Wednesday, 28 February 2018

"PRINCESS SEAWAYS" leaving Ijmuiden

"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

"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

Monday, 5 February 2018

"CAP FINISTERE" first cruise ferry of 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