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David Williams

CF vs PA

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I am contemplating  booking a crossing out to Spain and then returning via France next Summer & want to be ready for the October rush.

I have  French Club Voyage membership.

I would be grateful for advice on choosing between the CF and PA, we are not bothered about entertainment but do like a decent restaurant - is it correct that the CF does not have buffet starters in the decent restaurant ?

We also like the idea of fresh air in the cabin - am I right that only the PA Commodore cabin has that or are there any other options.

Do the Spanish fares rise a lot in the UK school holidays ? We are not sure whether to go in early or late July.

All help welcome.

 

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CF’s restaurant is quite an odd design, in that it forms the corridor for people getting from one end of the ship to the other.  So there is constant traffic through it, and its design is not conducive to a buffet.  As a result the menu is purely a la carte, and is I believe unique in the fleet as far as what is on the menu.  That said, it is a pleasant enough experience, but does not match Le Flora for ambience or choice.

As far as I am aware, the only cabins in the fleet that open to the air are PA’s commodores.  CF does not have commodores but does have a few relatively small de luxe cabins at the front of the ship.  There are forward facing and contain double beds.

Other things to consider are ports and timings.  CF sails once a week to Santander (on Fridays) and twice a week to Bilbao (Wednesdays and the Sunday two-nighter).

I personally would choose PA every time, but CF has many fans (who particularly rave about her sea-keeping qualities in lumpy seas).  PA’s Sunday departure is particularly civilised, departing from Plymouth late afternoon and getting to Spain at lunchtime the following day.

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We travel in winter so the ships aren't too busy.  I don't know what it's like in July.  We're usually on the CF and have found the restaurant to be excellent.  We pre-book on the way out.  We've also been on the PA and the buffet, starters and sweets, is astonishing.  The mains is good too.  The only downside is that unless you are disciplined you tend to overeat, as you can go round the buffet as often as you like, and then feel absolutely plogged for the rest of the evening.

We tend to choose the Cap Finistere for the early start on a Tuesday morning and the pet friendly cabin, but if it was just for the food then it's really no contest.  Also, I find the Pont Aven slightly more spacious.  Others may have different views.

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Thanks for the info, very useful, we are used to the buffets on the MSM and Normandie & my wife loves the seafood !

Portsmouth is  better for us as we live in London

 

Edited by David Williams
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Yes, if departure from Portsmouth is a pre-requisite then choice of sailing times might trump everything else (especially if landing destination in Spain is flexible).

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2 hours ago, TerryDorset said:

Yeah, what they all said. Plus, if you want fresh air on CF there's always deck 10 with its cafe and swimming pool.

Hmmmm.   Fresh air yes.   Scruffy, also yes.

PA every time.   Apart from the top level cabins (which are really nice) I don’t ‘get’ CF.  Not for me.

 

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I travelled on CF once (and I’m glad I did, for the experience), but have no wish to do so again.  For me, too, it is Pont Aven every time.

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The good thing I like about the Cap, was the cabin as they were very big on the inside.  I wasn't keen on the restaurant as it was only  a la carte.  I prefer the Buffet instead.

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Some negative comments about the Cap.  If you're going for a "cruise" then probably you would prefer the Pont Aven.  If you're going on a ferry, as we do, to get to Spain, then I don't think it matters. (unless you really want the buffet - but no pet friendly cabins, whoops that'll put me in the dog house)  We go straight to bed (it's late Sunday night for goodness sake), wake up, shower,  have a good free breakfast, walk the dog, read our kindles, have a coffee, avoid the "entertainment", walk the dog, watch the live tracking, wait for the wifi to move to the next page, talk to some fellow travellers, have another coffee and some croissants borrowed from breakfast, walk the dog again, read the kindle, visit the shop, have dinner, give the dog a final walk, go to bed, up at 5:30, have a shower, down for free breakfast, borrow some more croissants, rolls, juice and triangular rolls (did I read somewhere they'd stopped making them?🤣), get the dog down to the van when called, drive off around 8:15 and head south.

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Ok Thanks, that convinces me to try for the Commodore cabin on Pont Aven, I will just have to be quick come October.

Re the comment about fresh air on deck 10, that doesn’t fit our needs as we like to sleep with fresh air if possible.

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2 hours ago, Gareth said:

You missed go for a swim - you can do that on Pont Aven! 😀

I should clarify that this was a tongue-in-cheek comment!  A paddle may be, but you’d struggle to do any actual swimming in PA’s little pond! 😀

(Don’t want to be responsible for misleading anyone into making a booking under false expectations!🤣).

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9 minutes ago, Gareth said:

I should clarify that this was a tongue-in-cheek comment!  A paddle may be, but you’d struggle to do any actual swimming in PA’s little pond! 😀

(Don’t want to be responsible for misleading anyone into making a booking under false expectations!🤣).

