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den herraghty

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Everything posted by den herraghty

  1. P.S. Just noticed the last bit of your post. 27 although I should have gone for the 'bonus' 😢
  2. Back in my distant past I was a booking office clerk for Western SMT then Clydeside Scottish at their depot in Paisley and frequently engaged (during the summer months!) in booking our popular Day Coach Tours. One of these was the 'Trossachs and Aberfoyle' tour which, in it's description, mentioned the Lake. As stated we had been taught that there was only one lake in Scotland and only found out reasonably exactly where it was due to this tour. Never actually got on it though!🤣 Den
  3. Cabin Boy I was responding to this 'bonus question' offered by Neilcvx. In the original quiz (completed the day afterwards) I achieved 22 points. Also, in accordance with time honoured BFE pedant tradition. it's locH not lock. Non Celtic/Gaelic speakers can try using the 'ch' sound from church or 'chucking up my guts on NEX to make it topical 😆 Den
  4. Don't know where you got the idea I was cheating!. I commented on my nationality as every Scottish school child (although I am a waaaay past that stage of life) is taught the there is only one lake in Scotland.Den
  5. 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿 Cabin-boy - I'm Scottish 😀😀😀🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿
  6. As no-one else has answered - Lake of Menteith near Aberfoyle! How many extra points do I get?
  7. Am I the only who can't see the Villandry/Valencay video?
  8. Guys, Thanks for taking the time to read my report and for all the welcome comments. Sorry about the fubar at the start - don't know how that happened...... Looking forward to the Galicia/Salamander trip opportunities. Den
  9. ’ve wanted to sample Cap Finistere since she joined the fleet but, as we all know on this site, it’s well nigh impossible to do so as a footie - until this winter. Hi! I My day off falls on a Thursday two weeks out of three so the initial intention was to travel on the 4 December sailing out to Le Havre and back using the excellent BFE offer. Keeping a weather eye on the strike/disruption threads (sorry about the pun!) I decided to hold off a week until I saw how the situation panned out. In either instance I would need to take some lieu time to get to Portsmouth International Port in time for the 14.30 sailing and, having explained the situation, my manager was happy to be flexible about the date. As we all know my original sailing was cancelled “due to weather” so the plan worked. I booked a two berth outside cabin for the sum of £ 74.20 and was allocated 8030 for both sailings. All I had to do now was wait and hope that the forecasted weather wouldn’t spoil my eagerly anticipated trip. My journey to work at 05 dark o’clock on the morning of the 11th confirmed that it was, indeed, windy. I had checked AIS before going to bed the previous evening which indicated CF was on her way and due into Portsmouth roughly on time. Newer colleagues didn’t believe that I was spending all that time/money just to get on a particular ship - sigh! - some people never learn….. The X4 from Fareham dropped me at the Rudmore Roundabout conveniently in between showers and I was quickly checked in. Onwards to the shop for reading materiel - and a wait while the assistant finished her conversation with a port worker - and the Costa Coffee counter which was quite busy. I really wanted a beer to pass the time but on a previous visit I had waited at the bar and was told to join the Costa queue - guess what……...beer in hand - after re-positioning to the “World Marchee” counter - I chilled out for a little while. The area marked ‘Bar’ was firmly shuttered. My relaxation was interrupted by a ferocious five minute squall (with hailstones) which was both loud and impressive! Embarkation was called a little early and security was interesting. It would appear that Le Havre footies are a suspicious lot as, having passed through the archway successfully, we (all 11 of us) were then manually searched - my rolled up sleeve causing particular concern! Once onboard the transfer bus we drove past the open, welcoming ramp of CF and onwards to the gangway tower for the 14.45 Caen service. Some swift tooting from a BF service vehicle and a radio conversation later we were dropped off on the correct ship! Up the escalators and I passed by the passengers leaving luggage to my cabin on 8 deck. I had hardly reached 8030 when the welcome and safety announcements were being made (by a most calm and reassuring male voice) and I noticed that we had started to move - 30 minutes ahead of schedule. Anyone who has read my reports before knows that I like to be on the outer decks with a beer when sailing, so it was a quick hike to the Planets Bar on 7 deck for said libation before heading to the rather wet open area aft on 9 deck. Here I “toasted” HM Ships Queen Elizabeth and Prince of Wales - one of the first times both vessels had been in Portsmouth together. QE had a Merlin helicopter ranged on deck which seemed to be doing engineering trials. Departure done further exploring is required and the starboard side access to 10 deck is closed. A comment in another thread enquired if the outer areas on 9/10 deck were closed for the winter however the port side access to 10 deck was open and the cafe was too. A couple of hot meals were on offer but I decided to give the rather cold looking steward a reason for being there and had another pint. He joined me a few minutes later looking wistfully at BDS riding at anchor in St Helen’s Roads - kind of like he was wishing he was on her. Back into warmer areas and more exploration. Restaurant