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That is the Irish Sea though @Shipping Forecast, which is either Larne or Dublin or both. And who knows where they pump their freight money for Ferrymasters and whatever else through.

Even 10 years ago if someone told me the biggest operator in terms of fleet at Dover would be DFDS, I'd have had real trouble believing that, but how things come-and-go, there's far fewer routes around now then when I was first interested in ferries, economics change; fuel prices, who wants to go where, how people holiday, mix of passengers and freight.

Cherbourg is a prime example, in the mid-90s on a Saturday morning you'd have Barfleur, Stena Normandy, Pride of Bilbao and Pride of Hampshire/Cherbourg arriving. Now it's NEX if that resumes and Galicia once a week; ok there's a lot more Ireland-bound ships than the old Irish Ferries pair. The same with Harwich, Newcastle, Dover (to Boulogne, Oostende, Zeebrugge and hovercraft, catamarans etc) and of course nothing now for passengers from Ramsgate, Sheerness, Felixstowe.

So if Hull-Zeebrugge hasn't made a profit in 19 years since 2001 then the economics have changed... or maybe the wrong ships for the route... now P&O have no history of doing the latter at least once of course ūüėČ... since the last time it made a profit then was when Norland/Norstar came off the route, or just that the Rotterdam pair leave two hours later and take more freight, Zeebrugge was always more of an overspill secondary route.

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Can’t comment on crewing numbers as I don’t know them or what they are certified for at each capacity level. Seaway is about the maximum Larne can handle (she even overhangs slightly at Cairnryan

Are you sure it's not the Duke of York to the US prosecutor's office? Ed. 

Ferry travel was better in the early 80s when the Tor sisters were the best UK ferries in terms of comfort and class by a mile. Very sad to see where we are now with P&O.

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Let's hope P&O make a real effort to make the economics of running the Hull to Rotterdam route work. Me's hoping 5 years down the line when the current ships might need replacing they don't give up on that route too. They need to address what seems to be a long term decline in demand for the take your own car to Europe market.

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14 hours ago, Seashore said:

So if Hull-Zeebrugge hasn't made a profit in 19 years since 2001 then the economics have changed... or maybe the wrong ships for the route... now P&O have no history of doing the latter at least once of course ūüėČ... since the last time it made a profit then was when Norland/Norstar came off the route, or just that the Rotterdam pair leave two hours later and take more freight, Zeebrugge was always more of an overspill secondary route.

Unless there was some contractual commitment I find it hard to believe that a company with a track record like P&O's would maintain a loss making route for nearly 20 years and pay a Polish shipyard £8.5m to refurbish 30 year old tonnage.

Mind you, last time I visited Bruges back in 2014 I found the place to be more expensive than Scandinavia so maybe that's a factor too?

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58 minutes ago, jonno said:

Mind you, last time I visited Bruges back in 2014 I found the place to be more expensive than Scandinavia so maybe that's a factor too?

Absolutely. Holidaying is one thing, but day trips are a thing of the past.

My main use of ferries was for day trips, but they have become too expensive (you don't even save on fuel now)! And now there is the potential for the cost of a visa.

Those who think the return of duty free will help are in cuckoo land, because the cost of a ticket will far exceed the savings, unlike the old days.  

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I'm not sure i agree about daytrips being a thing of the past. We have used the minicruise from P&O regularly in the off seasons over the years. More often we have gone to Rotterdam, I agree with @jonnoabout Bruges prices. In 2018 we went to Ghent instead which was very pleasant. 

This time last year we were just about to head off to St. Malo on PA on a BFE special too.

The Hull loadings have always seemed to be pretty busy. And always seem to be 4 or 5 coaches minimum taking people into Bruges, Amsterdam or Rotterdam. I do wonder how much money they made off them though.

Where we live in Yorkshire, with Hull and Newcastle relatively close, I know of many who use the minicruises offered by both DFDS and P & O. We often stay an extra night abroad, not many others seem to do it, but we find that an extra night makes it feel like you've had a decent break, especially if you've had a lumpy crossing one way! 

