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Don’t fret and fly this summer, sail and stay instead


Andy
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For those that have not already seen this press release (a late check of my inbox):

Don’t fret and fly this summer, sail and stay instead

Brittany Ferries is today urging holiday makers to consider a ferry relaxing vacation this summer. The company, which serves beautiful destinations in France and northern Spain, says international holidays by sea could be set for a big come-back.

Air travel has taken centre stage, following government confirmation of the traffic light system for international travel. But there are other ways to enjoy a get-away – that’s not far away – without battling busy terminals and sitting cheek by jowl in cramped tubes.

“We want to remind people that there are attractive alternatives to air travel this summer,” said Christophe Mathieu Brittany Ferries CEO. “Taking the ferry means there’s no need to mingle in a busy terminal building, or arrivals hall, alongside passengers from multiple destinations. Drive on-board in your own car, then head straight to a cabin which is fed by fresh sea air. Step outside on deck, visit a bar, restaurant or shop, and do so while social distancing in safety and comfort. This is the modern ferry experience and it’s why we urge everyone to consider a sail-and-stay holiday in 2021.”

France and Spain are currently on the UK government’s amber list. However, Brittany Ferries hopes and expects these countries to turn green at the first review in three weeks’ time. That’s because infection rates are falling, while vaccination rates are rapidly rising in both countries. The green light from government should release an avalanche of latent demand for late June and the peak summer season.

The company sails to destinations in so-called green Spain and north west France. These are not population centres, but rural regions characterised by sweeping beaches, snow-capped mountains (Picos de Europa for example) and ancient forests. They should appeal in particular to those with concerns about holidaying in big cities or busy resorts.

Brittany Ferries has also confirmed that there will be no increase in prices this summer. The cost of a voyage in 2021 will be no different to last year, whatever changes government makes to the traffic light system. Furthermore, for peace of mind, the company also offers fully flexible tickets. This means, if the Covid situation changes, travel plans can be changed too – hassle-free.

In the UK, Brittany Ferries sails from Portsmouth, Poole and Plymouth. It carries around 2.5 million passengers a year (pre-Covid average), 85 percent of whom are British.

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I have been saying for weeks that the whole foreign travel return has been focussed on air travel. I dislike flying at the best of times but right now I have no desire to get on a plane. I live just off the M74, around 15 miles from Glasgow and I would much rather load up the car and drive to Portsmouth for a ferry on our way to our camping holiday instead of flying to Nantes with hand luggage and then picking up a hire car. 

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23 minutes ago, elaine80 said:

I have been saying for weeks that the whole foreign travel return has been focussed on air travel. I dislike flying at the best of times but right now I have no desire to get on a plane. I live just off the M74, around 15 miles from Glasgow and I would much rather load up the car and drive to Portsmouth for a ferry on our way to our camping holiday instead of flying to Nantes with hand luggage and then picking up a hire car. 

That’s a long drive - how long does it take by car from your location to portsmouth terminal 

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1 hour ago, PGTV said:

That’s a long drive - how long does it take by car from your location to portsmouth terminal 

It's just under 450 miles and how long it takes depends on the day of the week and traffic conditions. We last drove it in 2018 on the Saturday after the Scottish schools finished for the summer and left home at 7am; we had breakfast at Tebay services and were at Gunwharf Quay before 5pm having had a few stops on the way for coffee, chips and ice cream. Normally we drive down on a Thursday and we hit the rush hour traffic joining the M3 from the A34 around 5pm.

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Since our children have reached the age where we no longer need to transport special equipment or excessive quantities of spare clothes etc., we have been inclined to fly whenever possible to maximize the time at the destination, reduce wear on our cars and travel further afield than before. We flew from Nantes to Nice last summer and had another flight booked for April/May this year which was obviously cancelled. If we decide to reorganize that abandoned holiday for October it's likely we'll fly again, or perhaps take the train.

Ed

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All those planes sitting grounded for a year.  Can’t be good for them however good the maintenance schedules.  Who knows what hidden bits of equipment will have deteriorated or stuck through such an extended period of disuse.  There will be at least a year of normal flying before you’ll get me on a plane!

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, Gareth said:

All those planes sitting grounded for a year.  Can’t be good for them however good the maintenance schedules.  Who knows what hidden bits of equipment will have deteriorated or stuck through such an extended period of disuse.  There will be at least a year of normal flying before you’ll get me on a plane!

