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zuludelta

Do you think the ferry industry still has an image problem?

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During the time of 2010 Icelandic ash cloud, a weird thing happened. People who had never contemplated traveling by ferry were forced to travel by ferry.

And here is the interesting bit. Journalists and TV crews were at PIP interviewing passengers getting off the PA  and most disembarking passengers were surprised at how pleasant the experience was. I can only imagine that there loads more of traveling public have a similar misconception of ferry travel.

This problem has been created by other ferry companies of dirty ships, rowdy passengers and sh*t food. There is also the image problem of ferries being slow. (Most people forgetting that it's actually one night of accommodation and not really different from somebody staying at an airport hotel to catch a flight the next day). The problem is not helped by celebrities. While you'll have paparazzi at Stansted snapping Tony and Cherie getting off a Ryanair or David Cameron flying off on EasyJet but when was the last time you saw a newspaper article of a politician or celebrity getting off a ferry? Never.

With environmentally friendly travel and "flight shame" now en vogue, I think the ferry industry is in a good position but still has a major image problem. What do you think?

Edited by zuludelta

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Yes it still has an image problem. Also many people on their 20s would not even think of the ferry as a way to get somewhere. In the 80s only DFDS's North Sea ferries were of excellent quality with all other ferries including those of Brittany Ferries been considerably poorer in comparison. Perhaps that image has still stuck? 

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3 minutes ago, Nick Hyde said:

Yes it still has an image problem. Also many people on their 20s would not even think of the ferry as a way to get somewhere. In the 80s only DFDS's North Sea ferries were of excellent quality with all other ferries including those of Brittany Ferries been considerably poorer in comparison. Perhaps that image has still stuck? 

I think it has stuck unfortunately.  

And I do remember those adverts for DFDS in the 1990s which used to boast of their "sleek white cruise ferries".

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As a society we need to try and move away from reliance on air travel, for a variety of well-documented reasons. Particularly for 'short haul' journeys. Government surely has a role to play. 

You are quite correct about everyone wanting to fly everywhere these days. My generation and certainly those younger than me generally seem to have no concept of travel being something to savour and enjoy, rather all they want is the fastest, cheapest route, regardless of how unpleasant it might be in reality. It's all about sitting there, staring at a phone for a couple of hours, preferably with your earphones in so you don't have to interact with anyone ;)

Edited by Ryan_H

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1 hour ago, zuludelta said:

I think it has stuck unfortunately.  

And I do remember those adverts for DFDS in the 1990s which used to boast of their "sleek white cruise ferries".

DFDS definitely set the benchmark. 

20190907_170212.jpg

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11 minutes ago, Nick Hyde said:

And DFDS with Dana Regina. An excellent stylish ferry with main cruise like onboard design features. 

True, she and the two Tor ships set very high standards for ferries sailing to the UK in the 1970s.

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Equally let’s not forget that Tor Line got into financial trouble quite quickly after setting the bar so high. At least the current RoPax vessels provide a sound financial base for ferries even if they lack the glamour of the Tor ships. I’m really hoping that the refurbishment of the Moby Aki and Wonder pull off the Brittany Ferries trick of glamour and practicality. It would be nice to think that their time has come and that people will see the joy that travelling that bit slower but better brings us.

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2 hours ago, Northy said:

Equally let’s not forget that Tor Line got into financial trouble quite quickly after setting the bar so high. At least the current RoPax vessels provide a sound financial base for ferries even if they lack the glamour of the Tor ships. I’m really hoping that the refurbishment of the Moby Aki and Wonder pull off the Brittany Ferries trick of glamour and practicality. It would be nice to think that their time has come and that people will see the joy that travelling that bit slower but better brings us.

And DFDS to their credit made the ex Tor Line passenger service work from 1981 for quite a number of years under the DFDS Tor Line marketing banner.

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The passenger side of Tor Line wasn't really the problem although more passengers in the winter would have helped. It was the chronic freight over-capacity in the North Sea market which the company struggled with allied to the wider economic struggles of its owners. Compared to DFDS, Tor Line were a model of financial probity.

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3 hours ago, Northy said:

 I’m really hoping that the refurbishment of the Moby Aki and Wonder pull off the Brittany Ferries trick of glamour and practicality. It would be nice to think that their time has come and that people will see the joy that travelling that bit slower but better brings us.

What is the story there? Aren't Aki and Wonder the "young ones" of the Moby fleet? I'm guessing these two must be the two work horses for Moby if they are getting refurbished so early?

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You’re right that there was no shortage of summer demand for the Tor sisters in the early days. I remember my parents car being bounced aboard in an attempt to cram the last of the cars onto the car deck. The ships seemed to heave with people however they were also marketed to the masses. The decor was bright and bold, I seem to remember a lot of orange and bold murals in the huge cafeteria, a lot of the accommodation was in couchettes and economy cabins and there were often lots of students recumbent on the stairs. As the years went by the accommodation became more comfortable and expensive, the cafe was split into more expensive and exclusive areas and the marketing more specifically aimed at an older wealthier demographic. The numbers onboard seemed to fall too. I don’t recall a single crossing where the ship was full in the late 80’s or 90’s, even expensive air travel offered a more convenient and affordable alternative. There is no doubt that the quality of offering was good but the prices were unaffordable by many. It was a long time coming but the death of those routes was inevitable. As you say even at the peak of demand not enough people wanted to use the North Sea in winter, who wants to pay that much to be sea sick for 24 hours! I think the hope now must be that the likes of DFDS can rework the formula for longer crossings and at a time of questioning the environmental impact of flying start appealing to the masses again.