 

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45 minutes ago, Tumnus2010 said:

I'm not sure i agree about daytrips being a thing of the past. We have used the minicruise from P&O regularly in the off seasons over the years. More often we have gone to Rotterdam, I agree with @jonnoabout Bruges prices. In 2018 we went to Ghent instead which was very pleasant. 

This time last year we were just about to head off to St. Malo on PA on a BFE special too.

The Hull loadings have always seemed to be pretty busy. And always seem to be 4 or 5 coaches minimum taking people into Bruges, Amsterdam or Rotterdam. I do wonder how much money they made off them though.

Where we live in Yorkshire, with Hull and Newcastle relatively close, I know of many who use the minicruises offered by both DFDS and P & O. We often stay an extra night abroad, not many others seem to do it, but we find that an extra night makes it feel like you've had a decent break, especially if you've had a lumpy crossing one way! 

 

Yes, it takes us the same time to travel to Newcastle as it does to Hull. Hull tends to win as there's never the congestion you find on the A194 towards the Tyne Tunnel and we find driving from Rotterdam far simpler than Ijmuiden.

Two years ago we visited a few Christmas markets, Aachen, Maastricht etc, and found that returning via Zeebrugge was quicker in terms of driving time to the port than heading back from Rotterdam.

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4 hours ago, jonno said:

Unless there was some contractual commitment I find it hard to believe that a company with a track record like P&O's would maintain a loss making route for nearly 20 years and pay a Polish shipyard £8.5m to refurbish 30 year old tonnage.

My thoughts exactly

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1 hour ago, jonno said:

Yes, it takes us the same time to travel to Newcastle as it does to Hull. Hull tends to win as there's never the congestion you find on the A194 towards the Tyne Tunnel and we find driving from Rotterdam far simpler than Ijmuiden.

Similar for us but Hull wins because P&O are usually about £300 - £400 cheaper as well!

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Very sad about the demise of the Zeebrugge route. I worked in Belgium at the end of the 1980s, and for long weekends or holidays I tried to combine Munro-collecting trips to Scotland with visits to family in London. North Sea Ferries (as they then were) and Sealink (ditto) used to offer round-trip tickets at a reasonable price, combining Zeebrugge-Hull and Dover-Calais crossings, or v.v., which suited me very well.
The Zeebrugge ships then were Norland (of Falklands fame) and Norstar. I still count them as the nicest ships I’ve crossed on - very comfortable, excellent catering, a civilised timetable. And the excitement of squeezing through the lock.

I did the crossing again a couple of years ago, and it was still pretty good. Lots of Yorkshire day trippers off to Bruges. But I wondered whether it could possibly be paying, and there has always been the problem that the ships are lying idle for half the day.

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I think the lock, novel as it is, is a reason for the route being cancelled. If there was a second river terminal I would expect that tonnage replacement would have been easier, possibly already have happened. And the best part of 45 mins, at least, of the sailing is saved. 

Had they done that it would have been interesting to see if they had continued the trend of moving the Rotterdam ships to Zeebrugge, which would have required major re-modelling of the terminal to enable the side loading car deck.

Also the stern door is offset, like Armorique, so that may have been an issue berthing the current way around in Zeeb. We shall never know now anyway, but it would have been interesting to know what their future plans were.

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6 minutes ago, Tumnus2010 said:

We shall never know now anyway, but it would have been interesting to know what their future plans were.

I`m not sure they had got as far as future plans. They were controlled and mismanaged by P & O Dover, a lot of whom seemed to have to check a map to find out where Hull actually was. 

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7 hours ago, Tumnus2010 said:

I think the lock, novel as it is, is a reason for the route being cancelled. If there was a second river terminal I would expect that tonnage replacement would have been easier, possibly already have happened. And the best part of 45 mins, at least, of the sailing is saved. 

Had they done that it would have been interesting to see if they had continued the trend of moving the Rotterdam ships to Zeebrugge, which would have required major re-modelling of the terminal to enable the side loading car deck.

They're a different product surely? The Zeebrugge ships are for all intents and purposes cruise ferries built for passengers and a huge amount of cars and caravans whilst the Rotterdam ships are heavy freight carrying Ro-Pax very similar to Stena's monsters sailing from Harwich with a limited amount of space for passenger vehicles despite the lane metres.

