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2021 Timetables


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Also now published, on the French site, are some timetables for CF’s Roscoff-Bilbao leg.  So she’s clearly still using Roscoff for those.  But, curiously, they disappear between 18 Feb and 12 August..... 🤔

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One season the port of Arromanches did have 2.5 million passengers and 500,000 vehicles.

I think we all make the mistake in not appreciating the ways and means. A port may have excellent facilities but if the access and approaches are limited HGV's and holiday traffic will look elsewhere.

Yeah, the French BFenthusiasts website has been on strike from about 5 minutes before it went live. And that was 15 years ago. Ed. 

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17 minutes ago, Gareth said:

Also now published, on the French site, are some timetables for CF’s Roscoff-Bilbao leg.  So she’s clearly still using Roscoff for those.  But, curiously, they disappear between 18 Feb and 12 August..... 🤔

She's certainly at sea for the same length of time, Wednesday's 2300 doesn't arrive into Bilbao until 0745 Friday?

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5 minutes ago, jonno said:

She's certainly at sea for the same length of time, Wednesday's 2300 doesn't arrive into Bilbao until 0745 Friday?

She’ll certainly be calling at Roscoff at the normal times too, for her crew change.  But for some reason the sailings in that particular period seem not to be being marketed as available for Roscoff-boarding customers to book.

If it were just the June/July/early August period, I could rationalise it on the grounds that they are expecting the ship to be full leaving Portsmouth and with no space for “extras” at Roscoff.  But from February??

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I’m sure the operators know the figures.  And for whatever reasons / balance of considerations, they all choose to stop at Cherbourg and not sail further.  Including IF, which as ICL had extensive experience of operating to Le Havre until they decided not to.  I’m sure the balance of reasons is complex, but it must also be compelling.   No matter that there may be some truck drivers that would quite like to sail a bit further, the ferry companies clearly don’t, and telling them that they should is not going to change their minds.  They’ve done the maths and are clearly happy with their decisions.

At any rate, this is irrelevant to the topic of BF’s 2021 timetables.  There has never been any suggestion that BF is considering a Rosslare-Le Havre route, and there is clearly no such route in the timetables which have now been published.

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2 hours ago, BJSLIV said:

 

That could kick in 1st January once the location of the Portsmouth lorry park has been finalised.

 

Pretty sure this will be at Tipner where the Covid Testing Site is currently,. it's certainly been lined out for trucks. 

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23 hours ago, jonno said:

Is this switch paving the way for Santona in 2023 to serve Rosslare, Cherbourg & Bilbao?

Redevelopment of Rosslare will see berth 3 and 4 combined to create the new extended berth 3, at around 325 metres that is far longer than is needed by any vessel using the port at the moment , so you have to wonder if it's E Flexer related .

Edited by Chef
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Possible I suppose, but the volume of traffic (particularly passenger traffic) will have to increase a lot to justify putting a Flexer on the routes from Rosslare.  Still think CF would be more likely - that’s probably enough of an increase in passenger capacity, and Ireland to Spain (BF’s longest route) would be the best use of CF’s speed.

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20 minutes ago, Chef said:

Redevelopment of Rosslare will see berth 3 and 4 combined to create the new extended berth 3, at around 325 metres that is far longer than is needed by any vessel using the port at the moment , so you have to wonder if it's E Flexer related .

The new berth will also have a double linkspan ( the second for Rosslare ) and a new passenger access system . It's all part of future proofing Rosslare for changing trends and ship sizes' .

Edited by Chef
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29 minutes ago, Gareth said:

Possible I suppose, but the volume of traffic (particularly passenger traffic) will have to increase a lot to justify putting a Flexer on the routes from Rosslare.  Still think CF would be more likely - that’s probably enough of an increase in passenger capacity, and Ireland to Spain (BF’s longest route) would be the best use of CF’s speed.

There will be E-Flexers at Rosslare, the only question is whether they'll all have a red funnel or not. For France or Spain they travel at the same speed as a Visentini and the class levels of the cabins together with the on board facilities will attract passengers to the Spanish route. The Irish have been crying out for a quality service for years and now Rosslare is less than 2 hours from Dublin.

The biggest talking point for me is what will replace Pont Aven. With the best will in the world she's only got 3 or 4 years left sailing to Spain & Ireland, 20 years max for a conventionally built RoRo ferry as the Bay & Celtic Sea take years off their lifespan... It's why the modern Chinese built ships are so attractive, their build techniques add another decade, no one else builds them in the same way.

