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  • That’s no big deal, however, as we are usually starving when we arrive and we’re in the best place for satisfying that hunger with a decent meal
  • I have used them and recommend that you don’t try to shave on a cross-Channel ferry
  • At this point, it’s only sea and that isn’t too interesting, so we tend to wander through the lounges where other passengers are sprawled, reading, drinking, chatting and sleeping

    • by Andrew Gray
      TRUSTWORTHY

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      I cross to France fairly regularly and I have been by every means that you can take. I have travelled by plane and hovercraft. I have taken the Chunnel by Eurostar and I have also taken a variety of ferries. Most recently, in the case of ferries, I was travelling from the UK to Brittany. The port we were travelling to is Caen, a town which has a place in history going back a thousand years or more, but which was bombed flat in 1944 in the Battle of Normandy.

      Heading south, we pulled in at the quayside in Portsmouth and stopped in fascination at the great variety of ships in the port. Not only is Portsmouth the place to board ship to cross the Channel. It is also the Royal Navy’s main base on the South Coast. We waited to go through Passport Control, which is often manned by French staff, being a French shipping line (though Bretons would insist that it’s Breton). This is trouble-free and is a first taste of the Continent and all things slightly exotic.

      We drive up the ramp into the bowels of the ferry and are guided carefully to our allotted parking place, where we stop, collect all the things we need, like passports and money. We


      then join a stream of other drivers and passengers climbing up the steps and through various passageways to the main decks. For some reason, we always get beaten to the comfortable seats and end up in the restaurant. That’s no big deal, however, as we are usually starving when we arrive and we’re in the best place for satisfying that hunger with a decent meal!

      I won’t pretend that the fare on a Brittany Ferry in the common-or-garden restaurant is haut cuisine. It’s not. For one thing, it’s designed for British people who form about ninety percent of the passengers. British people seem to survive on chips and pizzas, steak and kidney pud, bacon and egg and soup. There may be the occasional vegetable to be had, but that is clearly a mistake as the children could be frightened by alien objects that could seriously improve their health. Nonetheless, after a two-and-a-half-hour drive with almost no breakfast, I could eat a rhino, or at least a minor member of the swine family, so bacon, egg, sausage, fried bread and anything else you can cram on a plate is devoured and washed down with decent coffee, which is something they don’t compromise on, thank goodness. I should add, however, that there are very fine restaurants on board for those who don’t have to pay to feed three hungry children who aren’t interested in decent food! They just didn’t feature in my budget.

      The messages that are transmitted on the tannoy are usually incomprehensible, so everyone ignores them. Basically, they say that you should go to a designated area (clearly marked) as an alternative to drowning, which seems a pretty decent idea. Most people seem to be resigned to expiring from an inhalation of water, however. How Darwinian!

      The standard of service is all right. The French cooks and serving staff are very pleasant and speak quite decent English. The British (or, perhaps, I should say English) ladies who are at the tills make us livid. Everything is English – the time, the money. I have had to point out that I didn’t have ‘English money’ (that disappeared with decimal currency), but I do have British. A blank look of incomprehension. Where (if anywhere) are these women educated?

      By the time we have devoured a herd of little piggies for a late breakfast, we have passed the Channel Fleet, looking very mean in their battleship grey. HMS Victory has long since passed astern and the Isle of Wight has vanished into the murk of the English Channel.


      • Brittany Ferries
      This is the mid-way point when the passenger decides to explore the ship and check out the plumbing. It’s worth mentioning that the loos are invariably pongy. I have used them and recommend that you don’t try to shave on a cross-Channel ferry. It’s a good way to end up with bits of tissue paper stuck all over your face! The ferry isn’t bumpy, but the weather can be.

      Once you have attended to nature, you might take a wander. What you find on the ship is an observation deck, set high up and with a commanding view of the sea all round. At this point, it’s only sea and that isn’t too interesting, so we tend to wander through the lounges where other passengers are sprawled, reading, drinking, chatting and sleeping. We go on deck and catch the fresh Channel breeze. On a good day in summer, you could catch a fierce suntan in the weather here. It’s closer to France than England now, and the temperature is higher already. We enjoy this part of the journey, but soon enough, we have to head off to the ‘duty-free’ shop, which of course, thanks to the wisdom of various Eurocrats, is no longer duty-free. It’s duty-full and the prices show it. I

      may buy a bottle of whisky. Maybe a little wine, in case the shops are shut when we reach our destination on the south coast of Brittany. Again, the staff are helpful, especially when they discover that you are Scottish and not English. You clearly go up several steps in their estimation. The prices aren’t enticing, however and we don’t hang around, but head off to get books to read and papers to see what’s happening in the world.

      For an hour or two, we relax and read. We then have a cup of something – tea, perhaps, or coffee for the driver (that’s me) as an eye-opener – then back on deck to watch as the French coast draws near.

      We have time to walk on the deck, usually at the prow, while the ship draws in through the breakwater and slowly approaches the quayside. Then, it’s off to the car and a sort of controlled bedlam while the French sailors direct us off in individual streams of cars, all heading off to the beaches of France. All told, a good exercise in keeping several hundred people happily occupied, fed and watered for about six or seven hours while they are conveyed from one side of the Channel to the other.




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The review was published as it's written by reviewer in January, 2010. The reviewer certified that no compensation was received from the reviewed item producer, trademark owner or any other institution, related with the item reviewed. The site is not responsible for the mistakes made. 42201962791131/k2311a0122/1.22.10
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