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p j bradburn

General disquiet about a drop in standards.

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Good afternoon, If we can we always book a commodore cabin unless one is not available which is rare if booked early enough. We have done this for many years (a little treat as we got older). Until the last couple of years the T.V. worked in port and at sea to and from France and at times Spain. Last week however on Pont Aven crossing from Portsmouth to St. Malo it did not work until an hour and a half at sea. On the last several crossings on P.A. and Bretagne the TV has had a commentary in the background for the blind. We have complained on board each time and been told it is a fault of the satellite. It never used to be the case, we have watched TV in port and at sea with no problems. On complaining last year on board we were told someone who was deaf had altered the settings to the blind commentary. Does that make sense?

The buffet in The Flora was, as always, very good but the main course was at best warm. My wife's lamb was very gristly, in fact she didn't eat the lamb, she persevered with the rest but upon being asked if the meal was OK she said no. The waiter shrugged and said sorry. Not a good response.

The following morning I decided upon a cooked breakfast. It arrived nearly cold on a cold plate with one flaccid luke warm piece of toast. I complained and was brought a new piping hot breakfast with a rack of fresh crispy toast just how it used to be. We were really too late to complain about the cool tea and coffee but on mentioning it to the cashier as we paid she smiled and said "well it hasn't stopped you travelling with us" 

This is all very disappointing, I have always thought Brittany Ferries was the best but it's not what it was. I could go on  - fag butt in the corner of a supposedly clean cabin, heating not working, but I won't. Has anyone else had problems? Writing to Brittany Ferries brings polite apologetic replies but not much improves. All that said I am still crossing again several times this year. Any comments?

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Sign of the times - its very disappointing, particularly the cleanliness - complaints so often aired in recent times.  I find invariably the TV works fine in port, but not at sea - I suspect problems with the tuning of the ships receiving equipment being correctly aligned to the satellite signal, rather than the satellite.  I think in recent years they have dropped from 'outstanding' to 'good' , but having just won an award for customer service it can't all be bad (or the competition is really bad!)

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I suspect it's just their turn to win it! New Covent Garden has just won the award for best wholesale market. Now there's nothing wrong with the Garden but as the customers of all wholesale markets invariably use the same one every day the judgement must be made by people who are not customers using criteria that no one knows. 

The plain fact is that comments about declining standards on board BF ships are too common these days and instance things which are quite unacceptable - especially given the preposterous prices charged for overnight cabins.

Edited by Millsy
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16 minutes ago, Millsy said:

I suspect it's just their turn to win it!

A bit like 'truck of the year'. There are 7 manufacturers and each one brings out a new truck in sequence with a 7-year gap between major updates. It was DAF in 2018 although this year it's Ford apparently, a newcomer in the market. Ed. 

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2 hours ago, Millsy said:

especially given the preposterous prices charged for overnight cabins.

Couldn’t agree more - a fourth of the size, three times the price for a fraction of the time (not ready on boarding, chucked out of it way before arrival so not even the whole crossing). A standard cabin overnight for £86 is a ridiculous additional enforced charge on the ticket price, especially as you’re forced to take out some form of accommodation (£20 extra for a family of 4 to sit on seats and you don’t even get a pillow without paying extra). Right now I’m surprised BF sales isn’t down by more than 6%, there’s only so long families will take getting fleeced.

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7 hours ago, Seashore said:

Couldn’t agree more - a fourth of the size, three times the price for a fraction of the time (not ready on boarding, chucked out of it way before arrival so not even the whole crossing). A standard cabin overnight for £86 is a ridiculous additional enforced charge on the ticket price, especially as you’re forced to take out some form of accommodation (£20 extra for a family of 4 to sit on seats and you don’t even get a pillow without paying extra). Right now I’m surprised BF sales isn’t down by more than 6%, there’s only so long families will take getting fleeced.

I don't actually think £86 is too bad for four beds for the night. If you think about why you take a cabin and make comparisons it seems quite reasonable. 

Either you are travelling on a crossing where overnight is the only option (Portsmouth to St Malo for example) and by doing so you arrive reasonably fresh for your onward journey or to enjoy the day in town. You don't waste a full day of your holiday getting across the channel but do so in the night. 

Or you would perhaps pay for a hotel in Portsmouth for the night before taking the morning crossing to Caen, thereby losing at least half a day at sea. 