Consider BF's move, PA saves 8 hours per return sailing now she's at Plymouth, that's roughly 72 hours a month and we now have Armorique serving Cork too. 

Pont Aven will only be travelling at 22 knots in order to complete a 20 hour crossing to Santander from Plymouth.

Cap Finistere is also earmarked for hybrid engines which will cut her speed by nearly a quarter.

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Certainly will be interesting times ahead.  Will the two at Portsmouth be enough to satisfy UK-Spain demand?  We'll see.  Maybe, if they do work out a way of getting 5 sailings per week between the pair of them, they will.  But as you say, they will share the UK demand with PA from Plymouth so there will clearly be a need for more than just the two once PA has stopped transiting Biscay.  They probably don't know for sure yet what their plans are - especially with the Rosslare - Bilbao connection, a new route, it will take some time to evaluate the potential demand.  So I suspect they will be keeping an open mind on Santona deployment at the moment, while they see how the market unfolds.

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Has anyone received an email informing them of the Spanish timetable release ?

Jane has now said on facebook that there is no firm date for Le Havre timetables and the NEX timetable  has not been finalised yet,

Maybe there is something in the idea of the NEX visiting occasionally - it has been known to in the past,

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The notion of Pont Aven stopping sailing to Spain in 3 or 4 years' time is quite a sober thought.  (I see your logic Jonno but I hope you're wrong!).  In all the 43 year history of BF's route to Santander from Plymouth, there have only ever been 5 ships to serve it on a regular basis (excluding refit cover), and in 4 or 5 years' time Pont Aven will have been the route's "ship" for double the length of time of the next longest-serving vessel (VDL).  I do hope that, by the time it does come to retire her from the Bay, BF manages to order a proper bespoke replacement to follow in her wake - and not just a slow, lumbering Stena conversion like the behemoths they are sending to Portsmouth.  It will be the end of a magnificent era when she goes.

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12 minutes ago, David Williams said:

Jane has now said on facebook that there is no firm date for Le Havre timetables and the NEX timetable  has not been finalised yet

Interesting.  If they have decided to close the Le Havre route, you'd think they'd say so.  Unless they're worried about undermining bookings while the route continues to operate through to early November.  No firm date implies they are either stalling while they decide what to do or are managing the messages.  As I see it, the Le Havre bit of that could have one of the following meanings:

  • They have decided to close the route but want to wait until the last of the current advertised sailings before saying so;
  • They would like to continue the route but don't have a ship available and are seeing if they can get hold of one;
  • They won't be running a conventional ferry but might (as yet undecided) operate the odd NEX sailing there?

Or, maybe, the apparent dithering on Le Havre may be all wrapped up in behind-the-scenes activity surrounding Honfleur.  If their goal is still, by some round-about route, to get Honfleur into the fleet then they may not have completely ditched the idea of eventually deploying Normandie to Le Havre.  But there may be factors to do with possible timescales for getting hold of Honfleur, how likely it is to happen, how long they can hold off not sailing to Le Havre until Normandie becomes available without vacating the route for someone else, that are reasons why they can't publish any concrete information yet but don't want to put up a big flag saying route available to take over.  There must be something complex going on, otherwise why not just say the route is closing?

The bit about NEX is either an indication that they genuinely haven't decided what to do with her, or a stall pending some announcement about what the plans are (possibly involving Condor).  Does anyone ( @Nick Hyde ?) have any intel on when Condor is planning to release 2021 timetables?

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32 minutes ago, Gareth said:

They won't be running a conventional ferry but might (as yet undecided) operate the odd NEX sailing there?

I wouldn't have thought so given the freight volume to Le Havre.

Give the CEO Message referred to multiple new ships, it may well be linked to that, especially with the possibility of the Cotentin returning. Maybe we will hear more in tomorrow's message,

 

32 minutes ago, Gareth said:

they may not have completely ditched the idea of eventually deploying Normandie to Le Havre

This would not be until the 21/22 schedule !

 

Edited by David Williams
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2 minutes ago, David Williams said:

This would not be until the 21/22 schedule !

 

Exactly.  At the earliest.  So the conundrum would be, can they get away with not running to Le Havre for a year, or do they need a stop gap.

