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BF Confirm Charter of 'E-Flexer'

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The Superfast X is essentially a day ship nowadays and her configuration in pretty much every other respect is unsuited for what Stena are aiming at with their Cherbourg route.

FWIW the Pont-Aven has lane metres of around 1,400 in the usually defined sense - i.e. freight lane metres. She isn't designed to be a freight machine, whereas an e-flexer is.

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1 minute ago, Hawser Trunnion said:

I thought the first two E-Flexers were taking the place of Stena Lagan and Stena Mersey on Belfast-Birkenhead.  E-flexer 3 was to be the BF ship.  Has there been a change of plan?  And anyway aren't we talking two or three years into the future not next week or next month even?, 

Whilst at one stage Stena said the first 4 were going to Belfast, we know that since then the plan for Loch Ryan Point changed (nobody really believed that they would go to that route anyhow) one has been confirmed as going to BF and pressures at Holyhead have changed too.

They never said as such the first two were going to Birkenhead and current thinking/rumours is that the first will almost certainly go to Holyhead as it is most needed there.  So that leaves ships 2 and 4 for Birkenhead (possibly, maybe).

And yes we are talking late next year at least before the delivery of the first and they are being built in China so we can't rely on delivery dates.

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2 minutes ago, hhvferry said:

The Superfast X is essentially a day ship nowadays and her configuration in pretty much every other respect is unsuited for what Stena are aiming at with their Cherbourg route.

 

Absolutely and the ship isn't even a huge success at Holyhead.  She lacks the required freight capacity, whilst her small number of cabins and small freight driver's lounge makes her unpopular with drivers.

Passenger wise she struggles at anything from a half capacity load.

She is a very different story to the Belfast Superfasts despite being a sister.

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7 minutes ago, RickOShea said:

Absolutely and the ship isn't even a huge success at Holyhead.  She lacks the required freight capacity, whilst her small number of cabins and small freight driver's lounge makes her unpopular with drivers.

Passenger wise she struggles at anything from a half capacity load.

She is a very different story to the Belfast Superfasts despite being a sister.

Oh well that's it then, swap her for Barfleur!:D

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17 minutes ago, hhvferry said:

The Superfast X is essentially a day ship nowadays and her configuration in pretty much every other respect is unsuited for what Stena are aiming at with their Cherbourg route.

No I didn't think she'd suit, if they were to keep her on the Irish Sea the only one I could think of as an outside bet for her to replace was Stena Europe and more due to age than anything else.

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19 minutes ago, RickOShea said:

Whilst at one stage Stena said the first 4 were going to Belfast, we know that since then the plan for Loch Ryan Point changed (nobody really believed that they would go to that route anyhow) one has been confirmed as going to BF and pressures at Holyhead have changed too.

They never said as such the first two were going to Birkenhead and current thinking/rumours is that the first will almost certainly go to Holyhead as it is most needed there.  So that leaves ships 2 and 4 for Birkenhead (possibly, maybe).

And yes we are talking late next year at least before the delivery of the first and they are being built in China so we can't rely on delivery dates.

Does anyone know the timescale for the Belfast improvements... or the Birkenhead relocation from the river moorings for that matter, some believe the up river berth with a much longer vessel moored on it will encroach too much on the Woodside cross river terminal especially when the wind's blowing not to mention the width of the linkspans?

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1 minute ago, jonno said:

Does anyone know the timescale for the Belfast improvements... or the Birkenhead relocation from the river moorings for that matter, some believe the up river berth with a much longer vessel moored on it will encroach too much on the Woodside cross river terminal especially when the wind's blowing not to mention the width of the linkspans?

I think VT2 at Belfast is due to rebuilt from later this year but no word on Mersey end of things.  Despite rumours, I heard they had found a way of modifying the existing linkspan to 2 tier loading.

I don't even see Stena Superfast X replacing the Stena Europe.  I think her length would be an issue.  That said, Stena Europe's major life-extension work has been "postponed" so who knows.

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13 hours ago, scarlton said:

I wouldn't expect an announcement of anything concrete this year Chris. However there are exciting plans being put together.

Now I like the sound of that comment....:D !

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Would it be possible or viable to bring an E-Flexer up to the cruise ferry specifications of Pont Aven and subject it to prolonged use in Biscay or does a ferry have to be specifically designed and constructed for that route?   

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1 hour ago, Jack N said:

Would it be possible or viable to bring an E-Flexer up to the cruise ferry specifications of Pont Aven and subject it to prolonged use in Biscay or does a ferry have to be specifically designed and constructed for that route?   