I never use hotels in the Portsmouth area as my family are in Petersfield and Haslemere but do sometimes stay in Caen or St Malo. I always use Formule 1 if in the former as you have to get up so early for the ferry there is no time to actually use any of the services except the bed (and you'll pay around €50 or €60 for up to 4 people). For the latter I use B&B as having the private bathroom is essential and their breakfasts are perfectly acceptable. The last couple of stays (in Narbonne and Clermont-Ferrand - in July while on holiday and not waiting for a ferry) have cost around £120 breakfast included. That strikes me as quite reasonable given the size of the rooms and cleanliness we found. 

And that's where the onboard cabins fall down. Size. £86 for 4 bunks is OK but I'm dreading the time when the Cabin-kids are teenagers as there will be no room to move between them and getting undressed in the bathrooms is like trying to turn a cat around inside a canvas travel cage. I will seriously consider the club cabins at that point. I never usually take them at night as we have no time to make use of the space and comfort at present. But in the same context I would not pay £40 for a basic day cabin as it would be a waste of money to sit or lie in the semi-darkness for 5 hours (except perhaps if travelling as a foot passenger as a place to store and have access to my baggage). But then I would neither wish to pay £90 for a Commodore day cabin after having already shelled out for an overnight hotel. It's a real minefield of options, none of which really ends up fully satisfying anybody. Hence my preference for NEX. No choice, no worries, no expensive extras. Ed. 

Edited by Cabin-boy
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On 06/02/2019 at 16:36, p j bradburn said:

 

The buffet in The Flora was, as always, very good but the main course was at best warm. 

 

 

We were on the Pont’s Wednesday night crossing from Portsmouth to St Malo.  I entirely agree with pjb’s observation and mentioned it to the waitress when she cleared away the plates.  You don’t want a red hot plate, but this was absurd - the meat (which in my case was excellent) was warm enough, but the mini portions of ‘fancily done’ vegetables were totally cold within minutes of the plate being put in front of me.

 

 

 

 

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Friends who now live in France continually comment on the fact that in restaurants in general nothing  is served on a hot plate in France at all. I don't think it's just a BF thing.

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I'm dreading the time when the Cabin-kids are teenagers as there will be no room to move between them and getting undressed in the bathrooms is like trying to turn a cat around inside a canvas travel cage.

Been there, done that, didn't bother with the T shirt. I can predict your future Ed. You won't want a bigger cabin, you will want (desperately need) two cabins for the privacy, this starts off as two inside two berths to keep the costs down and when your knees go, a 4 berth for you and Cabin Lady whist the rest of the family remain in cabin economie.

An unfortunate side effect of this is that when you and Mrs Cabin Boy emerge for breakfast, the cabin sprogs will either have slept through their alarm or one will be monopolising the facilities. They will finally appear as you are finishing your breakfast or the first vehicles are beginning to disembark.

The final stage is when they refuse to come on holiday with you at all and you settle for a proper cruise instead. 😁

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Just now, cvabishop said:

Been there, done that, didn't bother with the T shirt. I can predict your future Ed. You won't want a bigger cabin, you will want (desperately need) two cabins for the privacy, this starts off as two inside two berths to keep the costs down and when your knees go, a 4 berth for you and Cabin Lady whist the rest of the family remain in cabin economie.

An unfortunate side effect of this is that when you and Mrs Cabin Boy emerge for breakfast, the cabin sprogs will either have slept through their alarm or one will be monopolising the facilities. They will finally appear as you are finishing your breakfast or the first vehicles are beginning to disembark.

The final stage is when they refuse to come on holiday with you at all and you settle for a proper cruise instead. 😁

Sounds familiar 🤣..first time we took the Paulette's to France they were 7 and we shoehorned into an inside 4 berth, on the Duchesse Anne, just above the engine room..😀😵

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Well....... despite some misgivings have now booked a holiday travelling out from UK 4th May on Bretagne (Large outside cabin 6718) and back 11th May on MSM (Large outside cabin 9106) ...... hoping Bretagne has had a deep cabin clean while at Le Havre this winter, and looking forward to the 'improved' entertainment mentioned recently on another post.  Car mileage wise Armorique would have been better, but we really prefer these ships - the crossing being a part of the holiday.

