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des

Cork - Roscoff - Cork : 27/7 & 16/9

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Check-in and boarding in Cork was, as usual, quite fast. Hitting the cabin we checked out the contents of the minibar. As part of what seems to be an annual erosion of benefits the Coke cans had been reduced to 250ml. Wow, I'd say that saves a fortune.

Went down to the Commodore lounge and noticed that the Nespresso machine was gone and replaced with jugs of hot chocolate (which BF do well) and coffee (which BF don't do well). 

Loading completed on time and we left on schedule. We had a snack in the self service and noticed that (a) they couldn't accept contactless payment and (b) they offered the choice to pay in sterling rather than use the fairly extortionate exchange rate. Food was, as ever, tasty.

Later on we went to Le Flora. The usual extensive range of buffet items was there and service was good. Had the sturgeon as my main and it wasn't great - very strong tasting. The others had lamb. I noticed one table nearby declined the main course and just had buffet items. Not a bad idea.

Off to bed, woke up for breakfast in the cabin. Once again BF showed their tightfistedness - party of five but no way can they provide more than four sets of pastries. Seriously, how much does it cost ? 

Smooth enough crossing, arrived on time, unloading (Deck 4) was slowish and for the first time in a few years the French passport controller didn't look like they'd been sleeping in their uniform in a wet cave for six months - they were smartly turned out and I noticed their patch badge had the Pont Aven.

So off we go heading for Pamplona (overnighting in Niort).

All good things come to an end so on Friday we rocked up to a drizzly Roscoff and checked in at 18:00. Then the wait began. After an hour our lane was dispatched through passport control with, again smartly turned out staff. Eventually 2h15 after checking in we boarded - we had a standard car with a roofbox. 

Checked in at Commodore check-in and, following the great advice from  @Gareth we declined breakfast in the cabin and said we'd go to Le Flora. The evening was uneventful, the Nespresso machine was back, two disposable towels made an appearance as part of the welcome pack.

Morning came and we went to Le Flora for breakfast. The vitality option for €10.75 was savage value with a fry as well as the really extensive buffet. The restaurant was quiet and it was nice sitting there in the sunlight rather than squashing around a table in the cabin. All of the party made good use of the buffet and when we paid our cabin key was swiped and that was it. 

Arrival was on time, we got off fairly quickly and were home in no time.

A couple of lingering points remain for us:

1. Why aren't the breakfast options made clearer ? We've been going on Commodore for around 15 years and eating in the restaurant would have been great especially on the return journey.

2. Why do BF insist on only providing cups, glasses for two people in a cabin that has four booked ? We always end up going to the Self Service and getting glasses from there.

3. Why the gradual erosion of benefits ? We all remember when a couple of small bottles of wine were supplied.

4. Why is it such a big deal to throw another roll (triangular or round), croissant and pain au chocolat onto the tray for a five-person booking ? 

Anyway, that's it. 

 

 

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Hey Des ... I take it that you were able to get 5 in a commodore cabin ? .... what ages are the children ? ... was it a tight squeeze ?

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Good point Geezer!  I was thinking one of them must have been in a cot, but that wouldn’t explain the need for a 5th set of pastries!

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5 minutes ago, Gareth said:

Good point Geezer!  I was thinking one of them must have been in a cot, but that wouldn’t explain the need for a 5th set of pastries!

5 sets of pastries???????...you know what this is going to start🤣😋

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5 hours ago, Geezer said:

Hey Des ... I take it that you were able to get 5 in a commodore cabin ? .... what ages are the children ? ... was it a tight squeeze ?

Because everyone has to have assigned accommodation one person is assigned a recliner as the cabin is max 4. So lots are drawn and someone ends up sharing a bunk (back when they were smaller) or in a sleeping bag on the floor.  Never me. It's not really a squeeze as there's plenty of space but it wouldn't be an option in a standard four berth.

Having discovered that each of us could troop off to Le Flora and eat all around us the reluctance to throw a few more pastries onto the breakfast tray is even harder to fathom.

