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BRETAGNE: 30th Anniversary

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I fully agree that she is still the #1 in so many ways, and has an atmosphere on board unlike any other ship. A succession of Commandants, officers and crew, from Joseph Hardouin, to Jacques Brichet have been active sailors and involved in sailing activities in St Malo and beyond. Together with the design and décor of the ship, her crew have maintained a very special feeling.

 

Any criticism from me is always meant to be constructive. When the standard is so high, we pick up on the little things which could be improved.

 

Long may she stay!

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I don't want to put a dampener on things but do you think she is the type of ship that the majority of BF customers want now? Or do you think her shortcomings let her down (I will go and hide behind the barricades now).

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Certainly a new build now would look at improving loading / unloading procedures, time and flexibility with a view to upping freight volumes at times, Not sure frankly about cabins, berths, recliners in terms of numbers and distribution? Food offer is as good as you get with aft facing main restaurant.

 

Where she still stands out so well is the Alexander Goudie décor. Even Pont Aven falls short.

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I don't want to put a dampener on things but do you think she is the type of ship that the majority of BF customers want now? Or do you think her shortcomings let her down (I will go and hide behind the barricades now).

 

 

Yes I think customers do want this type of ship especially on her route... Bretagne is no different to Normandie, MSM or PA, each could equally cover for the other... All are essentially floating hotels and all offer what the customer over the past 25 years has now come to expect as the norm.

 

As a ship, she doesn't have any real shortcomings apart from age/value...

 

She was very advanced for the late '80's. As an example, most cruise ferries were still being constructed with bow visors, she came along with a clamshell. Her maiden voyage was just less than two years after the Val's who was brought up to Bretagne's spec when BF bought her from TT, plus she was the first 5 star rated cruise ferry.

 

These attributes are what have kept her in the fleet, BF have never held on to tonnage for as long, and there lies the problem, her value now has dictated to BF what they are willing to invest in her, scrubbers and a decent refit would cost around £20m and that's probably all she's worth.

 

 

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Jonno very valid points, especially her true value being as much as or indeed less than would be needed to invest in her. However, what about the equation of what it would cost to replace her... Or rather the Pont Aven on the Spanish route... And then how long would the Bretagne last on the investment compared to a new build of a much bigger investment. Who knows!

 

To the original question, the only aspect of Bretagne in my mind which may not be 'to expectation' in the current market is Deck 1 & 2 cabins. I assume for many walking down below the car deck is very much an issue of mind over matter!

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I think giving the recent reviews of the cabins on the Harwich route Bretagnes cabins would feel ancient and dated whether the rest of her makes up for that to the average punter paying a similar price is debatable, I certainly didn't have any quibbles with my 2 berth indoor cabin on the Pont last year but I can see how some would find it inadequate and the wife said she just "would not" sleep "under the water" although she liked the ponts cabin too.

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Never had a problem with the cabins on the Bretagne. They are older but comfortable. True, no competition to the Harwich service.....

The worst cabins with the worst standard berths are on the Pont Aven, in my opinion.

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We have never felt there were issues of space or comfort in Bretagne's cabins, and we have used every type and class. The cabin s on decks 1 & 2 are obviously less attractive due to the corridors, bulkheads, watertight doors and access in general. A freshen up of the décor would not be too hard. Look at the work Trimline do on cruise liners, refitting cabins whilst the ship is in service, just to keep the atmosphere contemporary and fresh.

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I think you've highleted what is a failing in my opinion of BF on all their ships surely you could refit a deck a time on most ferries during the low season and keep the costs spread evenly I would think it an easier and more cost effective way of doing it than doing an entire ship at a time.

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The cabin s on decks 1 & 2 are obviously less attractive due to the corridors, bulkheads, watertight doors and access in general.

 

I feel very uneasy on the lower decks. What is the purpose of the watertight doors? If the ship was holed below the waterline is it to enable a way out for the passengers on decks 1 & 2 or to seal them in to save the rest of the ship?

 

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Both really. If a compartment floods, say an engine room, then being able to isolate the flooded area is vital. With that done, anyone on those lower decks can safely get up onto higher levels.

 

In an extreme scenario, where, perhaps in a collision, one of the areas of passenger accommodation was holed and flooded, it would again be sealed off as quickly as possible, with every effort made to evacuate people before doing so.

 

Safety regulations specify how underwater areas are laid out, protected, sealed off.

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Fitting expensive filters and renewing accommodation is only part of the financial equation BF will look at... She's a 26 year old ferry, not a cruise ship,she's at sea 20 hours a day and has been all her life, think of the stresses her hull has been under. At her age, inspections will begin to double all costing money and time consuming...

 

If BF invested heavily in her, they'd need to replace three vessels in the same period, not a position they'd wish to find themselves in.

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Jonno, another good point, but either way they are going to have to replace her (or the Pont on the Spanish run) and in a few years Barf and Normandie will be at the same crossroads although I guess they will get a stay of execution based on the money just invested in their scrubbers?

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Or . . . are you suggesting that if they are rid of her in the next year or two that means they can stagger the disposal of the other two (Normandie/Barf) a few years later? Or put another way, by investing in Bretagne she gets lets say another 5-7 years.. By this time Normandie and Barf will also be up for disposal - three ships at once, ouch!

