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Cotentin - Returning to Brittany Ferries in 2021


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Agreed - BF is not out of the woods by a long shot.  And I think they’ll find out this year just how badly their handling of last year’s refund crisis has affected their customer loyalty.  When you see things like the “Brittany Ferries Refund Group” pop up on Facebook, you know the PR problems are not isolated cases.

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A few of her from the pilot boat this morning. 

Hope this is ok - uploaded to you tube.    

The only place she can go right now is back down the canal towards the sea. Any other direction and she's likley to get a bit stuck. Ed

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5 minutes ago, Gareth said:

 And I think they’ll find out this year just how badly their handling of last year’s refund crisis has affected their customer loyalty

I personally don't think that it will affect it much, I think that most will flock back - a number of Ryanair customers spent the summer complaining, however as soon as flights were available again a lot of people went on holiday !

However I do think that it will matter more if BF dumb down the product (especially the restaurants) and if the UK or French borders start being a problem. BF relies on the experience being pleasant (or at least not unpleasant).

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3 minutes ago, David Williams said:

However I do think that it will matter more if BF dumb down the product (especially the restaurants)

Yes, I agree.  That’s one of the things we are waiting for - reports coming out from those using the service that the quality of the product (especially the restaurants) being back to normal.

I don’t think the border issues will be any more of a factor than they already were - provided people have the right paperwork (and they’ve had ample warning about that) then there is no reason the border experience should be any worse than it already was.  And it was already pretty horrendous, at both Portsmouth and Plymouth - plenty of historic reports on here about how unpleasant the waits involved in clearing the border formalities were in both of those ports.  But they were always outside BF control, and were never a reason that put people off the BF product per se.  It was (and still is) all about the UK Border Force staffing the booths adequately.

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I`ve just had an e mail from BF advertising their holiday packages now with 15% off , full covid 19 cover and free amendments up to 30 days before travel and a £50 pp deposit..

Good deal, but almost everyone else are offering big discounts on holidays..Right now I can`t see bookings flooding in to any holiday company. Yesterday even BA withdrew their long haul packages from the market. We booked a private villa in Fuerteventura in November with the owner asking for no deposit and pay cash on arrival. Thats the sort of offers people will need to book.

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Do you think the restaurants will ever be the same once the three e flexer's are in service? Inclusive pricing will see the back of them.

The "posh" restaurants are used by the minority and subsidised by the majority. If they are to be continued they will need to be self sufficient as a profit making operation. Did someone on here say 80 members of Staff for La Flora. People will probably not be so keen to use them  if they have to pay the full operating cost for their meal. Corona virus will make BF look seriously at the viability of these operations. Just my opinion. What do members on here estimate the true cost of a meal in La Flora     

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Very good point there Ian..In theory they should be making at least the industry average profit (anything up to 80%) per cover. The prices in La Flora and Les Abers etc are not cheap.Unlike a shore restaurant their only overheads are ingredients and staff. That should put them at a big advantage. Although some dishes are prepared on board some also come from their shore kitchens at Roscoff..economies of scale there. Then BF want to emphasise their Frenchness and nowhere better than afloat A La Carte restaurants. It does set them apart from the others.

 Assuming that re opening the restaurants are even possible this year, then I would think they`d be keen to do that. Staffing, a lot seasonal, would be looked at very carefully and levels rather reduced from what they were. The return of duty free, which used to be a moneyspinner, may help the hotel dept costs overall. 

I`d be very sorry to see them go..For years when the kids were young we couldn`t afford them. Now we can and rather like them.

   

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1 hour ago, IanN said:

The "posh" restaurants are used by the minority and subsidised by the majority. If they are to be continued they will need to be self sufficient as a profit making operation.    

Have you done many Santander crossings (or previously loved Thursdays evenings to Roscoff) on PA? 

The á la Carte restaurant is usually completely full and has very long queues through the passageway during dining times.

Peak seasons on the Caen route I’ve often seen a very long lines of people waiting for a table...

Do you have any ‘insider’ info on how profitable the main restaurants are!? It sounds like a bit of a bold statement to say “used by the minority & subsidised by the majority” without knowing the figures.

I guess the 80 or so crew members in ‘La Flora’ are seasonally increased or decreased according to demand anticipated during the season.

I for one would be gutted to see the BF offerings in their main restaurants downgraded to self-service only option for the longer term, as for many I’m sure, that a civilised meal is part of the journey!

