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Cork to Santander Route to Launch in 2018

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NEWS: The Official Press Release regarding the new Ireland - Spain route can be read here. 16/01/18

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Just now, Gareth said:

Hey Jonno, you‚Äôve swapped a Vulcan bomber for Val de Loire!! ūüėČ

Gareth it was a Tornado doing the Mach loop in South Wales...The Tonka pilot was holding up page 3 while his R.I.O behind him pressed a 'hello mum' sign against the cockpit window... at mach one...! Rest assured young man all the V bombers will get a turn.

Sourced the VDL pic after the thread regarding the ships passing each other? VDL is passing Pride of Portsmouth opposite Southsea.

Another change in March, sexy doctor lady is treating me to Color Magic for my 50th.

Stay tooned and watch this space!9_9

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Has anyone here travelled on BOTH Etretat and this new vessel? I know BF spent quite a bit on Etretat improving her over the past few years, I just wondered in terms of comfort, condition, facilities how they compare?

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She's currently operating for ANEK who have this on their website for her:

https://www.anek.gr/en/vessel/fb-asterion/

She's still essentially factory fit Visentini (as is Etretat to be fair).

I presume Stena RoRo have kept ANEK informed about the charter to BF as they still have her programmed for Venice-Patras sailings through the summer.

 

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41 minutes ago, Gareth said:

Yes, that would be quite a landmark change for BF.  And the thin end of a wedge that could quite seriously erode their brand.  I’d be very surprised if this was the case.  Apart, perhaps, from temporarily at the start.  But in my view it would be a big mistake for BF to go down that route as their long-term concept for the route.

 

Normandie Express was British crewed (by Northern Marine - part of Stena) for her first season, with BF providing the hospitality staff. BF took things fully in-house for the second season and beyond.

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It seems to me BF are moving quickly in the hope of firmly establishing themselves in the market place against any potential competition.   Maybe Balearia should have moved more quickly themselves if they are serious about reviving Gijon-Montoir and maybe more of LD Lines Atlantic Arc routes.  Montoir-Rosslare was said to be picking up business when it was axed.  Thus the prospects for Cork-Santander would seem to be good.  But maybe Balearia have designs on a service to the UK.  They have these two LNG Visentinis on order and I've seen it suggested the two older ones they have available could be converted to burn LNG.  Do they they have plans to operate into the Sulphur Emission Control Area (SECA)?  Should they do so one might guess Balearia will prove more of a challenge to BF than LD ever did.

One wonders why Norman Asturias has been selected for this new service bearing in mind she is already chartered out.  I suppose Stena RoRo must be making a replacement vessel available.   But it is curious when she has operated regularly to Spain before.

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17 minutes ago, Hawser Trunnion said:

It seems to me BF are moving quickly in the hope of firmly establishing themselves in the market place against any potential competition.   Maybe Balearia should have moved more quickly themselves if they are serious about reviving Gijon-Montoir and maybe more of LD Lines Atlantic Arc routes.  Montoir-Rosslare was said to be picking up business when it was axed.  Thus the prospects for Cork-Santander would seem to be good.  But maybe Balearia have designs on a service to the UK.  They have these two LNG Visentinis on order and I've seen it suggested the two older ones they have available could be converted to burn LNG.  Do they they have plans to operate into the Sulphur Emission Control Area (SECA)?  Should they do so one might guess Balearia will prove more of a challenge to BF than LD ever did.

One wonders why Norman Asturias has been selected for this new service bearing in mind she is already chartered out.  I suppose Stena RoRo must be making a replacement vessel available.   But it is curious when she has operated regularly to Spain before.

I can't see what the relevance of this is.  First, there is no competition, either existing or on the horizon.  There has never been an Ireland to Spain ferry service and this is a first - a response to perceived market demand, nothing to do with "beating off competition".  Secondly, the rumoured interest of Balearia has nothing to do with Ireland to Spain.  The rumours are to do with a possible revival of the Motorway of the Seas route between St Nazaire and Gijon.  That matter has its own thread, which is currently dormant pending further news (of which there is none).