Tui had one of their Max 10`s grounded for many months on the pan at Tenerife..next to the sea🙄..Finally got the OK to bring it home and its been in the hanger at Birmingham for ages having all sorts of `Bodywork` repairs, as a result. Ryanair and Jet2 have been regularly flying theirs during the `Hiatus` from all their bases. But all sorts of snags will show up, its inevitable, causing jets to go`Tech` down the line. Adding mega misery delays as well as all the other hassle as well as the various Air traffic controllers going on strike..You pays your money as they say. 

Get your car serviced well and go by ferry..and even if the ferry goes `tech` you usually have your own cabin and can get food and drink onboard and watch TV😁

Edited by Paully
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Reports of more problems with the 737 Max. Seems that dodgy earthing of electrical systems has meant 100 are grounded pending repairs, amid concerns that shoddy wiring is endemic in the series, due to a drive for profit over safety.

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As someone who has flown to China, USA, Argentina and Europe wide, I can certainly say that I have enjoyed more all of the ferry sailings we have undertaken, across to Harris on the Calmac or from Newcastle to Ijmuiden with DFDS at least 3 crossings with P&O from Hull to Rotterdam and of course the crossings we have done with BF on the PA to Spain x 2 back on CF and most recent from Portsmouth to St Malo on Bretagne each one of these has been more enjoyable and with better food and drink than any business class flight and more comfortable beds! 

 

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18 minutes ago, colin said:

Reports of more problems with the 737 Max. Seems that dodgy earthing of electrical systems has meant 100 are grounded pending repairs, amid concerns that shoddy wiring is endemic in the series, due to a drive for profit over safety.

Just as many problems with their 787 but not as well publicisied, albeit for the same reason as well.

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While it may not be out preferred method of travel, air travel is still the safest way to travel, 2 orders of magnitude safer than travel by ship, and and has a safety culture better than almost every other industry. 

And then there are high precision machines that have been stored a long time requiring some TLC, which seems to be a sensible course of action, and a few planes need more attention than others is not unexpected surely. I am sure all those de-stored ferries are going to work perfectly first time with no issues at all. And port / ferry workers never go on strike, there are never weather delays, no hanging around terminals waiting to board, never develop any faults etc with ferries. Nothing is perfect, just a preference or choice based on need.

Boeing does have particular issues caused by the shortsighted 'Western world' badly implemented JIT instant payback MBA cultural cancer that seems to be infecting more and more endeavours now. Does BF now need to attend the oncologist? Optimise not maximise and ask the right questions, not follow narrowly defined dogma.

And although we may all prefer travelling by water and not being cooped up in a flying cattle wagon (although some modern cruise ships seem to be floating cattle wagons herding the commodity, sorry passengers, about), water based travel is not practical for most journeys unfortunately. 

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6 minutes ago, cvabishop said:

How many of those vacuum toilets on the ferries are likely to malfunction? The seals dry out when unused for a period of time.

Very good question..I have heard that the cruise ships presently off our coasts have a regular regime of running the taps and flushing the toilets to prevent these problems. I`m sure that BF will be only too aware of this problem and hopefully deal with it in the same way. Boring job though, but the exercise would be useful😁

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20 hours ago, Andy said:

“We want to remind people that there are attractive alternatives to air travel this summer,” said Christophe Mathieu Brittany Ferries CEO.

Crikey, that sounds dynamic!

After 30 years of flogging around the earth at the front end of a big jet, I retired. Tried a winter or two in the Canaries. Its Tui, Squesy jet, and God forbid Ryan air. Our choices became rather limited until wife suggested theres a ferry down the road that goes to France. So off we go. Boy that was easy. We were hooked.

Why on earth is the company not advertised  a lot more with pictures of Capt and crew welcoming the public, boasting about their history. They should be accelerating out of the bend now and putting it about everywhere.

Dont advertise much do they?

SFD

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image.thumb.png.c6dc968edfc47b54c09ace00f9beb884.png

Alas, the same could be said for ships too.

45 minutes ago, straightfeed said:

Why on earth is the company not advertised  a lot more with pictures of Capt and crew welcoming the public, boasting about their history. They should be accelerating out of the bend now and putting it about everywhere.

Agree. BF rely too much on existing travellers and preaching to the converted.

