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About ac_freeman

  • Birthday 14/05/1961

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  1. I, like many I'm sure, have been longing for the day when I could get back on-board a ferry once the Covid regulations had become manageable ( and less painful on the pocket ), I had decided that the last week was the right time......I knew that cheaper Day 2 Tests were due but I wanted to avoid travelling over the Half Term Period. After a fair amount of research by reading posts here, trawling through the Brittany Ferries Web Site, and searches on Google I had figured out that I would need a signed declaration for the French Authorities that I had no Covid symptoms etc. etc., a fully completed Passenger Location Form ( can only be completed 48 hours before arrival in the UK ), a booked Day 2 Test ( with proof of booking ) and the Covid Pass ( proof of double vaccination ) as I have had both jabs. There are links to the forms on the emails sent out by BF before sailings, Covid Pass is obtained via the NHS App. I booked the Day 2 Test at a local centre ( £ 65 ), I decided to print out the Covid Pass in case of any issues with the App, this proved to be a wise decision as there were indeed problems with the App during the past couple of days with people unable to access their Covid Passes and having difficulties at Airports. You can't book these short trips as mini-cruise any longer, has to be booked as 2 single journeys - I booked a cabin in both directions and paid £153.....quite a lot for a short trip but I had effectively save the cost of the trips that I would have made over the past 18 months had it not been for the dratted pandemic so I was not bothered, I could have saved £28 by not having a cabin for the return by day but it is nice to have somewhere to drop camera, binoculars and jacket in between deck outings.....they had given me the same cabin for the return which meant that I could leave my things in the cabin while going ashore. Having had a nice day in Portsmouth ( super fish and chips at at the Spice Island and visited the D-Day Museum for the first time since it had been revamped ) I parked in the terminal car park quite early and went to see if I could check-in, I thought it best just in case I did have any paperwork problems so I would have enough time to hopefully sort things out - I handed over all of the paperwork and was told that I had completed the wrong version of the Health Declaration ( I had completed the form for those arriving from the Red List instead of the Amber List ) all other paperwork was fine "no problem" he said, " here is your Boarding Card and the correct version of the form, just fill it in.....boarding will be 18:15" - phew! There was a lady checking in to my right who was remonstrating with the check-in person complaining about not been able to travel because of some paperwork, she was told point blank that it was her responsibility to have all of the paperwork in order. To be fair to BF, I received 2 emails and at least 2 texts for each sailing explaining what was required and if not correct then travel would be denied. With time to kill I walked round to the Ship & Castle for a couple of beers. Boarding started at 18:15, early on Wednesdays, the shuttle bus drove us onto the car deck and with only 1 lift working I decided to walk up the stairs - the cabin was absolutely spotless, to be honest it looked brand new......the shower was powerful and hot. Walked down to the restaurant on Deck 7....Beef Bourguignon ( can be hit & miss, but this was delicious with no gristle ), roast potatoes, peas and a small bottle of red.......the raspberry tart for dessert ( looked a bit tired to be honest, the raspberries did not look plump and fresh as they used to on the Pont Aven a few years ago )........and cappuccino ( they really have notched up the strength of the coffee compared to my last trip ). Out on deck for departure....so good to be onboard ship again! Stayed out in deck until passing the Isle Of Wight out at sea then down to the bar for a beer and to enjoy the entertainment, caught the end of the quiz and then the singer who was actually very good, sung some of her own compositions as well as covers. Quite a nice atmosphere in the bar, plenty of spare seats but enough people to create an atmosphere. A quick stroll out in deck as were approaching the main shipping lanes and then off to bed. I got up at around 5:15AM ( yes, crazy as I know ) as I wanted to be out on deck as we arrived in St. Malo.....the restaurant had not yet opened so spent some time out on deck as we passed Jersey in the distance ( still fully dark ) and then went down for a couple of excellent croissants, strawberry jam and coffee ). Arrival in St Malo was gorgeous.....a beautiful crisp clear morning with the sun rising, light enough to see all of the rocks and small islands as we made our way up the berth. Disembarkation was pretty quick using the gangway on Deck 7. A very friendly Immigration Official took my Health Declaration, scanned my Covid pass, and asked if I lived in the UK....he then stamped my passport. I checked in for the return sailing straight away ( painless, she checked my Covid Pass and Passenger Locator Form and gave me my Boarding Card ), there was a guy at the next desk who apparently was missing a page from his locator form but they were saying that it should be ok. I walked briskly as far as the Cafe de Theatre and back ( I only had an hour or so before boarding ). On boarding the same Immigration Official scanned my Covid Pass again, asked again if I lived in the UK .....and stamped my passport again. After the walk into town I was quite hungry again so dropped by the restaurant for some bacon & eggs.....it was noticeably quieter on the return. Out on Deck for departure.....it was a beautiful day yesterday ( I still have the tan ) I stayed out on Deck for the vast majority of the journey - passing Jersey to the East of the island was absolutely stunning, at one point we could not have been more than a mile or so from the shore and we had slowed right down, I managed to get several photos of the beautiful houses ( how the other half live ) and rocky coves and inlets - I actually thought that perhaps we had slowed deliberately to give passengers a nice view of the island but when I popped over to the starboard side it was clear that we were in a channel avoiding numerous jagged rocks and small islands, absolutely beautiful. Down for lunch before we entered the English Channel ( Chicken & Chips, nothing special but it hit the spot ) - I then changed from island spotting to ship spotting as we crossed the main shipping lanes diagonally.......this gives such a good view of shipping as you approach them and then pass in both directions, it is seldom quiet out there. As I would not arrive home until after 8PM I decided to have dinner on the ship - Lamb ( nice meat but a bit bland if I'm honest, a bit of salt and pepper improved it, raspberry tart and coffee, no wine as I would be driving later ). We had crossed the Channel at quite a good pace but as we approached the Isle Of Wight we slowed to a crawl and did not pick up speed again until we started the sharp turn to port to enter the Solent. With a cruise ship in the distance leaving Southampton we made our way into Portsmouth arriving just before it got fully dark ( Prince Of Wales was at her berth ). Disembarkation last night was a bit of pain, we had to wait quite some time by Reception on Deck 7 before being ushered to the one working lift to the car deck......vehicles were driving off as we got there and eventually the shuttle bus reversed to pick us up. UK immigration was a breeze....as the official checked my passport I asked her if she needed to see any of the paperwork, she said that everything was linked to my passport so I was good to go.......and headed back to the car in the car park before driving home. My judgement is probably being coloured by the fact that I had not been to sea for so long, but it was an absolutely superb trip in spite of the additional cost and slight additional check-in stress hoping that the paperwork was in order ( don't let that put anybody off, just check and double-check what you require depending on your circumstances.......sort out the paperwork and enjoy your trip ). Armorique is a beautiful ship and well looked after internally - the open deck space at the top is great for photography, a few flights of steps to get up there but well worth it.....there are even some benches next to warm air vents, but yesterday as I could feel the sun burning it was also nice to be able to find benches in the shade. Can't wait for the next trip now 😀 Andy
  2. Just to confirm, for anybody who might be interested, foot passengers boarded at 18:15PM. Andy
  3. Hi, Just been looking at my booking for tomorrow evening's sailing to St. Malo and noticed that the boarding time is 18:00, that seems very early but something tells me that I have heard in the past that boarding is earlier on Wednesday's as the ship has been in port all day - anybody know if this is the case please? I was planning on going round the corner to the Ship & Castle for some dinner before boarding but if I can board at 18:00 I will have dinner onboard instead. I will be a foot passenger if that makes any difference. thanks, Andy
  4. I'm travelling to St Malo on Wednesday, coming straight back on Thursday ( can't wait.....first ferry trip in approx. 18 months ). In the email that BF sent me for the Outward sailing a few days ago there was the link to complete the API forma ( which I did ), in the email regarding the return sailing that came this morning from BF there is no mention of the API form, just the passenger locator form ( can't fill that in until Tuesday evening at the earliest ) and the Covid pass requirement to show at check-in in St Malo.......so no need to worry about the API From Rapido640 if you have already filled it in. Andy
  5. Here are full details of the plans for the near future........ Andy Necessary Changes, a message from our CEO Dear All, With a heavy heart, I write today to confirm that further necessary, and regrettable, changes must be made to our schedules for the coming months. In the face of a terrible summer season and faced with weak forward demand for services this autumn, we simply must take further decisive action. This latest round of scheduled changes will be confirmed and implemented within the next week. The aim is to reduce costs as part of the company’s five-year recovery plan. It follows decisions by governments to impose quarantine restrictions on those arriving from Spain, and more recently France. As you may have read in the press, this led to an immediate run on cancellations. Around 65,000 passengers have now cancelled reservations since quarantine measures were announced. We carried virtually no passenger traffic between the months of April and June, as the Covid-19 crisis hit. When we resumed, we had hoped to salvage 350,000 passengers from a summer season that would usually achieve more than double that number. The reality however is that we are unlikely to reach even 200,000 this summer. Passenger traffic accounts for around 75 percent of our income, so our bottom line has been hit hard. It’s why we must continue to take decisive action to reduce our costs to get us through the worst of this unprecedented crisis and to ensure we rebound strongly next year. I should be clear that the company