du Port didn’t open until 17.30, Petit Marche supplied me with some refreshments to keep me going and it was off to bed in a deliciously lumpy sea for a couple of hours! Arriving at the restaurant I was warmly welcomed, opted for the beef burger with stilton (negative stilton) for dinner, a nice bottle of wine with good service to complete the experience. Le Havre was reached on schedule and, after a short wait at reception on 7 deck it was down to the car deck and the bus to the terminal. Thankfully the foot passenger arrival experience has improved since my last visit when it was “off ship - up stairs to the P+O aerial gangway - along gangway to immigration - down to ground level et vv”. Now it’s on a bus - immigration - exit to the delights of Le Havre on a December night. Speaking of which I had a wander into the city. I did fancy a quick ‘pression’ but I found myself looking into the two bars I came across somewhat similar to an urchin in a Charles Dickens’ novel. Whilst people seemed to be enjoying themselves - they weren’t for me so I returned to the port and the brightly lit CF. Departing Le Havre was much of a ‘lesse faire’ experience. Border Control turn up, check passport, no security, on bus, on board - simples!. Departure beer was from the ‘Finisterre’ midships on 7 deck for a slightly late departure. Once outside the harbour it was time for bed. Scheduled arrival in Portsmouth was 07.15 so the announcement around about then that we had been delayed ‘due to congestion at the port’ and apologies etc…. was a welcome one. Alongside just after 08.00 there were several BF HI-VIS jacketed personnel being briefed whilst I had a ‘petit formule’ in the Finisterre bar. Called down to Reception on 7 deck about five minutes later - we had to wait for about twenty minutes before we could disembark. Bus to terminal and a firmly closed arrivals hall. Eleven (again!) of us waited until Border Force personnel turned up and were closely scrutinised by personnel (BF - why have you spent two hours in France; ME - because I wanted ’to go on CF’; further questioning and I was let go.) I’ve been on four ‘Superfasts’ now. One from Rosyth - Zeebrugge with the cruise experience (evacuation drills etc) and StenaSuperfast VII/VIII from Cairnryan (Stenafied) and I don’t think I would want to cruise to Spain on this ship. Admittedly it was off season, a route it doesn’t normally operate on but!!!!!!!!!!! Good to have another ship to my collection! Thanks for reading and comments are always welcome! Den
  10. HHV Thanks for your comments. I have indeed got it wrong about the restaurant on Tycho Brahe (as well as her nationality!) I've just checked the FORSEA website and the restaurant I saw advertised in the terminal was LAT 56 (Hamlet). Really sorry about getting your hopes up that TB's restaurant had re-opened. As for Moby Corse, I'll remember that information for next year. Thanks again Yours Aye Den
  11. Gardian Done! See Voyage reports and I appreciate feedback as always Den
  12. At the request of another member here's an expanded version of my recent post in Other Ferries I’m just finishing a week off work and, as usual, did some travelling. I didn’t have any “must do’s” on my list - apart from maybe travelling on Moby Corse. I know she has a limited season so wasn’t too surprised when I couldn’t find her on the Moby timetable. Next idea was ferry hopping on the Konnigsee criss-crossing between Germany and Italy - but I couldn’t find flights that suited me so I decided to pursue my second favourite hobby flying! I’ve got enough points already this year to keep my status with British Airways so I could look around and fly something different. First up was LEVEL - one of the low cost IAG offshoots - to Vienna. This was thwarted as they decided to cancel the route from the end of August - meh!! As a result, some searching lead me to finding one of those offers which you have to look twice at and try to find out what the catch is. This was with Turkish Airlines from VIE to the Nordic capitals for £ 145 one way in economy (I know - I had to look up what that means) and worked the other way as well which was more suitable. Flying from Copenhagen offered the choice of two wide bodied aircraft and and a 2h30 minute transfer time in the new Istanbul airport which is why I found myself on a Norwegian Air International Boeing 738-800 conducting a bumpy landing into Copehagen Kastrup and the basis for this report. I had no firm plans for my afternoon and evening in Copenhagen but knew that this would be the only opportunity to get some ferries in. Quickly through border formalities and on to the rail station I found that I had missed the hourly Oresundtag through train to Helsingborg so made my way to Malmo Central to see what I could pick up there. Sweden has re-introduced border controls when travelling to the country and on-board announcements indicate this - although there were no checks carried out in my carriage. There was a Swedish Railways high speed train (SJ Snabbtag) departing 20 minutes after I arrived which gave me a chance to look round this rejuvenated station. The first time I was there it was very much run down and not a welcoming arrival into the country. Now it is thriving with several restaurants/shops and a lively vibrant feel. A comfortable journey ensued (aided by a beer from the Bistro) and I was soon alighting at Helsingborg transport interchange. FORSEA is the current operating name for the twenty minute crossing to Denmark. There are three passenger carrying ferries:- Aurora af Helsingborg/Tycho Brahe (Swedish Register) and Hamlet (Danish Register - not unsurprisingly). All three are near sisters and the two Swedish vessels have a battery capability as advertised by large decals on