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robbie

Barfleur day trip

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Just returned from a quick day trip on Barfleur. What a fantastic little ship. How have I missed this little gem up until now? Despite her size she has more charisma and atmosphere than Cap Finistere and Armorique combined. I actually felt like i was on a ship especially as she pointed her nose out into the Channel and started pitching gently in the low swell. The crew were fantastic and the weather balmy. What more can you ask for a mere £24 for a return on foot! Great end of summer trip. Khaines i now know why you love her so much. Having recently been on the dull,disjointed and characterless Cap Finistere here was a masterpiece in ship design and layout.

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Yes she is a great ship and has been such a good servant to BF for so many years.

Barfleur is so well suited to the Poole-Cherbourg route and with the good weather and beautiful scenery on leaving Poole you must have had a great day.

Edited by imprimerie

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Yes, she is a lovely old girl, on her myself in just over a week. She does have a certain charm about her!, glad you enjoyed her, Robbie.

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Glad you enjoyed the trip Robbie. She is certainly adequate for a 4 hour trip across the channel and the views on a good day are spectacular. But would you not agree that due to her lack of a waiter-service restaurant and cinema she would be better marketed as part of the BF Economie brand. You clearly felt that you got your money's worth with such a great price (in fact a family day out with the Cite de la Mer included and some shopping in Cherbourg could well be cheaper than a similar day out in and around Poole) but would you be prepared to pay let's say £400 for a car and 4 people at Christmas time on the same vessel or would you, for that price, expect a higher standard of service? If you are able to answer the question, please do so from the point of view of someone who does not live in the Poole area (as I don't know where you live) and would therefore have to make a conscious decision to drive there over another alternative port. Many thanks. Ed.

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Glad you enjoyed the trip Robbie. She is certainly adequate for a 4 hour trip across the channel and the views on a good day are spectacular. But would you not agree that due to her lack of a waiter-service restaurant and cinema she would be better marketed as part of the BF Economie brand. You clearly felt that you got your money's worth with such a great price (in fact a family day out with the Cite de la Mer included and some shopping in Cherbourg could well be cheaper than a similar day out in and around Poole) but would you be prepared to pay let's say £400 for a car and 4 people at Christmas time on the same vessel or would you, for that price, expect a higher standard of service? If you are able to answer the question, please do so from the point of view of someone who does not live in the Poole area (as I don't know where you live) and would therefore have to make a conscious decision to drive there over another alternative port. Many thanks. Ed.

 

Hi Ed. That's a very good question. I normally only travel alone or with friends as I tend to be visiting France to visit friends so I am certainly not your usual family plus car plus 2.2 kids scenario. I think you are right that the kids may want a cinema. I don't tend to eat in the restaurant anyhow and i don't know what percentage of families would so not sure if this is a huge issue but may be wrong. In terms of deck space she is far better than the likes of Cap Finistere which is awful and largely enclosed. She has a lovely bar which flows out nicely on to one of the aft sun decks...more akin to Normandie and Mont St Michael. This is in contrast to the long narrow bar on Armorique which funnels out through a narrow entrance on to a terrible aft deck with large holes down to the lower deck. I recently traveled on Cap Finistere to Spain and thought she was awful for the trip. The ship just seems like a series of corridors and passageways with no real focal points or heart. We ate in the restaurant and even that was split down the middle by a corridor..horrible. The food was good but atmosphere terrible. The reception desk to just seems to be an aftre thought in a corridor. Even the bar on there felt weird with a huge staircase at one end. So yes i understand what you are saying and maybe i am biased as I am a ship buff but I felt instantly at home on Barfleur. The staff were fantastic , the food excellent and she had a lovely bar with fantastic open deck layouts...possibly all most people need? I think you are right she is a ship borne out of a need to serve a small port and hence ca never be the Pont Aven but she does that role superbly. She was very busy which is a good sign for BF. I think the point i really wanted to make is that her layout whilst clearly a product of the nineties with neon and all, just works well.

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£110 each return is not expensive especially if you can also take your own car and have an outside cabin too, a super off peak Harrogate to London train ticket over the same period, say 23/12 returning on the 27/12 is £112.50 which on recent experience is far less relaxing, has a poorer refreshment offer plus you have no option but to sit in a cramped seat for 2.5 hours.

 

In itself, without the other onboard distractions, pound for pound & mile for mile ferry travel is economical.

