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Normandie not sailing as economie

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It’s all marketing spin though, isn’t it Nick.  People know what they like and will pay for what they think is worth it.

The general story of fast ferries around the UK coast has been one of dismal commercial failure.  True, there are still some token offerings (most notably to places where customers do not have huge alternative choices), but if you count up the number of fast craft routes that have closed over the years it makes some reading.  Off the top of my head:

Harwich - Hook;  London - Ostend;  Dover - Ostend;  Dover - Calais;  Dover - Boulogne;  Newhaven - Dieppe;  Brighton - Dieppe; Portsmouth - Le Havre;  Portsmouth - Caen;  Holyhead - Dublin (Stena); Liverpool - Dublin (B&I); Stranraer - Belfast;  Cairnyran - Larne;  Troon - Larne.  Must be others?

It is not surprising that Condor talks up the product in its marketing blurb as fast is their raison d’etre.  But my view is that fast only holds a place in BF’s offering because they have a fairly decent (for the type) vessel and probably cannot sell it for what they think it’s worth.  And so it is used fulfiling a role that some think is a motovating factor for a lot of BF routes - to deter another operator coming in.  Portsmouth-Cherbourg is the notable gap in provision in the Western Channel, and the daily summer sailing provided by NEX is probably just enough to deter another operator from taking up the route.  It can’t possibly be economically viable in its own right, keeping that vessel in mothballs for two thirds of the year and operating (mostly) a single round trip during peak season.  But doing so probably loses less than selling NEX at a big loss, and serves a useful wider purpose in the process.

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Anyway, this is now well off-topic as the thread is not about the fast ferry service, it is about Economie.  As Nick says, two very different beasts.

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Re the Normandie having the same rates as the Etretat, I imagine that will change next year. At the moment they can't be sure when the Normandie will move onto the route.

Note that even though the headllne price is the same, a £20 discount is applied to overnight cabins of Etretat  at the end - this is not done on the BDS.

 

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Yes, I agree David.  It may change once Normandie has actually moved across.

It is, however, eye-opening that hf_uk implied that they may have just not thought about it at BF.  If that is really true then it does convey that the idea that there is a different pricing approach to Economie versus Cruise is not prominent in BF internal thinking.  And if that’s the case then there can only really be one explanation:  there isn’t actually a real substantive pricing difference, the notion that there is is just a marketing tool.  Of course, hf_uk was only speculating.....!😉

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Does anyone have a fare comparison from when BF took over the route from LDLines/DFDS... It's the same ship doing the same thing offering the same level of service and arguably used in the majority by the same passengers?

Apart from some of the flamboyant styling of Armorique or the lighter atmosphere of Barfleur, Etretat is no different and offers just as much comfort in her cabins, some say they're comfier and more spacious. Neither Stena or I.F feel there is a need to justify a lack of service by lowering customer expectation with an alternative brand. It's fair to say that Epsilon pioneered the Dublin-Cherbourg route, proving to be so popular that there is a need for purpose build cruise ferry. Passengers flocked in droves rather than turn their noses up at the prospect of nearly 18 hours on a Visentini.

I wonder whether Economie was brought in as at the time Etretat also sailed to Spain. Was it this route rather than Le Havre which prompted the rebranding?

UK-Spain is unique in terms of voyage distance from the U.K. Public space, onboard facilities and a feeling of light and air are paramount as is the ease in which passengers can move around over a 24-28 hour crossing. Pont Aven and to a lesser extent Cap Finistere both offer this, for instance no matter where you are onboard you're never too far from a window or the outside world. In contrast Both Etretat and BDS can feel closed in..Etretat is full of dark furniture and aboard BDS passenger footfall is internal, you don't see a window when moving from your cabin to the bar or self service, in the Le Petit Marche you fell like you're in the bowels of the ship when infact you're at the bow.

