to travel with Brittany Ferries because they are better than the competition. I would imagine that many regular customers are well aware that cheaper options exist, but they prefer the BF product. I can see why Brittany Ferries are doing this, but I just worry that it could be the thin end of the wedge, and the start a more general 'dumbing down' process, which could ultimately alienate both established customers and potential new customers looking for a high-quality ferry service to France or Spain.
  9. Re: Harwich-Esbjerg route to close Yes Scandinavia is expensive compared with most of Europe, but that has always been the case. As I remember it, many Scandinavians used to visit Newcastle, in fact the shopping centre at royal quays seems to have been built with them in mind. Many Danes use Esbjerg- Harwich. I think there are still plenty of people from the UK who want to explore Scandinavia with their own cars, caravans and motorhomes, especially in the summer. Whether this is enough to sustain a year round service is open to question, but perhaps a seasonal link could work? Visiting Scandinavia on a cruise ship is a fantastic experience, but for me it is not quite as special as the atmosphere which you used to encounter on board the 'Englandsbaten'...
  10. Re: Harwich-Esbjerg route to close Well I am probably just being far too optimistic here, but perhaps there is more chance of the Norwegian route making a comeback than we might think? Fjordline have 2 impressive modern ships, which of course are LNG fuelled and would be more than capable of crossing the North sea...now that there is literally no competition, in terms of passenger routes to Scandinavia, might they try again at some point, if only on a seasonal basis?
  11. Re: Scillonian III Just to say I will be trying the Scillonian for the first time next Saturday 20th, as I am going to be spending a week's holiday on St Mary's. Looking forward to it, any suggestions/thoughts welcome!
  12. Re: ETRETAT: Brittany Ferries Economie Last year when on the Cap Finistere I got up early to do just that, only to find it shrouded In mist! You would not have know we were anywhere near land...
  13. Re: The future of P&O Ferries Very interesting, you make some very good points. What do people think will happen to P&O's North Sea routes? A decision will have to be made soon regarding the Hull-Zeebrugge route, not to mention the new environmental regulations - is it possible/likely that we could see the Zeebrugge simply close and the Rotterdam service taken over by DFDS or Stena Line? I too enjoy sailing with P&O, both from Hull and Dover, but they do seem to be allowing things to decline in some areas which makes you wonder if they are serious about remaining a major ferry operator.
  14. Re: Harwich-Esbjerg route to close If this does happen (a big if), it will not be with that ship.
  15. Re: Bretagne's 25th Birthday Some people seem to talk about the Bretagne as though she were somehow ancient and past it, which she clearly is not. Brittany Ferries does have a particularly modern fleet, so perhaps this highlights her age more than would otherwise be the case, but I see no reason why this ship could not continue in service with them for many years to come; look at DFDS's King & Princess, both a similar age (older in fact) and both have had significant money spent on them, as a result it seems they will be around for some time yet. Similarly, look at the Pearl Seaways, built the same year as Bretagne - she has just been through a major refit to ensure that she remains relevant for today's passengers. I'm sure the fuel issue could be overcome if it was deemed worthwhile, but if BF has other plans then ultimately I suppose they know best.
  16. Re: Harwich-Esbjerg route to close If this ship does end up on the Channel, they will surely have to do something with her accommodation? At the moment, there are 2 quite large restaurant areas, a café and relatively small bar and lots of cabins - all geared towards a lengthy overnight service. Surely this layout will not be suited to Portmsouth-Le Havre or a route of similar length, without significant changes?
  17. Re: Harwich-Esbjerg route to close As far as I am aware there is still no confirmation of where the Sirena Seaways will go after the route closes - has anyone heard anything? Will she go to the Portsmouth-Le Havre route and burn cleaner fuel? Or have scrubbers fitted? Or be chartered out/sold? I would like to believe that this 'Regina Line' is genuine however the signs are far from promising! I just hope against all odds that an operator will at some point start a new route to Scandinavia, even if only on seasonal basis.
  18. Re: Brittany Ferries Vs LD Lines to Santander Well I would like to take my car with me to Barcelona at the end of September, BF is quoting between £688 and £733 return for a car and 2 passengers, depending on what cabin we have (not that there are many available!) I have tried to compare with LD Lines but sadly there does not seem to be any room. Alternatively it seems I can fly with EasyJet at the moment for well under £200, including hold luggage; I would much rather not, but again it does provide a stark illustration of the battle ferry operators face. Having said that it is very good to see the ships sailing to Spain appear to be full all Summer...
  19. Re: Harwich-Esbjerg route to close Well there is no-one who would like to see this route continue more than me! But Stena have only recently advised all their freight customers that the route is closing, which seems an odd thing to do if they have any intention of continuing the route? Then again I suppose stranger things have happened! As I said in my voyage report, I think standards on the route have declined recently, as you say particularly in the seven seas restaurant. Many of the crew I encountered did look a bit fed up, which was in sharp contrast to my last trip back in 2008. I'd be interested to know where the Stena Line rumour has come from. Hope you have a good trip in September...
  20. Re: Potential other routes? It should not be forgotten that BF also has significant numbers of customers from the Midlands and northern England and for us, Portsmouth is without doubt the most easily accessible. In many cases, Portsmouth is nearer even than Dover.
  21. Re: Harwich-Esbjerg route to close Yes that's exactly what I thought. They have gone in to quite a bit of detail though, so they must have (or had) some idea of the vessel they might use. I do tend to think that if one of these proposed new ventures to Norway or Denmark does get off the ground, there must be at least some chance of success, if only because there will soon be no other ferry services to Scandinavia, for passengers at least. I still struggle to comprehend that there is enough of a market to Spain to support two operators, with four routes, yet apparently no market whatsoever for any kind of car ferry service to Scandinavia?
  22. Re: Harwich-Esbjerg route to close A ro-pax vessel such as a visentini would seem to make sense but if their website is anything to go by it sounds like they are planning for a cruise ferry. It's hard to gauge how serious this company really is, but their plans certainly sound ambitious given that DFDS claim the route to be un proffitable.
  23. Re: Harwich-Esbjerg route to close I notice that Regina Line have updated their website, with some detailed information, and are claiming that they will start sailing next Easter; what are the odds of this actually happening i wonder? In the meantime i will be sailing on the 'Sirena' next Friday 20th, for what will probably be the last time....
  24. Re: Harwich-Esbjerg route to close Another point which occurred to me was the growth in cruises from the UK in recent years and the influence this must have – there are so many nowadays, including many to Scandinavia, and quite a number from Harwich as well. I’ve been on a couple of cruises and enjoyed them; It’s easy to see the attraction of having (almost) everything included in the fare, especially if you are going somewhere like Scandinavia where prices ashore will be high. However, as a result of this, combined with the influence of the airlines, I suspect that less and less people are willing or even aware that the option exists to take a ferry crossing. Personally I find there is something about the journey on a longer ferry crossing, where there is a wide range of different types of traveller, which cruise ships cannot compare with. It seems to me that general public awareness of the longer ferry routes, away from areas close to the ports, is very poor; how many people do you know (who aren’t shipping enthusiasts) who are even aware of the existence of this route? I don’t think the ferry operators have done enough to promote what they offer.
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