My wife thinks that Brittany Ferries are terrific. We crossed from Roscoff to Plymouth on 17:45 ferry the day Andy Murray played Roger Federer in the Mens Singles Final at Wimbledon and on board it was shown live.
I, of course, would not be swayed by such blatant underhand tactics to obtain a decent review (though if the British Grand Prix was on…).
Launched in 2009 the Armorique is the newest ship in the Brittany Ferries fleet and was designed specifically for the Plymouth-Roscoff route.
From the moment we arrived in the garage or car deck we were politely told where to go. “The stairs marked C or if you’d prefer the lift…”
I have travelled to Europe from the United Kingdom on countless occasions and have come to expect a utilitarian style of service and layout. One look at the deck plans of the Armorique alerted me that here was something different. Rather than a plan made up of variations on the rectangle theme there were curvy lines everywhere on the public decks. Seat and tables were not rigidly in lines and blocks rather they tended to flow into one another – dining area merging with the lounge which in turn merged with the bar – in a semi open plan way. This gave the feel of modernity and and freshness helped no doubt by the chest high blue glass panelling that served to divide off and break up large open areas like the dining room. Apparently the colours reflect the “colours and space” of Brittany and its maritime heritage. The works of three artists, a sculptor, a photographer and a painter are displayed throughout the ship.
There is a self service restaurant serving full meals and a cafe bar serving snacks on board. I tried the restaurant where I had Scottish salmon in Muscadet sauce. The very decent salmon and perfectly done scalloped potatoes was not matched by the slightly inferior sauce. However, the food was far superior to most other “transport” food I have experienced.
For the crossing, which takes about 6 hours, we had a day cabin. This is basically a night cabin with two sets of bunks, three of them folded away. There are plenty of options for sitting out the crossing but a cabin gives you somewhere to retire to away from the crowds, especially the hoards of French school children headed to summer language schools in Plymouth. There is an ensuite bathroom for freshening up after a long drive from the more southern areas of France. A day cabin is a luxury, I know; but an essential one as far as I am concerned. The cabin, though basic, is comfortable. Although there are 4 berths three of these were folded up for the day leaving ample space. There were hot drink supplies and toiletries; though not a brand you’d want to slip into your bag to take home.
Entertainment on board includes two cinemas. There seemed to be plenty for children to do and they had there own entertainment. This takes place at one end of the bar space right where the televisions are. It is here that a possible conflict of interest could occur: The Wimbledon Final had reached the fourth set and the children’s entertainer was setting up ready to start. Children were waiting eagerly. Who was to be disappointed a hundred or so Brittany Ferries’ passengers or the kids? Siting one or the other in a different location might be something worth thinking about. Any conflict was avoided, this time, thanks to Mr Federer putting an end to British hopes just in time.
I have to say, I agree with my wife’s assessment of Brittany Ferries. They are terrific, though not for the same reasons as her. I could not possibly allow myself to be influenced by the live showing of a sporting event… not even the British Grand Prix.
Details: Brittany Ferries operate from Portsmouth, Poole and Plymouth direct to Brittany and Normandy, saving miles of unnecessary and costly driving. Travel overnight by luxury cruise-ferry in the comfort of your own cabin with en-suite facilities or be whisked across the channel in as little as 3 hours.
You can mix and match routes: we travelled out from Portsmouth to St Malo and back from Roscoff to Plymouth. Cross Channel fares start at £69 return per person, based on a car plus two. Book online at www.brittanyferries.com or call 0871 244 1400.
Declaration: I travelled as a guest of Brittany Ferries but, as always, this does not mean I will write a favourable report if one is not deserved. If I write a favourable report it is because it was deserved not bought. I will at all times keep editorial control; even if, as in this case, they HAD shown the British Grand Prix