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Irish Ferries Announce Newbuild for UK/Ireland/France

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Me neither. I guess in time they will probably either expand their Cork service or pull out of it. If they did the latter, I reckon they would be able to squeeze an extra Plymouth-Santander rotation out of Pont Aven and still manage the Roscoff round trip (for crew change). Something like this:

 

Friday 0730 arrive Roscoff (as at present); 0930 depart Roscoff; 1330 arrive Plymouth; 1615 depart Plymouth

Saturday 1415 arrive Santander; 1700 depart Santander

Sunday 1300 arrive Plymouth; 1545 depart Plymouth (as at present)

 

 

Gareth - that's funny I was thinking about that scenario and concluded that they'd properly fit an extra Plymouth Santander exactly as you've timed. I considered they'd prefer to keep other sailings the same for continuity purposes.

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I've noticed that I.F haven't advertised the cruising speed for this new build.

 

I wouldn't be surprised if BF decided to leave the R.O.I to the Irish...

 

 

From Irish Ferries news page, I knew I had seen it somewhere....

 

Cruise Ferry Particulars

Gross tonnage (estimated) 50,000 tonnes

Deck capacity (mixture) Cars 300 and Trucks 165

Passenger/Crew capacity 1,885

Passenger Cabins 435

Engine/output (4 engines) 33,600KW

Speed 22.5 knots

 

Personally I can't see BF changing the Cork schedule for the forseeable future. It's not perfect but has been very popular, and invariably full for the last 3 seasons and 2016 looks no different judging by the feedback we get here.

 

Chris

 

 

 

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As it's raining (again) here in France this afternoon, and I had nothing better to do, I had a look at the timetables from IF, BF and Stena to see I I could draw some conclusions about what they are each aiming for and what slight tweaks could be implemented to improve the offerings.

 

First if we start with BF, recent posts on here have given an insight into the type and volume of the traffic being carried by PA and it seems that for the 6 months they run they are close to capacity. My first observation is that BF's offer lacks innovation, and may well have done since it began, and seems to suit BF more than its customers. This is in the sense that they need to switch crew on a Friday and they have to be in Roscoff to do so, so they let her hang around for 12 hours until ready to leave for Cork. I don't see 12 hours layovers on any of the other routes (please correct me if I have missed anything) and so this seems a waste of her time. By leaving for Cork at around 8.30pm (with check-in at 7.30pm) people wanting to travel to Ireland for a week's holiday would either need to take a day or afternoon off work to get there in time from anywhere east of Rennes and if you have children in school then it just complicates matters.So my reading of the situation is that they have passengers on package trips, but not enough of them so they bulk out the space with their day trippers and promise them a measly 4 hours in Cork or Kinsale before the return crossing. They also pack on as much fresh shellfish for Spain in freight units as is available for the return trip and then only deliver it halfway to its destination with the rest being completed by road. So how to tweak the service to make it more time-efficient? Don't run PA from Santander to Plymouth on a Wednesday night - Thursday afternoon but instead send her to Portsmouth. She could then do an overnight to Cherbourg or Le Havre and back early on Friday morning. Then given her speed she would run from Portsmouth down to St Malo in the afternoon/evening arriving at 9pm at the latest. All the Cork passengers would then get on board in St Malo and she would sail at around 11pm. This would increase the passenger catchment area, allow passengers on foot (and planning to hire a car in Ireland) to arrive by TGV and mean less people needing to take extra time off work. She would then cross over to Cork arriving at around midday. She would then leave at around 4pm (so there would be no day trips into town but they could still offer it as a mini-cruise) and get back into her usual routine, returning to Plymouth on Sunday morning, giving passengers plenty of time to get home by car during the day (with a bus laid on to the train station in Morlaix for any foot passengers. She could then do her crew change at the same time. This, I believe, would satisfy all the constraints of BFs Saturday to Saturday package-holidays in Ireland.