Edited by daves_pad!
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Whilst I am not bang up to date, Les Abers southbound made a tidy packet through a long season, and staffing was significantly reduced out of season, though numbers still good. Northbound lunch could be pretty quiet, depending on the nature of the passengers embarked.

Often travelling alone, I would always tell the staff that I was happy to share a table. Indeed most times they just took that as read. I met a marvelous cross section of people, young to old, several nationalities, truck drivers, backpackers, supermarket cashiers, lawyers, accountants, retired and active people, regulars to beginners. I enjoyed that aspect, and I hope my table companions did too.

The food was generally very good, with a few exceptions. Only once did I get a grumpy response to a negative comment. More usually a fresh plate appeared smartish.

Happy days will come again.

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3 hours ago, IanN said:

Did someone on here say 80 members of Staff for La Flora.

I can’t speak confidently for Pont-Aven, but certainly not 80 (that would be around 50% of the entire ships company) 🙈

Bretagne’s Les Abers had a compliment of around 10 in high season - 10% of the ship’s hotel crew in high season. 

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1 hour ago, colin said:

The food was generally very good, with a few exceptions. Only once did I get a grumpy response to a negative comment. More usually a fresh plate appeared smartish.

Happy days will come again.

I quite agree..Very enjoyable food in the Les Abers especially the seafood buffet..I sincerely hope the happy days arn`t too far away..

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2 hours ago, daves_pad! said:

Have you done many Santander crossings (or previously loved Thursdays evenings to Roscoff) on PA? 

The á la Carte restaurant is usually completely full and has very long queues through the passageway during dining times.

Peak seasons on the Caen route I’ve often seen a very long lines of people waiting for a table...

Do you have any ‘insider’ info on how profitable the main restaurants are!? It sounds like a bit of a bold statement to say “used by the minority & subsidised by the majority” without knowing the figures.

I guess the 80 or so crew members in ‘La Flora’ are seasonally increased or decreased according to demand anticipated during the season.

I for one would be gutted to see the BF offerings in their main restaurants downgraded to self-service only option for the longer term, as for many I’m sure, that a civilised meal is part of the journey!

I have made at least one crossing a year since 2000 currently doing two trips a year if allowed

When full PA capacity @ 1800.  Number of covers in La Flora I have no idea but no where near 1800 so I guess the cost becomes part of the general overhead of the ferry so is subsidised by all passengers whether they use it or not . 

I have seen the queues many times for La Flora stretching all the way back to the self service. Also the apoplectic passenger who due to not getting in the queue on time to book a table shouts at the ladies on the desk. It can be entertaining sitting with a drink watching. Then you get the poor *** who queues in the evening not realising you needed to have booked.

Anyway I digress the point I was trying to make is that the e-flexers do not have this option. The last new ferry Armorique also does not have this option so does anybody else see a trend.

You are also assuming that we do not use La Flora or Du port.

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22 hours ago, LHCity said:

There are studies in progress for a liaison with Ireland. The schedule is not yet fixed but could impact the schedules of the Portsmouth boat, which occupies the place for hours between its arrival and departure.

Do you have any more info about the liaison with Ireland? An additional BF service?

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As a child, I travelled with BF overnight Portsmouth-St Malo and St Malo-Portsmouth on Pen-Ar-Bed and Prince of Brittany (possibly other ships but those are the ones I remember) from 1978 until 1981 when my parents separated. Both ways the ship was a place to sleep. More recently, with my own children, from 2006 until 2012 we travelled out on the 08.15 Portsmouth-Caen and back on the 17.00 Caen-Portsmouth, apart from 2007 when we returned on the 10.30 St Malo-Portsmouth (we were staying at Dol de Bretagne so it was a no brainer). Through those years we enjoyed the on board experience with meals and overnighted in Portsmouth both ways.

In 2013 we travelled out on the 08.15 to Caen as normal but on the day we were returning the Caen sailing was at 14.30 so we decided instead to return on NEX from Cherbourg at 17.00 to avoid leaving our campsite at 6.30am. NEX docked behind Mont St Michel and we were amongst the last 10 cars from the two ships to clear passport control; friends whom we had been on holiday with were on MSM and were half way to London while we were still being held on the dock. We were booked in the Premier Inn at Warwick that night to break the journey back to Scotland and got there at 23.30 with sleeping children to find the car park full. We carried the sleeping children from the overflow car park and were wakened at 5.50 the following morning to the news that my car had been broken into. The photos of my trashed car are on Tripadvisor. Since then, Portsmouth-Caen at 22.45 has become our hotel room for the night; we have a meal either at Cosham or Gunwharf Quay and refuel the car and do a supermarket shop in Tesco at Cosham prior to boarding. Breakfast the next morning in the car is Kelloggs Variety Pack supplemented with a baguette bought at an Aire. By the time we board the ship we have been up for 18 hours so the on board experience is irrelevant to us; we just want to sleep.