the hull. There was a fourth freight only ferry - one of the Superflex class. During my crossings the vehicle decks seemed to be full. For such a short crossing the vessels are very well equipped with a full service restaurant, cafe, truckers lounge, bar and duty free area. Tobacco sales are only permitted in the first ten minutes of sailing from Helsingborg; alcohol in the last ten (obviously the other way round on the return!). When I last travelled on the route (in the Scandline era) they advertised a lunch cruise so I enquired about this at the ticket office and was issued with a ticket costing 168 SEK. The normal return costs 95 SEK so its quite a good deal. Adjacent to the booking office in the terminal are notices indicating service times on board each of the vessels (although the one for Hamlet was missing). Midweek Aurora has ‘Waves’ restaurant open from 12.00 - with enhanced times on Tycho at the weekend. Fortunately Aurora was the next departure. Embarkation is via a dedicated Passenger Access system onto the main passenger deck. Paper tickets are clipped whilst regular travellers utilise a swipe card reader. ‘Waves’ is situated on the upper passenger deck at the ‘Danish’ end of the ship with a seperate bar adjacent to the entrance. Warmly welcomed I was shown to a table overlooking the ‘bow’ and introduced to my Italian born stewardess. I was offered the choice of the buffet or a la carte menu. When I explained that I had the buffet ticket and, presumably only one round trip to use it on, I was delighted to be told that I had as long as I wanted and to relax and enjoy the trip(s), So bottle of wine ordered I settled down for two round trips by watching the passenger only ‘Perilla’ of Sundbusserne pitch her way across the sound. Both of my crossings were interspersed with heavy squalls and the occasional wave breaking over the harbour walls. As well as myself, there were three other parties in the restaurant. An extended family adjacent to me, a group of four senior citizens and a large group having a celebration. When I asked if it was worth having the restaurant open I was told that this had been an exceptionally quiet day and that at weekends they were normally full. The buffet itself seemed a little uninspiring - that may be because I joined the ship at 14.10 two hours into service and the other diners were using the a la carte service - but there was the usual Nordic selection of cold cuts; salmon and dill sauce; fried fillets of fish; a meat option - not entirely what it was though! - potatoes/veg; brie and a rather moreish cake. Two questions here:- Are you supposed to eat Brie with the ‘skin ‘ on and is three pieces of cake ‘just to make sure I like it’ too many? The ‘thumps’ of the ship meeting the waves on the departures from Denmark were more pronounced - enough to make the glassware and crockery rattle - and the movement gave me that warm, fuzzy feeling of being at home. (I spent 20 odd years on and off afloat and just love being in a ship in lumpy seas). During the call in Helsingor the food had been cleared away and my stewardess enquired if I wanted another bottle of wine - stating that the buffet would be upgraded after 17.00. At 285 SEK a time I politely declined and settled my bill. As we arrived in to Helsingborg I noted that the Hamlet was still alongside when we should have met her in mid channel, the vessel being ten minutes late on a twenty minute frequency. Disembarkation was swift and the Border Control point was closed so it was another hassle free entry into Sweden. Twenty minutes later and the ticket machine had relieved me of 56 SEK for my final crossing of the day. Foot passenger wise this was rather quiet - but the vehicle deck was full. A sub one hour train trip and I was back in Copenhagen for a night stop and my eagerly anticipated Turkish Airlines flights. I hope you have enjoyed reading this, that it was not tooooo long and may have given you some travel ideas! Den
  13. During a quick flying trip of Europe (LGW - CPH -IST -VIE [TRAIN] -BTS -LTN I had time to sample the FORSEA service between Helsingborg and Helsingor. Having been there before I knew there was a Lunjss Kryss available.and after paying 168 SEK (less than £ 20) at the ticket office I was off on a double round trip on M/F Aurora af Helsingborg. The ticket allows you to have offerings from the buffet (in my case smoked salmon, dill sauce; double helpings of fried fish (I'm Scottish.....) potatoes and a dessert. Coffee and wine (extra) made a pleasant couple of hours out. Happily (for me) all the crossings were a little bit bumpy😀 The other vessels (Tycho Brahe/Hamlet) offer the same but on a limited - evening -basis. If you get the chance do it! You can spend (most of the day )sailing between the two with this ticket! Den
  14. Really sad to hear about this. Whilst serving in HMS Broadsword, taking part in the peace keeping operations off the Balkan Coast in 1993-94, he organised a variety show which visited all of the RN/RFA ships involved. Some of my younger colleagues didn't (initially) understand the ethos of it - but were all on their feet singing, dancing and thoroughly enjoying themselves at the end. A great loss to the Naval community Den
  15. Cabin Boy A quick update - I also post on the Ships of CalMac Forum and StewartM on there very kindly let me use these links which might give you a better idea of 'TEXELSTROOM':- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0rKOm2QxQ8E&t= https://www.shippingtandy.com/features/texelstroom/ In the video - when the reporter is interviewing by the tree - that is roughly half way down the vessel so lookng into the background might give you an idea how big she is.(Hope you're fluent in Dutch!) Den
