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Posts posted by Ryan_H

  1. 6 hours ago, Singapore Ship Watcher said:

    The new DFDS Gothia Seaways is at anchor in the Singapore Strait. It's been there since early morning (about 12 hours). I believe this is one of two ro-ro ships of the same class.


    The design of the hull reminds me of the new generation ACL container ships. I presume it has been designed with maximum fuel efficiency in mind...

  2. 2 minutes ago, neilcvx said:

    The thing with Bretagne is you can only do so much economically, you can’t increase headroom,size of the portholes, car decks , it just isn’t worth it , I think if BF had expected to keep her for 30 + years they might have improved the cabin layout, restaurant and shops , but the fact is it isn’t going to happen now and BF would ideally have sold her by now and put the money into a more efficient ship and one that is more acceptable to modern day travelers needs.

    Well I'm certainly no expert here, but I would have thought that if the likes of Viking Line & DFDS can work wonders with their older tonnage, then BF could have done more to modernise Bretagne.

    I take the points about wanting to replace her etc, but they haven't. It's been a while since I last sailed on Bretagne so I can't really comment directly on how she is today, but I would have thought the worst thing they could do is to allow things to stagnate.

  3. I've only sailed on Armorique once, quite deliberately, back from Roscoff because I wanted to see for myself. I like her, nice cabin, nice bar, more than adequate for the crossing. And she has clearly proved her worth by being able to deputise on all of the other routes and no doubt being more economical to run than some others in the fleet.

    I do take issue with these comments about the Bretagne being too old and 'past it'. As myself and others have pointed out, there are plenty of ferries from the same era sailing in northern Europe today which have been brought right up to date internally and which I dare say most of their passengers would have no idea as to the fact they were built in the 1980s. These ferries are still doing a good job. I think the issue with Bretagne is that her owners have not invested enough to bring her fully up to date, rather than the fact she was built in 1989.

    Look what DFDS have done with Val De Loire since she left BF, you'd hardly recognise her as the same ship today...

    • Like 4

  4. 15 minutes ago, jonno said:

    Every ferry crossing the Bay of Biscay should have one or something similar rather than the snub nosed monstrosity someone had the audacity to weld onto the front of Pont Aven... an awful bow, historically it's no wonder her clamshells need attention especially on vessel with a 30+ metre beam which smashes through waves rather than ride them... Should have built her 200m and given her a decent bow.

    Perhaps stating the obvious here but is this why Cap Finistere (according to some) copes better with the Spanish routes than Pont-Aven? Despite being a second-hand purchase rather than a purpose-built flagship?

    It's a source of some regret to me that I've never managed to sail to Spain on Bretagne, I doubt I will get the chance now but should a crossing appear in the timetable I'd jump at it.

    • Like 2

  5. 3 hours ago, hhvferry said:

    By Stena standards the ships are great in my view and the overnight crossing not too bad with timings. Day crossings can drag a bit without a cabin.

    Being purpose built and still in essentially their original configuration helps when compared to the somewhat butchered look and feel of some other Stena ships, especially their predecessors.

    Breakfast in the self service is a bun fight, the purser on the Hollandica told us once that she couldn't bear to be in the place during and after if the crossing was remotely busy.

    The a la carte is generally fine but again that's Stena standards not BF. As said above though the cabins are great.

    Personally, I rarely bother with Breakfast on any overnight crossing any more, apart from to Spain where you actually have time to eat and enjoy it. I've tried it on all the North Sea routes, and have found it far from the best way to start the day. I took one look at the buffet on the Stena Hollandica and instantly decided I'd rather eat when I got off...

    • Like 1

  6. 3 minutes ago, jonno said:

    Hollandica runs on European time, Brittanica on U.K. time. Limited passenger space both inside & out as her first 8 decks are for vehicles. Food is the standard stuff with a small bar. self service and an A la Carte all crammed in together over looking the bow.

    They'll allow you to "sleep" for an extra hour or so after arrival in Harwich although I doubt you will as the thrusters vibrate the ship like an earthquake when docking at around 0430.

    Not a fan of either ship or the overnight crossing. I boarded her after a long drive from Kiel, one of the worst travel decisions I've made. Personally I'd do what I've done since, book a room at the Kuiperduin which is good enough for 1 night & 5 mins around the corner then travel back in the morning... or change your mind and head to Hull.

    They do have arguably the nicest cabins on any ferry to the UK though...

    • Like 1

  7. 15 hours ago, crechbleiz said:

    I am travelling to the Antwerp area via Dover-Dunkirk for work next week. This will be followed by another work related visit near Manchester. I thought I could cut the driving time by using one of P&Os routes to Hull. I have never been on any of these crossings and I would like some tips. Which is the best option? Sailing from Rotterdam or Zeebrugge? What time boarding starts? Is it worth opting for the packages advertised on the website?


