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St Malo - Portsmouth - St Malo (28/1 & 6/2)

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This report covers a round trip to the UK, both crossings being on the Pont Aven and having a Commodore cabin for the outbound daytime crossing and similarly on the return overnighter.

Check-In & Boarding

For the outbound,  loading was started quite early, perhaps because of the slightly later than normal sailing time of 11.20. Mrs G has a disability and pleasingly we were positioned right alongside a lift, which made exiting the car and unloading her wheelchair perfectly straightforward.  However, we had a ‘top box’ on the car (pre-booked and paid for), so we were surprised to be directed up to the deck 4 mezzanine. I really should have queried this, but you know how it is – you tend to do as you’re told!  The deckhands were wincing as I got up to the top of the ramp: it was very, very tight, with only a few mms to spare.

The return was more of a problem. This time we were correctly placed on the main deck 3, but ended up four car lengths away from the lift and in the middle lane.  It was all a bit chaotic, but since it was a relatively quiet crossing, the crew were very patient in holding up other cars for us. One of the guys said “We didn’t know”, to which I replied that the massive sticker on the windscreen might have been a clue!

Cabin Accommodation

The Commodore cabins really are very pleasant, whether for daytime or overnight use. When it came to the return overnight, we quickly realised how comfortable the beds are, seeming to have thicker mattresses and ‘fluffier’ pillows than in other cabins.  hardly surprising really.  Despite a somewhat lively sea state, we both slept well, which was important given that we were facing a long daytime drive from St Malo.

I was keen to have a close look at the general housekeeping standards given the discussion there has been on here over possible declining standards.  Neither in the cabin, nor anywhere else on the ship did I detect any issues whatsoever.

Restaurant ‘Le Flora’

It was OK, but for some reason a little bit underwhelming. I somehow feel that the catering team are trying just a bit too hard on ‘fine dining’ presentation (particularly the vegetables) and forgetting about some of the basics. I reckon that there was only one of the four ‘mains’ that we had between us that you could put in to the good+ category.  None of the other 3 was poor, but they were all only average.  As highlighted by somebody on another thread, the plates were cold.

On Board Shopping

Undoubtedly there’s more footfall in the Summer months, but I hardly saw anybody making a purchase in either direction. The simple fact of the matter is that there are few, if any bargains.  Maybe that’ll change after 29th March!


Good crossings both ways, with just a couple of daft hiccups over dealing with our disability needs. I can readily understand that it is a problem for BF crew to ensure that they have correctly understood passenger needs and then managing that during the loading.  However, it seems to me that the Loading Officer is the key person in this - he (or she) who acts as the referee to ensure that things go smoothly.  The ball was dropped on both occasions for us ................ but it wasn't the end of the world! 

The ship is (as far as I could see) in good ‘nick’ and 99.9% of passengers will neither see an ugly funnel and associated plumbing, nor frankly care.

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