  16. Thank you very much guys - I really appreciate both of you taking time to comment (and those who liked). Ed - unforunately not. I've yet to drag myself into the smart phone age. I've taken your very welcome comment onboard and future reports will have some. Den
  17. Hi! As promised here is the follow up to my recent Ameland report:- I’m back in Leeuwarden ready to commence the second phase of this short break - the Texel ferry. At the start of planning for this section, I went for the lazy option and just looked on the Dutch Railways website (NS.nl) for the solution. The journey time to Den Helder would take about four and a half hours and require me to re-trace my steps all the way to Amsterdam Centraal for a connection. That’s not good – not good at all! Second choice then would be by bus - how long would that take? Not long is the answer! Arriva operate most of the local bus and trains in Noord Holland so I paid a visit to their site. With one change I could be in Den Helder in 1 hour 45 minutes…sounds good. I double checked on the 9292.nl website (the Dutch equivalent of Traveline) and it confirmed this. My only concern was the one minute advertised connection – miss this and I would have an hour to wait in a bus station in a town I have never heard off - hmmm! The one thing in my favour is that I’m not travelling in the UK and The Netherlands do integrated transport really rather well. It nearly all went wrong much earlier than that – here in Leeuwaarden in fact!. Whilst topping up my OV-Chipkaart I noticed that my first bus – the 350 to Alkmaar – would leave in 20 minutes and not the 25 I expected. I checked the printed timetable at the stop and it said 16.15 also – not 16.10. My anticipated coffee and bite to eat was in jeopardy – further threatened by the festival crowd pouring out of the station as I was trying to get in. I made it though and we left on time - let the adventure begin. This journey involves taking the Arriva 350 service to Alkmaar along a dijk to Den Oevers where I join a Connexxion 135 service to Den Helder. My uneasiness begins almost immediately as I cannot see ‘Den Oevers’ mentioned on the onboard electronic route display. The feeling grows as we turn of the main road and down some single tracks until we reach the bus station at the head of the dijk. Here we wait several minutes until four other buses arrive before setting off at some pace. It goes up another notch when, with five minutes to the connection, we get held up in a traffic jam at the end of the dijk…….. then the welcome voice announcing ‘Den Oevers busstation ‘ is heard – but would we still make it? The ‘bus station’ in question consists of an abandoned office/waiting room; five bus stops on a tear-drop shaped piece of concrete; an inbound service 350 and … nothing else. Happily a two tone green bus appears a few minutes later and speeds me to Den Helder. A lot of worrying for nothing! Safely arrived it’s time to find my hotel – the Lands’ End – located at the ferry port. It’s a good 20 minute walk although I deviate via the floating bridge, through the rejuvenated quayside area – now full of restaurants/coffee shops etc. – and part of the Royal Netherlands Navy Museum. Along the way there are the impressive sights of the superstructure of a Dutch frigate on shore and a Dutch submarine appearing out of the side of a building. I bet the Navigating Officer got into a lot of trouble for that! Carefully picking my way across the traffic lanes to the hotel I’m quickly checked in and find my room. As a single traveller I’m used to being allocated inferior rooms (overlooking air conditioning units/car parks etc) so I am extremely pleased to find I have a stunning view over the Texel Sound and, more importantly, can almost touch the TESO ferries as they sail! Saturday 18th August Following a very good nights sleep - and breakfast on a terrace looking out at a ferry seemingly steaming straight at you! - it’s a short walk past the double deck vehicle infrastructure to the terminal building and the automated passenger ticket machines. These pointedly refuse both my debit and credit card as payment – however there is a manned desk for groups and the friendly assistant there has no problem in relieving me of € 2.50 (return) for the 20 minute sailing. (My local ferry – Gosport Ferry now charge £ 3.60 return for a 4 minute sailing!) Texels Eigen Stoomboot Onderneming (thankfully shortened to TESO) was founded in 1907 by Dr. Adriaan Wagemaker the islands’ General Practitioner. The company has grown over the intervening years and now operate the ‘TEXELSTROOM’ (the current flagship) and ‘DOKTER WAGEMAKER (2)’ on this short twenty minute crossing. The company has a third vessel ‘SCHULPENGAT’ which is currently laid up at ’t Horntje on the southern tip of the island where the vessels dock. ‘DW’ does not display the (2) suffix. During peak periods the company operates every thirty minutes at :00 and :30 from both ports, reverting to an hourly :30 ex Den Helder and :00 from Texel when quieter – these being operated, normally, by ‘TEXELSTROOM’. Today I’m looking forward to my first trip on ‘DOKTER WAGEMAKER’ operating the 10.00 sailing. It’s Saturday in high summer so naturally the sailing is busy but the vessel has no trouble in swallowing the mass of cars, cyclists and (not so many) footies in it’s ten minute turn round. Once on board, and up a set of stairs, to the main passenger lounge I find myself more excited than I should be. I mean – it’s not my first ferry for goodness sake – but it is my first revolving door on a ferry. YES you did read ‘revolving door’ and ‘ferry’ in one sentence! Actually there are four of them in all leading into the large passenger area which has plenty of natural light, provided by both the large windows and the glass atrium