    I thought about doing something similar on our recent trip, with P&O, going one way via Calais and coming back from Zeebrugge. However what put me off was the fact that the Zeebrugge route appears to be every other day at the moment and also the P&O website doesn't seem to allow you to go out on one route and return via another, you have to make two separate bookings.

    I think next time I do a Zeebrugge minicruise (preferably on Pride of Bruges) I will simply take the tram along to Blankenberge rather than the coach in to Bruges, I really enjoyed looking out over an especially grey North Sea from the 'Belgium Pier' Brasserie on Saturday ;) 

  8. 43 minutes ago, Cabin-boy said:

    Wow, it's hard to believe it's the same ferry. They have really spent some money making her look nice. 

    Ryan, thanks for the ferry review. Now, what about the Massive Attack concert? I'm hesitating whether to try and get tickets to see them Nantes next week. Ed. 

    Haha, I would say go for it. The tickets were actually a Christmas present for my girlfriend, I'm ashamed to say I probably only recognised about 3 songs, but they put on an amazing show both musically & visually. 

    • Thanks 1

  9. A recent trip to see massive attack In  Brussels provided an opportunity for a ferry trip, we booked a 72 hour return with DFDS...


    31/01/19 – 09.10 Dover-Calais on Calais Seaways  

    I was pleased to see that we’d be sailing out on this particular ship, since I’d read a lot about her a lot but never actually experienced this vessel for myself. I was keen to see what DFDS had done (or not done) to revive her interior, given some of the many ‘mixed’ reviews I’d read over the years. Upon checking in we were given our code for the ‘Premium Lounge’ which we had pre-booked at £12 each.

    We parked up on deck 5, with very few other cars visible but plenty of lorries. We then managed to locate the nearest stairs and made our way up to the Premium Lounge on deck 9. On arrival at the stairwell on deck 8 we found access roped-off, but a very friendly crew member quickly appeared and escorted us up to the lounge. He explained that we appeared to be the only passengers using the lounge on this crossing, so we had the entire area to ourselves. We’d previously used the ‘Club lounge’ on P&O but this was a much larger space, with plenty of tables and comfortable chairs. We could help ourselves to coffee, tea, pastries, fruit etc as well as a selection of newspapers. We were also offered a glass of sparkling wine, though we declined this in view of the time of day (though I was tempted!) Part of the rationale for booking the lounge for this crossing was so that we could relax a bit and use it as a means of having breakfast ;) As can be imagined, this was just about the most comfortable way to experience a Dover-Calais crossing and it was thoroughly enjoyable to have this private space at our disposal.

    After departure from Dover I decided to try and find my way outside for some fresh air, which proved quite difficult since all of the doors to the outside decks appeared to be roped off. In the end I asked at reception and was told that the only area available was at the stern on deck 7, so that’s where I went. I did find this a little frustrating, but it was bitterly cold and with the recent snow there were probably some genuine safety concerns, plus with such a small number of passengersaboard it was perhaps not deemed worth it.  

    Once I’d had my fix of freezing cold air I decided to have a look around the passenger areas, and was struck by how pleasant they were. The shop in particular was well stocked with some heavily reduced bargains to be had. The interior felt light and airy and everywhere I saw looked very clean and well kept. I could find very few signs of the ship’s previous careers other than the attractive brass handrails in the stairwells, which I assume are original.  

    All too soon we were approaching the berth in Calais and as we said goodbye to the steward in the Premium Lounge, I told him it had been my best crossing ever on the Dover-Calais route.  


    03/02/19 – 16.00 Dunkerque-Dover on Dunkerque Seaways  

    We arrived at the port just after 3.30pm, so I was mentally prepared for the prospect that we might have to wait for the next sailing rather than the one we had booked. As I suspected, the man at the check –in booth informed us check-in had closed, and that we would have to wait for the 18.00hrs sailing. Whilst this was a bit irritating since we could see the ship was still on the berth, it was ultimately our own fault and we resigned ourselves to having to sit and wait. However, once through passport control, we were directed to a different lane to that on our mirror-hanger and, to our pleasant surprise, were then waved on to the waiting Dunkerque Seaways.

    We were again parked on deck 5, having negotiated what is a fairly steep ramp for cars. This again looked to be a lightly-loaded sailing with plenty of empty lanes.   Having made our way upstairs the first area we encountered was the ‘Lighthouse’ café, which appears to have been recently refurbished, with new carpets and seating. Once again, finding a route outside in order to watch our departure froma beautifully sunny (but freezing) Dunkirk proved tricky, but I eventually found my way to the stern of the vessel, where it was pleasing to see the red ensign flying as we reversed away from the berth. I remained outside until we were passing Gravelines, with the nuclear power station clearly visible on the horizon, before I succumbed to the cold.  