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Thanks for the reply Robbie. It sounds like you appreciate what she has to offer. The fact she was busy is also good news, but were a lot of those passengers just doing day trips like you? How many shuttle buses were needed to get you all off the vessel in Cherbourg and did many of those then collect bags from the trolley? If no to the last question then perhaps the majority were on the special offer price and so BF is only just breaking even rather than making a reasonable return on her. I took a very cheap crossing with a car on her a few years ago (I will try to locate my ticket and the price once I get home) and found her fine for just that type of trip. Ed

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Thanks for the reply Robbie. It sounds like you appreciate what she has to offer. The fact she was busy is also good news, but were a lot of those passengers just doing day trips like you? How many shuttle buses were needed to get you all off the vessel in Cherbourg and did many of those then collect bags from the trolley? If no to the last question then perhaps the majority were on the special offer price and so BF is only just breaking even rather than making a reasonable return on her. I took a very cheap crossing with a car on her a few years ago (I will try to locate my ticket and the price once I get home) and found her fine for just that type of trip. Ed

 

On the way out there were about 20 footies and on the way back maybe 40 or so. The bulk were people traveling with cars.

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But would you not agree that due to her lack of a waiter-service restaurant and cinema she would be better marketed as part of the BF Economie brand.

 

I would have thought so although you'll find many who disagree. BF don't appear at times to have much interest in Barfleur travellers. Over the years many of the facilities have slowly disappeared although some have since been reinstated. As you say there is no cinema. There are 4 reclining seat lounges and the cost would be negligable to convert one of these to a cinema but it's never been done although I seem to remember one was installed when Barfleur did it's Spanish runs. It did have an excellent restaurant. You had to queue as soon as you boarded to be sure of a place and it always seemed to have a second sitting list. BF chose to remove it. Perhaps it might have been better if they had moth-balled it rather than removed it altogether if they were not capable of running it profitably when passenger numbers dropped.

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Christmas time, there are often offers anyway, especially for day-trips, and this includes a car and at least two people and the price is very reasonable. For a daytrip around Christmas though, would recommend the overnight return as one can then enjoy the evening Christmas over a meal. Because I travel alone myself, the offers aren't really available to me, but for a family Christmas shopping - excellent value.

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£110 each return is not expensive especially if you can also take your own car and have an outside cabin too, a super off peak Harrogate to London train ticket over the same period, say 23/12 returning on the 27/12 is £112.50 which on recent experience is far less relaxing, has a poorer refreshment offer plus you have no option but to sit in a cramped seat for 2.5 hours.

 

In itself, without the other onboard distractions, pound for pound & mile for mile ferry travel is economical.

 

Do you know if BF has a basic minimum passenger price per mile, nautical mile or kilometre that they apply before seasonal variations are added on? I just ask as you quoted your train fare as being Super Off-peak which is I assume the cheapest available. The distance is about 200 miles so about 56 pence per mile. Just for purposes of comparison, and to make you all jealous 😉, I booked a ticket from Angers to Marseille this summer on a direct double decker TGV train with a buffet car via southern Paris and Lyon and by booking a 'Prems' ticket got the absolute cheapest available fare. French tickets show the number of kilometres between the two stations which in this case was 1072 so 666 miles. Any guesses as to how much I paid?

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Do you know if BF has a basic minimum passenger price per mile, nautical mile or kilometre that they apply before seasonal variations are added on? I just ask as you quoted your train fare as being Super Off-peak which is I assume the cheapest available. The distance is about 200 miles so about 56 pence per mile. Just for purposes of comparison, and to make you all jealous 😉, I booked a ticket from Angers to Marseille this summer on a direct double decker TGV train with a buffet car via southern Paris and Lyon and by booking a 'Prems' ticket got the absolute cheapest available fare. French tickets show the number of kilometres between the two stations which in this case was 1072 so 666 miles. Any guesses as to how much I paid?

 

 

Where did that come from?

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The train? Well Nantes originally. Why?...

(15 minutes later)

...oh! I see! You mean my question.

 

Well, Robbie told us that he paid £24 pounds for his day trip which equates to £12 each way. If we assume that it's 85 miles from Poole to Cherboug then that's around 14 pence per mile. Then Jonno told us that he felt ferries were much more economical than trains and quoted an example to prove his point. I thought I would throw in my French train ticket example for the purposes of comparison and see if anybody can imagine how low it's possible to go per mile. My aim was to see if there is a formula BF apply when calculating their prices.

 

And to give you the price in France: I paid £18 which means about 3 pence per mile travelled.

 

Ed

Edited by Cabin-boy

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Regarding lack of restaurant- I imagine many families aren't too bothered.

When traveling solo I normally eat in the restaurant where there is one. Travelling with the wife and kids it isn't financially viable and we normally take picnic stuff from a supermarket due to cost. This looked typical of other families as well snacking on sausage rolls, crisps etc

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Purely out of interest I ran a dummy booking for car and three adults out on 9th Sept return 16th Sept , both day time crossings and no accommodation.Poole to Cherbourg was £66 cheaper than the £394 charged for the Portsmouth Caen route. I guess you need to factor in the extra time to get to Poole and then the time driving down the peninsula however a 17% saving seemed ok to me.

