Jump to content
Complete France Forum

Across the Channel for £19!


Recommended Posts

Why are some people still insisting on advertising Speedferries?  Yes their cheap, I've never used them but I'm told their basic.  What about Norfolkline!

Norfolkline are now offering £19 single fares for cars and motorhomes, increased to £34 for mid day or more popular journeys.  Surely that's very good value.

Its not basic either, big boat with lots of room, no foot passengers, shop and bar and comfy lounge with a big picture window to see where you are going.

Unfortunately I usually have to travel across the Western Channel (with mega expensive Brittany Ferries) but have had an opportunity to use Norfolkline now and then.  I have no connection with the company, just a satisfied customer pleased with the excellent value offered.

 

 

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Yes their cheap, I've never used them but I'm told their basic.  What about Norfolkline!

From what I've heard of Norfolkline they are just as basic as Speedferries - and I wouldn't necessarily call them basic.  No more so than the fastcraft run by P&O and Britanny in and out of Cherbourg! 

Norfolkline are now offering £19 single fares for cars and motorhomes, increased to £34 for mid day or more popular journeys.  Surely that's very good value.

Our current guests were Norfolkline users but on my recommendation arrived yesterday via Speedferries and swore they would never use Norfollkline again - nothing wrong with them, just that Speedferries was just as cheap but quicker!!!  They paid £38 for a return crossing (middle of the day!) for a car and 4 passengers.

Its not basic either, big boat with lots of room, no foot passengers, shop and bar and comfy lounge with a big picture window to see where you are going.

There are comfy seats, big picture windows, a bar, an onboard shop and you can buy sandwiches, pastries etc.  on Speedferries - Just how much more do you need on a 50 minute crossing!!!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I have used both, so am not going on "from what I have heard".

Both have their good points. On Norfolk line you can get a full meal, which can save another stop later. You are also guaranteed a comfortable seat. The boat is probably the quietest I have ever used, as they don't take coaches. Also, they are getting two new boats shortly which may reduce the crossing time.

Speedferries do offer a quicker crossing time, but add to that the time it takes to load and unload, and the fact that they often run late due to this (I have waited 2 and a half hours in the past), the overall time may not be quite as good as you might think. I still continue to use them, however. They also only have one ferry, which has been known to break down. Hopefully they will get another one soon, though they were close to achieving this recently when P&O bought it, then leased it out, possibly in order to prevent Speedferries from increasing their service.

In the end, it comes down to which direction you are heading in France.

Brian.

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

[quote]Yes their cheap, I've never used them but I'm told their basic. What about Norfolkline! From what I've heard of Norfolkline they are just as basic as Speedferries - and I wouldn't necessarily call ...[/quote]

Coco wrote

"There are comfy seats, big picture windows, a bar, an onboard shop and you can buy sandwiches, pastries etc.  on Speedferries - Just how much more do you need on a 50 minute crossing!!!"

I was under the impression SpeedFerries only had one craft! Certainly the one I travelled on could not be described as having comfy seating, the coffee was disgusting, the "pastry" - that is a very loose term!!! The contents of the shop (when it eventually opened) where nothing to make the heart beat faster, and as for the 50 minute crossing - do they make a habit of having to return to dock in order to collect forgotten crew members?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

We have travelled on Speed ferries 6 times in the last two months and every time it left exactly on time.  I enjoyed the coffee and the sandwiches.  Seats felt fine to me. But I didnt sit too much, was too busy watching my son in the play area.

I have to check where Norfolk comes to and from though as if it means less driving I would be happy.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I was under the impression SpeedFerries only had one craft! Certainly the one I travelled on could not be described as having comfy seating, the coffee was disgusting, the "pastry" - that is a very loose term!!! The contents of the shop (when it eventually opened) where nothing to make the heart beat faster, and as for the 50 minute crossing - do they make a habit of having to return to dock in order to collect forgotten crew members?