amidships. It’s here that the catering facilities for the 1700 possible passengers are located (port side on this crossing) consisting of two self service counters separated by a small shop area. Available here are the usual items – postcards, Texel mementos, confectionery and models of ‘TEXELSTROOM’ but not this ship. My departure beer became a post departure one – we had already sailed while I was looking at the shop – and I had exploring to do. Heading forward there’s ample seating around tables on both sides, with additional seating in the middle as you head towards the large panoramic windows at the front. The bench style seating here is thoughtfully staggered so everyone gets a view. By the time I had done all of this we were already approaching Texel and the thought struck me that “if it has taken me this long on the smaller vessel, would I have time to do everything on her bigger running mate?” The recorded announcement informed foot passengers to disembark via the right hand side if they required bus transportation – so I headed over to the exit which is when this happened: Dogs are freely allowed (on a leash) in the passenger lounge and I had witnessed several sniffing the decks during the crossing. One dog duly did so and, seemingly overcome with excitement, decided to do a wee as the door was in mid revolve! Cue one embarrassed owner and several passengers stepping carefully. Safely alongside the automatic doors open and it’s off down the stairs to the bus stance. Here Texelhopper offers two types of service – the scheduled line 28 (normal size bus) and the pre-bookable mini bus service. Line 28 serves Den Burg (the islands capital) and De Koog which is a popular holiday spot on the North coast of the island. It takes about 10 minutes to reach Den Burg bus stand and a few minutes walk in to the centre. This is much larger than Nes with a better selection of shops (including national chains) and a full range of restaurants/cafes. One of the most interesting things was some of the buildings had their build date in wrought iron on the outside- some of them dated back to the early 1600’s. It is also very busy but I eventually find somewhere to eat, have a beer and people watch. This is when I realise that there is something different here – hardly any of the men wear beards! They’re everywhere in the UK – but here (and I continued my observations all the way to Schiphol) they are few and far between. I return to ’t Horntje in plenty of time for the arrival of the ‘TEXELSTROOM’ for her 15.00 sailing. It’s turned a little bit autumnal in the last hour or so and there’s a stiff breeze blowing. Despite this, and her size, she berths easily and I’m at the front of the queue for boarding as I reckon I’ll need every second on board to look round. I know she is big – but wow! If I peer hard enough I can just about see the windows at the other end. Okay just a little bit of exaggeration – but honestly just a little. The cafes are to starboard this time and are larger than on ‘DOKTER WAGEMAKER’. There’s no dedicated shop here but the customary items are displayed along the divider between the servery area and the main lounge. Yet again my beer is a post departure one as we’ve loaded and sailed in the length of time it’s taken me to get halfway along the ship. As before there is a light and airy feel on board – but I didn’t notice an atrium. Before long we’re approaching Den Helder and the free bus to the station and my onward train to Schiphol My only disappointment of the day was at Schiphol where I discovered that my eagerly anticipated flight on a PrivatAir aircraft would not happen as it had gone technical and been substituted by a BA one – meh! Summary All in all it’s been a good trip. Four new ferries, one new island, lots of postcards, good food and weather. With hindsight, whilst writing this report, I think I should have done a round trip on each of the vessels so that a better overview could have been given. It does give you an excuse, however, to go and try the ships for yourself. If you do stay at the Lands’ End make sure you take a camera as there are some fantastic photo opportunities to be had. Travel Information The easiest way to travel is using an OV-Chipkaart, which is a nationwide touch in/out card (think Oyster but on a larger scale) and available at any NS station for a cost of € 7.50. Most buses don’t accept cash – but will take debit/credit cards. On that subject I had some refusals with my Visa card in a couple of places so take a back up. I used the following sites for planning:- NS.nl; Arriva,nl; 9292.nl; wpd.nl; teso.nl They all have pages in English but I found the Arriva site didn’t function as it should. I hope you have enjoyed this bit of rambling on! As always – comments and questions are welcome Den
  18. Thanks guys - it means a lot! Tumnus - did you travel on the older twins or these two? Den
  19. Mods - if this is in the wrong place please move. I've just completed some trips on the ferries of Wadenborg (Waddensea) and TESO (Texel). Here's the first report:- My line manager has a somewhat ‘relaxed’ approach in producing our six weekly shift rota which is why, for the second time this year, I find my self making last minute plans. As I like to combine both of my passions (ferrying and flying) whenever I can it’s a bit more challenging this time as my week off is in the middle of August – height of the school holiday season. The flying part is to the forefront this time as I only need one return Club Class flight with British Airways to keep my silver status for another year and, as some of their Gatwick flights are being operated by leased in aircraft, this is where my search begins. A reasonably priced Amsterdam flight is chosen as the outbound on the thursday will