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The train? Well Nantes originally. Why?...

(15 minutes later)

...oh! I see! You mean my question.

 

Well, Robbie told us that he paid £24 pounds for his day trip which equates to £12 each way. If we assume that it's 85 miles from Poole to Cherboug then that's around 14 pence per mile. Then Jonno told us that he felt ferries were much more economical than trains and quoted an example to prove his point. I thought I would throw in my French train ticket example for the purposes of comparison and see if anybody can imagine how low it's possible to go per mile. My aim was to see if there is a formula BF apply when calculating their prices.

 

And to give you the price in France: I paid £18 which means about 3 pence per mile travelled.

 

Ed

I see your point Ed, although from a GB Sterling point of view the ferry travel appears to be the better value... We recently looked at 'Voyages' prices for a trans European rail pass and couldn't believe what good value it offers on arguably some of the finest trains around.

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Purely out of interest I ran a dummy booking for car and three adults out on 9th Sept return 16th Sept , both day time crossings and no accommodation.Poole to Cherbourg was £66 cheaper than the £394 charged for the Portsmouth Caen route. I guess you need to factor in the extra time to get to Poole and then the time driving down the peninsula however a 17% saving seemed ok to me.

 

If you were in Southampton or Ringwood and wanted to get to Carentan (unlikely, I know) then it really would come down to whether you need a restaurant and cinema or not. Ed.

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If you were in Southampton or Ringwood and wanted to get to Carentan (unlikely, I know) then it really would come down to whether you need a restaurant and cinema or not. Ed.

Thing is, with regards to the restaurant, in my opinion it is just food at the end of the day. The self service food on Barfleur, say, if it was served in a waitered restaurant would be exactly the same, the only difference being the room may be a bit smarter and the food is brought to you. To be honest one can get perfectly adequate mealsin the self service and alcohol can be bought to have with the meal so really it is about people who don't want to queue. If there was no eating facilities on board except for vending machines and a kiosk selling snacks then fair enough, but self services provide adequate meals. Cinemas - OK, but not everyone likes films, I wouldn't use it if there was one no matter how long the crossing, I would make more use of the shops buying magazines and using the wifi. Nowadays people can watch movies on their various devices anyway so they can sit anywhere on the ship and watch it unless they need a wifi connection.

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If you were in Southampton or Ringwood and wanted to get to Carentan (unlikely, I know) then it really would come down to whether you need a restaurant and cinema or not. Ed.

 

And whether the sailing time suits your plans. And whether you want to spend 4 hours at sea or 6. And whether there is anywhere else you wanted to visit en route. Etc. Most people probably don't even think about whether there is a restaurant on board, actually, before they book.

Edited by Gareth

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Actually, writing that has got me thinking about something. Of course, the people to whom the question of the restaurant would occur are those "in the know" about BF and have had previous experience of the BF product. So, I wonder what proportion of BF's tourist traffic is repeat custom and what proportion are travelling with BF for the first time. My general impression when I travel with them is that most of the clientel on board are seasoned BF customers, but I'm sure BF would have stats on the "previous custom" profile of its customers.

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The self service food on Barfleur, say, if it was served in a waitered restaurant would be exactly the same, the only difference being the room may be a bit smarter and the food is brought to you.

 

Just curious, Bridget - have you ever experienced the BF restaurant product?

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I agree. There are numerous other factors which come into play. I was simply thinking that if you were setting of early in the morning from the UK which vessel would you take knowing that both leave around the same time but one crossing is shorter and therefore cheaper and gets you to where you want to be an hour or two earlier but you might not get the same level of service. I suspect most people in that category would go for Barfleur leaving the Caen route for those facing a lengthy drive further south. Ed.

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Just curious, Bridget - have you ever experienced the BF restaurant product?

 

That is perhaps the problem. People that have travelled on Barfleur over a number of years know what the restaurant was like, and the food was nothing like the current self service offering. Personally I can't understand why anyone would use the self service, if you want supermarket cafe food, why not just go to a supermarket cafe?

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Thing is though, if you face a lengthy drive south after an AM sailing from the UK arriving at Ouistreham at 1500 isn't the best solution and maybe why the 0830 sailing tomorrow is cheaper (£317) than Barfleur (£330) which arrives at 1330...

 

Arriving at 1130, NEX, for our vehicle is the most expensive at £357... No cabin, which is a must have after sleeping at the port overnight, and a poorer food offering than BF's Economie ships.

 

I think first and foremost any sailing has to fit your personal timetable therefore travellers explore departure times before any other consideration.

 

What I have noticed is that the day crossing 2/4 berth outside cabin price is the same across the fleet including Economie...

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