Am I mistaken or does or did the Cap Finistere also have a small `pond`??

Edited by Paully

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If this is your first experience sailing to Spain With BF I suggest that you must opt for Pont Aven choosing a commodore cabin if that's realistic for you. How about heading south on PA then return north on CF, you'll than have your definitive answer?

Maybe take the plunge for the Spanish Club Voyage too as you may find that your membership outlay and a little more besides is recouped with just the one booking?

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We use both to Spain. Pont out and Cap back twice a year. I prefer the food options on Pont. My personal experience is that we have had no delays on the Cap she seems to be able to catch up. Pont Aven  has had delays on our last three crossings. We are going out again in two weeks on the Pont Aven. We are planning our next trip for April and will probably use the Cap for both journeys ( a little concerned that the engine replacement on the Pont over running)  

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26 minutes ago, jonno said:

If this is your first experience sailing to Spain With BF I suggest that you must opt for Pont Aven choosing a commodore cabin if that's realistic for you. How about heading south on PA then return north on CF, you'll than have your definitive answer?

Maybe take the plunge for the Spanish Club Voyage too as you may find that your membership outlay and a little more besides is recouped with just the one booking?

Yes this will be our first Spanish experience with BF, we have been on most of the French routes. Our plan is one way to Spain and then drive back through France. You have all convinced me to go on PA. 

Thanks

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3 hours ago, Gareth said:

I should clarify that this was a tongue-in-cheek comment!  A paddle may be, but you’d struggle to do any actual swimming in PA’s little pond! 😀

(Don’t want to be responsible for misleading anyone into making a booking under false expectations!🤣).

Funny you should call it a pond as the only time I have seen the pool in use it was for a children's fishing contest, hooking out plastic fish.

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14 hours ago, David Williams said:

Our plan is one way to Spain and then drive back through France.

You may already know this, but if we leave the EU without a deal France will require all UK drivers to have an International Driving Permit immediately.  Spain from next year, and the two IDP's are different.  Pet owners also need to be aware of possible changes.

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11 minutes ago, auchmill said:

You may already know this, but if we leave the EU without a deal France will require all UK drivers to have an International Driving Permit immediately.  Spain from next year, and the two IDP's are different.  Pet owners also need to be aware of possible changes.

There’s already a thread about this in the forum here....

https://bfenthusiasts.com/bfe/topic/12203-driving-in-france-and-spain/

....but has already slipped down to page 3 of the Open House Chatter sub-forum.  (Maybe I should move it to somewhere more prominent).

Edit:  Have pinned it to the top of OHC.

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As has been said, the Cap Finistere does have some fans, and I'm definitely one of them. I think the ship comes in to her own on a quieter out of season crossing. Whereas the Pont-Aven can feel rather empty and soulless, I find the general ambience on Cap Finistere warmer, less formal and more enjoyable. The standard cabins I've had on Cap Finistere have all been larger and quieter than the equivalent on Pont-Aven. I find the Restaurant du Port very pleasant indeed, and have never missed having the buffet section. I've also used the Petit Marche and the open-air café on deck 10. The 'Belle vue' outside deck bar is also a lovely feature, one which none of the other ships have. Personally though my favourite place to be on the ship is sat in the Planets bar, near one of the big windows, watching the sea all afternoon.

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2 minutes ago, Gareth said:

There’s already a thread about this in the forum here....

https://bfenthusiasts.com/bfe/topic/12203-driving-in-france-and-spain/

....but has already slipped down to page 3 of the Open House Chatter sub-forum.  (Maybe I should move it to somewhere more prominent).

Thanks.  A "sticky" might be useful as I fear many, perhaps not those on here, are confused or unaware.  Perhaps a sticky of links to the Government website which at least has the definitive information and not just opinions.

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Back to the topic of CF v PA.  I mentioned in the thread about lights in forward-facing cabins that CF does not have any family-friendly premium cabins.  That’s a consideration for us but may not be for others.

It is also worth pointing out that taking the PA crossing from Portsmouth commits you to a Tuesday departure, and also to an arrival in Santander that can be quite late.  1815 if on time, but any delays to the sailing can push the arrival into the evening.  Arrival was almost 2100 last time we took the crossing.  So if that’s a potential issue to you it’s worth being aware of it.

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3 hours ago, Ryan_H said:

Personally though my favourite place to be on the ship is sat in the Planets bar, near one of the big windows, watching the sea all afternoon.

I'd like to see that converted to the main restaurant over two floors a bit like the back of Color Magic albeit smaller. CF is one of only two Superfasts built with this extended stern facing feature and could possibly do with being exploited... Move the Petit Marche to the inboard area of the restaurant in order to open up the lounge bar area, the outboard area of the 'du Porte could then become another relaxing wifi area?

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