be operated by Titan Airways with the return on saturday evening operated by PrivatAir – both on Boeing 737’s. Flying sorted – now for the ferrying. The island of Texel was the obvious choice (as it was the closest to Schiphol) but I needed something more challenging. The islands of the Wadden Sea in North Holland beckoned as I knew they were reasonably easy to get to – I had a trip to Terschelling last year – and some research revealed that Ameland was served by two vessels from Holwerd. Sorted! Thursday 16th August After a good night’s sleep in the Travelodge Central close to Gatwick, I had one of my quickest ever transits through check-in, security and in to the Lounge. (Luckily it wasn’t a week later when the departure screen system crashed causing chaos). My reward was a glass of ‘good’ champagne, rather than the normal offering of Castelnau, along with my breakfast. En route to the departure gate my heart sank a little as I couldn’t see a Titan Airways plane. I think they have one of the more interesting liveries around (see here) so it shouldn’t be too difficult to spot. Further investigation revealed an all white aircraft parked by the stand – yep its mine. It’s a relatively short flight today which makes the service a little hurried for the CSM who’s looking after the eight of us in Club. At Schiphol it’s a loooong walk from the ‘D’ gate arrival area to immigration – where the automatic gates are firmly tensa barriered off – and through to the railway station for my onward travel to Leeuwaarden and Holwerd. For a mid afternoon departure the train seems to be very busy – this was not the advice that the NS.nl website had displayed when I checked the times – and only got busier as we headed north. I found out on arrival that there was a ‘Cultural Festival’ taking place over the next few days which would also explain the high prices/lack of availability of hotels in the town. Arriva route 66 provides the connection to the Ameland ferry at Holwerd and is advertised s a ‘schnelldienst’ (fast service). The driver tonight certainly took this to heart and as a challenge! About half an hour later we arrived at the ferry terminal and this is where I discovered that I should have got off 4 km earlier when the vehicle had circled into a bus stop…….kindly the driver let me travel back once the ferry had arrived – which was running 30 mins late. A common occurrence judging by his obvious disgust! Holwerd Provinciaalweg is the stop for the town. It is eerily quiet as I try to find my hotel. I get the feeling that, if it was a village in Britain, curtains would be most certainly be twitching! I’m fortunate to arrive just before the kitchen closes (20.00) or it would have been a hungry night. Friday 17th August The small hotel I stayed in offered a simple breakfast and ‘let yourself out’ policy this morning. With half an hour to spare before the bus, I wandered around the very quiet town providing some excitement for a bored small child – who ran to get his dad to look at the stranger! I stopped at the church where I discovered a small Commonwealth War Graves plot containing five graves. One is clearly marked with the RAF insignia, the other four were unfamiliar. Not wishing to walk across other peoples resting places I duly paid my respects from the path. An internet search on my return revealed that the four were RNZAF crew (all aged 23) and, along with the RAF crewman, were from bombers shot down over the Wadden Zee. There is also a monument to a resistance fighter. A gentler bus ride takes me down to the ferry terminal. This is reasonably well appointed with a large shop (marketed as Wagenborg Plaza) and an adjacent panoramic restaurant. Tickets are only issued on the mainland and cost € 15 return. Access to the ship is by electronic gate – but – there’s no need to hurry as the vessel is late again. This gives me the opportunity to monitor her progress from Ameland. A twisting buoyed channel is evident and she can be seen slowly moving her way along it, the shallow water not assisting her progress. The vessel is due to depart at 09.30 but she doesn’t get alongside until then which is when the efficient disembarkation/embarkation comes into play. Footies have separate gangways onto the main passenger deck, situated below the car deck in true Wadden Sea style. Cyclists join along with the vehicles. There are a lot of us today – but nothing the ships’ 1200 capacity can’t handle and we sail 20 minutes late at 09.50. I’m on the ‘OERD’ for this sailing which, along with her near sister ‘SIER’, provide an hourly service in the high season. Operated by Rederij Wagenborg she is the younger of the two coming into service in 2003 – her sister predating her by eight years. Both replace ships of the same name, these being moved eastwards to the company’s Lauwersoog – Schiermonnikoog service. They are augmented by a schnelldienst (MS Fostaborg – 44 seats) and a bookable water taxi . Crossing times are advertised as 50/25/15 mins respectively with a supplement payable for the hi-speed craft. I forego my traditional departure beer on this occasion as both of the café counters have long queues and make my way up to the small side deck above the car deck. The loading is just being completed with freight vehicles occupying one of the middle lanes and some smart positioning by the deck crew allows a couple of extra cars on board. As we leave, ‘Fostaborg’ arrives and ‘SIER’ has made good progress on her journey to the mainland. I’ve moved up to the sun deck which gives a greater appreciation of how much the channel meanders and indeed the depth of water is quite shallow. As we twist our way along, ‘SIER’ passes slowly on our starboard side whilst ‘Fostaborg’ does a very close high speed pass to port. A photographer does