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David Williams

BF operations to Le Havre (and related history!)

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4 minutes ago, hhvferry said:

Depends how far back you go... Normannia and her railway predecessors would disagree 🙂

Yes ok.  I meant car ferries 😉

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Be great to meet some of the members who don’t own wine warehouses 😉, my first ferry trip on the channel was Truckline  must have been in the late 80’s , I always remember it had green paint outside and shared showers lots of dubious staining in them.

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Give Brittany Ferries their due.  They do go to town in making their routes profitable.  As there ships are designed and fit for the routes they are employed on.  The other matter is the crew are 100 % French too.  Unlike P&O who employ foreign crew.  The other point when P&O use to operate out of Portsmouth to France the attitude with P&O they chartered any tonnage and with them they just think of they will do for the routes.   I must be honest since P&O pulled out of Portsmouth.  I had loss interested in using them.

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Rightly or wrongly, the primary thought I have when I think of P&O is the company that destroyed the Townsend Thoresen legacy.  One could argue that TT did a fairly good job of destroying itself in the mid 80s, and we'll never know what would have happened to it if P&O had not taken over shortly before the Herald disaster.  But given that their takeover did, at the time, appear to have given the company a lifeline at a time when its reputation was in tatters, the subsequent systematic dismantling of almost the entire network did a great disservice to everything that had been built up over the years.  Failure to invest in tonnage, and lack of interest in virtually all of the routes was not befitting a company of P&O's (then) pedigree, and Le Havre was the most prominent example of a penchant for axe-wielding that the company exhibited at the time.  Like you, Ian, I lost interest in P&O after that (and I barely even recognise their Dover-Calais route today as having its roots in what they inherited from the pioneers of the UK ferry industry).

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On 21/01/2020 at 11:51, hf_uk said:

Shouldn't this thread be more "lack of operations to le havre"?

BF nudged LD lines out the way, but you could also argue Le Havre as a route competes against it's own cash-cow Caen operation. I suppose the 'economy' sailings have helped to differentiate it. 

I do wonder what all the strikes will do in the long run. Surely it will damage the local economy if people see it as a risky choice. I doubt BF will ever pull out of Le Havre, but if they did, would another operator want to jump back in again? It seems to be the first affected port nowadays for strike action.

All major French ports are blocked by professional unions (CGT !!!) because of the pension reform:

Le Havre, the first and largest port in France
Marseille, the second port in France for containers
Dunkirk
Bordeaux,
Nantes-St-Nazaire,
Rouen

These are the major national seaports of interest. The other secondary ports are not affected by blockages.

Professional unions fight the Prime Minister, Edouard Philippe, former mayor of Le Havre ... and likely future candidate for mayor of Le Havre

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19 hours ago, Gareth said:

Yes Chris, completely agree.  When they were new, the SVs were special.  TT deciding to butcher them instead of invest in new tonnage was one of the signs of the management losing its way in the mid-80s that culminated in the end of the company.

Dragon and Leopard were always class acts.

Having said that, the Jumbo Vikings lasted another 8 years or so on the Le Havre run and more than 15 years in their jumbo state running from Portsmouth so in terms of cost effectiveness I would imagine the process was successful.

I remember sailing out to Cherbourg in one of them in the late 1990s and returning from Le Havre in one of the ex-Olau pair. The difference was stark. At that point in time I'd guess the BF offering fell somewhere between the two in terms of attractiveness of the ships

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In 1995 there was really nothing to choose between P&O to Le Havre and BF to Caen in my opinion having used both both ways in that year. Indeed I remember thinking that Pride of Le Havre had the edge over Normandie - a vessel I have never really liked. Portsmouth/Cherbourg was however quite another matter.

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I’d have thought the Olau twins would have been in a different league from Normandie.  And, of course, in 1995, she was running alongside Duc De Normandie which would have been a lesser experience still.

However, it looks like it’s official: the Mods don’t like Normandie! 😃

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5 minutes ago, Gareth said:

I’d have thought the Olau twins would have been in a different league from Normandie.  And, of course, in 1995, she was running alongside Duc De Normandie which would have been a lesser experience still.

However, it looks like it’s official: the Mods don’t like Normandie! 😃

Haven`t seen any of them say exactly why though?

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Just now, Paully said:

Haven`t seen any of them say exactly why though?

You’ll find I have, somewhere back in the annals.  Probably need to go back to 2015/6 though!

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10 minutes ago, Gareth said:

I’d have thought the Olau twins would have been in a different league from Normandie.  And, of course, in 1995, she was running alongside Duc De Normandie which would have been a lesser experience still.

However, it looks like it’s official: the Mods don’t like Normandie! 😃

I always rather liked the Duc. 

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Just now, Millsy said:

I always rather liked the Duc. 

Yes, in her day, she was a class apart from anything else (SVs included) on the Channel.  Millsy, did you prefer her to Normandie?

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1 hour ago, Gareth said:

Yes, in her day, she was a class apart from anything else (SVs included) on the Channel.  Millsy, did you prefer her to Normandie?

Hmmm, not sure I'd agree with that but it depends what floats your boat.

The trip that I was remembering must have been 1998.  We also used P&O in 2004 - out on the HSCs and back on the ex IF Pride of Cherbourg.  Both were good experiences - out bound it was nice to end up in Brittany so quickly and I seem to remember enjoying the Pride of Cherbourg too - I saw her again in Wellington NZ but we travelled that time on the much older rail ferry.  

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1 hour ago, Gareth said:

@cvabishop quote in the thread is soon to be untrue , or will there still be variations to the ships?

