It's always so good to write a few words here, I remember when I have created this "Blog" back in 2012 stating that if it wasn't for cruise ferries my job would not be possible, I have never been so right, today after six years, they still are the reason my job is possible, my first trip of 2018 had Lisbon as the first "port of call" during my two week excursion driving in Continental Europe, as usual I left it for too late to book the ferry, my original plan was to sail from Portsmouth to Santander, the obvious choice and only one on offer these days operated by BRITTANY FERRIES", during my navigation on their official website, crossings from Portsmouth to Spain were not available, so my decision was to book the PONT-AVEN from Portsmouth to Saint-Malo, on Friday the 19th of January, there I was back on the road from Cheshire to Portsmouth with an early departure from home in order to allow plenty of time before boarding and of course for the usual ship spotting at Portsmouth, the "Waterfront City", a place that never disappoints ships enthusiasts, soon after my arrival just after lunch, the CAP FINISTERE was soon to be seen arriving from Bilbao, she was late due to bad weather, just about an hour, after making a few photos of the ship entering the harbour, I decided to give BF a ring to enquire about the possibility of changing my booking from Saint-Malo to Santander, this was surprisingly so easy, been told that due to some cancellation, I would be able to sail on CAP FINISTERE that same evening, I was delighted with the possibility of cutting short, dramatically, the driving to my destination, Portugal, so a couple of hours later there I was ready to sail on the CAP FINISTERE, embarkation as usual at Portsmouth is professional, speedy and very civilised, once on board the ship, a first visit to my cabin to get myself organised, meaning, getting my camera operational once again for some photography and ready for dinner, which would be just about an hour later, PONT-AVEN, my original ship was also loading and getting ready for her departure to Saint-Malo, BF flagship always looks magnificent and impressive. Our departure due to late arrival was delayed for about 75 minutes, after finishing photographing the PONT-AVEN went for the first tour of the ship, to my surprise and with the majority of the passengers on board, noticed that the ship was not even half full, couldn't understand the reason why a couple of hours earlier I was told by BF that, I would be able to take passage due to some cancellation. Followers of this "Blog" may remember that the CAP FINISTERE is my least favourite cruise ferry of BF, she has a borrowed personality, despite all the investment on the ship, she doesn't look a BF ship, her passenger facilities and inside layout are so much different to the other cruise ferries on the fleet, she was not designed for any of the routes operated by BF, she was acquired in 2010 from SUPERFAST FERRIES and since then has been the subject of many refits and upgrades to bring her in line with the other ships, the truth is BF has done a wonderful job with the ship but her facilities are nowhere near the other ships, particularly the PONT-AVEN her companion on the Spanish route, there is no Buffet Restaurant, the reason is the galley of the ship being too small and dining at the "A La Carte restaurant" is not a pleasant experience, especially if the ship is full, because of the location with passengers walking backwards and forwards, it is a passage to other ships facilities, each BF cruise ferry has her own personality and character and the CAP FINISTERE is certainly no exception, the service is really good, her crew very professional and very proud of their ship, one can feel a certain atmosphere of competition when mantioning the other ships to the crew and this is really positive. Soon after departure passengers were told that the expected ETA at Santander would be confirmed the following morning, we all knew that we were up for a bumpy crossing, the weather forecast for the trip was, strong winds force 9 to 10 and heavy seas, a couple of drinks at the bar after dinner and entertainment followed before going to bed, soon after midnight the CAP FINISTERE started to pitch and rolling, it was a night to forget with hardly any sleep not just for me, but judging to early morning conversation with other passengers for the majority on board, soon after breakfast, we were informed that the ship would be one hour late arriving at Santander, considering that she left one hour late from Portsmouth and that the crossing time is 24 hours, she did manage to keep the same time for the trip, and this is where and not for the first time I have noticed that the CAP FINISTERE has no equal in the fleet in terms of negotiating bad weather, even with force 9/10 she kept cruising at 25 knots with extreme comfort and security, she is also almost vibration free, an outstanding ship for heavy weather, she has no rival in the fleet,I have sailed many times on BRETAGNE on the Bay of Biscay, she is also a very stable ship but of course no match for the CAP FINISTERE's speed, so delays were experienced during the crossings and the PONT-AVEN, a ship designed for the route, has a tendency to roll more than the CAP,
she is however the passengers favourite due to her spectacular facilities, once again BF needs to be congratulated for the wonderful improvements made to the CAP FINISTERE since 2010, deck 10 is outstanding for cruising in warm climates, the best dog-friendly ship, she has served well the company on their Spanish service and is an excellent fleetmate to the PONT-AVEN, reliable, fast and with the same first class service offered by BRITTANY FERRIES, all photos Vitor Francisco, 19 and 20 January 2018
"MOBY ZAZA" of MOBY LINES arriving Bastia, 4.11.2017. I will return to this ship soon, for the moment would like to wish all the followers of this Blog a very Happy New Year 2018 and many thanks for following the Blog and for all the comments, photos Vitor Francisco.