If I keep defending them people are going to start thinking I have a vested interest, which I don't.  It just seems that sometimes there is no pleasing people.  I have been on this forum since its inception and for a long, long time people said that all they wanted to do was to get across the Channel as cheaply as possible and that they weren't interested in frills, just a decent price.  Isn't that EXACTLY what Speedferries offers?  OK, the seating isn't incredibly comfortable, but they are padded seats and certainly comfortable enough for the length of crossing you are taking.  The coffee I had was fine.  I never indulge in such things as sandwiches or pastries on board any ferry as I would always rather wait til I got to France and get a decent one for half the price, and if you only have a 50 minute crossing, it's not exactly vital to eat on board is it?  So there was nothing to make the heart beat faster in the shop.  What exactly were you looking for?  And no, I don't believe they do make a habit of returning to dock to collect forgotten crew members (and I find that incredibly hard to believe anyway, unless it was the Captain!!)  Having worked on cruise ships for several years I know it's something that just DOESN'T happen.  Sounds like you had a bad crossing, they happen sometimes.  But I certainly know that a large proportion of my B&B guests this year have been highly delighted that I informed them of Speedferries existance.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

"And no, I don't believe they do make a habit of returning to dock to collect forgotten crew members (and I find that incredibly hard to believe anyway, unless it was the Captain!!)  Having worked on cruise ships for several years I know it's something that just DOESN'T happen". 

Having worked in Maritime safety I can assure you it does happen. Please don't imply I've dreamt it up - I was on board when the craft was forced to return to pick up TWO crew members - much to the amusement of other passengers as it was announced over the Tannoy!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Interesting to read the very different views expressed by travellers and their differing experiences with SpeedFerries.

Personally, I have been disappointed with their poor lack of punctuality. I appreciate they are cheap and basic and I am not bothered about frills on board. However, I think you are entitled to expect something called SPEED-Ferries to get you there quickly and punctually (i.e. from quayside to quayside) and that never seems to happen when I'm on board.

But then again, I'm convinced there is someone controlling traffic lights who quickly flicks them to red whenever they recognise my car. So if you want to get there on time, the answer is to avoid travelling the same time as me.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Will people please stop defending Speedferries.

The more people who use them, the more I have to pay, so please tell everyone it's a crappy service, so that I can travel cheaply, and not be delayed so much by the time it takes to load a full boat.

 

Brian.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Its been said before but cheap doesn't always go hand in hand with cheerful, take Ryanair for example.

But for what you pay both Speedferries and Ryanair can offer remarkably good value. Not always,  certainly not always on time, and the customer care can get a bit ragged around the edges.

Speedferries will never be able to offer a 100% punctual service while they have only one craft, in the same way that some people travelling with Ryanair have found they may have to wait a week for space to be available if their particular booked flight fails to turn up.

Now it clearly doesn't explain all the price difference, but having spare capacity waiting, just in case, always has  cost and hence price implications.

It was interesting to see reports at the weekend, that thanks to the new cost cutting, market responsive approach at Le Tunnel, at some peak times they have had only two booths open which combined with the reduced train frequencies has led to waiting times of up to five hours........

.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Are the moaners talking about the same Speedferries service I use. Seven return trips this year so far - every one on time and 3 of the 07.45 Dover departures left 10 minutes early.

Bargain price and it's done wonders for the prices of the other operators. Tunnel - who uses the Tunnel at those silly prices ? - even the so called cheap ones. 

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

[quote]Are the moaners talking about the same Speedferries service I use. Seven return trips this year so far - every one on time and 3 of the 07.45 Dover departures left 10 minutes early. Bargain price and...[/quote]

 Please also remember that not everyone lives within easy access of Dover. It can take me as long as 10 hours to get to Dover, also the added mileage and time incurred in both getting there and from Boulogne to my house, plus the need for accommodation, all adds considerably to the "Bargain Price".

