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PA vs Chinese Clones (maybe a little Plymouth vs Portsmouth)


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No need to knock BF.

The various ships have theiir own charateristics.

The older ones such as Bretagne and Pont Aven have  less attractive sleeping arrangements although they are perfectly adequate for a night on board. This is compensated for by the overall attractiveness of the other on board facilities including the restaurants.

The latest ships, by all accounts, seem to have much better cabin facilities but are less attractive in terms of public spaces and eating arrangements.

At the end of the day, most people (exceping the Spanish routes) are only aboard for one  night so the overall experience is probably more or less the same  and hardly worth getting worked up about given that you will be soon disembarked on your holidy where the standard of accommodation really will matter.

Edited by cvabishop
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2 hours ago, colin said:

If I were to suggest we consider why Chinese yards are so much cheaper ... no, no, no. That would open up a whole new can of worms about political freedoms, human rights ... Better just knock BF. Goes down much better here.

Oh come off it Colin, not one member of BFE understood the reasoning behind Honfleur, the Caen route wasn't in need of a new ship especially one with a smaller pax capacity... on BF's core passenger heavy route. Plus for all she was going to be, a glorified Armorique, she was going to be very expensive at nigh on twice the price.

Did you raise your clear political concerns when BF announced the three E-Flexers? No you didn't.

European yards don't want to build ferries, if it's not a multi billion multi cruise ship order they don't want to know and the few European yards that do are very expensive - fact of life.

I suppose the last large ferry to be built in Northern waters was Tallink's Megastar at Rauma delivered nearly 5 years ago. She's a day sailing shuttle with no cabins and cost 230m euros. the new one they're building, MySTAR, another day sailing shuttle is costing 250m euros and the two they're building for TT in New Zealand have a combined cost in excess of 500m euros.

Is it any wonder that the likes of Stena, DFDS, GNV, Moby, Viking etc are looking east. If Korea still built ferries they'd probably be beating their door down too. Finally, let's not forget that AVIC in China own one of the largest European ferry design companies, Deltamarine and have been for nearly a decade.

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A. Not at all sure about your affirmations about all our views on Honfleur, and your obvious feeling that BF are daft.

B. I always try to avoid politics, though just occasionally give a wee poke to see who responds ....

C. Please never jump to judgements. The fact that I open an issue does not mean you can decide what I think. You and I both know, and wholeheartedly agree that life is a whole lot more complicated than that. I do try to put a gentle brake on opinions when I think they are too firm, or need a bit more thought. I do not know best, just like you, so we can go on enjoying an exchange of opinions with good nature.

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1 hour ago, jonno said:

not one member of BFE understood the reasoning behind Honfleur, the Caen route wasn't in need of a new ship especially one with a smaller pax capacity... on BF's core passenger heavy route.

However BF have ordered an eflexer for the route so must believe that they need a replacement and that not being able to carry hordes of children on the route works.

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32 minutes ago, David Williams said:

However BF have ordered an eflexer for the route so must believe that they need a replacement and that not being able to carry hordes of children on the route works.

There's no doubt that it's inevitable that a new vessel will be needed for Caen at some point but it's not so long ago that BF spent millions on fitting scrubbers to Normandie, that's not a short term investment. They clearly weren't considering moving her on sooner rather than later. Even now she's not even 30 years old yet and there's no end of top quality life extension work that can be done... just ask Stena & DFDS.

My question back in the day was why after fitting scrubbers to Normandie only 18 months before, BF announced her replacement back in 2017 to be ready in 2019? Even then replacing Bretagne was the clear priority. Normandie was only 25 at the time. They didn't need the extra freight capacity as the figures had dropped.

For me Normandie still doesn't need replacing but the biggest obstacle there is BF's historical belief in make do and mend, they don't refit or rebuild they replace in the medium term which for a large part is false economy. Why not dry dock Normandie and spend 30m of the 110m the E-Flexer will initially cost?

She'd leave the dockyard very modern, almost as good as new, have another 10 -15 years in her and BF, SOMANOR and the banks could keep 80m in their back pockets. 