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31 minutes ago, Jim said:

Normandie Express was British crewed (by Northern Marine - part of Stena) for her first season, with BF providing the hospitality staff. BF took things fully in-house for the second season and beyond.

In the early years of the company some ships also initially operated under a foreign flag. The Quiberon, for example,  operated under the Sweedish flag for the first two years of her charter prior to being purchased by BF. 

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15 minutes ago, Gareth said:

A good person to make a comparison between the two might be RickO'Shea.

I haven't been on the Asterion since some date early in September 2014 (strangely enough) but I was sent some onboard pictures from last year and didn't see any big changes, even most onboard signage was still from LD Lines, nor have I been on Etretat since her first season with BF.

In essence there is not much difference between the two.  But note that although people talk about Visentinis as being sisters they aren't all sisters really - rather sets of sisters of very similar but different slightly classes.  Asterion and Dimonios are absolute sisters. Stena Flavia, Etretat, Scottish Viking and the destroyed Norman Atlantic are absolute sisters.

Asterion has a few extra cabins from memory (when I say a few it's about 10??) up on Deck 7 (Bridge Deck).

In the main part of the accommodation at the forward section of the ship, the Asterion has general lounge seating throughout whereas the Etretat has the two reclining seat lounges that were fitted when delivered to LD (from memory Seaside and Horizon lounges??).  LD fitted a large screen TV in one of these areas on the Asterion to show sport, movies etc which worked well on the long crossing to Spain.  Though in the photos I have, either Intershipping or ANEK has replaced it with something smaller or it wasn't as big as I remembered!  

(COMMENT: The Asterion lay-out works better for passengers on a longer crossing as it gives passengers more space to sit in daytime to watch TV or have a drink, though Etretat works better commercially if you sell seat-only tickets).

BF added some of their more typical seating in the bar and recovered some of the other bench type seating to softer fabrics aboard the Etretat.

There is also an escalator from Deck 3 to Deck 5 on Asterion whereas it is a lift and stairs on the Etretat.

Reception area is smaller and a slightly different shape on Etretat due to having two disabled cabins nearby unlike the one that is aboard the Asterion.

I think Etretat is mostly carpeted in cabin areas since joining BF whereas Asterion isn't/wasn't.

Asterion also has some great outdoor furniture which I think is mostly still there! (Image attached).

I've attached an onboard information leaflet for the Norman Asturias.  Note that this is from early 2012 or so and not her Poole days so some information will be different.  Also note I'm not sure if this was a draft so if there are typos or errors that is possibly why, it just happened to be the one I found easily in my emails.

 

 

leaflet_norman_asturias.pdf

Bn_5m6ACYAApZyt.jpg_large

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Thanks Rick - I knew you'd be the man! :)

(I wanted to give your post a "Like" and a "Thanks" but you can only give one reaction!)

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Named after a district of Western Ireland, so who is up for guessing place of registration? Dublin perhaps, or will she be registered under the French Flag? Quite possibly 'Morlaix'.

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Comparing the leaflet that Rick kindly posted and that for Etretat there is not much difference between them. They seem to have managed to squeeze a children's play area in which Etretat does not have but whether that is still there is unclear from the photos on the Anek website. Etretat does have a movie lounge which is a nice touch so let's hope Connemara gets one too. The interior space is too small to allow any significant changes in layout so I hope the WIFI on board is up to scratch as most passengers will likely prefer to stay in their cabins. Ed. 

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21 minutes ago, TonyMWeaver said:

Named after a district of Western Ireland, so who is up for guessing place of registration? Dublin perhaps, or will she be registered under the French Flag? Quite possibly 'Morlaix'.