Edited by elaine80
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The waiter service restaurants are what set BF apart. I go out of my way to avoid sailing on the Armorique because it lacks this facility. If we can't have a quality, relaxing meal on board, I'll travel through the tunnel and save money.

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On 09/01/2021 at 08:53, Gareth said:

I’m not sure how aware you are if the irony of that remark LHC (! 😉), but I think you’ll find that there is plenty of creative speculation from many posters in the appropriate parts of the Discussion forum about theoretical possibilities for the future.

This particular thread, though, is in the News forum, and it is simply the case that we are aware of the facts of what the published BF timetables and press releases actually say.

 

 

Ok ok 😉

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13 hours ago, lg12 said:

Do you have any more info about the liaison with Ireland? An additional BF service?

No these are corridor noises in the local maritime and port environment. Recently, the Press was referring to this project following a further ministerial visit to the cross-Channel terminal. This might explain why Cotentin schedules are slow to be updated. Wait and see.

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11 hours ago, Tregastel said:

The waiter service restaurants are what set BF apart. I go out of my way to avoid sailing on the Armorique because it lacks this facility. If we can't have a quality, relaxing meal on board, I'll travel through the tunnel and save money.

On the Spanish routes what sets BF apart is it's the only choice. I admit is usually a good choice

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On 09/01/2021 at 16:42, colin said:

Often travelling alone, I would always tell the staff that I was happy to share a table. Indeed most times they just took that as read. I met a marvelous cross section of people, young to old, several nationalities, truck drivers, backpackers, supermarket cashiers, lawyers, accountants, retired and active people, regulars to beginners. I enjoyed that aspect, and I hope my table companions did too.

Happy days will come again.

I've also met more than a few interesting people in both the bars and self-service restaurants on Normandie, Mont and Armorique. Including well-known musicians, a couple of helicopter pilots and a superyacht skipper with all of whom I'm still in touch two or three years later. [2020 was a no-go year for me – my own serious health issues quickly followed by the Covid confinements.] But there were several interesting and educational conversations.

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  • 1 month later...

A single Le Havre-Portsmouth sailing has appeared in the timetable for Cotentin.  Her last sailing from Cherbourg to Poole gets her into Poole at 2145 on 2 April.  She is then down for a departure from Le Havre at 1800 on 3 April, getting into Portsmouth at 2230.

Presumably she is sailing from Poole to Le Havre in ballast.

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14 hours ago, Gareth said:

A single Le Havre-Portsmouth sailing has appeared in the timetable for Cotentin.  Her last sailing from Cherbourg to Poole gets her into Poole at 2145 on 2 April.  She is then down for a departure from Le Havre at 1800 on 3 April, getting into Portsmouth at 2230.

Presumably she is sailing from Poole to Le Havre in ballast.

Just commented on this on the schedule update thread!  To save two discussions I'll refer you to there as my comments were more about the Le Havre route :) 

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  • 2 weeks later...

As expected COTENTIN is now shown (on BF Freight website) as operating Portsmouth - Le Havre from 3 April until the end of the current timetable period (31 October).  Let's see if she starts carrying passengers at some stage.

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  • 4 weeks later...
27 minutes ago, Gareth said:

Indeed - and therefore (presumably) past the government contract.  Pretty clear the intention is for Le Havre to remain freight-only for the foreseeable future.

Once the crisis has passed it will always be time to open the Cotentin to passengers. There is so much uncertainty about the other routes, about the future of the links with Ireland, about the competition in Calais [...], that it is impossible to say what transmanche traffic will be like in 6 months. In the meantime it's great news that the most capacity cargo ship assignment on Brittany Ferries' second freight route.

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33 minutes ago, LHCity said:

Once the crisis has passed it will always be time to open the Cotentin to passengers. There is so much uncertainty about the other routes,

Not so sure, the value of the Le Havre route was the overnight sailing and I can't see shared bathrooms being acceptable - they would have to market it as 4 berth suites ! 

This year will allow BF to look at the advantages and disadvantages of freight only routes.

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