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robbie

Barfleur day trip

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

I am not a restaurant person anyway, never have been, so the answer to that question is no. I would not go into a restaurant in town or anything else, never liked them or have any interest in them. Even if there were several restaurants on board, I would probably use the self service. I used the self service on Normandie and Mont out of choice, had no interest whatsoever in the restaurant. In Cherbourg I will go to Cite De La Mer cafe, Maccy's and Subway, perfectly ok for me.

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As promised yesterday here are the details of what I consider to be the best Day-Trip bargain I have yet found over here in France. In August 2011 I got the Barfleur across to Poole over night, with my car, then had a day in the UK (BF helpfully provided a list of possible sites to visit including Poole Quay and the Cockle Trail) before getting the next overnighter back to France.

To keep costs down I slept on a blow-up mattress on the floor both ways but had a full 15 hours available in the UK to do what I needed.

In fact I emptied my car of everything, including rear seats, and did a run back to Petersfield to pick up some furniture and other 'stuff' but had time for a visit to Weymouth and Dorchester in the morning (for breakfast and to visit some family graves), lunch in Hampshire, a small siesta and a trip to Tesco for the essentials then dinner before heading back down to Poole. It was exactly what I needed to achieve my aims for the day - enough time and a vehicle - all for only €69. As I was already in Normandy at the time it was the perfect combination. I've never seen anything remotely similar since, unfortunately. Ed

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With regards to the restaurant - or lack of it on Barfleur, I would add that the Games Planet is far more useful, that is what is in it's place. I think that it provides a necessary function in keeping youngsters occupied, there is already a playroom for the tinies, so older children it is good they are catered for too. A restaurant isn't really essential on a short crossing like that, but keeping kids entertained is. Nowadays though, kids are just as likely to sit with their devices and play games, but having a games area for older kids is a good idea.

 

In addition to my comments in my previous post, my main dislike of restaurants comes from childhood when I was made to sit in them, all starchy snd formal. I wanted to go to the Grill Bars, greasy spoon cafes and Wimpies. I had to sit in "proper" restaurants - so as soon as I was allowed into town on my own, into all the places I was told were off limits as a child!! The Grill Bar in Dorchester, and the truckers caff at the top of town car park in Dorchester were my favourites. So I just prefer places like that, they are "me". Same as the beach, was made to sit on Weymouth beach in the glaring sun as a child, when I wanted to be in the shade and go in the shops. Hence why I never go on the beach in summer here, I'll sit somewhere shady. People do have their preferences for how and where they eat, and each to their own really.

Edited by Khaines

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The morning crossing is more than adequately catered for at breakfast, with an excellent choice in Barfleur's self-service restaurant.The part of the restaurant near to the Drivers restaurant is slightly cut off from the rest and gives another alternative.

The return crossing from France might give those who prefer a meal in a BF restaurant,such as you have on the Bretagne,a problem.Personally it doesn't bother me as I prefer the shorter crossing and a good Barfleur steak and chips in the restaurant or in the self-service doesn't really matter to me.

What matters to me is the quality of the food.The Barfleur has hardly ever let me down concerning that.

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All this talk of different routes, crossings etc, down here in the far west there's one choice of route. As to restaurant we have used it on the Pont Aven but most times are happy with Self Service, we can have a French meal in France a lot cheaper. We use the Thursday night crossing when possible but it's more to do with timing than anything else, a lot more relaxed.

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To get back to Ed's original question, that led us on to the restaurant discussion, should Barfleur be branded Economie. Don't think you can judge that solely on the restaurant issue otherwise Armorique would have to be Economie too. And apart from the lack of restaurant, in every other respect I think Armorique qualifies as a cruise ferry with flying colours. So as well as restaurant, quality and comfort of cabins and other ameneties on board should feed into the decision. Not travelled on her, so not the best person to judge, but purely from the description on the BF website it seems to me that Barfleur is comparable with the Economie ships in her onboard facilities and on that basis she probably should be branded as Economie given that the brand exists.

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Very difficult this one but I don't think Barfleur qualifies as Economie.

She has the right facilities and services for this route which are of a very high quality, certainly not Economie.

To say that Barfleur is Economie class, means to say that the route is Economie which it is indeed not.

Now if you say that Poole-Cherbourg is different from the other routes then that's another matter to discuss.

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The thing is, Gareth, the question as to whether Barfleur should be rebranded Economie is as old as the hills on here, or has been since they introduced Ecomonie. Many, many posts on the subject. I personally think that she should stay as she is. She was originally Truckline and then was rebranded in full BF livery, so she qualifies for being a "proper" BF ship, albeit with the lack of facilities seen on the larger ships. My stance has always been that it is a very short crossing anyway and she doesn't need to fulfil the needs of a much longer crossing. She is in a class of her own really, she is too small for the full range of facilities seen on the bigger vessels and her open plan layout is what people like about her - as Robbie said. I cannot ever see her branded Economie - she is probably in her last few years as a full BF ship, so she should leave the fleet that way when she does. She is a well loved vessel by many despite her shortcomings in facilities and she is very popular so people aren't really worried about whether she is Economie or not, they just want a good crossing.