a very good job of capturing both craft! Time to explore. As well as outdoor seating the Sun Deck has a functional lounge, directly under the bridge, offering a variety of vending machines. The ice cream one is doing good trade today. Descending three sets of stairs brings me to the main passenger accommodation which, although below the car deck, is still above the waterline. It looks quite modern and has natural light from large windows. To starboard, on this particular sailing, is the mirror image café counters. The large queues have now dissipated and only the after section is open for service. A good selection of drinks is supplemented with hot snacks and main dishes and - more importantly – beer! Okay – it’s only Heineken and not one of the island brews but it does the job. The steward who serves me is probably the tallest I’ve ever seen on a ship. Although the lounge is fairly busy there are still some seats free and, of course, there’s always the lower deck to try out. There are some stylish and quirky round tables (with toadstool style seating) adjacent to the counters with traditional style seating throughout the rest of the area. To one side are the clearly marked entry and exit points for both ports and the whole deck has an airy, open plan style as the toilets are located at either end of the lounge on the deck below. The lighting down there is an odd mixture of white and ultra violet fluorescent which gives it a calming/soothing – but slightly weird –ambience. The deckheads above the stairwells to this lounge feature a ‘starlit night’ effect and provide an additional opulent touch. A look at my watch tells me that we should be approaching the end of our journey however the view out of the windows show that we are still some way away. In all it takes us 1 hr 10 mins to complete the journey and ‘OERD’ berths in Nes at 11.00 – when she should have been halfway back to Holwerd. She discharges reasonably quickly and sets sail again at 11.20, a delay she won’t make up later in the day. Indeed ‘SIER’ is already on her approach as she sails. Nes is the main port on the island and it is an easy 15 min stroll to the town. As well as the ferry terminal (a very much simpler affair than Holwerd) there are three different companies offering sightseeing cruises, a marina with a large variety of vessels and a workboat pontoon. There are bus services– operated by full size electrically powered vehicles –to take you to other parts of the island. The walk takes you past the ubiquitous bike hire facility, the VVV (tourist office) and then into the town. Like most island capitals, it’s quite small and compact but with just the right amount of shops/restaurants to keep you entertained for a couple of hours. Which it did! I made my way back to the port to catch the 14.00 sailing of ‘SIER’ (the departure times change in the afternoon) via the VVV office so that I could pick up a couple of fridge magnets for colleagues at work (Honest!!!!). The assistant was intrigued by my Scottish accent and was pleased that someone had come that far to see her island. I admitted that I had only travelled from Hampshire – but she was still impressed. By the time I reached the ferry terminal, ‘OERD’ was just completing loading for her 13.00 sailing, still a hefty 40 odd minutes late. I have a seat in the ‘no frills’ terminal and await the arrival of my vessel. There’s not a great deal of footies for this sailing – but still a healthy load for the car deck. Familiar with the layout I head straight for the café and my departure beer. This safely in hand it’s off to the sun deck which is now living up to its name (it was a bit overcast on the outward). A short blast on the ships’ siren indicates that we are about to depart and gets a startled dog barking for Britain The Netherlands. We leave the island in brilliant sunshine soon beginning our elongated weave back to the mainland. As already mentioned, ‘SIER’ is the elder sister although she certainly doesn’t show it. The main lounge has a less opulent feel about it – but is still very smart. The lights above the stairwells are simpler – but still eye-catching. The biggest difference is in the lower lounge which has subtle lighting, partitions dividing the space up and a better ambience than that on ‘OERD’. Back up one deck and the light load lets me get a better impression of the main deck. It’s all about getting large number of people through catering (if desired) quickly, plenty of seating and quick ingress/egress at ports. We’re now approaching Holwerd and the end of this part of the report. ‘SIER’ has completed this trip in her allocated 50 minutes so I’m not sure why ‘OERD’ has difficulty in doing so. Once alongside it’s a quick disembarkation and on to the bus to Leeuwaarden. Arriva is possibly a bit over optimistic about the number of passengers travelling – it’s a bendy bus and there are three of us! Summary and Suggestions It’s been a good day. Two new ferries/ports, one new island and several new ferry postcards for my collection. The buses ran to time/waited for ferries. For a hastily arranged trip it’s gone pretty much to plan. If this has inspired you, I would recommend staying in Leeuwaarden where there is a greater choice of hotels and things to do of an evening. It’s also easy to get to the islands of Terschelling and Vlieland via Harlingen from here. As always comments.observations are more than welcome. Den
  20. Ferryman has beaten me to it! She is currently in port. You might like this link https://www.royalnavy.mod.uk/qhm/portsmouth/shipping-movements Yours Aye Den