I can imagine that the E-Flexers will have a high standard interior anyway - especially if Stena let BF do their own interior (still undecided) - as Stena know that BF will basically buy her in the end anyway. I can imagine the cabins on the E-Flexer will be a good size, but I doubt there is enough interior space to allow the grandure of the PA main atrium for example, or a pool. We will probably be hard pushed to see a strong enough argument in this age to allow for such a use of that atrium space on a future vessel. The E-Flexer is also considerably narrower than Pont Aven, more like a traditional ro-ro.

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31 minutes ago, Jack N said:

Would it be possible or viable to bring an E-Flexer up to the cruise ferry specifications of Pont Aven and subject it to prolonged use in Biscay or does a ferry have to be specifically designed and constructed for that route?   

A RoPax can have the quality and variety of her interior spaces upscaled to that of a cruise ferry. BF are heavily involved in configuring E-F3 to do so, going so far as to removing the dedicated car deck to install more cabins. There's an argument to suggest that this one of the reasons, together with her LNG power why their new build, Honfleur from FSG is costing far more than I.F's W.B Yeats.

No particular work needs to be done in order to sail the route although a ship with an ice class is usually constructed with more bulkheads, girders & beams, the hull is thicker too.

The E-flexers will have a 1A-1C ice classification.

Ships with a longer bow/ fo'c'sle tend to perform better in the deeper Atlantic swells as opposed to those with short stubby ones also a vessel with flat slab sided superstructure facing the bow can be difficult hence the work done on the Val de loire/ King Seaways.

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16 hours ago, jonno said:

A RoPax can have the quality and variety of her interior spaces upscaled to that of a cruise ferry. BF are heavily involved in configuring E-F3 to do so, going so far as to removing the dedicated car deck to install more cabins. There's an argument to suggest that this one of the reasons, together with her LNG power why their new build, Honfleur from FSG is costing far more than I.F's W.B Yeats.

No particular work needs to be done in order to sail the route although a ship with an ice class is usually constructed with more bulkheads, girders & beams, the hull is thicker too.

The E-flexers will have a 1A-1C ice classification.

Ships with a longer bow/ fo'c'sle tend to perform better in the deeper Atlantic swells as opposed to those with short stubby ones also a vessel with flat slab sided superstructure facing the bow can be difficult hence the work done on the Val de loire/ King Seaways.

I would agree with the comment about the cost of the Irish ships. If you look at the 67,300 GT second Irish new build, she essentially looks like a car carrier, with a few passenger decks on top.. i would imagine not a particularly costly interior fit-out.

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17 hours ago, hf_uk said:

I can imagine that the E-Flexers will have a high standard interior anyway - especially if Stena let BF do their own interior (still undecided) - as Stena know that BF will basically buy her in the end anyway. I can imagine the cabins on the E-Flexer will be a good size, but I doubt there is enough interior space to allow the grandure of the PA main atrium for example, or a pool. We will probably be hard pushed to see a strong enough argument in this age to allow for such a use of that atrium space on a future vessel. The E-Flexer is also considerably narrower than Pont Aven, more like a traditional ro-ro.

I suspect the era of BF building ships like the Pont-Aven is truly over...

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As I have said before, I think newbuilds will be more on the lines of Armorique, perhaps with a waiter restaurant. The ship seems to be quite successful and versatile and everyone seems to like the cabins.

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The two Stena ships that provide the Harwich - Hoek van Hollande route have very smart, spacious cabins at competitive prices. They also offer self-service and waiter service restaurants. If these designs are carried over to the new boats then in my opinion they will be superior to the offering on Pont Aven.

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I'd be surprised if the budget for outfitting the eflexer as well as the Honfleur wasn't somewhat greater than that permitted for the Armorique, which was always something of a budget jack of all trades. It doesn't have to be significantly higher and probably won't go back to the amounts lavished per square foot on the Pont or MSM but BF will presumably want to maintain standards for premium-paying passengers on their most profitable routes.

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Apart from balcony cabins and a few fancy touches here and there I suppose you could fit out an eflexer to a decent standard if I had a nice fairly kitted out cabin and somewhere nice to eat and wander I would happily sail to Spain on one.

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15 hours ago, cvabishop said:

As I have said before, I think newbuilds will be more on the lines of Armorique, perhaps with a waiter restaurant. The ship seems to be quite successful and versatile and everyone seems to like the cabins.

Lets hope not, with all the brightly coloured plastic and flickering screens, I find it quite unpleasant to travel on - but then I don't generally appreciate anything much post 1960!

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Any ship can fitted out to any standard an operator desires. A cheap piece of furniture fills the same space as an expensive one, same goes for carpets and bedding. There are statutory rules regarding bathroom & cabin sizes. Stands to reason that BF aren't planning on a vessel which travellers will be ambivalent about... They need to pay for it in the end whether the term "charter" is used for 5 years or 10. It's more of a PCP finance agreement...

