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BF Confirm Charter of 'E-Flexer' - Galcia & Salamanca

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1 minute ago, Gareth said:

Thing about the e-flexer is that it gives BF a practical way of building a dedicated Spanish fleet that offers consistency between vessels, an appropriate passenger/freight mix, and a sustaining of BF standards of facility and comfort.  It has never been BF style in the past to build a fleet of “sister” vessels, but I can see it becoming something they do here because of what it will enable them to achieve.  With that in mind, I don’t think it beyond the realms of possibility that in 5 years’ time all four Spanish vessels will be e-flexers built to broadly the same specification.

I agree.

I think it's very possible you could see 3 of them anyhow...

(That would also fit in with Stena perhaps needing 5 for their own needs).

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1 minute ago, georgem7 said:

The E-Flexer is a bit of a drop in capacity from Pont-Aven (2400->900 (I have read)). However perhaps the extra cabins may boost the passenger capacity? 

The PA is rarely ever (if at all) near 2400 though. Even in busy times I remember being told that the numbers were around 1400 when it felt quite full, and currently BDS and CF offer sub-900, so it could quite feasibly equal out...

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If there’s one way to lose business it’s to tell customers you “should” accept this it’s the best you’re going to get , personally I think the eflexers will obviously do the job and most of the mumping about what they lack will fade with time if BF keep the quality that they are capable of up, it will be interesting how much they future proof the vessels, WiFi,TVs in cabins,electric vehicle charging etc , personally I like a bit of the grandeur of getting on the Pont early on a Sunday having a lazy long breakfast in Le Flora then lounging in the sun on the rear deck happy days.

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We just have to "wait and see" how the new additions compare in the eyes of the holiday and business clients, and whether the powers that be go for 2/3 star or 4/5.  Just because the 'economie' is doing well doesn't mean there's no longer a demand for a bit of luxury.  If freight is going to become the backbone of the business, its perhaps time to look at dedicated fleets, rather than ships with limited facilities  (versatile I think they are called by some!)

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1 hour ago, neilcvx said:

If there’s one way to lose business it’s to tell customers you “should” accept this it’s the best you’re going to get , personally I think the eflexers will obviously do the job and most of the mumping about what they lack will fade with time if BF keep the quality that they are capable of up, it will be interesting how much they future proof the vessels, WiFi,TVs in cabins,electric vehicle charging etc , personally I like a bit of the grandeur of getting on the Pont early on a Sunday having a lazy long breakfast in Le Flora then lounging in the sun on the rear deck happy days.

 

Being cynical, I suspect we won't ever see another ship with the same high level of style and facilities as the Pont Aven. It's understandable if the powers in charge don't want the outlay, but I'll certainly miss it if/when it's gone. The E-flexers get BF out of a tight spot, but will always lack the elegance of a purpose designed cruise ferry.

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7 minutes ago, penguin said:

Being cynical, I suspect we won't ever see another ship with the same high level of style and facilities as the Pont Aven. It's understandable if the powers in charge don't want the outlay, but I'll certainly miss it if/when it's gone. The E-flexers get BF out of a tight spot, but will always lack the elegance of a purpose designed cruise ferry.

How much have you travelled with Stena Line in recent years?  Arguably some of their work is as good as BF and even better in places.

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With exception of Portsmouth/Caen all the BF newbuilds have found thmselves spending much of their time on routes other than that for which they were designed due to changing market conditions. Bretagne was built for Spain originally but has spent most of her career on the St Malo run. Pont Aven was built with the intention of running her from Portsmouth to Santander in 24 hours, hence the very high speed requirement but I don't think she has ever actually done that in the time. Armorique was specifically built for Plymouth/Roscoff, hence no waiter restaurant, but has filled in all over the place.

Bretagne fits the St Malo route quite well and can fill in on Plymouth/Spain or Plymouth/Roscoff. Pont Aven is really overqualified for St Malo, the pool and atrium are rather a waste of space and compromise the ships layout and facilities (no decent lounge space for example). Armorique can understudy all over the place but her lack of a waiter restaurant means that she lacks the facilities of the regular ships on St Malo and Caen services.

Val de Loire was converted for the Spanish route and was quite successful in the role, she was less effective on th St Malo route where she was too big. Eventually she was deemed too expensive as well and made way for 'The Funnel'.

Barfleur is Barfleur and wasn't built by BF but she matches the Poole/Cherbourg requirement well enough although perhaps not to the extent of being eventually replaced.

So BF may be best served by a moderately high end ship with maybe an optional restaurant according to route or perhaps an upgraded self service. Such a ship could better substitute seamlesly for the regular vessels when they are in refit or even permanently should the need arise.

I don't think it would be advisable to build any more route dedicated ships which could be left high and dry by changes in market conditions. This is effectively what has happened with  Cotentin which doesn't fit any of the BF routes now.