 

So, who is offering a service to suit Irish passengers wishing to do similar Saturday to Saturday package-holidays in France (because that is still the industry-standard although out of season there is more flexibility)? Well, nobody actually but Stena does get closest as they offer the most consistant and regular service with a year-round link to Cherbourg. Irish passengers will need to take extra days off and have at least one night in a hotel but the Friday arrivals and Sunday departures at least allow plenty of time for people to get down to southern France for their week away and get back again. So it seems to be good, simple and logical service.

 

IF on the other hand seem to be all over the place. The Dublin to Cherbourg link is regular, all year round, but there is no way to use it for one or two week stays without sacrificing a night. The Rosslare to Roscoff service is on very strange days, again making one or two week stays difficult to arrange, and their service from Rosslare to Cherbourg suffers from the same problems. If you are clever and able to combine in and out trips through different ports you might be able to find a suitable formula but it is not very practical.

 

So, to conclude, as neither Stena nor IF want their ships sitting in a French port between 8am on Saturday morning and 11pm on Saturday night waiting for their passengers to drive back up they are unable to offer a fully flexible service to Ireland. Stena perhaps comes out best for flexibility and I would suppose BF for the quality of the vessel, although the feedback on this site about IF's Oscar Wilde does seem very positive, despite its age.

 

Ed

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2 problems with that Ed, there needs to be a return from Santander to Plymouth and a return to Portsmouth would not get in until about 9.00pm so it would be about midnight departing for wherever.

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IF could do with concentrating one 1 port (probably Cherbourg I guess) and go back to a 2-ship service so they can provide sailings in both directions every day. That's the only way of providing the regularity of service that would give travellers the flexibility they need so that there are always sailings when they need them.

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I presume the 12h lay over in roscoff isn't just for crew change. BF engineers need that time to carry out essential maintenance I guess.

 

PA's schedule is intense enough as it is and longer / extra crossings wouldn't probably fit in a week.

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2 problems with that Ed, there needs to be a return from Santander to Plymouth and a return to Portsmouth would not get in until about 9.00pm so it would be about midnight departing for wherever.

 

Thanks for your comments. I understand your point but I looked at the timings and she leaves at 9.15 pm Spanish time and can do the run in 24 hours so could be in by 8.30 pm British time. I'm sure they can turn her around in 2.5 hours if necessary.

As to needing to return to Plymouth that may be a problem but at present she never leaves and returns to the same port so people can clearly live with that and adapt (plus I'm sure there is far more freight going south than coming north so it might not be a defining factor). I'm also aware that the short layover and early boarding in Plymouth on a Thursday afternoon allows for any delays accumulated during the week so if we are worried about that she can forget the quick run overnight and stay in Portsmouth.

This can perhaps answer crechbleiz's question too. So do the maintenance in Portsmouth overnight and then run her slowly across to St Malo on the Friday. Change the crew there and then restart her new schedule.

I have been unable to check back to see her usual winter schedule as they don't seem to be archived anywhere but can anyone tell me if she has a similar layover period out of season.

My priority in this little exercise was to show that I feel BF's Ireland service is too restrictive and that if they opened it up to a wider market, operating from a port closer to the large population centres, they might find it became better known and encourage more people to book (and not simply to find something for her to do for those missing 12 hours each week). If they are to call the PA the flagship of the fleet then at least let the largest number of potential customers use it. I will be interested to see how the timetable is configured when she eventually replaces Bretagne and if she continues to operate to Ireland or if a new flagship takes over. Ed.

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On the topic of flows of freight I have always understood there is an imbalance in regard to UK-Spain I.e.there is more coming north than going south. This was why the Transfennica ships called at Portsmouth only on the northbound leg. One wonders if this imbalance manifests itself on MN Pelican.

Edited by Hawser Trunnion

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That's interesting. What you say is the opposite of what I had imagined to be the case. I'm obviously underestimating the number of tomatoes and cheap strawberries the UK needs every day. I may have to rethink my ideas. It does raise the question if that is the case of some sort of ferry between Northern Spain and Avonmouth docks to get the freight on the roads north and west as fast as possible. Ed.