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It also all comes back to why Economie was created in the first place - to allow the company to get away with adding Etretat to the fleet. Without Etretat, the branding would not exist. And I agree, assessment of facilities needs to be seen in light of the route in which the ship trades. The entire rest of the fleet lacks certain facilities that Pont Aven possesses and that's fine, on their routes they don't need them. And it sounds like Barfleur is more than fine for the short 4-hour route she serves.

 

So don't get me wrong, I was not campaigning for Barfleur to actually be rebranded....I was just answering Ed's question!

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When they chartered Etretat they knew they could not pass off an ex-LD Lines vessel as a standard BF ship. So as Gareth says, they had to find some way around the problem - hence the Economie branding. Since then the Baie de Seine has been added to the roster, but despite her branding several people on here have stated she does not deserve to be downgraded. It seems she is sort of half-way between the two standards. I personally feel that BF missed a trick when taking over Etretat, in that they should have decided there and then to create a distinctive sub-brand and reclassify Barfleur at the same time. They would have had to make a decision as to what constitues a cruise-ferry (restaurant, cinema, commodore cabins at the very least) and what an Economie vessel would have (self-service, vending machines, video-lounges). It might have meant a bit of reconfiguring on some vessels (Armorique in particular) but would at least peovide a clearer signal to the customers of what they should expect once on board (and for their money). Ed

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There's something to be said for that Ed, given that the brand was created. I think BDS was only branded Economie because the brand existed and she was initially a partner to Etretat on the Le Havre route. Don't think they'd have created Economie especially for her if there had been no Etretat.

 

As well as Armorique, the other ship that would cause a bit of a dilemma if Cruise Ferry was defined as you suggest would be Cap Finistere, which has no Commodore cabins and a restaurant that is not in keeping with the rest of the Cruise fleet. Not suggesting she is Economie material, but on the amenities-suitable-for-route test she arguably falls short of Armorique (and maybe even Barfleur?).

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Remember when Economie started and it was well publicised and explained to customers what it meant regarding on board experiences. And some people still complained that it wasn't what they expected - think they expected the Pont... There is a thread somewhere in the mists of time about that here, no idea where! I think Barfleur is in a class of her own though, in my opinion she is neither of the calibre expected facilities wise to be classed as a "full" BF ship, but she isn't exactly Etretat neither. I describe her as like an open plan apartment - one very long room divided up into sections, you can just walk from one end to the other in less than a minute, everything except the reclining lounges and cabins is on one level. I have quite a few interior shots of her on a camera card, so will try and fish it out and post them up tomorrow.

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There's something to be said for that Ed, given that the brand was created. I think BDS was only branded Economie because the brand existed and she was initially a partner to Etretat on the Le Havre route. Don't think they'd have created Economie especially for her if there had been no Etretat.

 

As well as Armorique, the other ship that would cause a bit of a dilemma if Cruise Ferry was defined as you suggest would be Cap Finistere, which has no Commodore cabins and a restaurant that is not in keeping with the rest of the Cruise fleet. Not suggesting she is Economie material, but on the amenities-suitable-for-route test she arguably falls short of Armorique (and maybe even Barfleur?).

 

I would second that . I thought the Cap Finistere was simply awful and not a patch on Barfleur. The whole ship was disjointed and the restaurant sat in a corridor. The bar was average with no atmosphere and outside deck space and layout awful. I will never travel on her again. I know beauty is in the eye of the beholder and everything we are discussing here is subjective however i really cannot understand how they put that ship on the Spain route. Its such a massive let down after Pont Aven or indeed any other BF vessel I have sailed on.

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Looking at the Wikipedia table of the BF fleet which gives the technical details of each vessel (I can't find such a table giving the customer facilities which would be a help given this current discussion - perhaps I will start a collaborative one on Google-docs) I think in fact we need to divide them into 3 broad classes. First the true Cruise Ferries (PA, Normandie, MSM and Bretagne) all ordered and delivered between the end of the eighties and early noughties when there was direct competition on the French and Spanish routes from ferries of a very high calibre. Then you have the Classic Ferries (CF, Armorique and Barfleur) which were either new builds, brought in from other operators or transferred from other branches of the BF empire and re-branded and these offer the basic minimum for their routes but not the style, design or perceived luxury that many people associate with BF. Finally you have the Economy Ferries (Etretat and BDS) which are are chartered and offer a reduced level of passenger service while at the same time focussing on freight and preventing the competition form getting a foothold on the less desirable lines.

 

I hope that all makes sense. NEX would probably fit into the Classic Ferries group in any other company with a similar fleet but both she and Barfleur could be downgraded to the Economie label without damaging their reputations and it might help to cement their future roles within the fleet. Armorique could reasonably be upgraded to Cruise Ferry status if that forward lounge was transformed into a sit-down restaurant and some of the cabins were knocked together to make a dozen Commodore class ones. CF is more challenging and not having been on her I'm unable to suggest a solution just from studying her deck plans which might not be to scale given her shop seems no bigger than 3 inside cabins - about enough room to swing a toy cat.

