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Bf Bretagne

MSM (Portsmouth - Ouistreham) 22:45 12/07/19 coming back Bretagne (St-Malo - Portsmouth) 10:30 27/07/19

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MSM 12/07/19:     22:45

We arrived at Portsmouth with are car earlier than normal because we had booked a commodore cabin for the first time. Only to find ourselves waiting for ages at the port and people checking in after us were being allowed to bord before us up the linkspan and onto the ship. Our cabin was on Deck 9 like all Commodores are it's a bit awkward on MSM as you have to walk through the rather rowdy bar and then be directed by a steward through the cabin corridor where cabins are still been cleaned. Anyway the cabin was reasonable, we opted for the breakfast in the main restaurant which we thought was worth doing. Bread rolls we the standard shape! Disembarking was straightforward and effective. Apart from the long wait at passport control.

Overall:  

MSM is an excellent ship and although the crossing was short the service was what you'd expect from BF. Personally I feel that the ship could do with a mid-life internal refresh considering she was built in 2002. Especially when she's compares to Hornfluer in the coming year.

 

Bretagne 27/07/18:     10:30

We arrived much later this time and it paid off. We were stop by security at St-Malo but that was not a problem. Boarding Bretagne was far quicker than MSM we were guided onto deck 4 (result). The ship was fully loaded 45 minutes before the scheduled departure time. However this did not mean we left early as the cabins were still being cleaned on deck 6! This ment we left exactly on-time. Our cabin was on deck 8 (8304) which was really handy being close to the cafe and Gwen-ha-du! The crossing was quite (only about 2 thirds full). A bit of a choppy start out of St-Malo on the approach to the channel Islands. But after that all became much calmer and smoother. We opted for the self-service basis as I'm much more economical option. The entertainment is a bit different having the new interactive screen for shows and quizzes. Interestingly they were showing Peter Pan which was okay with a week audience. I brought the BF fleet book which was on sale for £16.99. Anyway disembarking was straightforward alot of screaming kids unfortunately. Passport control far quicker than Ouistreham! 

Overall:

A much more relaxed crossing than MSM. The staff and crew seem much happier than on MSM. State of repair what you would expect from a well loved ship like Bretagne. She has aged well is all I can say. With Bretagne expect more of a family crossing compared to a commute like on MSM.

 

Well done Brittany Ferries! 👍😎⛴️🚢🛳️

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Yes, if you want a relaxing and leisurely experience, choose St Malo.  If you want a bus ride, choose Caen.

Great to hear that Bretagne is doing well.  With regard to bread rolls, what does "standard" mean?

Order of boarding is always an issue.  I know the line is always that vehicles have to be loaded in some carefully planned order, and that there are always announcements being displayed at the ports explaining this.  But sometimes I wonder if that is really just a cover for "we know it's going to appear chaotic, and there really isn't any methodology in the loading, therefore we want to pretend there is to placate those of you who feel hard done-by".  The truth is probably somewhere in between, and there definitely does have to be some order to how the ship is loaded.  But that can't explain cars, that are exactly the same as yours, arriving after you being loaded before.  So whilst the cover is true in essence, I think there is a lot of lazy hiding behind it to avoid having to go to the effort of paying any attention to when cars joined the queue for loading. 

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As many people don't realise, checking in early does not guarantee that you will board early. They are many factors to take in, including loading arrangements. The loading of vehicles is very complex. I see many people complaining on Twitter that they have waited for ages to board a ship, even though they arrived early.

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That is, of course, true Tony.  But the complexity is to do with loading lorries v coaches v caravans v cars etc, and the order in which parts of the ship are filled, mezannines and ramps are raised, lowered etc.  The complexity cannot extend to this row of cars without roof boxes versus that row of identical cars without roof boxes.  If there was a will to pay attention to order of arrival there would be ways (within the general complexity) of allowing for it.  But I think the broad “it’s all very complex so don’t expect any logical order to when you are boarded” umbrella is very easy to hide decisions behind that aren’t really directly relevant to that complexity.

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“The loading of vehicles is very complex.” If only they could practice it with the same Ferries again and again and again, I’m tending to agree with @Gareth it’s a bit of a smokescreen.

