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Everything posted by Ryan_H

  1. I really could not put it any better than that if I tried, perfectly summarised in my opinion. If it's okay with you, I might quote from this next time I'm ambushed by some of my leave-supporting friends/family...
  2. I've only sailed on the Ulysses the once and was distinctly under-whelmed, but I have to say I thought the large 'Irish pub' overlooking the bow was probably her best feature...!
  3. Where is Oscar Wilde at the moment, laid up? Has she been sold?
  4. I've read that DFDS' current CEO Niels Smedegaard is standing down at the end of April. I wonder if this will mean any kind of change in direction for the company?
  5. Based on my experience to Honfleur, I'd happily book again for next NYE. I'd be more than happy with Rouen since I've never experienced the trip up the Seine. I thought BF did a great job and Pont-Aven suited her role as "cruise" ship perfectly; as I've said previously it was much more civilised than being ordered off the ship first thing each morning.
  6. Stena Line certainly has the know-how and the ships. The two current vessels on Birkenhead-Belfast will soon be available, as has been mentioned, so it will be interesting to see where they end up. Personally i'd like to see Stena have more of a presence both in the Channel and also on the North Sea.
  7. Ryan_H

    New Look Revealed

    What is the flag she's flying from her bow? It's not the Norman flag is it?
  8. 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...
  9. 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.
  10. 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...
  11. 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.
  12. 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...
  13. They do have arguably the nicest cabins on any ferry to the UK though...
  14. 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
  15. 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.
  16. 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 🙄
  17. 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.
  18. It turned out to be the Calais seaways after all, and very nice she was too.
  19. Ryan_H

    BF Refits 2018-19

    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
  20. Oh don't worry, still looking forward to it anyway
  21. 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?
  22. Oh excellent, so I finally get to experience the old Prins Filip, looking forward to that! Booked the 'premium lounge' too.
  23. As part of a trip to Belgium next week I'll be sailing 31st Jan on the 09.10 Dover-Calais (does anyone know which ship it will be?) and back from Dunkerque on 3rd Feb at 16.00, with DFDS.
  24. 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.
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