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About kenw

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  • Birthday 15/05/1950

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  1. kenw

    Ship-spotting in Le Havre - any suggestions?

    Thanks, folks We've postponed until end-August since I've caught a very snuffly cold – I don't think les Havrais would welcome an extra couple of tons of paper hankies!
  2. We're off to Havre tomorrow (Sat) for a couple of days looking at ships and architecture. (Big discount deal via Accor's 'club' card). There seem to be two harbour tours, inner and outer, with the latter covering the big container berths etc. Does anyone happen to know if both routes cover the cruise ship berths? There are three or four visitors scheduled. Haven't been there for years – anything else on the 'must see' list? Not including Honfleur, that's a separate trip. TIA Ken
  3. Thanks, Jim That's a big help. All we're waiting for now is the pricing (!) and detailed itinerary
  4. Thanks, Jim Even if booking isn't open yet, it would be helpful to know the timing. Particularly the departure time on Christmas Eve – I can't believe I'm the only person who wants / needs to start planning. Do we travel to Portsmouth that morning or (in the case of those travelling from France) go overnight? Or go the previous afternoon and stay overnight? (Must check the Club Accor points!) If it is an "afternoon" departure, the morning sailing from Caen might be cutting things a bit fine. One idea might be to go via St Malo on the Pont overnight. That way we couldn't possibly miss the departure to Antwerp! And of course a full night's sleep rather than the quick kip we get from Ouistreham.
  5. Mulling this over, a couple of thoughts come to mind: Any guesstimates on pricing for Antwerp? For 2-berth outside or deluxe? Anyone have last year / 2015 figures for guidance?? I've asked Mme Google but she hasn't helped. Can we expect cross-channel (Caen) schedules at or before the time the Christmas cruises go on sale so we can tie both legs down? IIRC the last Antwerp cruise included a Bruges coach tour. But what about a boat tour of Antwerp, which is one of Europe's busiest and most important ports. I thought I had met a passenger boat operator from Antwerp a while back (in my previous role on the River Thames) but can't find any info (and neither has Mme Google so far). The operators I've come across on the web this morning seem to be party boats rather than tours. I think the failure is probably a symptom of old age, so if any helpful person does know...
  6. I'd be very tempted by the Antwerp trip, if there are connections to and from Ouistreham for the benefit of passengers from France. Must check the timetables – but maybe BF will do a special "all-in" fare for us? No December timetable on the website as yet – does anyone know when it will be available? IIRC correctly the last outbound from Caen last year was the overnight 23-24, but can't think seriously about the Christmas cruise unless and until we know the connections. Don't really want to add a night or nights in the Ibis / Travelodge or even in one of the Southsea boutique hotels unless we have to.
  7. kenw

    Replacement of Bretagne

    Poland probably has the capacity in terms of slots – with Remontowa the biggest shipyard group. But I think that its ferries have mostly been smaller than we're thinking about. From memory, mostly 90–130m LOA. There are more than a few large drydocks on the Baltic coast – many of them originally used for naval vessels. But I suspect most of them are now booked up with regular maintenance and refit work – several Remontowa pix look as though they should be entitled "ferries from around the world" or whatever. Croatia's Brodosplit yard built Royal Clipper, which at 133m is reckoned to be the largest sailing ship in the world – although she only carries ?? 300pax. The videos are well worth a look, if only for the Oooh! factor. More relevant is probably La Meridionale's modern-looking Piana, which has been running from Marseille for several years and is approx 180m x 30m. I haven't seen her, but my chum who used her recently thought she was comparable to most of BF, "if not Pont Aven" (which was his honeymoon ship – Commodore cabin and all the trimmings, so perhaps slightly biased!) More than a few superyachts have come from the Split yard, so I don't think there are any doubts about the quality of the outfitting work they can do – and so far as propulsion is concerned IIRC they work closely with Wartsila. Pic = Wikimedia Commons
  8. kenw