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Jonno, another good point, but either way they are going to have to replace her (or the Pont on the Spanish run) and in a few years Barf and Normandie will be at the same crossroads although I guess they will get a stay of execution based on the money just invested in their scrubbers?

 

Barf and Normandie differ slightly, both serve shorter routes and both enjoy more port time, infact Barfy spends more time in port than at sea. Also neither have V engines, a crucial point when SECA/MARPOL regs are brought into the equation. Bretagne's conversion would cost twice as much and she'd probably lose cabin space too.

 

I don't think her departure from the fleet is uncertain, BF have made their decision, she's on her way...For me the big indicator is Barfleur. She has been looked down on as the ugly sister for nearly a decade and up for sale during her charter to DFDS, now she's being treated to filters and by the look of the twitter pics, quite a bit is being spent on her interior and exterior spaces. BF have focused on her instead...

 

She and Normandie are being prepared for the medium term, another decade of use. Age, powerplant, confined machine spaces and now MARPOL have unfortunately decided Bretagne's fate.

 

 

 

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Holiday paid for now and 6 weeks Friday we will be on the Bretagne, can't wait ! Commodore cabin as well. Anyone else on that crossing ?

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Remember a year ago there were concerns over the state of good old Bretagne - rushed back into service early to cover for Armorique who was in turn covering for Etretat and possibly Pont too, was that right? Anyway sailed on her last easter and she didn't seem too bad, but with visible interiorwork taking place whilst she sailed. The photo on twitter from BFE the other day suggested she was externally looking good still but wondered how her interior was doing a year on?

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I was on her a week ago today and she's fine, you really wouldn't know she's into her 27th year of service. Ok there are a few nooks and crannies showing wear and tear but that's not really surprising. Now we know she has another 3 years service with BF to look forward to I would Imagine she'll take a rest next winter, have a cosmetic spruce up where necessary and continue like the grand old lady she is. Mrs FW came into St Malo last Saturday morning so I walked to the end of the pier to watch Libby depart for the islands and as Bretagne nosed in right past me her superstructure is looking very clean. That will of course change as the season progresses.....

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Libby been behaving herself a lot more of recent - although I reckon she, in her short life so far has had more wear and tear than Bretagne, she has had numerous technical issues, two holings.... And she is basically at the beginning of her career!! Bretagne is the grand old lady of the fleet though, and she is bound to be showing some of her age. I don't know why they don't keep her on in a "classic" service. Mentioned that elsewhere before, pity though she cannot be spent a lot of money on and converted somehow.

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I was on her a week ago today and she's fine, you really wouldn't know she's into her 27th year of service. Ok there are a few nooks and crannies showing wear and tear but that's not really surprising. Now we know she has another 3 years service with BF to look forward to I would Imagine she'll take a rest next winter, have a cosmetic spruce up where necessary and continue like the grand old lady she is. Mrs FW came into St Malo last Saturday morning so I walked to the end of the pier to watch Libby depart for the islands and as Bretagne nosed in right past me her superstructure is looking very clean. That will of course change as the season progresses.....

 

I used a valentine mini-cruise package in february for a building site visit near Portsmouth leaving St-Malo on a Tuesday night coming back on the wednesday overnight crossing. I paid 59 euros with a 2 berth inside cabin each way! Can't think of a better commuter service... Even had a 1/4 bottle of champagne included in the deal. Bretagne has aged quite well thanks to the good maintenance care she received. The first cabin allocated had a shower problem. I couldn't get any hot water. Good job I needed a shower when I boarded the ship. I contacted the information desk who allocated me a new cabin swiftly. The lady at the information desk said the shower taps were becoming a nuisance. That's one area where the ship is showing her age now.

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Traveled on her last weekend, and although she does feel somewhat dated (and small) in some areas, she's still in very good condition.

 

The smaller size of cars in the late 1980's is certainly evident on her car decks though... being one of the last to check-in on Friday we found ourselves on deck 4 - was certainly a tight squeeze getting out of the car! In usual form we were also one of the last cars on the way back, but by this point decks 4 and 5 had already been raised, so we were on deck 3 - with the quick getaway in Portsmouth was an added bonus!

 

ps. She's still missing that 'G' from her port name plate :(

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Traveled on her last weekend, and although she does feel somewhat dated (and small) in some areas, she's still in very good condition.

 

 

The smaller size of cars in the late 1980's is certainly evident on her car decks though... being one of the last to check-in on Friday we found ourselves on deck 4 - was certainly a tight squeeze getting out of the car! In usual form we were also one of the last cars on the way back, but by this point decks 4 and 5 had already been raised, so we were on deck 3 - with the quick getaway in Portsmouth was an added bonus!

 

ps. She's still missing that 'G' from her port name plate :(

 

 

Hi Andy.

 

I did not know she was missing a G from her name plate ! I'm guessing it is the one behind the bridge !

 

Has anybody got a picture of this or could get one so I could see it !

 

I would get a picture myself but I live in Norwich and I'm not going to be sailing on her till the middle of next month !

 

Cheers if anybody could get a picture.

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