I'm sure the various unions would just love to see the new ship flying an Irish flag, or any other foreign flag for that matter ;) 

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I suspect Morlaix will be the port of registry, unless she is being chartered with crew.  Previously there have been ships in the fleet named after foreign regions (e.g. Cornouailles) but they have still been registered in Morlaix.

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33 minutes ago, Gareth said:

I suspect Morlaix will be the port of registry, unless she is being chartered with crew.  Previously there have been ships in the fleet named after foreign regions (e.g. Cornouailles) but they have still been registered in Morlaix.

Cornouailles refers to Cornwall and also to the south-western region of Brittany around Quimper.

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2 hours ago, RickOShea said:

I haven't been on the Asterion since some date early in September 2014 (strangely enough) but I was sent some onboard pictures from last year and didn't see any big changes, even most onboard signage was still from LD Lines, nor have I been on Etretat since her first season with BF.

In essence there is not much difference between the two.  But note that although people talk about Visentinis as being sisters they aren't all sisters really - rather sets of sisters of very similar but different slightly classes.  Asterion and Dimonios are absolute sisters. Stena Flavia, Etretat, Scottish Viking and the destroyed Norman Atlantic are absolute sisters.

Asterion has a few extra cabins from memory (when I say a few it's about 10??) up on Deck 7 (Bridge Deck).

In the main part of the accommodation at the forward section of the ship, the Asterion has general lounge seating throughout whereas the Etretat has the two reclining seat lounges that were fitted when delivered to LD (from memory Seaside and Horizon lounges??).  LD fitted a large screen TV in one of these areas on the Asterion to show sport, movies etc which worked well on the long crossing to Spain.  Though in the photos I have, either Intershipping or ANEK has replaced it with something smaller or it wasn't as big as I remembered!  

(COMMENT: The Asterion lay-out works better for passengers on a longer crossing as it gives passengers more space to sit in daytime to watch TV or have a drink, though Etretat works better commercially if you sell seat-only tickets).

BF added some of their more typical seating in the bar and recovered some of the other bench type seating to softer fabrics aboard the Etretat.

There is also an escalator from Deck 3 to Deck 5 on Asterion whereas it is a lift and stairs on the Etretat.

Reception area is smaller and a slightly different shape on Etretat due to having two disabled cabins nearby unlike the one that is aboard the Asterion.

I think Etretat is mostly carpeted in cabin areas since joining BF whereas Asterion isn't/wasn't.

Asterion also has some great outdoor furniture which I think is mostly still there! (Image attached).

I've attached an onboard information leaflet for the Norman Asturias.  Note that this is from early 2012 or so and not her Poole days so some information will be different.  Also note I'm not sure if this was a draft so if there are typos or errors that is possibly why, it just happened to be the one I found easily in my emails.

 

 

leaflet_norman_asturias.pdf

Bn_5m6ACYAApZyt.jpg_large

Very interesting - Thanks!!

 

Another thought I had (don't think it's been covered) is that this sailing will operate completely outside of the emissions zone, so no scrubbers or expensive fuel will be required as far as I know.... another economic pull factor!

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I don't know if it has been mentioned previously but the press release also states that the initial charter is for two years.

Geoff, do you know where most of Stena's vessels are registered? If she is registered in Greece right now maybe they'll keep that until they have assessed the viability of the service long - term. Ed

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An interesting development and well done to Brittany Ferries for taking the gamble on Ireland - Spain.  I say gamble as they will have to build a freight market virtually from scratch, a market they will need to make a year round service viable.  The problem they face is exiting haulage companies tend not to be based in the Cork area and have existing relationships with the other operators.  The Cork to France route does not currently carry a lot of freight.  Already the freight market is shifting from Wexford towards Dublin so BF will effectively have to reverse that trend and then some.  Reliability will be very important as well as pricing versus the France and drive option (though for accompanied traffic getting the driver rest break out of the way will be a big plus and in terms of unaccompanied a driver will only be needed from Santander rather than the north of France). Undoubtedly the service will be popular with passengers in the summer so long as the pricing is right, though I’m sure there will be at least a few complaints about the facilities on a 28 hour service.  In short it’s a positive development, but it’s far from being a successful route at present.