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That's interesting. What you say is the opposite of what I had imagined to be the case. I'm obviously underestimating the number of tomatoes and cheap strawberries the UK needs every day. I may have to rethink my ideas. It does raise the question if that is the case of some sort of ferry between Northern Spain and Avonmouth docks to get the freight on the roads north and west as fast as possible. Ed.

 

​Also you have to get the trucks back to where they started, which ever end they started from, hopefully with a full load.

 

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I presume the 12h lay over in roscoff isn't just for crew change. BF engineers need that time to carry out essential maintenance I guess.

 

PA's schedule is intense enough as it is and longer / extra crossings wouldn't probably fit in a week.

 

No other ship needs 12 hours maintenance a week though! There is a 6 hour layover in Cork too, so that's 18 hours she's idle for on Friday/Saturday alone, she needs some padding in the time table in case of weather, but it's a bit excessive...

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No other ship needs 12 hours maintenance a week though! There is a 6 hour layover in Cork too, so that's 18 hours she's idle for on Friday/Saturday alone, she needs some padding in the time table in case of weather, but it's a bit excessive...

 

The problem is as I posted earlier, the length of crossing to Cork, If there was only a 3 hour lay over she would be back in Roscoff at 4.00am unless they waste time at sea so why not wait in Cork?

As to the 12 hour day in Roscoff, on the old schedule running just from Plymouth she did a Tuesday crossing when crew could change over and on Friday afternoon she crossed again and went straight to Cork, so no long lay over. Overall I think the schedule worked better before she started running to Portsmouth, there was hardly any slack in the schedule at all.

 

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OK so rather than have her sitting around for those 6 hours (and there is no point her coming back earlier as the arrival time would be too early for a relaxing cruise) and sending the day trippers into town (as 4 hours is too little to be of much use), forget this market. Don't use her at all. Send the Armorique instead. She can leave as soon as possible on Friday afternoon once she gets in from Plymouth, do a relatively quick turnaround in Cork and come back. Her slower speed will still get her back at around the same time on Sunday morning, her cabins are just as good (if not better in my experience), her smaller capacity will be enough now the daytrippers are eliminated and I'm sure the lack of a waiter service restaurant will not be too much of a hardship ( before people start protesting😉).

In the meantime the PA can offer a much better cross channel service and fit in at least 3 crossings in the more prestigeous Friday night/Saturday morning/Saturday night slots, when people would welcome the chance to use the flagship.

She could even do a Plymouth to St Malo crossing which might be popular.

Ed.

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Good idea Ed, the Arm could even leave Roscoff at the same time and cut out the lay over in Cork. The only problems might be capacity and BF trying to offer a better experience than the opposition i.e. using the flagship.

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Thanks Solo. In reality the capacity is what BF want to offer as realistic for their service. If we cut out those daytrippers who are causing the unneeded and time -wasting layover then perhaps there is still enough space for those normal passengers travelling with vehicles or on foot and intending to stay at least a week. I know there are considerably less cabins but there are also far more reclining seats available for those who are happy to use them and who would prefer a cheaper overnight option.

 

On the point of offering a better experience, apart from the restaurant, I don't see there is an enormous difference in the onboard services. The live entertainment might be missed by some and there is no pool (so nothing to complain about when you discover it is not open) but there are plenty of other opportunities for eating, drinking and reading etc. The question is do you want a better experience once a week (and be constrained by BF'S paltry timetable) or have the extra flexibility offered by its rivals (with at least 3 options each way per week) even if the service is a little less polished?

 

Given that on such a crossing you are going to be asleep for maybe 60% of the time spent onboard I always find that the opportunity to get where I want to be with the minimum of fuss and disruption wins. A nice cabin is an advantage but not everybody wants to be forced down that route, and then the other options such as food courts come into play but as long as there is enough for everyone I'm not really worried about queueing up and helping myself. Ed

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Spare a thought for those of us who actually live in Ireland for a change ... talk of pulling routes and the likes ... it's not as if we can just amble down to Dover of many of the other ports and hop on a ferry to France .... costs us an arm and a leg every year just to get to our destination .... so a bit of competition on the Irish routes will always be welcome from me.