    We spent the remainder of the crossing making a few purchases in the ‘sea shop’ (mainly wine) and then in the ‘seven seas’ restaurant area which overlooks the bow on the same deck. Having eaten quite a large lunch in Ostend, we only purchased drinks, but this was a lovely space to sit and watch the crossing from. Our route seemed to follow the French coast for as long as possible, before finally turning towards Dover. The design of this class of ship seems to suite the route very well with the panoramic windows being an excellent feature. Overall the ship was very pleasant and kept clean and tidy throughout, though this was far from a busy sailing. Arrival in Dover was on time and were soon on our way home just after 5.30pm.  

    Conclusions;   Both crossings were very pleasant but it was the Calais Seaways which I enjoyed the most, not only because of the ‘Premium lounge’ experience but because I think she must now be the only ship left on this route with any kind of character or charm about her, though admittedly I haven’t tried the ex-SeaFrance sisters yet. The crews on both ships were very professional and helpful and we were left with a positive impression overall. I will certainly use DFDS next time I sail from Dover, in preference to P&O.   

    Apologies for the photo quality - some had to be taken through the window because I couldn't get outside 🙄





    • Like 3

  10. 13 hours ago, Cabin-boy said:

    They are also running a commercial operation and not a heritage monument so I really don't see a problem. I doubt most passengers would either notice or care where the vessel is registered. Ed. 

    I'm sure you're right, most passengers won't care where the vessel is registered. But as I've said before I think it is a deeply cynical thing to do, and I think the government actually should care about this kind of thing and do more to encourage operators to fly the red ensign, especially those regularly using UK ports.

  11. 32 minutes ago, hhvferry said:

    Yup that's what classier operators tend to do - looks like her current name isn't! Most operators then burn the letters off if they inherit one like that but that looks like it was too much bother for DFDS as well.

    I think they did burn off the 'Val de Loire' name at the stern during one of her refits some years back, strange that they left the front one in place. I think on her sister you can still see the outline of at least two previous names and ports of registry, despite the letters having been removed ;)

  12. 15 hours ago, neilcvx said:

    We sailed on her overnight to Le Havre was a good smooth sailing, she will obviously be a lot different now , she was a bit tired and unkempt back then.

    Interesting, she's definitely a ship with some history isn't she. It seems to me she's never really had an owner who's made the most of her or invested in her for long enough to make her a success. It's a shame. I don't suppose DFDS will be overly bothered about her since she's being replaced by an eflexer in a couple of years, they don't own her anyway do they?

  13. I believe P&O's rivals at Dover, DFDS, have 3 French-flagged ships (those on the Calais route) and 3 UK-flagged ships (the Dunkerque sisters). I can't see the French registered ones changing, but I wonder if they will follow suit with the British ships?

    DFDS I would say are, if anything, more commercially astute than P&O but I don't see too many of their ships, whether passenger or freight, flying flags of convenience.

    • Like 1

  14. 2 hours ago, Nick Hyde said:

    Let's hope not. The Superfast twins would present a massive reduction in cabin berth capacity on what we have now.

    They'd also prove too expensive to operate i'd have thought? I don't think speed will be near the top of the list of priorities for this route, but passenger/freight capacity along with running costs certainly will.

  15. 7 minutes ago, jonno said:

    I see you're point and in most circumstances it's probably true but in some instances it does have an advantage. When we travelled to Zeebrugge from Hull all of the guest service staff were Filipino. All of them I spoke to said that the ship is so clean and tidy as for 6 months a year it's their home and is treated as such and that they have little financial outlay allowing them to take 90% of their earnings home with them.

    We had no problem offering tips either as the often used customer service term 'added value' was true to every member of staff who looked after us.

    On the Zeebrugge route, the Pride of York is Bahamas flagged but the Pride of Bruges is Dutch flagged. I know the latter vessel has Dutch officers and Filipino crew, presumably the ‘York’ is the same but with British officers.

    If it’s okay to have one ship under Dutch registry, why can’t the other still be British?


  16. I think it's admirable that Stena Line's vessels are largely UK or Dutch flagged, presumably they could follow the example of others such as Irish Ferries or P&O quite easily but have (so far at least) chosen not to and I think they should be applauded for that. DFDS appear to have their passenger ships flying either the Danish, British or French flag.

    I do appreciate that to many people the flag of the vessel is a complete irrelevance and that it should not detract from the safety of the vessel or the travelling experience in any way. But I do think it is symbolic of a kind of 'race to the bottom' on pay and conditions and a sign that an operator has little or no values aside from maximising profits. I find that very sad and cynical and personally it deters me from using such operators. An operator like P&O should be proud to fly the red ensign and the government should be doing all it can to encourage ship owners to do so, regardless of Brexit or anything else.

    • Like 4