When one takes into account the added cost of fuel, tolls, accommodation requirement, vehicle wear and tear, plus driver stress and additional time spent behind the wheel, you don't need a degree in maths to work out that occassionly it is actually more cost effective to travel with one of the "expensive" operators, and before slagging them off for their "exorbitant" charges, do a paper exercise and work the costs out as if you resided in Chester, Oxford, or Ambleside, and were travelling to Blois, Tours or Limoges. You might then realise just how cheap the "other operators" really are!

I've used SF twice and not been over impressed. The reason I used them over my usual mode of travel is simple - they had an offer of "Buy One - Get One Free" - but never again!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I too have nothing against Speedferries, and applaud what they are doing on their chosen route and for their target market. The service isn't perfect, but the majority of users semm happy.

However the other operators on other routes can't be doing everything wrong either. Their ships are pretty full at peak times.

For those like me who are a short distance from Caen or St Malo on this side, and an even shorter distance from Portsmouth on the other, and whose travel costs, being work related, are tax-deductible (and time, mileage, extra accommodation etc can be chargeable to clients) then the only logical choice is the western channel routes. Even compared with air travel, when one looks at timings, which mean three days away and two nights accommodation for one meeting, the ferry, even going overnight both ways, offers the best option.

Remember too that freight traffic, which Speedferries cannot carry, is the bread-and-butter for the conventional ferry operators, so the impact of cheap passenger fares is not as great as it might appear.

It would still be good if there were more special offers from Brittany Ferries. It will be interesting to see what will be the effect of the new operator to Le Havre, which is of course an important and potentially popular freight route. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I take on board (ho, ho) others' comments about Speedferries not being suitable for everyone. However, the observations do not change the "exorbitant" prices charged by some of the others. Of course it may well be very cost effective to use another operator at a higher price if it suits you - but it doesn't change the actual price charged though!

With a bit of luck all fares will come down to sensible levels if Speedferries aren't put out of business by the predators.

Last summer I paid £170 on the other Seacat operator (Dover - Calais) and thought I had a really good deal at the time. I suspect I was being ripped off big time. Speedferries fares now prove it. Rant over.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

[quote]I take on board (ho, ho) others' comments about Speedferries not being suitable for everyone. However, the observations do not change the "exorbitant" prices charged by some of the others. Of course i...[/quote]

Oh dear, it would appear SF have been sending emails to their valued customers informing them they will have to pay a fuel surcharge, this is in addition to whatever they've paid for a ticket.

Reassuringly, "it is only a temporary measure until fuel prices drop" - now where have we heard that one before. It sounds like they may have secured the financial wizardry of Gordon Brown!                

Well fuel prices have dropped and marine diesel is a lot cheaper than that for vehicles, so could this be the start of the end of the cheap crossings offered by SF? 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 "And not all of us are in the fortunate position of being able to charge it to someone else. In fact probably very few are. I am afraid I don't subscribe to the philosophy that someone else is paying therefore it doesn't matter how much it costs."

The point I was making was that if the extra mileage, time etc involved in travelling Dover-Boulogne (or Calais) rather than Portsmouth-Caen was charged to the client at normal rates, the cost of using the supposedly cheaper route would work out substantially more than the Brittany Ferries fare. That may not be significant for leisure users, but for business travel it is an important consideration. I quite agree that not many people use the ferries for business, but it is probably more than one thinks.

People are entitled to think some operators charge exorbitant prices. They are high, but there are not vast profits to be made. If so, there would be more, rather than fewer, ferry operators on the western channel.

It is perhaps more correct to say that the current short-sea fares are artificially low, and cannot be sustained - as proved by the fuel surcharge and the fact that Speedferries pricing model appears to be based on a very low charter rate for their one vessel (ex-warship, believe it or not), obtained while the owning company in Australia was in receivership and desperate to offload surplus ships for whateverthey could get. Although a second, Scandinavian-owned, vessel is currently available for charter (and even handily moored in Boulogne harbour) it is interesting that despite all the talk of expansion, Speedferries has not managed to secure a deal on it. It will be interesting to see if the low fares can be maintained when the current charter expires and has to be renegotiated. I'm not at all sure either that the Boulogne Chamber of Commerce and Industry has the wherewithal to step up its assistance for the service (there is an interesting article in the current editio of Incat's house magazine).