    Replacement of Bretagne

    There's no underlying reason why the naval architecture / design / styling of any new ship has to be connected with the shipyard where she is built. For example, the Wight Ryders were designed and engineered by BMT Nigel Gee in Southampton, but built in the Philippines, while two of the Thames Clippers were designed by One2Three in Australia and built on the Isle of Wight. Of course there are some yards which specialise in the value-added combination of design and build, with FSG one of the prime examples. Then of course there are the "assembly track" yards which produce standard designs offering a degree of customisation – no prizes for guessing the example here! Another variation on that theme comes from Damen, who have a whole variety of tugs and waterways ferries that are almost available "from stock". Then in the yacht world there is the successful partnership between Humphreys Yacht Design in Lymington and Oyster, with the two firms working closely together. So... the choice of yard could be wider than we think. Ken
  9. kenw

    A few Chateaux

    Here in Caen it's change from €4 for a glass of Graves at our favourite café, the Virgule, which is just outside the Theatre. That's one of the main bus interchanges in the city centre, making the bar a worthy winner of the title Best Bus Stop in town! After almost two years living in France, our verdict on prices is that it's "swings and roundabouts". We are saving hundreds a month on housing costs, which more than compensates for those items in the shopping basket which are dearer than the UK. And of course wine is much cheaper – if you pay a tenner for "Saturday night dinner wine" from Sainsbury, Waitrose or M&S in London, a comparable bottle in France will be about £6 / €7 or less.
  10. Food in the terminal is unpredictable, think "imitiation railway station" – and I'm not talking Newcastle or York. The Sovereign / Hungry Horse is just the other side of the busy main road – I think the same exit as the PIP, but off to the left rather than the right. It's actually the ground floor of the Travelodge. Typical pub chain (although it's only one of 2 HHorses I've encountered) - the food is a similar standard to Wspoons But if you have more than, say, 90 minutes before check-in opens I'd be tempted to head for Port Solent, where there are several eateries and boats to look at. The food offering includes a Harvester and Pizza Express as well as the Alec Rose ( Wetherspoons). Full info at portsolent.com Easy to find by car - on the main roads coming into Portemouth look for the brown Port Solent signs The website says enter PO6 4TP into your satnav [that's for MOTORISTS, not sailors!!!] Have a great trip Ken
  11. Thanks for that Sadly the early summer getaway only runs to end June - and doesn't seem to have a footie option. But I will have a look round the uk site to see what else might be available. Ken
  12. Thanks, Chris Morning dep ex Caen is our favourite crossing - easy connection this end and afternoon in Portsmouth One of the attractions of the overnight Malo crossing is that it is long enough to have a leisurely dinner and a drink, then get a decent sleep. In the morning, coffee on board then a leisurely breakfast ashore before catching the train. (Not direct, but both the TGV and TER are usually clean and comfortable – first class with Senior+ / Voyageur won't break the bank and gives us the opportunity to see more French countryside. We might even break the journey in Le Mans or Rennes overnight or take a slower, scenic bus ride – takes all day, I think 3 legs, but again, it's sightseeing – and no clock-watching is the big advantage of being retired. But it only works if we get the Escapade fare. Otherwise two full-price returns takes it OTT [for what will be our second mini-break in two months].
  13. Thanks I'd looked through the T&Cs before trying to phone - I'm wondering whether the options listed are simply BF's "preferred: offers or the only validity. I'm going to try and phone again or email tomorrow. The problem with overnight ex PMH is the short duration - too short for a decent night's sleep. Because of that I don't like overnight both ways - I think it must be old age. I had to do it a while back for a quick TV job and by the time I got home at 09:00 I was dead on my feet. Since we aren't car owners (Caen is the smallest place I've lived in 50 years) the whole point of the morning Caen departure is to make an easy outbound - we're 5min from the Twisto bus stop into the city centre for a quick connection to the Maritime Express direct to the port. I'll keep you posted. Thanks again Ken
  14. Dear all Is the Escapade fare (France-UK / 24hrs) valid on a different route out and back? A birthday treat for Mrs W Tried to phone BF but they were busy. I'd like to take the 08:30 ex Caen and return on the overnight to St Malo. That will just give us time for a lazy long lunch (hopefully in the sunshine on the waterfront) and a bit of shopping before heading back to PIP. TIA Ken
  15. kenw

    Newbuild from Mitsubishi

    Thanks, hhvferry, I suspect you're right and the design element for which Mitsubishi expects further orders is the hull, rather than the complete ship. That would make sense, since once a "basic" hull configuration has been developed successfully it can be "shrunk, stretched or squeezed" to meet specific customer needs. Which is obviously much quicker and cheaper than starting from a blank sheet of paper – or should that be blank screen – each time.