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Everything posted by Ryan_H

  1. Yesterday I booked a minicruise on behalf of my sister; she's organising her friend's hen party. I did suggest to her that April would be better because of the 2 for 1 offer, but they're actually going on 24th May (on Princess Seaways) just in case people want to avoid that particular sailing, although there's only 4 of them Whilst booking I noticed that DFDS charge for the bus transfers to Amsterdam now, it's about £7 each I think - I'm sure this used to be included within the fare. Personally if i did another mincruise I'd be quite content to spend the day in Ijmuiden, I imagine it would be a lot more relaxing especially if you've already 'done' Amsterdam previously.
  2. I see Etretat is having quite a long refit, presumably she will emerge in the new colours?
  3. I've been wanting to try the Zeebrugge route again for a while, since my last trip was back in 2015. I have to say that the email I received from P&O with their latest minicruises was far from inspiring; lots of gimicky 'themed' trips but the destinations themselves generally didn't appeal much and of those that did, such as Gent, the dates on offer seem very limited indeed. The ferry is by far my favourite way to reach Belgium, especially this route, but it's often hard to justify the cost versus Eurostar or taking one of the Dover routes instead. A more tempting range of short-breaks might change this.
  4. I agree, it seems a retrograde step, all for questionable reasons of getting their ‘brand’ better known; was the Maltese cross not already synonymous with DFDS? Judging from what I saw on twitter though, it doesn’t look as though Princess or King have lost theirs...yet.
  5. Which do people consider the better ship on the southern corridor - Stena Europe or Isle of Inishmore?
  6. Are 'King & 'Princess' going for re-fit this year?
  7. She was definitely berthed “stern first” last year; I still have the photo I took as we walked back from the town as my laptop background
  8. I hadn't realised Irish Ferries had gone to the trouble of actually welding the letters on when they acquired her from Color Line. Clearly the new owners aren't bothered about removing them...🙄
  9. I've read that she is being re-flagged to Cyprus, can anyone confirm if this is correct? In the photos I have seen, Cardiff is her port of registry. If this is the case, will Stena Line be re-flagging all of the UK-registered ships? It would seem a terrible shame if they do...
  10. Lovely report, thanks for sharing. As far as I'm concerned, you've encapsulated what these trips are all about very well
  11. Nice report, thank you for sharing. I think the new blue hull makes Magellan look much better, almost a different ship! I've been looking at a CMV cruise next October to Iceland, from Newcastle on the Marco Polo. I've been looking at taking the Norrona for some time now but this cruise is tempting because of course it removes the need to get to/from Denmark, goes to all the places (and more) i'd like to see and as such is probably better value for money. The ship even spends a couple of nights in Reykjavik. I sailed on Marco Polo in 2015 to Norway and liked her very much.
  12. It's a shame they didn't put Mr Lander-Brinkley straight on his comments the about Normandie
  13. Some very good advice there I think. A lot of people I know assume that I don't get seasick given my (to them) strange obsession with travelling on ferries, but I certainly can and have succumbed to 'mal de mer' and know just how unpleasant it can be. Over the years I have found eating a modest amount, plus plenty of fresh air (where practical) to be the best remedies. Also being able to look out to sea rather than being in an enclosed space, such as a theatre or cinema, is definitely preferable.
  14. I seem to recall DFDS painting the stern doors of the King/Princess blue instead of white some years ago, when they wore their original liveries; I think they did it in stages and they looked patchy for a while but eventually they were fully blue. I guess having all day to lay-over in port helps with such activities.
  15. I think the 'Planets' is my favourite bar in the fleet, looks like the seats have been updated too since I was last on board which is pleasing to see.
  16. I'm not sure it is fair to describe Etretat as being "down market". Perhaps not your first choice of vessel for a 24 hour trip to Spain, but certainly more than adequate for a straightforward overnight crossing.