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We came back on the Pont Aven last Thursday night.  No complaints about the cabin or the price.  The buffet in Le Flora was superb, as usual.  The main course was served on cold plates and the meat was warm enough but not piping.  I had lamb which was good, nice and pink in the middle, not the most tender I've ever tasted but good enough.  A couple behind us sent there's back because it was pink.  When it returned they still weren't happy.  They didn't have to pay for the main course.  Personally, I thought they were stupid.  They were frequent travellers to France so they should have known how the French cook their lamb, indeed, how any decent restaurant cooks it.  But Britons seem to prefer their meat cremated.

(We had to come back via France because there wasn't a boat available from Spain which would take both the motorhome and the dog.  I wasn't too happy about that.)

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Good to hear Le Flora is going strong.  And good to hear that lamb is being served as it should be.  My general observation over the years of the main dishes that the BF restaurants serve is that meat (and fish) more often than not tends to be over-cooked.  Probably due to sitting around on the pass for a while under IR lights.

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Had a decent lunch in Le Flora last Monday. The quail suited me fine with my lingering dysphagia and appetite issues. Prefer taste to quantity!

Armorique was clean and smart on the way back Thursday night.

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The best dish (by a country mile) that I have ever had from BF was quail.  A few years ago, they had a quail with seafood conchiglioni dish on the menu, and it was absolutely delicious.  Lovely and garlicy and perfectly cooked.  That was in Les Romantiques (where, coincidentally, I also had my second most enjoyable dish, of lamb smoked in hay).  Whilst dining in Les Abers and Le Flora is aways enjoyable, none of the main course dishes I have had in them linger in the mind in the “must have again” category.

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I confess that I was not a big fan of that quail/seafood combination. Beef has always been good, though I struggle with quantity these days. Some excellent lamb dishes. Duck has been so, so. In the end, each to his/her own of course. Strawberry tart and choc puddings ….

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Did the Armorique this weekend, everything was clean and in place, only thing they could have made the sea a bit flatter Saturday night, they'll have to look into that.  Food in the Self service, the wife and I had chicken mine was not that big but hers was a big piece, so I had half of hers as well, our Granddaughter had the Ham which looked nice but she said had a lot of fat.

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Pont Aven last Friday, cabin was spotless & food up to scratch. We boarded again this morning at 0900 as trailers were still being unloaded. There was a fair degree of olfactory evidence of a very bumpy overnight from Portsmouth and the cling film is still evident in the shop and around the bottles in the self service.

There were a lot of BF staff members in white T shirts orchestrating a very busy cleaning team. Yes, we needed to wait a bit for our cabin but for me that's to be expected boarding about an hour after she arrived, we just spent the time in the Commodore lounge drinking coffee and watching the boarding process.

Cabin again is spotless and no evidence of any corners cut... just passing the CI's and it's lumpy with staff saying it'll get worse in the channel.

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I've had no problems with PA's Commodore cabins either. It's the more basic ones where all the problems seem to be occurring. Have a good trip back. Ed. 

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We sail only twice a year, i.e. out in December, back end of February, in the "more basic" cabins, usually the (whisper it) Pet Friendly ones on the Cap Finistere.  Never had a problem, olfactory or otherwise.  The only negative is they are usually too warm, even with the heating down/off.  I'd quite like an opening window for better ventilation.

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18 minutes ago, auchmill said:

We sail only twice a year, i.e. out in December, back end of February, in the "more basic" cabins, usually the (whisper it) Pet Friendly ones on the Cap Finistere.  Never had a problem, olfactory or otherwise.  The only negative is they are usually too warm, even with the heating down/off.  I'd quite like an opening window for better ventilation.

I was referring to the obvious cases of mal de mare which were evident especially around the deck 7 loo's by the staircase and passing various open cabins.

Personally I think from docking to departure the guest services staff performed very well.

It's important to highlight when things are amiss but a good job should be mentioned in equal measure. 

PS... cabin 8405 also piggybacks the free WiFi.

Edited by jonno
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2 hours ago, jonno said:

a good job should be mentioned in equal measure. 

I've never been anything other than impressed by the standards maintained by BF staff, whether it's making an enquiry at Information, parking up on the car deck, being waited on in the restaurant, or just a friendly greeting while passing a crew member in the corridor.  Their Twitter and Live Chat people have always been very helpful.

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50 minutes ago, Cabin-boy said:

I'm off to tot up all my crossings on Bretagne. I think I'm due at least an Orangina next time. 😉 Ed

With your luck you`ll probably get a greasy handshake from the Chief Engineer🤣

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