If there was no planned improvement above what BDS offers the customer why bother investing the time, money & energy negotiating a long term deal on a new build when a similar vessel could be chartered or purchased in its place... Etretat could just as easily be returned to the Spanish routes without the financial pain.

Bretagne & Val de Loire had genuine competition in the early to mid '90's, Pride of Bilbao was still a beautifully appointed vessel, far larger and offered travellers more in terms of both recreation and dining options. BF needed to invest heavily on internal fixtures and fittings, to turn heads in a way, in order to secure market share plus having the option of sailing from Plymouth gave them the time advantage.

This is no longer the case, many travellers enjoy the extended cruise up the channel to Portsmouth and most are happy with a mid range vessel offering comfort, space, a shop or two to browse in and a stylish restaurant.  

Pont Aven came along when P&O where in decline. Was there really a need to invest so heavily in such a lavish vessel. Are balconies for the merest few important or glass lifts in a central atrium, how about swimming pools, do they enhance the voyage... is her restaurant any better than those found on other vessels in the fleet?  Be honest, it's easier to answer no than yes.

Such vessels are more expensive to design, build and run whilst cabin and restaurant prices remain inline with other fleet members. Why would you need a vessel to, in some ways, attempt to mirror a cruise ship if there is no market to charge cruise ship prices? 

I believe BF want all of their Spanish vessels of an equal standard so their costs, income as well as customer expectation are similar across the fleet.

For me the E-Flexer will be unveiled in full Brittany Ferries livery, larger comfortable cabins with the latest trends and fabrics, airy public spaces, multiple shopping & dining options plus onboard technology which reflects the age we live in.

What more do we need or want?

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I guess different people want different things from their ferry crossing - everything from a shuttle bus to a floating palace!  Hitting a balance must be very difficult whilst being commercially successful.  If their not careful BF will end up providing lesser standards whilst claiming to maintain a five star rating.  Such a shame!

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If I’m paying neat on a four figure sum for a return trip to Spain I expect a good ship,a comfy luxurious quiet cabin,decent entertainment, quality decently priced food, professional staff,decent deck space to go for a wander , seeing as you asked.

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14 minutes ago, neilcvx said:

If I’m paying neat on a four figure sum for a return trip to Spain I expect a good ship,a comfy luxurious quiet cabin,decent entertainment, quality decently priced food, professional staff,decent deck space to go for a wander , seeing as you asked.

I very much agree with you but what makes some think she won't?

They all cost over a grand to travel on in the summer whether it be BDS or Pont Aven, the former being furnished no worse than Normandie or Bretagne and the latter no better than Mont St Michel.

I don't get the scepticism surrounding the E-flexer. It's not get what your given, a ship handed over in the spec Stena decide...which would be excellent if the Harwich twins are anything to go by. It's a way for BF to secure new build tonnage without the need to fork out €200m before the keys are handed over.

 If BF can dictate how many vehicle decks she has even at this early stage you can bet they can dictate how she looks internally too.

 

 

 

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1 hour ago, jonno said:

I very much agree with you but what makes some think she won't?

They all cost over a grand to travel on in the summer whether it be BDS or Pont Aven, the former being furnished no worse than Normandie or Bretagne and the latter no better than Mont St Michel.

I don't get the scepticism surrounding the E-flexer. It's not get what your given, a ship handed over in the spec Stena decide...which would be excellent if the Harwich twins are anything to go by. It's a way for BF to secure new build tonnage without the need to fork out €200m before the keys are handed over.

 If BF can dictate how many vehicle decks she has even at this early stage you can bet they can dictate how she looks internally too.

 

 

 

Let's not forget how nice Stena even made two Visentinis (and I believe there are some other upgrades ahead for them).  Even a ship finished to a "standard" Stena spec should be more than satisfactory to all.

The business criteria for decisions in 2018 is about what is adding value, so chances are offering some more luxurious cabins fits that but fitting luxurious and spacious receptions with glass lifts isn't.  These guys understand their business and know which decisions affect the bottom line and which don't.  If you look at the demand for UK - Spain there is a strong argument that you could afford to lose some passengers who think a product no longer matches their expectations as there are plenty of others happy to pay for the same experience.  Don't forget the percentage of BF passengers who even on the cruise ferries choose basic cabins or reclining seats and eat in snack bars and cafeterias. Whilst a product most certainly has to reach a certain standard and feel like a pleasant experience, remember most people are paying to travel not cruise.

 

Edited by RickOShea
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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.

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