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The Harwich ferries would do me fine on any French route by the look of them, I’ve only traveled on the Stena Belfast / Scotland route and it was a good experience alround professional and decent in every way although different from what BF offer.

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3 minutes ago, RickOShea said:

How much have you travelled with Stena Line in recent years?  Arguably some of their work is as good as BF and even better in places.

I must admit, I haven't tried them yet. The Hollandica/Britannica look like fine ships, I'm certainly looking for a good excuse to try them!

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3 minutes ago, penguin said:

I must admit, I haven't tried them yet. The Hollandica/Britannica look like fine ships, I'm certainly looking for a good excuse to try them!

Both are exceptionally fine ships and although I live closer to Newcastle & Hull we always opt for Stena when we head north to visit friends or holiday in the van. we've travelled on a couple of Tallink's ships, Baltic Princess & Galaxy which are excellent, great cabins, all with TV's and wifi in all of the public areas. I've not had the chance to try Megastar but friends tell me she's stunning. These are all classed as Ropax vessels.

As cruise ferries go Viking Grace is the last word for me, an exceptional experience... I'm sad to say that nothing BF has matches her, one of her suites even has a jacuzzi, another a sauna similar to Stena's offering from Kiel.

Modern vessels have suites not commodore cabins, even the 31 year old Oscar Wilde has suites.

In all honesty if the E-Flexer has just a proportion of what is available on the modern ferries of today then we'll all be in for a treat. Honfleur will be a fair indicator, she'll be a bit special too.

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I think BF WILL build another cruise ferry, either as a replacement for Bretagne, or for Pont-Aven (which is a while yet!) when her time is up. As has been highlighted in another thread, the St Malo doesn't carry a lot of freight so won't need the large vehicle decks that other routes need. 

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20 minutes ago, georgem7 said:

I think BF WILL build another cruise ferry, either as a replacement for Bretagne, or for Pont-Aven (which is a while yet!) when her time is up. As has been highlighted in another thread, the St Malo doesn't carry a lot of freight so won't need the large vehicle decks that other routes need. 

Taking your argument, the logic is Pont-Aven replacing Bretagne and Pont-Aven being replaced by something that takes care of the freight demand, i.e. an e-flexer which was my original suggestion!

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33 minutes ago, georgem7 said:

I think BF WILL build another cruise ferry, either as a replacement for Bretagne, or for Pont-Aven (which is a while yet!) when her time is up. As has been highlighted in another thread, the St Malo doesn't carry a lot of freight so won't need the large vehicle decks that other routes need. 

That would be an ideal scenario, maybe BF could promote the “luxury” mini cruise market and lease another Pelican style ship and build a colour magic style ship , we live in hope 😉

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I think BF WILL build another cruise ferry, either as a replacement for Bretagne, or for Pont-Aven (which is a while yet!) when her time is up. As has been highlighted in another thread, the St Malo doesn't carry a lot of freight so won't need the large vehicle decks that other routes need. 

Yes, but building a dedicated St Malo ship leaves BF vulnerable to market changes as has happened with Cotentin. Not a wise move in my view. They need to have flexibility to respond to changing commercial conditions.

At the end of the day we are talking ferries here. In the majority of cases, a day crossing or a single night aboard, maybe two if you are travelling to Spain. The facilities need to reflect this. People are travelling to get to a destination of which the ferry is just one part of the journey. They don't need the expense that goes with cruise ship facilities, they just need a comfortable bed if travelling overnight and space to relax with reasonable facilities if travelling by day. We should not fall into the trap of seeing the ferry as a destination in itself. Unlike a regular cruise ship, it is literally a means to an end for the vast majority of passengers. OK, you can get a nice meal in a waiter restaurant if you want one but when you get to France you have a vast chioce of eateries at your leisure.

I sometimes think that on this site we do tend to get a bit fixated on the ships and their facilities without putting them into the overall context as perceived by the average passenger who just wants to get to where they are going in reasonable comfort at a reasonable price and without hassle. Those people are BF's bread and butter.

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17 minutes ago, cvabishop said:

Yes, but building a dedicated St Malo ship leaves BF vulnerable to market changes as has happened with Cotentin. Not a wise move in my view. They need to have flexibility to respond to changing commercial conditions.

At the end of the day we are talking ferries here. In the majority of cases, a day crossing or a single night aboard, maybe two if you are travelling to Spain. The facilities need to reflect this. People are travelling to get to a destination of which the ferry is just one part of the journey. They don't need the expense that goes with cruise ship facilities, they just need a comfortable bed if travelling overnight and space to relax with reasonable facilities if travelling by day. We should not fall into the trap of seeing the ferry as a destination in itself. Unlike a regular cruise ship, it is literally a means to an end for the vast majority of passengers. OK, you can get a nice meal in a waiter restaurant if you want one but when you get to France you have a vast chioce of eateries at your leisure.