  17. The idea that DFDS want to return to Portsmouth does seem an odd one to me, I thought they couldn't wait to get rid of the Le Havre route when they were involved with it?
  18. I booked in October last year and was told that only standard and 'larger' Inside cabins were available, we were prepared to spend more for one of the premium cabins; seems quite a contrast one year on. We decided to give it a miss this year anyhow having done the BF & DFDS trips the past two years, it's a lot of fun but definitely not a cheap way to spend New Year.
  19. Good news. Slightly off-topic I know, but the fact that the press release says that Barfleur will undergo an 'extensive' refit perhaps suggests she will be staying in the fleet for a few more years at least, even if Cotentin does replace her on Poole-Cherbourg?
  20. Presumably DFDS would want the new ships in service for next Summer, so unless something is agreed pretty quickly, I guess we're unlikely to see them (or any other new vessels) until this time next year at the earliest?
  21. Ryan_H

    Breton Flag on Bretagne

    One thing I have noticed over the years is that BF often (but not always) seem to leave the French flag flying at the stern throughout the crossing, whereas other operators such as DFDS seem to take this down once the vessel is firmly at sea.
  22. Is there really no chance that it could still happen? Admittedly I'm not aware if all the details, but it sounds to me like DFDS are walking away now because of the uncertainty. But that does not mean that things might change in the coming months, and they could still acquire the vessels, albeit later than planned?
  23. I’ve just returned from a Brittany Ferries holiday just outside St Malo, where we stayed in a very pleasant Apartment overlooking the beach. We had originally planned to stay in Les Sables d’or Les Pins, but due to various factors this had to be changed and so therefore did our crossings. I hadn’t sailed on Bretagne since 2010 and so I thought a crossing during her thirtieth year was a must, but we also wanted to visit the D-Day beaches since we had never done so before. In addition to this, I also wanted to try out a new route, as well as the much talked about ‘Visentini’ vessel, so we elected to return via Le Havre on the Etretat. Bretagne to St Malo – 14/10/19 We arrived in Portsmouth in plenty of time to see her arrive from the comfortable surroundings of the Still and West. Having made our way along to the port just after 19.00hrs, we waited to board for at least thirty minutes before eventually being called forwards and directed up to deck 5. We soon found our cabin, no. 6502, which was a very clean and well-presented four-berth ‘club’ class complete with TV and Kettle etc. After a brief visit to the perfume boutique, we made our way to the front of the self-service to see if I could remember how to get out on to the bow; fortunately, I could and we found ourselves to be the sole passengers watching our departure from this unique vantage point. Once we were out in to the Solent, it was time to think about dinner and we had decided to eat in Les Abers if we could. I was also keen to have a drink the Yacht Club bar, since I’d always found it to be closed on previous crossings, so we had a pre-dinner beer there. I liked this area a lot, especially once the Pianist arrived, and thought the ‘Lighthouse’ style lamp behind the bar was a very nice, striking feature. What was less pleasant was the amount of dust and dirt around the brass (?) window frames, but hopefully this is something which can be rectified at her forthcoming refit. Our meal in the restaurant was wonderful, with excellent food and service to match. The sailing was quite busy and there weren’t many empty tables to be seen. We opted for the buffet starters and desserts, and my main course of Halibut with Chorizo was just perfect. Many people sing the praises of this particular restaurant and it’s easy to see why, it has a timeless quality to it and is, I think, slightly more enjoyable than the similar Le Flora on Pont-Aven. We finished off our evening in the Gwenn Ha Du bar where there was still a few people scattered around. Whilst sat with our drinks the young entertainment manager came up to us and asked if we were enjoying our crossing, if we’d enjoyed the food, entertainment etc and where we were going to; presumably he’d been instructed to carry out some market research, in any case we gave him glowing reviews which he seemed more than happy with. After a very comfortable night’s sleep in what proved to be a remarkably rattle and vibration-free cabin, the familiar music proved a very abrupt awakening. I opened the curtains to see us very slowly approaching St Malo and so, after a quick