  21. I know this is just a little bit far away from home...but I thought it might be of interest,,,,,,, I’ve just returned from a short trip to Catania which included a side trip to Messina to hopefully ‘get’ some new ferries. My last visits to Catania were about ten years ago when I worked in Naples with NATO. These included a mix of flying, TrenItalia IC, TrenaNotta (Night trains) and the TTT Line service using a Visentinti between the two cities. I had hoped to use the Caronte&Touriste service from Salerno to Messina – but it never worked out. During these trips I managed to travel on ‘Scilla’, ‘Regina’ and ‘Villa’ in both train and foot passenger modes so I was hoping to get either ‘Logudora’ or ‘Messina’ on this occasion. Having had a pleasant couple of nights stay in an intriguing small hotel close to the centre, I arrived at Catania Centrale just after 11.00 allowing plenty of time to buy a through ticket to Villa S. Giovanni on the IC 724 (Siracuse – Roma Terminii) departing at 11.39. The ticket machines allow you to select a seat for the journey, although it advises that the seating plan might not match the actual configuration of the carriage!. The cost of a through ticket is more than double that of a ticket to Messina Centrale (€ 15.50 compared to € 7.25) however it doesn’t tell you that the RFI monocareno fare is extra. Departure is on time and there is only a slight delay on the journey along the stunning South Eastern Sicilian coastline. Once at Messina Cle. there’s a bit of a wait until the Palermo section arrives which becomes slightly uncomfortable as there’s no air conditioning. After lots of shouting, hand waving, forefinger and thumb circling (I do miss that!) we get shunted aboard what looks like a modern ferry. Yes! It’s MESSINA ( Her name is displayed considerably larger than on her fleet mates) Our carriage hits the buffer stops with a jolt – which prompts the Australian couple sitting behind me to enquire ‘do they know what they’re doing? (don’t forget the inflection at the end of doing…..) Once it’s safe to disembark I’m off to explore and it’s really quite pleasant. As we’re at the aft end of the vessel, there is quite a lot of open deck space, a small saloon, what would normally be an entrance hall – but actually leads to the MES, then a large saloon with a café/bar. All very clean, light, airy and pleasant – but none of the charm of the older vessels. Messina also has side loading ramps for vehicles and instructions for using the garage decks. Happily our handbrakes remained on and the alarms did not go off J On arrival at the mainland, it appears that ‘Villa’ has followed us across and is ready for traffic. Whether this is planned – or is a special departure for the heavily delayed (3h20) ICN from the North – I don’t know but it seemed strange that both should sail so close together. Now it’s time to savour the delights of the RFI Bluferries passenger service. Signs direct you to the ticket office and embarkation point. The ticket office is a portacabin situated behind the buffet. A mere € 2.50 allows you to forego the experience of escalators and passenger walkways (firmly closed off) and enjoy a circuitous, uncovered route to your vessel. This is where unsuspecting passengers (4 on my trip) are made aware that TrenItalia tickets are not valid and have to purchase additional ones. My vessel today is ‘Tindari Jet’ which I embark on the upper deck and through a stripped out saloon. Downstairs is not much better but, as its only a twenty minute crossing I shouldn’t expect too much. The vessel does look very down at heel though. The crossing consists of ten minutes of ‘high speed’ with the remainder pootling along due to, I imagine, harbour speed limits. My intention was to walk around the harbour to catch an attractive vessel I had seen from the deck of the ‘Messina’ however another portacabin ticket office belonging to Liberty Lines caught my attention. Offering a new port (Reggio Calabria), a new company and two new high speed craft how could I refuse….so € 6.50 later and I’m off to …well...somewhere new for 30 minutes! ‘Vittoria E’ took me on my second, rather soporific, trip to Italy today. A short walk uphill leads to a war memorial dedicated to the Italian Air Force during the battle of Reggio Calabria in 1943. Carefully stepping around the broken bottles and other detritus, the statue atop the monument shone brightly in the sun which has encouraged me to find out more about this. My return was on board ‘Gabriele M’ and a protracted arrival at her lay-by berth. Onwards to Fontanarossa Airport and my flight home was by a SAIS coach which was advertised as non stop. However we came off the Autostrade to pick up a passenger high above Tremestriere ferry which afforded a good view of ‘Fata Morgana’ now providing the RFI Bluferries service to the mainland. So – 1 day (afternoon really) – 1 new port – 4 new ferries - € 9.00 +IC train fare € 15.50 –not bad. I hope this helps anyone intending to try this trip. Fares for the TrenaNotte services are quite reasonable. You can do Catania to Napoli for € 50 in a shared couchette. Den
  22. Gareth Not cabin wise, I'm sure P+O still do lunch cruises from Dover to Calais. Return trip, Club Class one way, Three course meal all for about £ 30 Den
  23. To be honest my first impression when I entered cabin 5331 on PA was "wow - an actual single cabin" then I remembered this site and the fact that extra berths are in the deckhead rather than just folded up as in Bretagne. It really does make a difference. I don't know why there is a gap between the berth and the bulkhead in this particulr cabin - the pillow doesn't really fit it but I got a good sleep! Breintagne's outside cabins I seem to remember as being quite good - however the 'outside-inside' cabin in your post and mine facinates me. As an aside - the last time I was on PA I had a port side balcony cabin.... Den
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