Connemara is the only ship in the current fleet that could be available to fill the stop gap, but I am unclear what the state of play is now with her charter.  Maybe @jonno knows this?  Originally, her charter was for 2 years from Spring 2018, so that initial charter term has long expired.  It's clearly been replaced by a new arrangement, but I'm not aware of what that new arrangement is.  Does her new charter expire at the same time as Kerry's?  Connemara is completely absent from all BF schedules after 2 November.  If she is available, and if they want to hold the route open pending a redeployment of Normandie, then she would be the logical choice.  (Well, actually, Etretat would be the logical choice, given her name, with Connemara at Rosslare, but that's a side issue).  The fact that Connemara has not been listed for 2021 Le Havre sailings must mean one of:

  • Connemara's charter is up and she is no longer available;
  • BF has not yet decided whether they want to keep open the route for an eventual redeployment of Normandie;
  • or BF has no plans to continue to operate Le Havre from November and is holding off announcing the closure of the route.
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26 minutes ago, Gareth said:
  • Connemara's charter is up and she is no longer available;
  • BF has not yet decided whether they want to keep open the route for an eventual redeployment of Normandie;
  • or BF has no plans to continue to operate Le Havre from November and is holding off announcing the closure of the route.

I know that I have asked this before & got some bemused faces as reactions, however is an unmodified Cotentin viable on that route ?

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13 minutes ago, David Williams said:

is an unmodified Cotentin viable on that route ?

As a freight-only ship, yes, absolutely.  (And freight-only would be all they would really need as a stop gap.  No other operator would try to steal the route if the freight was already catered for).

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5 minutes ago, Gareth said:

As a freight-only ship, yes, absolutely.  (And freight-only would be all they would really need as a stop gap.  No other operator would try to steal the route if the freight was already catered for).

Is it any worse than a Vissenti for tourists ?

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Given the state of the shipping market, and Stena's relationship with BF, the three Visentinis will likely be theirs for as long as they want them (remember on one of them Stena took a ship off an existing charter party who would have been happy to extend to fill a BF requirement). They may be able to negotiate a rate reduction though if the existing term is coming to an end.

For Le Havre and Normandie Express, I imagine BF are most likely to just wait and see what happens. Again Covid has changed everything and we just don't know how travel will look next summer. With a fleet which runs has a bit of surplus capacity even at the best times these peripheral operations, which were both partly there just so nobody else did them, can potentially be put to one side for a year or so with not that much scope of someone else trying to come in and try their hand - most likely operators are, like BF, just trying to survive rather than spend their limited cash on somewhat marginal expansion opportunities.

Not sure the Pont-Aven is going to be done in five years time, I think she's got plenty in her hull, as long as her engines are still able to cope with the high level of continued usage. Gareth, wondering what the long term plan might end up being, would a three e-flexer Portsmouth-Spain operation work with those three also maintaining a six time a week Portsmouth-Cherbourg operation? That would be a nice and efficient solution for them and Pont-Aven could possibly revert to the old Plymouth-based itinerary, or do something else.

Edited by hhvferry
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1 hour ago, Gareth said:

Exactly.  At the earliest.  So the conundrum would be, can they get away with not running to Le Havre for a year, or do they need a stop gap.

Connemara is the only ship in the current fleet that could be available to fill the stop gap, but I am unclear what the state of play is now with her charter.  Maybe @jonno knows this?  Originally, her charter was for 2 years from Spring 2018, so that initial charter term has long expired.  It's clearly been replaced by a new arrangement, but I'm not aware of what that new arrangement is.  Does her new charter expire at the same time as Kerry's?  Connemara is completely absent from all BF schedules after 2 November.  If she is available, and if they want to hold the route open pending a redeployment of Normandie, then she would be the logical choice.  (Well, actually, Etretat would be the logical choice, given her name, with Connemara at Rosslare, but that's a side issue).  The fact that Connemara has not been listed for 2021 Le Havre sailings must mean one of:

  • Connemara's charter is up and she is no longer available;
  • BF has not yet decided whether they want to keep open the route for an eventual redeployment of Normandie;
  • or BF has no plans to continue to operate Le Havre from November and is holding off announcing the closure of the route.

Given the excellent relations between Jean Marc Roué and the politicians of Le Havre, I doubt that the closure of the route is considered. And if Brittany Ferries closes the route for several months, the local economic community will not be able to dispense with a cross-Channel link because, as I recall, Le Havre is the leading port in France for foreign trade.

For me something will happen between Connemara and Cotentin, because in parallel Stena Baltica is no longer announced from November on the Stena Line site.

 

Edited by LHCity
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