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I travelled many times on the Quiberon and Val de Loire in a class cabin sold as a 3 berth.  There was me (adult) and 4 young teenagers (3 of mine + a  nephew).  We had to book the cabin and two seats.  Almost every time at breakfast the steward brought a tray to the cabin, smiled and fetched extra pastries and juice.  We never used the seats, one boy on the couch, one in a sleeping bag on the floor, two girls in one bed (a squeeze!) and me in the other.  I suspect BF have tightened up on the generosity of the staff since then.

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its hard to see why BF would be so mean with customers who are prepared to pay for a Commodore cabin

On the other side of it I don't know how BF cost their vitality breakfast as it is such good value & the amount of food people eat & spirit away amazes me.

Was on the PA back to Cork in June & there was an elderly French couple seated next to us and I could not help notice their frequent visits back to the buffet [8 in all]

I only realised after  a while that they were not in fact eating most of the food they were packing it away in a large handbag that they had with them. They turned their cooked breakfast away twice because they were not finished their pilfering !

One would of thought the Restaurant staff would have noticed  but maybe they just accept that is what some people do ....

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To be fair to BF, is it not just that there are, on paper, four people booked into the cabin - so they cater for the number of people booked? The crew aren't to know that someone booked on a reclining seat is actually staying in a cabin?

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44 minutes ago, hhvferry said:

To be fair to BF, is it not just that there are, on paper, four people booked into the cabin - so they cater for the number of people booked? The crew aren't to know that someone booked on a reclining seat is actually staying in a cabin?

Well we mention it every time at the Commodore desk and BF know it's a family all on one booking so it's not beyond the bounds of reason to expect the sheet of paper (containing all the details) at the desk to note that this is a family of five split across two areas (and there are plenty of them around). On a different level do BF honestly think that the family member on the recliner will go off and do something else for breakfast ? 

As a policy it may make technical & financial sense but it goes against the image that BF portray of being better than all the rest and therefore worth the extra. 

 

 

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I take the view that it is extraordinarily generous to allow all five members of the party free breakfast in Le Flora, and I don’t get why BF is being criticised.

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1 hour ago, Gareth said:

I take the view that it is extraordinarily generous to allow all five members of the party free breakfast in Le Flora, and I don’t get why BF is being criticised.

Well (a) all five didn't avail and, more importantly, (b) BF never mentioned it as an option (I learned about it on this forum) so if they had mentioned it the this gripe would never have been a gripe (and I'd be as fat as a Lord from the big buffet :) ).

Do you seriously think we'd be odd about not getting extra rolls ( that are the hardest in the known universe ) delivered to the cabin if we'd known about the buffet option ?

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8 hours ago, des said:

Well (a) all five didn't avail and, more importantly, (b) BF never mentioned it as an option (I learned about it on this forum) so if they had mentioned it the this gripe would never have been a gripe (and I'd be as fat as a Lord from the big buffet :) ).

Do you seriously think we'd be odd about not getting extra rolls ( that are the hardest in the known universe ) delivered to the cabin if we'd known about the buffet option ?

Sorry Des, I've got a bit confused.  I agree that the availability of the Commodore restaurant breakfast option is not widely known, and for some reason is not overtly advertised.  [I worried slightly about promoting it on here lest increased popularity caused BF to take the option away, but it's a great Commodore perk while it lasts (far above anything which may or may not be in the minibar), and I would not ever want to take that for granted].  I got the impression form your OP that you were aware of that facility (via the forum) and that all of your party were catered for in Le Flora.  Apologies if I've misunderstood.

As far as the in-cabin pastry availability goes, I don't understand why you'd think that would be available for 5 people when the capacity of the cabin is 4 (and the cabin price is a per-cabin price, not a per-person price, so the average uptake of the facility is probably somewhere between 2 and 3).  BF would probably have been within their rights to insist (on safety grounds or something) that cabin occupancy was limited to 4 people and that the 5th person must use the recliner, but it shows that they have a human side that they did not do this.  By insisting that the "illegal" person in your cabin should have had the hypothetical pastry that would have been required had you not gone to Le Flora, you are rather showing a lack of appreciation of the fact that BF let that person stay in the cabin at all.  No big deal, but I think it is important to keep things in perspective before lamenting BF's "stinginess".

Interesting to hear that BF had sturgeon on the menu in Le Flora.....not something I'd have expected; well done for trying it!  Also interesting to see your comments about the ability to pay in sterling.  On the UK sailings that has always been routine practice, but is that something new for the Cork service?

