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  • Birthday 05/09/1983

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  1. The Europa's 20-hour cruises are indeed a spectacle; as of the Viking Cinderella's. There is only one objective; duty-free alcohol. Drink it and then struggle off with copious amounts for later. I don't think the question on the Serenade/Symphony's forward viewing platform was answered, so, belatedly, I can confirm that even access them via the outside sundeck on Deck 12. You just need to keep walking forward. However, they are usually only open while in port and while navigating through the archipelago at each end. During the main voyage, they are closed and locked off, . Sometimes, they only open when the ship has departed.Gabriella, like Mariella, also has a full viewing platform that is typically open. It appears that they are only used on the two Helsinki lines. Neither the Isabelle, to Riga, or the Amorella, to Turku, ever seem to have theirs open.of it is scary just how much traffic on the Baltic routes is entirely mini cruise. I think they will be very badly hit due to coronavirus, even when sailings resume.
  2. Our return trip last weekend was another heavily loaded crossing, but once again, the CF did everything we needed - on time, never felt too crowded, good food etc. To be fair, her original passenger capacity would have included a large number of deck passengers, so had BF not significantly reduced her capacity, she could have been very uncomfortable indeed. Fortunately, this time, we were only on Deck 2 this time not right down on 1! The reason the restaurant is split is that, has built, the area on the starboard side was the vessel’s cafeteria - called the Three Forks. When converted, BF decided to make the self-service server a into a drivers’ facility. It is a strange split setup… Especially as I think the different sides of the restaurant even have different opening hours!? However, I found using the starboard side had its advantages - for breakfast, it was far quieter than the port side - presumably because not many passengers knew it existed, which of course, perhaps suggests it is an ineffective setup from a commercial standpoint. Speaking of the catering, I found some interesting discrepancies on board. Some meal choices were very good value, others surprisingly poor value. For example, in the Salad Bar, a great, fresh, heavily loaded pizza could be purchased for no more than £5.80 - but the pasta choice, all at £4.95, was a poor cardboard box of pasta with a dollop of sauce on top. The salads, all priced at just £4, were exceptional value - that price for a good size salad, including good portions of smoked salmon and poached salmon in the one I had. I don't know if this pricing is a unique setup purely on CF.
  3. Thanks for the observations so far! Limiting the passenger capacity was without doubt a very smart move, from the passenger experience/comfort point of view. Although on a smaller scale, she has the majority of facilities passengers would expect, but I can see why she would indeed be a “Marmite” vessel. The open-plan, walk-through layout was fully intended by her designers, to create a “pavement cafe” style atmosphere in her restaurant, for example. This layout is a feature of all of the original Superfast series. The cafe bar on Deck 10 works well in most circumstances, but I do also recognise it may get either very cold or very hot depending on the weather… I assume it would be shut in winter, however. Even in August, on our outward sailing she was carrying a very substantial amount of freight, so as Simon F mentioned I think that for BF this is undoubtedly her most valuable attribute. Unfortunately it meant we were directed right down to Deck 1, meaning a 30 minute delay in disembarking (but not as bad as I had feared it may be!)
  4. I’m interested in contributors’ perspectives on the CF… She seems to be quite disliked on the forum! I am due to return on her tomorrow evening from Santander, having sailed outwards from Portsmouth on board her on August 19 (the evening of the unseasonal August storm). I don’t 100% know the exact storm force on the day, but from wind speed would estimate 8/9. One thing for sure is that she is a superb sea boat - as indeed are all of the German-built Superfast series. Of course, she was moving around, but there was little seasickness on board - and my family are particularly prone to it but did not suffer. Facilities wise, I can see she is no match for the Pont - but, she has her merits. Whilst the à la carte restaurant is a compromise in terms of layout, it seems to me quite atmospheric and successfully serves its intended purpose. The after twin-level lounge is quite impressive, with plenty of more intimate corners and great views astern. The Reception Lounge offers great comfy sofas to curl up in, during the long day for each. BF’s modifications have been astute - adding the large children’s play area on Deck 10 in the sheltered outside deck area and making the former pool bar into a more comprehensive informal cafe complete with pizza oven. The Finistere Bar, interestingly described by BF as the ships “living room” is not particularly pleasant, with the amidships area taken up by the snack bar meaning the room is rather cramped - but this was in situ previously as the gaming area under Superfast. I also recognise there is not a huge amount of true open deck space, but there are several corners to be found. I had feared she would feel very crowded on a capacity sailing, but actually, she never felt busy at all. All in all, our outward crossing passed quickly and enjoyably as a family of four… But I’d be very interested to hear the comments and perspectives of others! Best wishes, Richard
  5. Indeed, it sounds very worthwhile! :-) The Oscar Wilde is a fine example of her type; built by the same yard as the former Olympia/Pride of Bilbao. She is largely original internally, a few cosmetic branding changes, but the layout is pretty much unchanged. With regards to your question on parking, the long-term car park is a small compound of rough ground, 5-minutes walk or so from the terminal. I've used it a couple of times and it has been fine, it's relatively out of the way which can be a plus and a minus! There is also some limited short-stay car parking directly in front of the terminal, which during winter, the staff at the terminal have been happy for us to use for a longer period without charge… It might be worth a try? Being right outside the terminal, it should be technically secure… Hope this helps, Richard
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