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I think it is a tricky one. The original rationale of BF as 'The Holiday Fleet' was that you could load up your car with family, all your favourite bits and pieces and even the kitchen sink, drive down to one of their ferry ports and be painlessly delivered, often overnight, and in some comfort to an attractive French port where you could drive off with the whole of France at your (metaphorical) feet and down to the sunlit Gite which you had carefully selected from the hundreds available all over France as listed in the printed Gite Brochure. All at a very reasonable cost. They sold the adventure, and boy, did it work! We had some wonderful holidays that way which we will never forget and still have the albums to prove it.

But that was then.

Now (well, pre Covid) the rise of the cut price airlines offering breaks in the sun for silly money on the one hand and the rise of the mass cruise industry offering far superior shipboard experiences on the other (again at good prices) have clipped BF's wings as they have continued with much the same formula throughout and are now much more of a niche product for holidaymakers.

If you have experienced a cruise ship cabin then the BF ones are like cells by comparison alhtough perfectly adequate for an overnight trip. Taking a car down to Spain was never exactly cheap but now the fares compare badly with flying Easyjet and hiring one at the other end. Plus you save a lot on time at destination too with 3 hour flights compared with 24 hour voyages. Many people don't like ships on principle as they move up and down and from side to side. (They prefer the Tunnel if taking the car to the Continent). To cap it all, there was a report in the papers a few days ago to the effect that many of the younger generation no longer bother with driving licences so are not in the market for taking their cars abroad as we did when we were their age. More prospective customers lost to the airlines.

All the original attrractions of visiting France (and Spain) by car are still there but that is no longer what people are looking for. Why hire a Gite when you can get a decent hotel with a pool and onsite restaurant for less money overall? Plus the choice of Gites is much more limited than it used to be. These days, a trip to France for us would be more on the lines of booking a decent 3 star hotel somewhere in Normandy or Brittany fot a midweek short break. Still enjoyable but not a patch on the old 'Glory Days'. Things have moved on.

On a personal note, due to a problem with one of my eyes and being over 70, my driving licence has expired and cannot be renewed until DVLA can manage to arrange a visual field test which should be OK except that they have been suspended since early last year and no indication of when they might resume so in the meantime I can only legally drive in the UK!

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The market has moved on but BF and the holiday industry in France is not moving as fast. BF's marketing message above seems very weak appealing to a limited worried segment, and to bring in another thread, like the ferry to Portugal, smacking of desperation. I hope they do well but the message is about as dynamic and appealing as waiting for a late bus with no shelter on a cold rainy winters afternoon. I hope they didn't pay anyone to come up with it.

Those who want to go to France will travel anyway and will be acquainted with the benefits of ferry travel and not being in a tube. I suspect that is why many are customers in the first place. If they do not travel it will be for other reasons - health, financial etc. Emailing your existing customer list or the those are interested with the above, is not going to bring the extra ongoing revenue needed. 

BF (and France?) need to put back together a reason to travel; the adventure, the excitement, the value for money, why taking time to travel is more important and so on, to get new people on board and turning into regular travellers. Attract young families not the worried well and, to get modern, give the Instagram moments (Kodak has lost it's crown). Where are those Insta moments on a BF ferry? Pierre Le Bear has fallen overboard and the wonder of a bridge visit shut away from inspiring the next generation. That moment plants the seeds for future journeys.

And staying on the modern theme, a good internet connection is no longer a luxury that can disappear for a few hours, it has become an essential. With the new satellite constellations going up, with the ability to provide fast internet on the plane, the ferries are going to fall further behind in attractiveness unless they install similar fast connections (not the smoke signal speeds currently available), especially on the longer voyages crossings. It maybe not what the traditional customer wants, but it is what younger customers want in our 24/7 highly connected world. Les Abers, triangular rolls and a BF sticker are not going to cut the mustard.

The majority of traffic BF is highly discretionary, and without foresight and action, they are at risk of doing the other kind of Kodak moment. Of course, there is another kind of long tube to travel in on short sea journeys according to government statistics.

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Posted (edited)
2 hours ago, David Williams said:

A press release like this is not an advertising campaign, it targets Journalists wanting a simple article ( or part of an article ). However every time I see fret, my mind says freight !

Why not use the press for advertising? Perish the thought. I'm sure some Jurno would take a bung or two or even a free holiday. We used to fly travel agent staff for long weekend free bees to Florida. Bet they didn't stop talking about it to customers in their in their shop.

SFD

Edited by straightfeed
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