If both vessels had been chartered solely for short sea crossings to France, offering the same level of service as over 25% of the fleet at the time... the Arm', Barfy & NEx, I wonder whether BF would have bothered with the brand at all.

Edited by jonno

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2 minutes ago, jonno said:

Apart from some of the flamboyant styling of Armorique or the lighter atmosphere of Barfleur, Etretat is no different and offers just as much comfort in her cabins, some say they're comfier and more spacious. Neither Stena or I.F feel there is a need to justify a lack of service by lowering customer expectation with an alternative brand. 

Epsilon is branded as an economy service, and was even before Brittany Ferries took on Etretat. So they may have took inspiration from Irish Ferries?

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8 minutes ago, jonno said:

Does anyone have a fare comparison from when BF took over the route from LDLines/DFDS

I did travel on her at that time and I'll take a look later to see if I can find what I paid but it may be difficult to compare the two prices depending on what options I chose. Ed. 

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Armorique is different to Etretat , she has premium cabins club and club plus “, a larger food selection bigger shops and entertainment on busy sailings , I know people like to brand it an economie ferry but it’s not.

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36 minutes ago, neilcvx said:

Armorique is different to Etretat , she has premium cabins club and club plus “, a larger food selection bigger shops and entertainment on busy sailings , I know people like to brand it an economie ferry but it’s not.

Good point, well made... BF's standard classification is a fair degree higher than many others... and maybe in there lies the problem. In terms of sailing experience and the much used phrase "luxury cruise ferry" I'd rate Armorique higher than both Stena's from Harwich which many rave about.

Barfleur for instance was built with a similar ethos to the Visentini's... truck & freight carrier first, passengers second, they're maybe 20 odd years between them but I think I know which vessel has aged the better.

Plus I suppose BF would have removed the Economie brand from the hull of Etretat once full time on the Le Havre route if they felt she was of the standard of arguably the least endowed conventional vessel in the fleet.

Another thought... Stena spent a considerable amount of money refitting both Stena Mersey and Stena Lagan, having travelled on them both since 2015 in my mind they are the two Visentini's which I'd compare closely to Armorique.

 

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1 hour ago, georgem7 said:

Epsilon is branded as an economy service, and was even before Brittany Ferries took on Etretat. So they may have took inspiration from Irish Ferries?

Looking back that's very true. Is it a standards argument again as the alternative was a full fat cruise ferry two hours down the road in Rosslare. Would they have done that if there was no Oscar Wilde?

Again though have BF branded Connemara Economie because she's BF's alternative on the Cork-Roscoff run or is it due to Spain? 

Stena haven't changed anything regarding their sailing to Cherbourg where up until recently she was competing with the same above mentioned cruise ferry, It's I.F who have pulled the plug on that route. Stena did the same with Celtic Horizon at Rosslare as what BF did with Norman Voyager at Le Havre.

 

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67A1CF40-DCB5-4BC9-9F14-FC7DEC6E5AF6.thumb.png.98b25b8a28a929aca25f23268ba8bb9c.pngWe sailed Le Havre but on the Old Prins Philip (Norman spirit?) I remember at the time it was a lot cheaper than the equivalent sailing on BF to Ouistreham 

CE0BFE8C-18AD-433C-8E70-1CC5DEB7CCDA.thumb.png.e66f45a76c216a582971ff72ad576e62.png

Edited by neilcvx
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Same fare for 2019 travelling over the last weekend of July is £279 which could be seen as a normal incremental increase over 8 years.