Edited by boallen
What's the price of a ferry to France for a car + 5 ... or a trip through the tunnel ... a couple of hundred quid ? ... costs me £1,200 just to get from Ireland.

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Boallen that is exactly the point I've been trying to highlight in the last couple of pages on here. BF'S service to Cork allows them to belive they are offering you a viable alternative to the land bridge option when in reality it is a token offering of very little use to you when you want to book a one week getaway. If I quote the opening three lines on the Irish version of their website :

 

Sail with us in style and comfort on our luxury flagship, Pont-Aven

Convenient weekend sailings are overnight to sleep away the miles

Arrive right in the heart of Brittany to travel to your holiday destination

 

The first is true. The second is factually true but the word convenient might be better replaced with ' best we can do ' and the third is anatomically wrong when 'outstretched arm of Brittany' might be better.

 

Hence my suggestions of a change of vessel offering potentially cheaper crossings and more accommodation choices. I also see on your website there is no page dedicated to 'special offers' so I understand your frustration at the cost. Myself and a couple of other posters on here have remarked on the limited choice of promotions from France to the UK as BF'S offer is almost entirely focused on the British market.

 

Out of interest, which of the two competitors have you tried and which of the three providers do you prefer?

 

Ed.

Edited by Cabin-boy

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Cabin - Boy ... I have sailed both BF and IF ... price comparison is within only a few Euro for my journey so no real difference there ... Oscar Wilde is somewhat dated in relation to Pont Aven ... service on board i find very good on both ships, and although IF have more sailings per week offering both Cherbourg and Roscoff, I have stuck with BF the last few years purely based on the ship, and the slightly, and i mean slightly more comfortable cabins, but again that is only my opinion .... and yes ... a more realistic price would be fantastic for us Irish folk .. and i welcome any competition in the future.

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Quote:

 

Out of interest, which of the two competitors have you tried and which of the three providers do you prefer?

 

As a user of the Irish service I have travelled on all 3 carriers over the past 3 years

 

My preference has always been to travel with BF because of the facilities on the PONT AVEN- La Flora & particularily the dog accomodation .Also for long breaks in France the Sunday morning arrival time is ideal for onward travel & the return sailing on Friday is Ok. Where the problem arises is if you want a short stay in France the single weekly sailing is of no use & you have to use one of the other carriers on one leg to extend that.

That would be the main reason to use IF or Stena and we have been forced to use them because of Pont Aven cancellations. We cannot use the Oscar Wilde when we have our dog with us as the accomodation is inadequate- but if the new ferry has that resolved then one of the main reasons to use BF has been removed.

Also the question of cost comes into play as mid week sailings if you are in a position to use them are cheaper on IF & Stena though over the past 2 years the prices on all 3 carriers have moved closer together.

I think if BF want to retain their Irish customers then they will have to offer a 2nd sailing as the new IF Ferry has changed the game completely

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Quote:

 

Out of interest, which of the two competitors have you tried and which of the three providers do you prefer?

 

As a user of the Irish service I have travelled on all 3 carriers over the past 3 years

 

My preference has always been to travel with BF because of the facilities on the PONT AVEN- La Flora & particularily the dog accomodation .Also for long breaks in France the Sunday morning arrival time is ideal for onward travel & the return sailing on Friday is Ok. Where the problem arises is if you want a short stay in France the single weekly sailing is of no use & you have to use one of the other carriers on one leg to extend that.

That would be the main reason to use IF or Stena and we have been forced to use them because of Pont Aven cancellations. We cannot use the Oscar Wilde when we have our dog with us as the accomodation is inadequate- but if the new ferry has that resolved then one of the main reasons to use BF has been removed.