Finally.....I was going to congratulate you for managing to get a good breakfast in Le Flora before the obscenely early arrival, and then re-read to discover you were travelling north rather than south!  The southbound Pont Aven sailing from Cork must be one of the most anti-social arrival times of all the longer-distance cruise ferry services that BF operates!

 

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Just on the occupancy theme ... I shared an email reply from BF a while ago ... i used to book a recliner also until i realised the 5 of us could share a 4 berth cabin.

 This is my response fom BF.ie > We do allow a maximum 5 passengers (2 > of which are children) to occupy a 4 berth cabin. As there are 2 lower > & 2 upper bunks in a 4 berth cabin, either 2 children will have to > share a bunk or 1 of the children will have to sleep on the floor.

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2 hours ago, BigDW1946 said:

Whilst bring resident in the Republic we always pay in sterling aboard Pont Aven as the euro rates suck.

Interesting - I knew that It is a no-brainer for UK customers to pay in sterling, but I had assumed that residents of Euro countries would pay in Euro.  Does this mean that it is cost-effective even for French customers to pay in Sterling on board?

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5 minutes ago, Gareth said:

Interesting - I knew that It is a no-brainer for UK customers to pay in sterling, but I had assumed that residents of Euro countries would pay in Euro.  Does this mean that it is cost-effective even for French customers to pay in Sterling on board?

When i put my credit card in the machine it gives me the option to pay in either sterling or euro as i'm from Northern Ireland, perhaps the French don't get this option and it may only be euro, as they are from euroland .. not sure, but they certainly won't be carrying sterling in cash form.

Edited by Geezer

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On 18/08/2019 at 14:36, des said:

Off to bed, woke up for breakfast in the cabin. Once again BF showed their tightfistedness - party of five but no way can they provide more than four sets of pastries. Seriously, how much does it cost ? 

 

So I’m heading on the PA in September.  Two of us booked in a 4 berth commodore. Will we still get breakfast for four?

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38 minutes ago, jamess said:

So I’m heading on the PA in September.  Two of us booked in a 4 berth commodore. Will we still get breakfast for four?

Yes, if you want it! Just decline the cabin service and head to Le Flora instead - there you will be able to eat as much of everything (including the cooked buffet) as you like.

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8 hours ago, Gareth said:

Interesting - I knew that It is a no-brainer for UK customers to pay in sterling, but I had assumed that residents of Euro countries would pay in Euro.  Does this mean that it is cost-effective even for French customers to pay in Sterling on board?

Careful Gareth, Ed will read this and his woes concerning the onboard cost differential between the euro and sterling are well documented. I think you pay on average a further 15 - 20 percent premium for paying in euros. 

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1 hour ago, jamess said:

So I’m heading on the PA in September.  Two of us booked in a 4 berth commodore. Will we still get breakfast for four?

When two of us travelled in a Deluxe a few years ago we only had Breakfast for two.

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3 minutes ago, jonno said:

Careful Gareth, Ed will read this and his woes concerning the onboard cost differential between the euro and sterling are well documented. I think you pay on average a further 15 - 20 percent premium for paying in euros. 

Don't worry! I saved about 75% by booking with DFDS at Christmas so I'm not complaining. And I paid in euros. And I'm hoping the fish and chips is on the menu as it's really good. And the WiFi works really well as long as you don't try streaming a film. And the timings are good. Ed. 

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19 hours ago, Gareth said:

Finally.....I was going to congratulate you for managing to get a good breakfast in Le Flora before the obscenely early arrival, and then re-read to discover you were travelling north rather than south!  The southbound Pont Aven sailing from Cork must be one of the most anti-social arrival times of all the longer-distance cruise ferry services that BF operates!

It certainly is. I've asked about it a couple of times in BF Cork. The explanation given was that a large propotion of those travelling were intending on making 6 hour+ journeys south, I can see the rational behind this and I know when the kids were young and we headed south towards Bordeaux the early arrival was a big plus. However now that its just the 2 of us we tend to stay in Finistere and arriving at 7am or earlier is of zero benefit. To be honest I'm inclined to think that the early arrival is to enable the vessel to get in an early morning departure to Plymouth.

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