 

So there you have it: BF Cruise, Classic and Economie - three classes, three distinct price brands. Ed

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Smart thinking Ed. BDS might well make it into Classic I would imagine. NEX doesn't fit into any of the categories, she is what she is, an HSC whose facilities cannot possibly bear any comparison with a proper ship.

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And the geographical logic behind all that would be that you have 3 (more or less) equally-spaced ports offering cruise ferry services - Caen, St Malo and Roscoff - while the intermediate ports - Le Havre and Cherbourg - which are perhaps less attractive for the classic holiday traffic take on the Economie mantle and make a name for themselves as such. Ed

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Looking at the Wikipedia table of the BF fleet which gives the technical details of each vessel (I can't find such a table giving the customer facilities which would be a help given this current discussion - perhaps I will start a collaborative one on Google-docs) I think in fact we need to divide them into 3 broad classes. First the true Cruise Ferries (PA, Normandie, MSM and Bretagne) all ordered and delivered between the end of the eighties and early noughties when there was direct competition on the French and Spanish routes from ferries of a very high calibre. Then you have the Classic Ferries (CF, Armorique and Barfleur) which were either new builds, brought in from other operators or transferred from other branches of the BF empire and re-branded and these offer the basic minimum for their routes but not the style, design or perceived luxury that many people associate with BF. Finally you have the Economy Ferries (Etretat and BDS) which are are chartered and offer a reduced level of passenger service while at the same time focussing on freight and preventing the competition form getting a foothold on the less desirable lines.

 

I hope that all makes sense. NEX would probably fit into the Classic Ferries group in any other company with a similar fleet but both she and Barfleur could be downgraded to the Economie label without damaging their reputations and it might help to cement their future roles within the fleet. Armorique could reasonably be upgraded to Cruise Ferry status if that forward lounge was transformed into a sit-down restaurant and some of the cabins were knocked together to make a dozen Commodore class ones. CF is more challenging and not having been on her I'm unable to suggest a solution just from studying her deck plans which might not be to scale given her shop seems no bigger than 3 inside cabins - about enough room to swing a toy cat.

 

So there you have it: BF Cruise, Classic and Economie - three classes, three distinct price brands. Ed

I suggested a BF Classic class a couple of years ago, it would be a good idea.

 

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Some photos from inside Barfleur, more to come, will find some of the self service/info desk area

Edited by Khaines

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Some photos from inside Barfleur, more to come, will find some of the self service/info desk area

 

Thanks Khaines. Nice pictures.

 

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Looking at the Wikipedia table of the BF fleet which gives the technical details of each vessel (I can't find such a table giving the customer facilities which would be a help given this current discussion - perhaps I will start a collaborative one on Google-docs) I think in fact we need to divide them into 3 broad classes. First the true Cruise Ferries (PA, Normandie, MSM and Bretagne) all ordered and delivered between the end of the eighties and early noughties when there was direct competition on the French and Spanish routes from ferries of a very high calibre. Then you have the Classic Ferries (CF, Armorique and Barfleur) which were either new builds, brought in from other operators or transferred from other branches of the BF empire and re-branded and these offer the basic minimum for their routes but not the style, design or perceived luxury that many people associate with BF. Finally you have the Economy Ferries (Etretat and BDS) which are are chartered and offer a reduced level of passenger service while at the same time focussing on freight and preventing the competition form getting a foothold on the less desirable lines.

 

I hope that all makes sense. NEX would probably fit into the Classic Ferries group in any other company with a similar fleet but both she and Barfleur could be downgraded to the Economie label without damaging their reputations and it might help to cement their future roles within the fleet. Armorique could reasonably be upgraded to Cruise Ferry status if that forward lounge was transformed into a sit-down restaurant and some of the cabins were knocked together to make a dozen Commodore class ones. CF is more challenging and not having been on her I'm unable to suggest a solution just from studying her deck plans which might not be to scale given her shop seems no bigger than 3 inside cabins - about enough room to swing a toy cat.

 

So there you have it: BF Cruise, Classic and Economie - three classes, three distinct price brands. Ed

I would make more classifications ie:

1) Deluxe class

2) Quality

3) Economie.

4) Fastcraft.

Now all you have to do is place the BF ships in the correct category!

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I would make more classifications ie:

1) Deluxe class

2) Quality

3) Economie.

4) Fastcraft.

Now all you have to do is place the BF ships in the correct category!

 

I don't agree because Quality is a perception and varies from person to person, from day to day and from service to service. Classic is concept which evokes memories of days gone by, when you you got what you needed but not a lot more, and inherently suggests you will enjoy the experience even if you need to make a few sacrifices (or accept that it may not be the latest in trends) but is perfectly adequate for your needs without paying over the odds.

 

Ed

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Ok, well as I suggested on Sunday, here goes:

 

Cruise Ferries or Deluxe Class (PA, Normandie, MSM and Bretagne)

Classic Ferries or Quality Class (CF, Armorique and Barfleur)

Economy Ferries (Etretat and BDS)

Fastcraft (NEX & Liberation - if Brigitte gets her way;))

 

Ed

 

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