“One of the features of BF is that they have no two ships the same so everyone will have their particular favourite, even if it is not on the route they normally travel on!“

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38 minutes ago, VikingVoyager said:

Hmmm, not sure I'd agree with that

"In her day" primarily means before she joined BF, when she was Prinses Beatrix on the Harwich-Hoek route.  For 1978, she was rather different from anything else sailing on mid-distance routes.

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25 minutes ago, neilcvx said:

@cvabishop quote in the thread is soon to be untrue , or will there still be variations to the ships?

“One of the features of BF is that they have no two ships the same so everyone will have their particular favourite, even if it is not on the route they normally travel on!“

Arguably, it's already not true, apart from minor differences, with the Vissentinis in the fleet.

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3 minutes ago, Gareth said:

"In her day" primarily means before she joined BF, when she was Prinses Beatrix on the Harwich-Hoek route.  For 1978, she was rather different from anything else sailing on mid-distance routes.

Well, to be sure, 78 was an awesome year for ground breaking "designs". But i'm biased

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I think when launched Normandie was very similar to Bretagne in terms of cabin quality and onboard facilities, she was the first passenger ferry RoPax with Baltic ferry standard accommodation. It needs to remembered that although launched in the early '90's she still very much an '80's styled ship. 

The same can be said for MSM and the Pont, they maybe 21st century ships but they are 1990's styled.

They'll all look old and out of date when Honfleur arrives and again when Galicia and her sisters appear simply because BF don't bother to upgrade their ships interiors.

 

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3 minutes ago, Gareth said:

Arguably, it's already not true, apart from minor differences, with the Vissentinis in the fleet.

But they aren’t really proper BF ships anyway, merely a stopgap, hopefully the eflexers are here to stay .

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I like Normandie, the Cabins are good and have USB sockets, the restaurant is also good, the main problem is the narrow lanes in the garage when busy. By contrast the MSM cabins look tired with outdated sockets, the main good bit is the hidden bed in the roof and better lame widths. I note from the Honfleur video that the upper bed is fold down from the wall which is a shame. 


Going back to Le Havre, apart from the regular strikes, I also dislike the fact that passport control is usually done by the local Police and is usually slower than Ouistreham !

I liked the old P&O Le Havre two ship service, it would be good to move back to that ( I was on the P&O ship that dented HMS St Albans that led to better tug regulations at Portsmouth !)

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2 hours ago, David Williams said:

I like Normandie, the Cabins are good and have USB sockets, the restaurant is also good, the main problem is the narrow lanes in the garage when busy. By contrast the MSM cabins look tired with outdated sockets, the main good bit is the hidden bed in the roof and better lame widths. I note from the Honfleur video that the upper bed is fold down from the wall which is a shame. 


Going back to Le Havre, apart from the regular strikes, I also dislike the fact that passport control is usually done by the local Police and is usually slower than Ouistreham !

I liked the old P&O Le Havre two ship service, it would be good to move back to that ( I was on the P&O ship that dented HMS St Albans that led to better tug regulations at Portsmouth !)

Unlike Ouistreham, Le Havre is controlled by the National Police: PAF = "Border Police" because Le Havre is the largest French port and has the regional customs headquarters. Le Havre has had a scanner and veterinary services for a long time, very useful with Brexit.

P&O Le Havre / Portsmouth was excellent service. Besides, the quality of the boats and the frequencies contributed to the attractiveness of the route. 800,000 passengers / year just before replacement by LD Lines. NORMAND VOYAGER (ETRETAT) has considerably reduced the attractiveness of the route. Let us hope that NORMANDIE again contributes to its appeal.

Ouistreham took advantage of the departure of P&O to develop.

Edited by LHCity

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1 hour ago, LHCity said:

Ouistreham took advantage of the departure of P&O to develop.

Was with you all the way up to here.  But I think you’ve got this point totally the wrong way round.  It was as a direct result of the development of Ouistreham, systematically from 1986 to become the route of choice to Normandy, that both Cherbourg and Le Havre declined to the point of being no longer viable.  And the fleet provision for the Ouistreham route has not actually changed since P&O pulled out - it was MSM and Normandie then, and it’s MSM and Normandie now.  So all of Ouistreham’s development to date was before P&O pulled out, and until Honfleur arrives it won’t have developed at all since that day.

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3 hours ago, David Williams said:

I like Normandie, the Cabins are good and have USB sockets, the restaurant is also good, the main problem is the narrow lanes in the garage when busy. By contrast the MSM cabins look tired with outdated sockets, the main good bit is the hidden bed in the roof and better lame widths. I note from the Honfleur video that the upper bed is fold down from the wall which is a shame. 


Going back to Le Havre, apart from the regular strikes, I also dislike the fact that passport control is usually done by the local Police and is usually slower than Ouistreham !

I liked the old P&O Le Havre two ship service, it would be good to move back to that ( I was on the P&O ship that dented HMS St Albans that led to better tug regulations at Portsmouth !)

It is strange that they put USB points in Normandies cabins and not others in the fleet , I haven’t been on here since 2015 so I can’t comment on the overall standard of the cabins but as @jonno says BF don’t splash out on internal renovations, I suspect the bed configuration on Honfleur is cost driven more than aesthetics.

Is Le Havre in BFs long term plans ? With Ouistreham nearby? Do BF know the answer to that question? Would anyone on here be bothered if they stopped operating to their? I suppose as long as they can string Normandie out Le Havre is safe. 

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