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8 minutes ago, Cabin-boy said:

I don't know if it has been mentioned previously but the press release also states that the initial charter is for two years.

Geoff, do you know where most of Stena's vessels are registered? If she is registered in Greece right now maybe they'll keep that until they have assessed the viability of the service long - term. Ed

Currently registered in Piraeus so far as I’m aware.  

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2 hours ago, Gareth said:

I can't see what the relevance of this is.  First, there is no competition, either existing or on the horizon.  There has never been an Ireland to Spain ferry service and this is a first - a response to perceived market demand, nothing to do with "beating off competition".  Secondly, the rumoured interest of Balearia has nothing to do with Ireland to Spain.  The rumours are to do with a possible revival of the Motorway of the Seas route between St Nazaire and Gijon.  That matter has its own thread, which is currently dormant pending further news (of which there is none).

Agreed.  BF are essentially creating a new ferry market here. A route between France and Spain is as relevant as one between England and France.  As I’ve said in my previous post this is a new market for a ferry operation.  Ireland’s exports to Spain are relatively small in the grand scheme of things and this is something I’m sure BF will hope will grow (as they will with traffic in the opposite direction).  They obviously think that market and potential is there, hence why they have moved before anyone else did.

The reason a Visentini has been chosen I would presume is that these vessels are designed for exactly this type of service.  They are efficient and have a good load capacity, which is exactly what is needed on a new service that is probably going to take a while to become profitable.  The vessel was also available, I assume because ANEK have not renewed her charter in time or have told Stena RoRo that they won’t be. 

Its interesting in any case how BF has focussed on its freight and economy offering in recent years, something that reflect the changing market obviously.

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2 hours ago, Cabin-boy said:

Comparing the leaflet that Rick kindly posted and that for Etretat there is not much difference between them. They seem to have managed to squeeze a children's play area in which Etretat does not have but whether that is still there is unclear from the photos on the Anek website. Etretat does have a movie lounge which is a nice touch so let's hope Connemara gets one too. The interior space is too small to allow any significant changes in layout so I hope the WIFI on board is up to scratch as most passengers will likely prefer to stay in their cabins. Ed. 

Is there not a kids play area on the Etretat in the same location?

However, the ANEK pictures I received suggest the one on the Asterion is gone and is an empty space.  It was a bit rundown and an in-house cheap refurbishment was carried out in 2014 at LD to get us through that summer but it obviously has been removed later on.  The area had child friendly padded mats installed by LD and I imagine they were very inviting on busy sailings when she was with Intershipping which may have rendered them fit for dumping!

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1 hour ago, hf_uk said:

Very interesting - Thanks!!

 

Another thought I had (don't think it's been covered) is that this sailing will operate completely outside of the emissions zone, so no scrubbers or expensive fuel will be required as far as I know.... another economic pull factor!

Correct but don't forget 2020 Global Sulphur Cap https://shipandbunker.com/news/world/943825-make-haste-to-meet-2020-sulfur-cap-warns-marsh

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It'll be interesting to see how this pans out. Some work chatter suggests that there is demand for a direct service and that people would happily travel down from up the country.

The Spanish trawlers often berth in West Cork - I wonder is there a possibility of offloading there rather than sailing back to Spanish ports. Certainly by all accounts a lot of fish leaves the area for Spain.

The additional Cork-Roscoff would be great - we've often had a hankering for a short trip but that's not possible without schlepping down to Rosslare. They will need to be careful with pricing, manage expectations and not dilute the Cruise Ferry aspect of the Pont. 

 

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I wish the new route many success.   If the Baie de Seine is going to be replaced I wonder if Brittany Ferries will retain her and redeployed on this new route if there is a good loadings.

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