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1 hour ago, jonno said:

They're a different product surely?

Yes, I agree, in many ways they are. But no more of a different product than jumboised Norland/Norstar were when they replaced Norwave/Norwich on Zeebrugge?

That was my point I would have liked to know. The R'dam vessels are very bespoke, it would have been interesting to know if they would have continued and separate tonnage sourced for Zeebrugge. 

Reminds me of a similarity with BF and the continual question about whether PA succeeds Bretagne on St Malo or a new vessel is sought. 

 

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So presumably then the Pride of Bruges will be kept on for a short while in 2021 to cover refits and then disposed of as well. I'm sure the Zeebrugge route has been marginal for some time from a passenger perspective, but P&O did recently spend a lot of money refurbishing these ships, so surely it can't have been haemorrhaging cash too badly? 

The two Rotterdam ships are definitely impressive, but the last time I sailed on them 3 years ago I couldn't help but think another operator could make more of them. Some of the passenger areas are really excellent but it just seemed a bit like P&O weren't making the most of them. 

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14 hours ago, jonno said:

They're a different product surely? The Zeebrugge ships are for all intents and purposes cruise ferries built for passengers and a huge amount of cars and caravans whilst the Rotterdam ships are heavy freight carrying Ro-Pax very similar to Stena's monsters sailing from Harwich with a limited amount of space for passenger vehicles despite the lane metres.

Are they that different apart from the extra lane metres?

I must admit that until I looked just now, I hadn't realised that they carried a very similar number of passengers. Their passenger facilities are very similar (though the bars and lounges feel bigger on the Rotterdam pair and they have an extra Sky Lounge thingy). We are always parked on the lorry deck so I don't really have a feel for the dedicated car space of each vessel.

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Maybe P&O could start taking some passengers from Teesport-Zeebrugge? I know these are pure ro-ro vessels at the moment, but they could add a ro-pax to the route perhaps? I'm obviously not thinking of mini cruises or foot passengers, just motorists. 

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50 minutes ago, Ryan_H said:

Maybe P&O could start taking some passengers from Teesport-Zeebrugge? I know these are pure ro-ro vessels at the moment, but they could add a ro-pax to the route perhaps? I'm obviously not thinking of mini cruises or foot passengers, just motorists. 

I doubt they would. though we would certainly consider using it. All we really need is a cabin and food

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14 hours ago, Tumnus2010 said:

Reminds me of a similarity with BF and the continual question about whether PA succeeds Bretagne on St Malo or a new vessel is sought. 

This for me is a no brainer. Both PA and Bretagne are passenger ferries - cruise ferries built with deck after deck of cabins, they are floating hotels. Replacing one with the other is very appropriate. St Malo is not a freight route.

1 hour ago, VikingVoyager said:

Are they that different apart from the extra lane metres?

I must admit that until I looked just now, I hadn't realised that they carried a very similar number of passengers. Their passenger facilities are very similar (though the bars and lounges feel bigger on the Rotterdam pair and they have an extra Sky Lounge thingy). We are always parked on the lorry deck so I don't really have a feel for the dedicated car space of each vessel.

It's not about what facilities they share it's what they were built for. The Rotterdam ships are freight carriers, it's their reason for living...Seven 5 metre high decks with a separate entrance for passenger vehicles. It's the reason POY & POB  were replaced. They're also nearly twice the GWT, nearly 50 metres longer and 5 metres wider.

They cater to the huge amount of Dutch plant and mushroom growers.

I also doubt they carry their 1300 pax capacity... ever. There are always cabins of all grades available even on a sailing day during July.

Zeebrugge is not a Ro-Pax route, P&O Ferrymasters have a very large presence there with their extensive intermodal services. It's killed any need there was previously. They have no need to carry limited accompanied freight vehicles from Hull. Off the top of my head I believe St Malo carries more over the year.

For me The biggest obstacle the route faces is time and distance.

Port to port Dunkerque and Zeebrugge are less than 90 minutes apart and Bruges is less than an hour.