 

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Maybe it is the case that the whole operation has so many genuine complexities that they don't want to be concerned by adding additional ones that would be created by heeding order of arrival, and I could understand that.  But, if so, it would be more honest to be up front about it and say that.

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I try and check in as late as possible, ideally after boarding has started as that gives a better chance of avoiding the mezzanine deck on the MSM and Normandie and therefore getting off earlier.

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5 minutes ago, David Williams said:

I try and check in as late as possible, ideally after boarding has started as that gives a better chance of avoiding the mezzanine deck on the MSM and Normandie and therefore getting off earlier.

I try that with Bretagne and end up on deck 5 each time.

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I find the loading sequence puzzling too. For example, when you arrive at Portsmouth you are assigned to a holding lane after booking in. For standard cars (without roof racks) no distinction appears to be made on account of size, Mondeos are next to Fiestas etc. Then, usually in the order you have arrived, you go through security to the boarding lanes which fill up from the right so that you eventually have up to half a dozen lanes of standard cars. What should then happen is that the rightmost lane should load first, sometimes intermittently between lorries, and then the next to the left etc. etc. but this does not always seem to happen.

The queuing order leaving the holding lanes can sometimes be upset because some people insist on heading for the cafe despite being asked to remain with their vehicles and their car then blocks the remainder of that lane until they return

Still odd sometimes though. Maybe the loadmaster looks at the cars in front of him and says 'I fancy a red one next...".

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46 minutes ago, cvabishop said:

Still odd sometimes though. Maybe the loadmaster looks at the cars in front of him and says 'I fancy a red one next...".

It's a bit like me with a bag of Skittles. Ed. 

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I remember being let through the gates early once, thinking we were going to be first on board - no, we were then immediately pulled over, searched and questioned.  It was because number plates had been stolen from the car 6 months earlier, and there was an outstanding case from Notts police which the ANPR had picked up at check-in.  Wife got the giggles when they gave me a 'pat down' search until a lady akin to Rosa Klebb emerged from the office to do the same to her!  It took 30mins to get the ok from the police back in Notts, and some complex explanations that it was a company car leased from VW by my employer for which I was authorized to drive!  Worst of it was the looks and smirks from other travelers as they passed us - we clearly appeared to be (and felt like) criminals.  We were one of the last to be loaded after all, much to my frustration!

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20 hours ago, TonyMWeaver said:

They are many factors to take in, including loading arrangements. The loading of vehicles is very complex. 

Sure? 

Thats just a BF CS excuse, Tony do you have access to the BF excuse list?.

Thats the one they use, if they park you in the bow section of N Ex. And you can’t get out of the drivers door, Or in the summer peak when 4 lane loading for cars , and the little blue cushions are in use for caravans. One would think the essential health and safety consideration of ferry loading was the ability of the passengers to alight the vehicle safely, without damaging someone else’s “Luggage” but no, it’s a completion among the crew to see who can make a customer park his car in the most ridiculous place. They train all year for the Summer season and Friday nights Portsmouth Caen.

If it were so complex, it would not be achievable in the short turn round times, which underpin the cash cow routes.

Modern Ferries can cope with most offset load conditions, Loading officers seem to have no clue most of the time, witness the many times full mezz decks are full only for the deck below to be half empty. The only time we have ever witnessed any planning - IOM TT time when an area of MSM deck was unused ex  Portsmouth,  on arrival in Caen the deck had been prepared en route for Strapping down Motorcycles, with wire ropes through lashing points for traitors and staps at the ready. In preparation for the bikes mostly Tourers with panniers etc, which were awaiting boarding the other side, presumably for onwards travel to the Isle of Mann. 

That must however have been pre planned. Well more preplanned,  than just early arrival could facilitate.

 

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I have been on Bretagne deck 5 with one half crammed full and the other half almost empty.

No doubt there were some lorries transporting lead ingots on the opposite side of the deck below.

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1 hour ago, cvabishop said:

I have been on Bretagne deck 5 with one half crammed full and the other half almost empty.