I sometimes think that on this site we do tend to get a bit fixated on the ships and their facilities without putting them into the overall context as perceived by the average passenger who just wants to get to where they are going in reasonable comfort at a reasonable price and without hassle. Those people are BF's bread and butter.

Exactly.

This isn't a true cruiseferry market where passengers board for the sake of doing the trip.  It's true that trade used to exist to some extent on the old Plymouth - Santander twice weekly route.  It's now a transport route, albeit it can done as nicely as you like if your budget desires.  Therefore, your ship requirement is quite the opposite of the suggestion elsewhere of another roro and a cruiseferry - that's madness actually - rather you have something that hoovers up the freight but provides the sort of product that passengers will be happy to pay for too.

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Just because a ship has large vehicle decks doesn't mean it can't provide very high standards of accommodation. As pointed out the Tallink ships uniformly are of very high quality from the cruise-style ones to the Helsinki shuttles. From the early '90s to the Pont-Aven BF probably spend more than any other operator around the UK on the internal outfit of their ships. The budget for art on the Bretagne, ship models on the Val de Loire and those trinkets on the Mont St Michel was large despite the lack of directly measurable economic benefit to be had from them. On the Armorique that sort of thing was abandoned as the budget and her route requirements were rather different. She is a fine ship, but is much more functional - with any other operator her public accommodation probably  wouldn't merit much negative comment.

The expensive touches don't add any direct value but they do add a sense of luxury which, albeit intangibly, adds to an experience you might be willing to pay more for overall. They aren't cruise ships, no - they can be a lot more expensive per night. And when you are spending £1k+ on an overnight voyage to Spain you have a right to expect 4* hotel standards both in the cabins, but also in the saloons.

How to balance that cost vs benefit is the challenge BF face - yes, huge freight capacity but also high standards of passenger facilities. Maybe not quite the largesse of the Pont-Aven, but I'd be very surprised to see them go full-on Armorique either.

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1 hour ago, jonno said:

Both are exceptionally fine ships and although I live closer to Newcastle & Hull we always opt for Stena when we head north to visit friends or holiday in the van. we've travelled on a couple of Tallink's ships, Baltic Princess & Galaxy which are excellent, great cabins, all with TV's and wifi in all of the public areas. I've not had the chance to try Megastar but friends tell me she's stunning. These are all classed as Ropax vessels.

As cruise ferries go Viking Grace is the last word for me, an exceptional experience... I'm sad to say that nothing BF has matches her, one of her suites even has a jacuzzi, another a sauna similar to Stena's offering from Kiel.

Modern vessels have suites not commodore cabins, even the 31 year old Oscar Wilde has suites.

In all honesty if the E-Flexer has just a proportion of what is available on the modern ferries of today then we'll all be in for a treat. Honfleur will be a fair indicator, she'll be a bit special too.

I was very impressed with the Baltic Queen when I travelled on her. You'd be hard pressed to tell the difference between her and a P&O ship.

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And when you are spending £1k+ on an overnight voyage to Spain you have a right to expect 4* hotel standards both in the cabins, but also in the saloons.

That statement needs to be set in context I think. Surely it isn't £1k for one person, it is likely to be two or more persons plus a ton or so of freight in the form of your vehicle. So to make a valid argument youy really need a cost breakdown, per person plus the vehicle. And then bear in mind that it is a means of transport and not static like a hotel. What dom the costs look like then?

Also, is that a one way total or return?

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£1029 for 2 people return plus car with cabin is still a lot of money to spend on transport cost so yes however you break it down or however you feel it represents good value i expect a certain degree of quality.

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Fair point but how does the cost stack up against say £320 for fuel and one night's accommodation in each direction plus road tolls and the cost of taking a shorter return crossing to one of the Channel points before driving down? Not to mention putting an extra 1300 miles or so on the car?

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My point is that I’m paying BF that four figure some of money so I expect them to provide a certain level of service, I don’t really regard the comparison argument as valid as this is about what BF offer for the money not what an alternative offers.

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1 hour ago, neilcvx said:

My point is that I’m paying BF that four figure some of money so I expect them to provide a certain level of service, I don’t really regard the comparison argument as valid as this is about what BF offer for the money not what an alternative offers.

Well it's the only way to get direct from Ireland to Spain with your vehicle! And it's a long way! :)

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2 hours ago, neilcvx said:

My point is that I’m paying BF that four figure some of money so I expect them to provide a certain level of service, I don’t really regard the comparison argument as valid as this is about what BF offer for the money not what an alternative offers.

Fair comment Neil but what level of service does Pont Aven, I assume you're talking about her, offer that say Cap Finistere doesn't travelling to Spain plus apart from a restaurant, which for me isn't a deal breaker, what does BDS lack which would deem her less value for money. She was very, very popular sailing from Harwich to Esbjerg which was arguably more expensive?

 

 

 

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