foundations are strong, even as we fight the worst crisis in our history. A robust five-year recovery plan is in place and the good news is that reservations for the 2021 season are strong. Around 100,000 more passengers have reserved a holiday next year, compared with those booking during the same period in 2019. However, in the short term more passengers will be affected by schedule changes. I apologise to all affected customers, and will do all we can to accommodate the disrputed onto alternative sailings. The most significant change for September involves Brittany Ferries ‘Connemara’. Currently serving Cherbourg-Portsmouth and Le Havre-Portsmouth, she will be taken out of service entirely from 7 September. Regrettably this means the closure of the Cherbourg-Portsmouth and Le Havre-Portsmouth routes until further notice. This follows previously advised closure of the St-Malo Portsmouth route, with services terminating from 7 September. Cherbourg-Poole will also remain closed for the remainder of the year, having ceased operations at the end of March and not having resumed in June. The company’s busiest route, Caen-Portsmouth, remains unaffected for the next two months. Normandie and Mont St Michel will continue three daily departures as normal, with Armorique covering each ship’s technical stop in November and December respectively, running in freight-only mode. I hope publication of the full fleet plan for ships and routes (below) will help answer any more of your questions on route changes: CONNEMARA Cherbourg - Portsmouth Le Havre - Portsmouth Laid up from 7 September, no further service on either route until further notice. BRETAGNE St Malo - Portsmouth Laid up from 7 September, no further service until 22nd March. ARMORIQUE Roscoff - Plymouth Laid up from 31 August. From November, Armorique re-enters service on Caen - Portsmouth in freight-only mode, covering technical lay-overs of Normandie and Mont St Michel. She will then be laid up between Jan 2021 and end of March 2021. CAP FINISTÈRE Bilbao - Portsmouth Santander - Portsmouth Service continues until a 3-month technical lay-over, beginning December. PONT-AVEN Portsmouth - Santander Plymouth - Roscoff Plymouth - Santander Roscoff - Cork From 10 September until end of October, three return trips per week on Roscoff to Plymouth. Plus, one weekly Plymouth to Santander sailing per week. And one weekly Roscoff to Cork sailing. BARFLEUR Poole - Cherbourg No resumption of service in 2020. ETRETAT Laid up until further notice. NORMANDIE Caen - Portsmouth Normal service (with technical lay-over in November) continues. MONT ST MICHEL Caen - Portsmouth Normal service (with technical lay-over in December) continues. KERRY Roscoff - Rosslare Rosslare - Bilbao No Roscoff – Rosslare service from 1 September. Rosslare – Bilbao continues as normal. NORMANDIE EXPRESS Cherbourg - Portsmouth Fast craft seasonal summer service. PELICAN Bilbao - Poole (freight-only) Normal freight-only service continues. GALICIA UK - Spain Enters service in December 2020. Again, with these changes, we will contact you if you are affected. It will take time, but we will be in touch. These necessary changes are a very sad reflection of the times in which we live but they are also indicative of a company that knows that it must take decisive action to safeguard its future and ensure it is able to serve its people, communities and regions long into the future. I, like many of you, look forward to that future with hope and confidence. Yours Christophe Mathieu CEO Brittany Ferries
  6. After the news regarding quarantine yesterday I decided to cancel ( was due to sail next week ) , actually they would not let me cancel as they are still running to schedule but have re-booked at no charge to December for now and will see how things pan out. To be honest I was beginning to get quite concerned as I had been reading the information regarding the Amsterdam bus transfer on the DFDS website...........it says that only 1 bus will be running per day "at 100% capacity according to Dutch regulations" - I really can't see the point of all of the social distancing measures onboard only to cram us onto a fully occupied bus in Amsterdam?
  7. I have just treated myself to a mini-cruise in August, have paid by credit card which should give some protection if there is another lockdown. I travelled on a heritage stem railway this week ( my other passion after travelling by sea ) and was very impressed by how it was run and all of the social distancing measures in place....which provided protection without spoiling the experience. This seems to be the only option open for foot passenger sea travel at the moment. Even though I have faith in DFDS to provide safe measures for travelling ( otherwise I would not book ) I will definitely be taking antibac wipes to wipe down all surfaces, handles etc etc in the cabin....only takes a few minutes and gives some additional peace of mind. Apparently occupancy levels will be a fraction of normal, dinner is buffet only ( limited choice ) and served by the crew so as not to use serving spoons etc. touched by other passengers. Andy
  8. Indeed, and important to note that this is a complete and permanent closure, not a suspension. Andy
  9. Stena Line Closes the Oslo-Frederikshavn Route Permanently Coronavirus and travel restrictions imposed by Norway and Denmark created a drastic decline in travel bookings on the Stena Line Oslo - Frederikshavn route. On Thursday 19 March the decision was made to permanently close the route after more than 40 years in operation. The decision means Stena Line will close their office in Oslo which will affect 30 shore-based employees. The 1981-built ferry STENA SAGA is currently in lay up in its port of registry, Gothenburg.