Coffee, I made my way up to see us gradually edging on to the berth. Shortly afterwards we made our way back down to deck 5 where we waited for around 25 minutes before we were underway and off in to France. Nine years after my last sailing on Bretagne, it really was great to be back. Overall she looked to be in excellent shape and I was particularly impressed by how well presented our cabin was, especially given some of the negative comments I’ve read over recent months. I’m a big fan of this ship and I really hope she will be around for us all to enjoy for at least a few more years. Etretat to Portsmouth – 22/10/19 In many ways it would have made more sense for us to have taken an afternoon or overnight sailing from Ouistreham, but since we’d never used Le Havre before or sailed on a Vissentini, we decided to give it a try. Getting to Le Havre was an interesting experience, particularly driving over the Pont de Normandie. It seemed to take a long time to get to the docks but since Le Havre is quite a large city this perhaps isn’t too surprising. We found the Brittany Ferries signs easily enough and were soon checked-in and parked in the boarding lane. After about 15 minutes of waiting, we were called forward to board. I’d read various reports over the years about the parking arrangements for cars on this type of vessel, so was prepared to have to park on the upper deck near the funnel, however I was struck by just how steep the ramp was – definitely a first gear job. Having parked up we made our way inside via long corridor which led to the reception area on deck 5. We had booked an outside 4-berth cabin for the crossing but it was explained to us at check-in that rather than using our boarding cards, we would need to obtain a code from reception in order to open the door. The cabin itself was very pleasant, clean and spacious, with attractive wooden bunk-beds; it was more than adequate for our needs. Navigating our way around Etretat was not difficult and did not take long either since all of the passenger facilities are on deck 5, with the cabins on deck 6. We made our way out on the outside deck at the stern on deck 6, past the many ‘pet friendly’ cabins. Whilst it had been largely warm and sunny, a layer of mist had descended around the port which made viewing our surroundings difficult, in particular the adjacent cruise ship AIDAMAR. Despite this, I thought Le Havre looked quite impressive and definitely worthy of further exploration on a future visit. Etretat left her berth shortly after 17.00hrs and once clear of the breakwaters sounded her fog horn a few times as we headed out in to the Channel. We spent most of the crossing in our cabin, in the bar area or out on deck. The atmosphere on board seemed very quiet and relaxed and we actually found it the perfect way to ‘chill out’ at the end of our holiday. Around 7.00pm we went along to the self-service restaurant to see what was on offer for dinner. I ordered the beef complete peppercorn sauce, chips and vegetables and have to say it was delicious, certainly one of the better meals I’ve enjoyed at sea. The restaurant clearly does not have the ambience or glamour of Les Abers, but it was never intended to; Instead what it did offer was a very good meal, reasonably priced, with pleasant service and comfortable surroundings. All too soon the Isle of Wight came in to view and it was not long before we were passing the Spinnaker tower and heading towards the berth, adjacent to the Mont St Michel which we had seen in the distance for most of the crossing. Once back at our car, it became clear that we would be required to reverse some distance in order to drive back down the ramp; this was a first for me and this was one of those occasions where a reversing camera is useful. I did wonder why we had not been asked to reverse in to position when boarding, particularly since the deck was less than half full. After a brief delay whilst waiting for Border Force to check our passports, we were away and off in to the night. In conclusion then, two very pleasant crossings on two very different vessels, but both seemed to suit their individual roles very well. In my opinion, both offer the hospitality which distinguishes Brittany Ferries from the rest, albeit in different ways. Would I sail on Etretat or one of her sisters again? Definitely.
  24. Very funny...I was just referring to the scorch marks on the doors, and also on one of the shots of Moby Aki in dry dock, they just looked as though they'd been welded to me that was all. I know a lot of Mediterranean ferries tend only to load through the stern.
  25. I might be completely wrong here but have these two ships had their bow doors welded shut?
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