Also the question of cost comes into play as mid week sailings if you are in a position to use them are cheaper on IF & Stena though over the past 2 years the prices on all 3 carriers have moved closer together.

I think if BF want to retain their Irish customers then they will have to offer a 2nd sailing as the new IF Ferry has changed the game completely

 

Thanks for that information. It seems each operator has its good and bad points from the Irish passengers' side of things but the only way to obtain a realistic service is to combine two of the operators for individual legs. Your suggestion that BF will need to add a second service is interesting. If we accept that passenger numbers won't double over night then we need a smaller vessel doing two runs per week. Which brings me back to the Armorique. If they sent her over Thursday night and back on Friday and then again Sunday night and back on Monday you would be able to offer full week stays on both sides plus short breaks in and around Cork and Brittany too. Ed.

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If we accept that passenger numbers won't double over night then we need a smaller vessel doing two runs per week. Which brings me back to the Armorique. If they sent her over Thursday night and back on Friday and then again Sunday night and back on Monday you would be able to offer full week stays on both sides plus short breaks in and around Cork and Brittany too. Ed.

 

​Sounds like a great solution. The Armorique is positioned great for this run and her size would be perfect for a mid-week sailing. As other posters have said, if BF don't infuse some flexibility into the Cork-Roscoff route they stand to loose passenger numbers.

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​Sounds like a great solution. The Armorique is positioned great for this run and her size would be perfect for a mid-week sailing. As other posters have said, if BF don't infuse some flexibility into the Cork-Roscoff route they stand to loose passenger numbers.

Interesting suggestion this but would not be of any use to me as a dog owner as I don't think there is pet accomodation on Armorique ?

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Interesting suggestion this but would not be of any use to me as a dog owner as I don't think there is pet accomodation on Armorique ?

 

 

No, you are correct. There is no dedicated accomodation for your dog but he/she/it can stay in your vehicle and you can go and visit it during the trip. If we absolutely need kennels for the route then only the Cap Finistere, Pont Aven or Bretagne will work.Perhaps it could be the CF in that case. Ed

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No, you are correct. There is no dedicated accomodation for your dog but he/she/it can stay in your vehicle and you can go and visit it during the trip. If we absolutely need kennels for the route then only the Cap Finistere, Pont Aven or Bretagne will work.Perhaps it could be the CF in that case. Ed

Thanks for that - Friends of ours have just used the Pont Aven for a crossing & they had prior permission to keep their dog in their car because he previously had escaped from the Kennels on the Pont Aven. They were informed that BF no longer will allow pets in vehicles as there has been a change in policy[certainly on the Irish route]

It would seem essential to have kennel accomodation on the Irish sailings as it is well used and on our booked return sailing in August the kennels are almost full...

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Thanks for that - Friends of ours have just used the Pont Aven for a crossing & they had prior permission to keep their dog in their car because he previously had escaped from the Kennels on the Pont Aven. They were informed that BF no longer will allow pets in vehicles as there has been a change in policy[certainly on the Irish route]

It would seem essential to have kennel accomodation on the Irish sailings as it is well used and on our booked return sailing in August the kennels are almost full...

 

That's interesting. From what you say it suggests that for any crossing longer than perhaps 6 or 7 hours the pets are not allowed to stay in the vehicles. Maybe they are EU rules on animal confinement which BF has to apply. That would explain why Etretat and Baie de Seine have been equipped with pet-friendly cabins for their Spanish crossings and why the PA could not be replaced on the Cork run when she broke down last month. Bretagne clearly has kennels due to the length of the crossing to St Malo and CF either had them when acquired or had them retrofitted. Every time we comment on here about why BF doesn't put in place a contingency service when things go wrong we have always been trying to provide a solution for the stranded passengers. Clearly we have been barking up the wrong tree (my apologies) and instead we should have approached the problem from the point of view of those booked to travel with pets which is clearly a minority but one which has a far greater impact on the choice of ferry and route. Ed.

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