BRITTANY FERRIES in a clear sign of confidence in the future, has this week confirmed the charter of two new E-FLEXER cruise ferries from STENA, both ships are to be built by Chinese shipyard AVIC WEIHAI and the first one will arrive in time for the summer season of 2021. E-FLEXER cruise ferries are passenger and vehicle RoPax ships designed to be flexible and efficient, with a unique hull shape, the bow will reduce resistance around the thruster openings and the stern is shaped to reduce wave making, at 42.200 G.T., they are very similar in size to the "PONT-AVEN", both will have 214.5 meters in lenght and can cruise at a service speed of 22 knots. As a frequent passenger of BRITTANY FERRIES since 1992, this is excellent news, I feel part of this ferry operator, it is also good news for ferry travel out of Portsmouth to Santander and Bilbao, as a keen ship enthusiast and regular cruise ferry passenger, I will follow new developments with the utmost interest, image included from BRITTANY FERRIES
"Consistently good" and a "wonderful way to start or end your Holiday", that's how the majority of passengers dining at "LE FLORA" Restaurant on board "PONT-AVEN", describe their experience. Elegant fine dining with waiter service, a very good waiter service, it's a culinary treat not to be missed, BRITTANY FERRIES still serves in my opinion, the best quality food at a reasonable price, followed closely today by DFDS, on their Newcastle to Amsterdam route. Photos taken on board "PONT-AVEN" 2.2.2018 Vitor Francisco
One of the most special and incredible manoeuvres I have ever witnessed, is the departure or arrival of the cruises ferries, "PRIDE OF BRUGES" and "PRIDE OF YORK at Hull, navigating the lock, pass the other P & O cruise ferries really close, it is to say the least for a ship's enthusiast, exciting and what better way to see it, than from on board one of the ships getting ready to sail to Rotterdam, the "PRIDE OF ROTTERDAM" or the "PRIDE OF YORK", the photos selected for this post, were taken from the "PRIDE OF ROTTERDAM", 15.5.2018 Vitor Francisco
I have been sailing on "PRIDE OF ROTTERDAM" and her sister "PRIDE OF HULL" since 2001, the year they were introduced, they were the largest cruise ferries in the world at the time, today at 17 years old, they are not new, but they are also far from being old, these ships are built to last for about 35 years, so the sisters are in their prime, what I still really like about them, is the atmosphere on board, a reminder of old P & O liners from the past, a time where ships had souls, the area of the BRASSERIE and the QUITE ROOM are steeped in Maritime History and remind me of P & O Liners of the past, the Zeebrugge to Hull sisters have recently been refurbished, the BRASSERIE completely changed, it looks an empty space, lifeless, ask me 1000 times which one of the two I'd rather be and the answer would be 1000 times the Rotterdam to Hull sisters. Photos taken on board the "PRIDE OF ROTTERDAM", 15.5.2018 Vitor Francisco
It's always very good to come back here and write a few words and share some photos. "PRIDE OF YORK" and "PRIDE OF BRUGES" were relaunched early last year after an £8.5 million refit, P & O FERRIES invested on both ships in order to keep them in service on the Hull to Zeebrugge route for several more years to come, freight drivers facilities were transformed, shops, the BRASSERIE and cabins were all improved, both sister ships take passengers in comfort to Continental Europe and provide a good first time cruising experience, the photos here included were taken on the 14.3.2017, "PRIDE OF YORK" sailing from Kingston-Upon-Hull, Vitor Francisco.
"PIANA" is operated by LA MERIDIONALE" on the Marseille to Corsica route, she is seen here at Bastia shortly after her arrival, the ship has a capacity for 750 passengers, 200 cars and 2500 ml LGV capacity, these photos were taken from on board "MEGA EXPRESS FOUR", 5.11.2017 Vitor Francisco
"ARMORIQUE" photographed at Portsmouth from the "PONT-AVEN" arriving from Saint-Malo, "ARMORIQUE" was covering for the "MONT ST MICHEL" on the Ouistreham ( Caen ) to Portsmouth, photos Vitor Francisco 2.2.2018, "ETRETAT" can also be seen on the top photo.
"KING SEAWAYS" had just finished loading and was secure for sea at Ijmuiden, when I took these photos, the tradition associated with DFDS's cruise ferries departures, the band playing on ( Tape recording ) and the sound of the ship's whistle is well alive, a tradition that passengers really like, hope DFDS will keep it for long, it's romantic and nautical, Vitor Francisco 26.2.2018
"PRINCESS SEAWAYS" is seen here leaving Ijmuiden on her way to Newcastle in the UK, the ship looks rather smart in her new livery, during recent dry dock, just over two days that was all it took to paint the ship with the new colours, it is always a question of taste of course, but I believe she now looks much nicer than her sister on the same route, the KING SEAWAYS, which is still sporting the colours of previous livery, these photos were taken on Sunday, 25.2.2018, I can't remember to ever felt that cold, the temperature inside my car was showing - 3, which really seemed more like - 15 with the wind, Vitor Francisco
"KING SEAWAYS" arriving Ijmuiden this last Monday from Newcastle in the UK, the ship recently went to dry dock to have some work done on her propeller shafts, which will reduce her fuel consumption, four days only, the time needed for the works to be carried out, as for the new DFDS livery, we will have to wait for next dry docking, photos Vitor Francisco 26.2.2018
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