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CONDOR FERRIES: Commodore Clipper trip

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Hi guys, sorry for not posting for awhile been way to busy! (So he says)

 

I'm booked up on Commodore Clipper just after Christmas, Guernsey and back. It will be my first time on her so i wondered if any of you have a experiences you would like to share or Interior photo's would be nice! Thank you.

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This video tour of the Clipper will show you all...on You Tube type in "Tour of Commodore Clipper" or click on the link pasted in below. Coming from Guernsey she's the ship I've traveled on the most by far (some 50 times and counting)

 

Nick

 

 

 

 

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I'm sure you know a lot more than me, but she doesn't look too comfortable to me when there's more than a few passengers on board, rather cramped? No doubt this was a summer crossing. Also I noted the virtually empty club lounge, whilst everywhere else seemed full...

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Ryan, yes the Clipper does look pretty crowded there. She's normally not like that all as she is usually fairly quiet and because of this she is an oasis of calm and luxury. The bow facing reclining seat lounge is very relaxing. Also love sitting in the sky Casquets bar, All in all she is a really cosy intimate feeling ship.

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It is a compact ferry. The queue for food can be long. The crew are very friendly and helpful. If you have a car put on the upper deck there is a very strong possibility that there will be salt spray deposited, needing a rinse soon after disembarkation. I have uploaded pictures of a superior cabin and the upper deck. She is in Falmouth Docks at the moment, again.

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Why they never built a sister ship to the Commodore Clipper I just don't know. Because if the Clipper is away for a refit. And at times they can't use the Cat. Everyone is stuck .

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Hi Ian, I think the main reason a second ro-pax wasn't built was due to demand and cost. Commodore Clipper was introduced in late 1999 only four years after Island Commodore was introduced and I'm guessing Commodore / Condor did not recoup anywhere near the costs of the Clipper newbuild with the receipts of the sale of the Island Commodore. To build yet another vessel to replace 1996 Commodore Goodwill may have been prohibitively expensive. Also there probably isn't the demand for two double daily conventional services to the island. I also understand that Goodwill's evening departure takes a great deal of freight and there may be not enough room for passenger cars. I can remember Condor commenting in 1999 that the overnight sailing back to the UK was better for a pax service because there was less freight and more space for pax cars.

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Was Clipper specifically built for Condor? Or was she an off-the-shelf newbuild that Condor happened to get their hands on? Reason I ask is because she does, or course, have a sister in Ben My Chree. Don't know how similar these ships are in their internal configuration, but in terms of external design they are identical. (Interestingly, I believe BMC does not have a very complimentary reputation on the IoM). So if this was a pair of vessels that were being built speculatively, one of which went to Condor and the other to IoMSP, then buying a second one wouldn't have been an option for Condor at the time in any case.

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Was Clipper specifically built for Condor? Or was she an off-the-shelf newbuild that Condor happened to get their hands on? Reason I ask is because she does, or course, have a sister in Ben My Chree. Don't know how similar these ships are in their internal configuration, but in terms of external design they are identical. (Interestingly, I believe BMC does not have a very complimentary reputation on the IoM). So if this was a pair of vessels that were being built speculatively, one of which went to Condor and the other to IoMSP, then buying a second one wouldn't have been an option for Condor at the time in any case.

 

 

The Ben-My-Chree was designed and built for SeaCo/IOMSPCo. It was always intended to only build one Ben-My-Chree, to replace the King Orry & Peveril on the Douglas to Heysham Service.

 

The Commodore Clipper was not a rejected IoMSPCo Vessel, she was I believe ordered by Commodore Shipping, following the success of the Ben-My-Chree, however Commodore Clipper was given more cabins due to her longer sailing times.

 

The Ben-My-Chree is very well liked by the Manx People, and is one of the most reliable vessels in IoMSPCo History. Initial negative reception was due to her lower passenger certificate than the vessel she replaced, the King Orry. She had less facilities than the King, however she was never designed to be a direct replacement in terms of passenger capacity. She is now a popular vessel.