  10. Just heard that DFDS have temporarily suspended the Oslo - Copenhagen service due to coronovirus, probably due to the new border restrictions imposed by both Norway and Denmark. Andy
  11. Stunning video showing the recent life extension refit - well worth a watch. Andy
  12. Honestly, this is the best news that I have read for some time - I took a mini-cruise last week on the King thinking it would be the last time......I was enjoying walking around the decks and sitting at the stern watching the prop-wash and thinking what a shame that I would not be able to experience this in the future, the deck space on the Moby ships looked much more limited with far fewer places to shelter from cold breezes - I am probably in the minority but I see no reason to change the ships, they suit the route perfectly. Andy
  13. New ships on Newcastle Ijmuiden from early next year, press release below - New Amsterdam-Newcastle Ferries To Create More Value For Passengers And Freight Customers DFDS has entered into an agreement with Moby to acquire the two ro-pax ferries MOBY WONDER and MOBY AKI, for the purpose of raising the customer experience and the capacity for both passengers and freight customers on the Amsterdam-Newcastle route. The ferries are built in 2001 and 2005, respectively. Moby will in turn acquire the two passenger ferries currently operating on Amsterdam-Newcastle — KING SEAWAYS and PRINCESS SEAWAYS, built in 1987 and 1986, respectively. “The new ferries are ideally suited for our Amsterdam-Newcastle route. Their modern onboard facilities and higher car-deck capacity will allow us to grow revenue by fulfilling the growing demand from high-yield car passengers. To freight customers, we will be able to offer increased capacity that can remain constant throughout the year”, says Peder Gellert Pedersen, EVP and Head of DFDS’ Ferry Division. The agreement is expected to be completed in the second half of October 2019. DFDS will subsequently bareboat-charter King Seaways and Princess Seaways from Moby until January and February 2020, respectively. Meanwhile, the acquired ferries from Moby will be refurbished to suit the Amsterdam-Newcastle route. This includes commercial and technical investments on board as well as port investments. The refurbished ferries are expected to be deployed on Amsterdam-Newcastle during the first quarter of 2020. The freight capacity will increase around 40% on a full-year basis. The car capacity will increase around 5% on a full-year basis supported by a cabin configuration that is well suited to the requirements of holiday-makers travelling by car. In 2018, Amsterdam-Newcastle carried more than 600,000 passengers, 122,000 passenger vehicles and 350,000 lane metres of freight. The capacity increase will provide an opportunity to accommodate further growth in trade and travel, including a large tourism flow, between UK and Continental Europe. Renewal supports WIN23 strategy and ambitions In June 2019, DFDS launched the WIN23 strategy driven by four strategic pillars. The renewal of Amsterdam-Newcastle is a key part of the fourth pillar: Creating more value for passengers. “I’m very pleased to already be able tick off an important milestone of our WIN23 strategy. We now have a strong set-up to continue to grow the route”, says Torben Carlsen, CEO of DFDS. Revised outlook 2019 The expected completion in October 2019 of the sale of the two ferries is estimated to entail an accounting profit of around DKK 100m to be recognised under Special items in Q4 2019. The full-year outlook for Special items is thus increased to DKK 70m from previously DKK -30m. The investment in the renewal, including proceeds from the sale of Princess Seaways and King Seaways, is expected to amount to around DKK 1.0bn of which DKK 650m is expected to be paid in 2019. The remaining DKK 350m is expected to be paid in 2020. The investment includes a substantial investment in refurbishment. The investment outlook for 2019 is therefore changed to around DKK 3.4bn from previously DKK 2.8bn. (Press release DFDS) MOBY WONDER Built 2001 by Daewoo LOA 174m GT 36,093 Pax 1880 (1190 in cabins) Lane metres 1950 Cars 665 MOBY AKI Built 2005 by Fincantieri LOA 175m GT 36,400 Pax 2080 Lane metres 1950 Cars 710
  14. Crumbs, did not intend commenting on the bread roll situation again as I was afraid of coming up with a half-baked joke, so now back to loafing around on my PC and trying to forget that the triangular rolls are now toast. Andy
  15. I was on MSM from Caen last night, she arrived just ahead of us ( we turned at the port entrance ( near to where QE berthed ) to save time while she was turning into the berth), we had to wait for the shore crew to finish with the Cap before they could take of us, we were around 15 - 20 minutes late berthing due to this - glad I was a foot passenger, with Etretat having just arrived from Le Havre, Cap arriving late and MSM all arriving with minutes of each other it was utter chaos for the poor car drivers, just a mass of queuing traffic. Andy
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