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Here's one of mine, similar to Neil's on Norman Spirit. I'll try to find a DFDS one on Norman Voyager:

1x1.gif 1x1.gif
   
   
Traversée: Le Havre vers Portsmouth
Départ: Mer 21 Décembre 2011 à 1700
Arrivée: Mer 21 Décembre 2011 à 2130
Passager: 2 Adultes 1 Enfants en bas âge
Moyen de transport: Voiture, - CITROEN PICASSO
Hauteur Véhicule: inférieure à 185cm.
Longueur Véhicule: inférieure à 500cm.
Installation à bord:  

 

 

1x1.gif 1x1.gif
Traversée: Portsmouth vers Le Havre
Départ: Mer 28 Décembre 2011 à 2300
Arrivée: Jeu 29 Décembre 2011 à 0800
Passager: 2 Adultes 1 Enfants en bas âge
Moyen de transport: Voiture, - CITROEN PICASSO
Hauteur Véhicule: inférieure à 185cm.
Longueur Véhicule: inférieure à 500cm.
Installation à bord: 1 de Cabine 2 lits intérieure
1 de Siège Standard (Gratuit)

 

1x1.gif 1x1.gif
Prix: 271.32 EUR
   
   
  Ed. 

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I Have information about the new schedules of the Portsmouth / Le Havre route:

From the End of March : 2 rounds trips every day.

Schedules in Le Havre :

Arrival 7:30 am / Departure 9:30 am

Arrival 9:30 pm / Departure 11:30 pm

I Don't have schedules in Portsmouth but probably the same.

Possible 3 rounds trips on Friday

 
so there will certainly be a 2nd ship? These round trips will be open to passengers. It will not be the MN Pelican

 

 

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Departure from Le Havre at  0930 would be acceptable to me but the other departure from Le Havre,  and the two arrivals are unattractive to me and I wouldn't book them 

Edited by wortley

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133/5000
 
 
Night crossings are more convenient compared to departing 1715 (Le Havre) which often require a hotel stay in Portsmouth for French customers

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That may be so, but I don't want to hang around in Portsmouth or Le Havre late at night with nothing to and nowhere to go, waiting for a departure at 2330 

Edited by wortley
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36 minutes ago, LHCity said:

I Have information about the new schedules of the Portsmouth / Le Havre route:

From the End of March : 2 rounds trips every day.

Schedules in Le Havre :

Arrival 7:30 am / Departure 9:30 am

Arrival 9:30 pm / Departure 11:30 pm

I Don't have schedules in Portsmouth but probably the same.

Possible 3 rounds trips on Friday

 

so there will certainly be a 2nd ship? These round trips will be open to passengers. It will not be the MN Pelican

 

 

I wondering did BF tell u this infomation

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I assume that the information came from a source at Le Havre !

The timings imply an extra half a boat on the route, maybe running to Cherbourg as well. We will wait and see !

7:30 arrival into le Havre and kicked out of the cabin at 7 does not appeal to me. The current schedule is 8:30 and they don't worry about getting you out of the cabins !

However this is mainly for the benefit of lorries.

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There has been no announcement from BF about extra sailings.  There may not even be any extra sailings, depending on political developments.  I assume these details have come from someone speculating about possible scenarios in the event of you-know-what.

Have to say, I’d be surprised if the 1730 from Le Havre is dispensed with in favour of a morning departure.  If they wanted to do that, they could do it now.  But 1730 has been the mainstay of the service ex-Le Havre ever since P&O pulled out - apparently it is the best time for freight.

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Having said that, if these timings ARE an accurate foretaste of what might happen, then it is pretty clear that the plan would be for the vessel arriving in Portsmouth in the morning to squeeze in a round trip to Cherbourg before taking that day’s night sailing back to Le Havre.

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21 minutes ago, Aiden said:

I wondering did BF tell u this infomation 

Information from Le Havre Port Autority

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Interesting intel, LHC, but it would be useful if you had presented it as details of what theoretically might happen rather than as something which is going to happen.

To answer your question, yes, these schedules would require a second ship.  What are BF’s options for that?  Difficult to say.  

In the short term, Bretagne is unavailable from the end of March onwards.  I wonder if Barfleur could be brought in, with NEX deployed on her place at Poole?  Other than that, or BDS being taken off Spain, difficult to see BF not having to bring in some ship on charter.

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