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The Ouistreham route is/was core to BF's profitability and it made and makes absolute sense that it has the best kit to maintain that for the group.

It's also quite a punishing schedule compared to other routes and whilst Normandie hasn't been unreliable so far as far as I can remember after her level of use and at her age things will start to go wrong. I don't however think it was ever expected she would leave the fleet in the near term so the scrubber investment made sense from a useful life point of view.

I'm struggling to think why replacement isn't thought to be appropriate and timely. By the time she goes she'll be pretty much if not the oldest passenger ship operating year round from the UK to the Continent. Her design life was probably only 25 or 30 years and she'll have done all that and more. She's approaching the stage where extra surveys and more onerous repairs become an issue. You can make it work but Ouistreham isn't a marginal proposition or a relaxed schedule like some of the routes vintage tonnage operates on so why would they settle for it?

The new ship is going to be fit for purpose for today's traffic. Passenger capacity is lower because Normandie was designed in a different age. Before the Tunnel opened, before the end of Duty Free, before the appearance of low cost airlines. There's simply no need for a 2,000+ pax capacity now, we saw how MSM was lower than Normandie in that regard despite greater vehicle capacity and the newer ships be it Flexer or Honfleur will/would be again.

I love the Normandie and she's got a viable future as a secondary ship with little or no capital cost but the world has changed and she's is getting close to the end of her useful life on such a critical route.

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School kids are the future for BF when we are gone. They should be encouraged.. A bit of liveliness on the boat is good for the spirit

Edited by IanN
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1 hour ago, colin said:

Lots of school trips for kids in Brittany and Normandy have been shifted to Ireland, principally to Dublin.

My daughter's school used to alternate between London and Madrid as the kids study both languages. I'm not sure of the current plan. I did suggest they switch to Malta the last time I spoke to the teacher if the passport issue (cost) was an obstacle.

Ed

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  • 2 weeks later...
On 01/10/2021 at 10:06, Tumnus2010 said:

 

Will be interesting to try the new boats as the newest I've been on is Armorique, and her club plus are excellent, different world from the club on Bretagne really. 

 

At least the cabin toilets have always worked on Bretagne (and I have sailed on her many times), unlike my trip on Armorique last week. 

It is beginning to look as though all the ships (Galicia excluded) need a good spruce-up and some some decent maintenance.

 

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I've always liked the Pont-Aven myself, you can't fail to be impressed by certain aspects of her interior design, if nothing else. Whether she has aged well is a different matter, and I would agree with those who've suggested a major refit is now required. If the Bretagne is to leave the fleet in the next few years, then perhaps a proper refit, (or even partial re-build) for permanent transfer to the St Malo route would be the way to go? I appreciate the order for the next E flexers, but maybe they could be deployed elsewhere? Pont-Aven would clearly be the natural successor to Bretagne in many ways, and of course already serves the route sometimes. 

Thanks for a great, informative report! I shall have to get myself on an E Flexer soon. 

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On 16/10/2021 at 15:12, Ryan_H said:

I've always liked the Pont-Aven myself, you can't fail to be impressed by certain aspects of her interior design, if nothing else. Whether she has aged well is a different matter, and I would agree with those who've suggested a major refit is now required. If the Bretagne is to leave the fleet in the next few years, then perhaps a proper refit, (or even partial re-build) for permanent transfer to the St Malo route would be the way to go? I appreciate the order for the next E flexers, but maybe they could be deployed elsewhere? Pont-Aven would clearly be the natural successor to Bretagne in many ways, and of course already serves the route sometimes. 

Thanks for a great, informative report! I shall have to get myself on an E Flexer soon. 

 

Totally agree about some aspects of her interior design, the space around the glass lifts is still impression... but the amount of additional light you get on the E Flexer is also impressive.

I guess the problem with a major refit is the cost and her remaining time in the BF fleet.   I guess the capital outlay for a major refit vs the lease cost of a E Flexer is the biggest dilemma BF have.   And no refit will fix her sea handling behaviour.