No doubt there were some lorries transporting lead ingots on the opposite side of the deck below.

No,  they keep the other side of deck 5 free for the onboard fluff-collector/dispenser which sucks everything up, filters out money and jewellery (used as tips for the deck crew) and then redistributes the residue equally to each cabin. Ed. 

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5 hours ago, alleeganger10 said:

Sure? 

Thats just a BF CS excuse, Tony do you have access to the BF excuse list?.

 

All ferry companies are the same, loading has to be done in a specific order.

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Frequently at Portsmouth one waits in line, and quite correctly, the first line then proceeds through. However, the marshalls by the booths then direct all the incoming traffic into the fast diminishing first line. That would work if that line then waited once the first section had loaded. But it doesn't - they just keep on coming and proceeding through. So whilst I accept that there is a protocol for loading the different types of vehicle, I do not accept that applies to the same type of vehicle. DFDS load well on the short sea routes, but neither BF nor P&O has ever mastered the art since the highly efficient operation of Stena at Southampton and Cherbourg.

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1 hour ago, TonyMWeaver said:

All ferry companies are the same, loading has to be done in a specific order.

I think you’re missing the point that is being made Tony.

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The point is that the loading officers are highly experienced mariners..unlike us motorists, the chief officers, hold a master mariners certificate. They are the ones responsible for  loading in whatever form, and at their professional descrection...But unlike motorists are answerable to a court of enquiry/law if anything goes wrong...If they err on the side of caution, then so be it...

  The motorists may not be used to dealing with professionals but they will be well used to you...

    As a former Mariner you might understand where I'm coming from

   

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I think the point being made is not that the loadmasters are not professional in balancing the load on the ferry but that in doing so they appear to be a bit cavalier in disregarding the order of vehicle arrival.

It would be good to have an authoritative voice explaining the ins and outs of the loading process, on a forum such as this there would be a lot of interest,

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I couldn't care less, you get on when you get on, the ship won't sail without you. She doesn't even dock until quarter past nine then has just 90 minutes to unload, clean up and then reload so the whole process doesn't exactly take ages does it?

Boarding isn't determined by your check in time, there's no "I was here first". They board you as and when they determine and that's essentially all there is to it.

 

 

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4 hours ago, Paully said:

The point is that the loading officers are highly experienced mariners..unlike us motorists, the chief officers, hold a master mariners certificate. They are the ones responsible for  loading in whatever form, and at their professional descrection...But unlike motorists are answerable to a court of enquiry/law if anything goes wrong...If they err on the side of caution, then so be it...

  The motorists may not be used to dealing with professionals but they will be well used to you...

    As a former Mariner you might understand where I'm coming from

   

Thanks Paully, a sensible comment at last. There has and always will be a predetermined plan when a loading commences.

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6 hours ago, TonyMWeaver said:

Thanks Paully, a sensible comment at last. There has and always will be a predetermined plan when a loading commences.

And half way through loading it falls apart 😂

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6 hours ago, TonyMWeaver said:

Thanks Paully, a sensible comment at last. There has and always will be a predetermined plan when a loading commences.

Yes Tony I think every one on here knows there's a plan on board but it's on the shore side, when the first queue of cars loads last and the last to arrive load before them.  I think this might be more to do with the marshals in the car lanes, they are asked for so many cars, high vans, low vans etc and seem to take from which ever lane takes thier fancy.

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Absolutely Solo.  The loading plan on board concerns types of vehicle, not every single last individual car.  The latter cannot possibly be pre-planned because it is not predictable in what order cars will join the queue.  Anybody who has actually taken the time to read the posts that have been made (before branding them “not sensible”) will realise that this is the point being made.  This is a lane-marshaing issue, not a deck officer issue.

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A few weeks ago, after a return trip from Bilbao which had a more diverse selection of vehicules than usual, I wrote to BF to say that we were always intrigued by the loading process and would like to know more about how it was done. I suggested they ask one of their deck officers to write a piece for either the onboard magazine or the website. 

I had a prompt and interested acknowledgment and am told that the suggestion has been passed to the relevant people so, watch this space ( I hope).

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