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Normandie 1/8/19 & MSM 15/8/19

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So time for the Annual 2 week holiday in France and this time we were heading for the Vendee after 2 years of going to Brittany. 

There is a little bit of sentiment involved when I book the crossings as I like to try different routes and vessels for the outward crossing plus living in Sheffield there isnt a huge difference in the distances to the UK Ports but I always like to return on the Bretagne on the inward crossing as its a nice way to end the holiday sailing out of St Malo plus the arrival time at Portsmouth means we should get home before Midnight. However after 2 successive years of being held up on the M1 by overnight roadworks and Lane Closures it was time to try something different for the return leg so I plumped for the Caen route. 

I booked the crossings in October hoping that the outward crossing would be on Honfleur but obviously that was not to be. Still it was at least 15 years since I last travelled on the Normandie and after getting a few negative vibes from comments on here I was curious as to what she would be like. 

The crossing was very heavily loaded and I could see that Deck 6 was full. We were placed on Deck 5 as we were towing and the 1st thing I noticed was how much space we had on either side of us. It makes you realise just how cramped the Bretagnes garage decks are. We had an Outside Cabin on Deck 6. It was clean and the carpet looked new as if it had been changed during her last refit. I also noticed the more modern looking light switch panel with USB points. 

We made our way outside onto the rear sundeck as it was a beautiful morning and then into the Derby Bar for the Kids entertainment. This area was particularly busy there were no seats in the Bar and not many in the Cafe area opposite. I got the feeling that many of the people there were spending the whole crossing there rather than getting a cabin however it made this area in particular feel a bit cramped. Lunch in the Self Service was lovely and the sea was totally calm. We arrived into Ouistreham on time and just as we were approaching the entrance to the Port some Dolphins were swimming in the waves on the Port side. In all the times I have been to France Ive never seen any marine life so that was a very pleasent surprise. I only wish I was on the deck rather than in the cabin so I could take a photo.

The return crossing was on the MSM overnight from Caen. Due to what I'd read on here regarding Migrant Problems we had our evening meal in Avranches and i timed it so that we arrived at the Port at 10.05. We saw the Migrants sat around just before the entrance to the Port but they didnt appear to be actively chasing any traffic and we didnt feel threatened. 

The last time I went on MSM I was underwhelmed but in her defence it was a rough crossing in low season and we spent the whole crossing in the Cafe area at the back so didnt really see much of the ship. This time we were loaded onto Deck 5 into a spacious garage and our Cabin was on deck 7. The thing that struck me the most about MSM was her sheer size. It probably helped in that everyone was in their Cabins/Seats tucked up for the night but she still appeared much larger than the Normandie. Overall impressions were good I hadn't realised how similar she is in layout to Normandie just a bigger more spacious version. 

Overall 2 very good crossings with BF. I thought the Normandie was very nice, well kept and modern compared with other ships Ive travelled on recently. Such is the high standards that BF maintain its only when compared against her own fleet mates that she starts to look inferior. I was impressed with MSM but pleasant as she was i just think she lacks the character or personality of the other BF ships. 




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Great report.  Sounds like they’ve spent a bit of money doing Normandie up at her last reft (presumably in preparation for move to Le Havre), which is good to hear.

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