I am surprised that BF went the E Flexer route, especially when they sold themselves on the UK to Spain in 24 hours.  Now we are creeping to 30 hours, we are getting close to the speed of the Pride of Bilbao (as ship I never travelled on).  

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On 16/10/2021 at 15:12, Ryan_H said:

I've always liked the Pont-Aven myself, you can't fail to be impressed by certain aspects of her interior design,

The Pont Aven was considered a bit naff by those of us who preferred the Val de Loire.

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On 16/10/2021 at 15:12, Ryan_H said:

I've always liked the Pont-Aven myself, you can't fail to be impressed by certain aspects of her interior design, if nothing else. Whether she has aged well is a different matter, and I would agree with those who've suggested a major refit is now required. If the Bretagne is to leave the fleet in the next few years, then perhaps a proper refit, (or even partial re-build) for permanent transfer to the St Malo route would be the way to go? I appreciate the order for the next E flexers, but maybe they could be deployed elsewhere? Pont-Aven would clearly be the natural successor to Bretagne in many ways, and of course already serves the route sometimes. 

Thanks for a great, informative report! I shall have to get myself on an E Flexer soon. 

Brittany are paying for an E-flexer so personally I think that ends the will she won't she debate surrounding Pont Aven. She may do a year or so on the St Malo route once Santona arrives allowing BF to sell Bretagne but I have a feeling she'll be sold aswell once Bretagne II arrives.

I was never impressed by her as her decor was very 1990's with nothing to set her apart from other new builds of the same era and her sea keeping is probably the worst in the fleet. On the inside take away her shiny glass lift and her handful of balconies and she's no better than MSM. I much preferred VDL but as she was a BAI ship she would always play 2nd fiddle to the dictating French regional owners of the other vessels.

 

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6 minutes ago, VikingVoyager said:

But will she (PA) be an easy ship to sell on?

There weren't many ferries built between 2000 - 2010 so she may prove popular to some. She's already amortised so any thing they get for her will go in the accounts as profit. I think there's only Armorique & Cap Finistere to be drawn down, they're the only 2 they're still paying for.

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55 minutes ago, jonno said:

Brittany are paying for an E-flexer so personally I think that ends the will she won't she debate surrounding Pont Aven. She may do a year or so on the St Malo route once Santona arrives allowing BF to sell Bretagne but I have a feeling she'll be sold aswell once Bretagne II arrives.

I was never impressed by her as her decor was very 1990's with nothing to set her apart from other new builds of the same era and her sea keeping is probably the worst in the fleet. On the inside take away her shiny glass lift and her handful of balconies and she's no better than MSM. I much preferred VDL but as she was a BAI ship she would always play 2nd fiddle to the dictating French regional owners of the other vessels.

 

Plus the indoor swimming pool and bar, 2 deck entertainment lounge and extensive outdoor deck space make the Pont much more than MSM.

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22 minutes ago, jonno said:

There weren't many ferries built between 2000 - 2010 so she may prove popular to some. She's already amortised so any thing they get for her will go in the accounts as profit. I think there's only Armorique & Cap Finistere to be drawn down, they're the only 2 they're still paying for.

Yep, that makes sense. If we assume she runs St Malo until the newbuild arrives, she'll be more than 20 years old so they will have had even more out of her (maybe time to pay back her recent engine issues>!).  Would she look good with a big GNV on her side?

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I'd be surprised if BF depreciate their ships over just 17 years (PA's age). It's more likely to be 25-30 - e.g. SOMANOR use 35 (extension of which reduces BF's charter rates due to the way it's calculated), Stena 20 to 25. Moreover if they're doing it properly there should be an estimated residual value rather than depreciating to zero (in my experience not many companies do do it properly but if you're dealing with a big asset like a ship you should).

49 minutes ago, VikingVoyager said:

Would she look good with a big GNV on her side?

I'd be surprised if she didn't form part of the BF fleet for most of the next decade but yes it would be nice if GNV for once added a ship which would meet their literal 'Big, Fast Ships' name. There are a couple of older ships in the extended MSC group ferry fleet which are getting near the end (Aurelia, GNV Azzurra).

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