 

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On 19/12/2020 at 13:56, jonno said:

It's not about what facilities they share it's what they were built for. The Rotterdam ships are freight carriers, it's their reason for living...Seven 5 metre high decks with a separate entrance for passenger vehicles. It's the reason POY & POB  were replaced. They're also nearly twice the GWT, nearly 50 metres longer and 5 metres wider.

They cater to the huge amount of Dutch plant and mushroom growers.

I also doubt they carry their 1300 pax capacity... ever. There are always cabins of all grades available even on a sailing day during July.

Zeebrugge is not a Ro-Pax route, P&O Ferrymasters have a very large presence there with their extensive intermodal services. It's killed any need there was previously. They have no need to carry limited accompanied freight vehicles from Hull. Off the top of my head I believe St Malo carries more over the year.

For me The biggest obstacle the route faces is time and distance.

Port to port Dunkerque and Zeebrugge are less than 90 minutes apart and Bruges is less than an hour.

 

I was aware of their differences - you would have to be rather blind not to be. I wasn't aware of their similarities though, in terms of passenger numbers and facilities - which is what I was highlighting.

Clearly, on the Zeebrugge route, much of the freight space would have been wasted, though I understand that P&O currently run a LoLo service so one has to wonder how much of that freight could have been transferred. Interestingly, the previous pair (Norland and Norstar) also had similar passenger capacities and were replaced with much larger freight carriers, although the increase in size was not as significant that time around.

We've found on more than one occasion that we could not book the sailing that we wanted on both routes - this would be late July and August.  

For me the biggest obstacle is cost. It's 2-3 times the cost of using a short sea route (for our needs) and most families won't see the time on board as a bonus and won't factor in accommodation / fuel savings when doing their calcs. They get a lot of caravan traffic in the summer months but that is beginning to be replaced by motorhomes, where the unwritten rule seems to be to keep spend as low as possible.

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On 19/12/2020 at 13:56, jonno said:

The Rotterdam ships are freight carriers, it's their reason for living...Seven 5 metre high decks with a separate entrance for passenger vehicles.

Is that correct? I thought they had two dedicated freight decks - Deck 3 and Deck 5, with Deck 3 being double height?

I've always assumed that Deck 4 and 6 don't really exist therefore (unless there's a bit that's crew only) Is there more capacity below Deck 3? 

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Pride of Hull/Rotterdam have a Lower Hold (Deck 1), Main Deck high enough for double stack containers(Deck 3), Upper Deck with open area (Deck 5) and then Deck 7 for most passenger vehicles.

 

Pride of Bruges/York have Lower Hold (1), Main Deck (2) and Upper Deck (3) plus Mez Decks on each side of the casing (3a).

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2 hours ago, Tumnus2010 said:

Is that correct? I thought they had two dedicated freight decks - Deck 3 and Deck 5, with Deck 3 being double height?

I've always assumed that Deck 4 and 6 don't really exist therefore (unless there's a bit that's crew only) Is there more capacity below Deck 3? 

It was the way I wrote it, should have said up to deck 7. Both Rotterdam ships are huge freight luggers when compared to BF's largest ship, the E-Flexer which is the same length.

The Prides only have an extra 200 lane metres but have the capacity to carry 400 HGV's plus 250 cars/small vans, you'd be lucky to fit 140 HGV's on Galicia maximum and have to leave the cars behind.

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48 minutes ago, Timmy said:

Pride of Hull/Rotterdam have a Lower Hold (Deck 1), Main Deck high enough for double stack containers(Deck 3), Upper Deck with open area (Deck 5) and then Deck 7 for most passenger vehicles.

 

Pride of Bruges/York have Lower Hold (1), Main Deck (2) and Upper Deck (3) plus Mez Decks on each side of the casing (3a).

Interesting information. Do you knowhow many HGVs the older pair can take?

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56 minutes ago, jonno said:

The Prides only have an extra 200 lane metres but have the capacity to carry 400 HGV's plus 250 cars/small vans, you'd be lucky to fit 140 HGV's on Galicia maximum and have to leave the cars behind.

 

Which begs the question, why did BF go down this route? With the ever-increasing need for more freight lane meters on most routes, the motorway of the seas and train capacity increasing through France, I don't get it. A Pride of Hull type ship could possibly negate the need for the Pelican.

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