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1 hour ago, hhvferry said:

The passenger side of Tor Line wasn't really the problem although more passengers in the winter would have helped. It was the chronic freight over-capacity in the North Sea market which the company struggled with allied to the wider economic struggles of its owners. Compared to DFDS, Tor Line were a model of financial probity.

It still amazes me how Cuxhaven and Esberg had to be withdrawn - yet BF can sustain UK-Spain routes even in the winter. Was is freight-only providers who were providing this over-capacity?

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4 minutes ago, zuludelta said:

What is the story there? Aren't Aki and Wonder the "young ones" of the Moby fleet? I'm guessing these two must be the two work horses for Moby if they are getting refurbished so early?

They are about to start a new life on the North Sea under DFDS.

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This is an excellent post/question and something a quite literally pondered just the other day.....

I watched a media documentary on the phrase '....a cross Channel ferry was used.' It as a degrading term for travelling and I think harks back to negative connotations from era's gone by - totally ignoring the fact that the vast majority (if not all) ferries sailing out of the UK are of a high to very high modern standard.

I have been criticised by many for using the ever-popular DFDS Newcastle - Ijmuiden service with people saying 'why would you want o be on a ferry for 15 hours whn you can fly in 1' or 'I hate water!!'. What they don't realise is you don't notice the ships roll, faciltites are excellent and the journey becomes part of the holiday.

Sadly we live in a time where some people when something now, or as soon as possible which is a shame as the negative image of ferry travel amongst some will be very hard to shake off, which is a shame.

I, and maybe us, are of the breed where if I can take the option of a ferry over an aeroplane I would hands down, but sadly, the majority of other people would not.

Le Quib.

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5 minutes ago, Le Quiberon said:

Sadly we live in a time where some people when something now, or as soon as possible which is a shame as the negative image of ferry travel amongst some will be very hard to shake off, which is a shame.

Fully agree with you on this! As you say the journey is part of the holiday and not enough is made of this, perhaps ferry company marketing needs to focus on it more. The only way to shake the image problem will be if more people try ferries for themselves. Of course the only way that will happen is if they are forced so perhaps we need more Icelandic volcanoes cancelling flights?!

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22 minutes ago, zuludelta said:

It still amazes me how Cuxhaven and Esberg had to be withdrawn - yet BF can sustain UK-Spain routes even in the winter. Was is freight-only providers who were providing this over-capacity?

I really wish I had an answer to this question!

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17 hours ago, zuludelta said:

During the time of 2010 Icelandic ash cloud, a weird thing happened. People who had never contemplated traveling by ferry were forced to travel by ferry.

 

Yes but I seem to recall that even when folk were complaining about lack of capacity over all alternative modes BF reported that at no time did they not have space on any route. It was almost as if they didn't exist for some who were paying vast amounts to various opportunists.

Edited by Millsy
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Comparing ferries to aviation is a bit like comparing apples and pears. People these days are cash rich but time poor, as they say. But if you are wanting a holiday in the sun destination such as in Spain,Portugal and Greece if not Turkey then flying is the only feasible way. Thats why the all in package tour has made such a comeback.

  I`m sure a relaxing ferry crossing would interest many of the fliers, frequent or otherwise, but having to maintain a car suitable for a long trip, driving 6/8 hrs with a tribe of kids in the back just to get to the ferryport, and so on, simply does not.

   We are too entrenched in our ways as a society and the decline in aviation isnt going to come anytime soon. The ferry industry has an important role to play but freight is and always will be its chief revenue stream. The rest is a minority sport.

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I think there is cause to be optimistic in the years ahead. If we look at the ships which Stena, BF and DFDS will be introducing, these will surely enhance the travel experience by sea, at least in terms of facilities. Many will also be much cleaner and environmentally sustainable. There are signs that the love affair with budget airlines might be starting to end and so more people are likely to start looking more closely at rail and sea as alternatives. 

Edited by Ryan_H
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3 hours ago, Paully said:

 We are too entrenched in our ways as a society and the decline in aviation isnt going to come anytime soon.

Depends. If future governments force airlines to incorporate the true (environmental) cost of flying into their fares then it will be game on again for the ferry companies. In the meantime...

 

2 hours ago, Ryan_H said:

 

I think there is cause to be optimistic in the years ahead. If we look at the ships which Stena, BF and DFDS will be introducing

 

Absolutely, a high quality ferry service underpinned by freight shows that even now an alternative to flying can be offered. Perhaps we all need to adjust our expectations as well in terms of where we expect to go and how long it should take us to get there. The journey really should be part of the holiday. Do we all need to remember this next time we vote?

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12 hours ago, Le Quiberon said:

This is an excellent post/question and something a quite literally pondered just the other day.....

I watched a media documentary on the phrase '....a cross Channel ferry was used.' It as a degrading term for travelling and I think harks back to negative connotations from era's gone by - totally ignoring the fact that the vast majority (if not all) ferries sailing out of the UK are of a high to very high modern standard.

 

Yeah in the media and popular culture, 9 times out of 10, references to ferry travel are negative.

With the zeitgeist of "flight shame" now upon us, ferry operators really need to exploit this sentiment beyond just Guardian readers!

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