"MEGA EXPRESS FIVE"arriving Bastia in Corsica, a first in this Blog, Bastia was a first for me and certainly one of the highlights of my Shipping adventures in 2017, this Blog will benefit from a few more entries soon on the subject, special focus on my trips on board "PASCAL LOTA" and the "MEGA EXPRESS FOUR", photos 4.12.2017 Vitor Francisco
"NORMANDIE" was one of the ships I have used for my December trips abroad, introduced in 1992 for the Portsmouth to Ouistreham ( Caen ) route, she's always been a very smart cruise ferry with beautiful lines and very stylish interiors, she is named after the region in France and has an equestrian theme throughout, at 25, she retains a charming and chic atmosphere on board, photos included December 2015, Vitor Francisco.
"AF MICHELA" arriving Ancona on the 6th November 2017 from Durazzo in Albania, the ship is operated by ADRIA FERRIES, a company based at Ancona, on the Ancona to Durazzo route, she has just over 24000 G.T., capacity for 950 passengers and 850 vehicles, she was built in 2001and looks a very smart ship indeed with a service speed of 21 knots, photos Vitor Francisco.
The mega cruise ferries STENA HOLLANDICA and BRITTANICA are wonderful ships with great passenger facilities, for the overnight trip and for an added touch of luxury the Captain's Class cabins are amazing, truthfully all the cabins on board these ships are some of the best on the business, but a voyage on Captain's Class is definitely a great experience, photos included were taken on STENNA HOLLANDICA, 20.9.2017 Vitor Francisco.
The fifth cruise ship for VIKING OCEAN CRUISES is named "VIKING ORION" not VIKING SPIRIT, she is seen here the day she was moved to her fitting-out basin, the 29th of September 2017, she took to the water for the first time the week before, water can still be seen where she was built on the third photo, the day before, the 28th, her sister ship, the VIKING SUN, departed Ancona to Montenegro, a cruise destined to crew training purposes, with guests on board. Photos taken at FINCANTIERI Shipyard, their Ancona division by Vitor Francisco
For the past two years I have been sailing often with P & O FERRIES from Hull to Rotterdam or Zeebrugge, this was my first trip of the year on the PRIDE OF BRUGES, a trip that I was antecipating very much as I have not sailed on her after the massive makeover, refit, that took place earlier this year, in a way I knew what to expect as I have been on board her sister PRIDE OF YORK four times this year,once on board, the ship looked very much the same as the YORK, the refurbishement to the passenger facilities are no different on both ships, they both look very smart and ready for the next chapter for years to come, how many I don't know, but they certainly can guarantee the service for several years more, the service on board both ships is improving, the food is getting better, I recommend the Asian dishes and breakfast on the KITCHEN, the self-service Restaurant on board, the ships continue to deliver and offer a first time cruise experience to the passengers wishing to cross the North Sea and experience the magnificent city of Bruges, or York, for the passengers sailing from Belgium to the UK. Photos included 3.10.2017 by Vitor Francisco
MSC SINFONIA is seen here at Ancona on the 29.9.2017, the ship was originally built for FESTIVAL CRUISES as the EUROPEAN STARS and delivered by her builders, the CHANTIERS DE L'ATLANTIQUE at Saint-Nazaire in 2002, her career with FESTIVAL was short lived, she was sold to MSC in 2004 after a few months laid-up, she emerged for the new owners/operators in April of 2005 with the present name, MSC SINFONIA has capacity for just over 2500 passengers and has a displacement of G.T. 58.675, considered a small ship by today's standards, she looked a giant though when enetering the port of Ancona, a city in the Province of Marche, central Italy, passengers calling at this Port can visit apart from the city, the outstanding Riviera Del Conero, photos Vitor Francisco.
New onboard cruise ferries sailing from Newcastle to Amsterdam, a culinary adventure from around the World, a new concept taking place from May to September this year, this new experience known as "Pop-Up Restaurant" takes place at the BLUE RIBAND Restaurant in a new designated area, June is the month for the "Latin Tapas Concept", prices and menu are shown above, for all "tapas" aficionados, this is an experience not to be missed, excellent quality food served in very generous portions, for all the other culinary experiences, please visit the DFDS official website. Photos taken onboard PRINCESS SEAWAYS, Sunday the 18th of June 2017.