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Van der Guissen didn't build ships on spec, they tended to be ordered by operators looking for a proven, but relatively cheap, solution which could be delivered quite speedily. The Clipper was a typical VDG project - Condor found they had won the new-style CI tender in July '98 having already signed a letter of intent with the shipyard for a slightly longer and better furnished derivative of the Ben-My-Chree which was immediately formalised into an order. The keel was laid that November, launched in May '99 and delivered in September. A very speedy and economic build delivering what was needed as soon as possible.

 

The very long run of VDG ships all with 23.4m beam and centre engine casings, including the Clipper, were effectively scaled up or down in order to accomodate an operator's specific needs - the difference in length between the Ben and Clipper being an example of this as the Clipper's extra 4m would in theory prevent her operating regularly to Douglas (or Douglas as it was in the late 90s) whilst the Clipper is/was as large as can be accommodated in the islands. The 23.4m series ran from the Viamare ro-paxes, through Norbay/bank, Isle of Inisfree, Bang Chui Dao/Hai Yang Dao, the Ben/Clipper and their Bornholm sisters, through to HMNZA Canterbury (the later ships built at Merwede).

 

On the Inisfree the limits of stability using the standard beam were reached and the Stena Jutlandica pioneered the wider beam series with side engine casings and an extra lane for freight, followed by the Isle of Inishmore and, back on BFE topic, a rather refined version in the Mont St Michel.

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Thanks hhv, that's very interesting. I had no idea that Isle of Innisfree / Pride of Cherbourg was a derivative of this series, nor the Norbay/Norbank. For some reason I thought those ships were in a different category size-wise. Also interesting to read that Douglas was a limitation on size - I always thought that Heysham was the limiting factor on that route. So....back on topic....Condor could easily have ordered a sister for Clipper if they had wanted to.

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Yes it's probably due to Condor not wishing to place an order for a 2nd ro pax for the reasons I gave earlier. Also of note externally the Clipper and Ben my Chree are not identical, The BMC has a 2nd forward facing lounge and the Clipper's bridge is one deck up higher. Also aft the Clipper has a glass glazed area where the bar and club class are located on deck 7 and the Ben my Chree has an open deck. I've been on both Clipper and BMC and the Clipper is far better. The Clipper also has accessible deck space by the lifeboats which the BMC doesn't have.

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Why they never built a sister ship to the Commodore Clipper I just don't know. Because if the Clipper is away for a refit. And at times they can't use the Cat. Everyone is stuck .

 

 

It may have been that Condor ran out of time, I think the MSM was the last ship they built before bankrupcy? VDG built a quality product which appealed to many operators who still rely on their versatility.

 

I have been lead to believe that BF approached IHC Merwede (part of the parent group) during their proposals for both Cotentin & Armorique but by then they had moved into the offshore & pipeline laying market hence the deal with Aker.

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I don't think Condor ran out of time. They simply didn't want to order a 2nd ro-pax as they saw no need for one. It was hard enough getting the first one built, never mind a second one. It was only the CI tender process and guarantee of a service level agreement in 1999 that gave Condor the confidence to invest in a ro-pax. They raised a ro-pax option earlier in 1997/ 98 but didn't invest then as they had no service user agreement. It was covered in the media at the time.

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Thanks Nick, hence the reason for a lot of the negativity maybe?

 

I find it quite interesting that between the three major players in the whole CI saga, the ports, the islanders and Condor, it seem that only Condor where attracted to a fast cat whilst others would have been happy with an all round reliable conventional service regardless of time spent at sea...

 

I seem to recall as a child that an average crossing on the Sealink took only 4.5 hrs from Weymouth.

 

Be interesting to see what the Clipper could manage from Poole.

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Jonno yes you are right that is why some people are skeptical towards Condor. You're right Sealink did the Weymouth to Guernsey run in 4.5 hours. BCIF's Rozel did the Poole to Guernsey run at about 5.25 hrs. I think the Clipper was scheduled to take 6 hours from Poole to Guernsey back last April, when she stood in for the Liberation.

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