As I said before, good luck to Speedferries and those who sail in them. The company deserves to succeed - but unfortunately it's not just a straightforward case of the 'good guys' versus the 'pirates'.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

[quote]And not all of us are in the fortunate position of being able to charge it to someone else. In fact probably very few are. I am afraid I don't subscribe to the philosophy that someone else is paying ...[/quote]

Couldn't agree more.  I can charge my fares against tax although I unfortunately lack clients gullible enough to cough up for BFs over-expensive fares.

The question is as always "Is it value for money? and with BF that answer is too often "No. I want to sail on the boat not bl......y buy it. 

Their present 3 day offer from Cherbourg to Portsmouth is excellent value at 140 euros for car and two passengers return but for anyone who wants to stay longer than 3 days the fare is just plain silly.

Had a very nice e-mail from LD ferries this morning and have replied to say I look forward to travelling with them.  We will see what their prices are like, competition on the Western Channel is vital.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It is perhaps more correct to say that the current short-sea fares are artificially low, and cannot be sustained - as proved by the fuel surcharge and the fact that Speedferries pricing model appears to be based on a very low charter rate for their one vessel (ex-warship, believe it or not), obtained while the owning company in Australia was in receivership and desperate to offload surplus ships for whateverthey could get. Although a second, Scandinavian-owned, vessel is currently available for charter (and even handily moored in Boulogne harbour) it is interesting that despite all the talk of expansion, Speedferries has not managed to secure a deal on it. It will be interesting to see if the low fares can be maintained when the current charter expires and has to be renegotiated. I'm not at all sure either that the Boulogne Chamber of Commerce and Industry has the wherewithal to step up its assistance for the service (there is an interesting article in the current editio of Incat's house magazine).

Boulogne port have just built a new road into the ferry terminal, so at least they seem to have faith in the future.

I read elsewhere that SF were negotiating for another Cat, but that was bought from under them by P&O, Wonder why?

I know this might open a large can of worms, but it seems that the Scandinavian owners of the other seacat would rather the vessel lie unused on Boulogne, than get a lower charter for it. Surely something is better than nothing, or are they hoping another operator will snap it up?

It must also be noted that currently SF are fortunate in operating at pretty well maximum capacity, which is more than can be said for their competitors. The vessel is small, but thus has far lower crewing costs, and most of those multiskill too. (Yes, I know that crewing costs are not the only thing to be taken into consideration).

What I do like about SF is their pricing structure. I know that if I can book in advance, I can get the same low fare any day, any week of the year. What I do object to is having to pay a high premium to travel in weeks xxx no matter how early I book, and regardless of how full the vessel is.

So far LD ferries do seem to be expensive, especially when you consider that it is an overnight service, with next to no cabins, and not even reclining seats for the first few weeks. Though at least they are basing their fares on single tickets, so you don't pay more for a longer trip.

Brian.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hello,

What do people mean by `basic` for Speedferries, if you got on a bus for a 50 min journey, would you expect plush seats, `a la carte` restaurent and entertainment. Of course not, you`d be lucky to have anyone else but the driver.

Norfolkline is great if you are the top end of France, but the journey difference from Dunkerque to Boulogne is quite prohibitive if you live further south or SW.

Another reason we use them is that the guy running the company is up against the big boys, like Branson when he started out, and we found the staff really nice and helpful.

Aileen

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 4 weeks later...

As a new contributor to this or any other forum I have read this topic in full.

It is interesting to read what contributors will find acceptable as against what they will not, whilst seeking 'economy'.

Having used them all with the exception of Norfolk Line (because I cannot for the life of me get the online booking to work) I have established that for me the priority will always simply be the 'attitude' of the staff.

For that reason in spite of having purchased 5 Speed Ferries 'Super Tickets', then subsequently travelling on only one round trip with them, I shall never travel with them again. Thus discarding the best part of £250. Foolish and extravagant I know, but for me an essential reaction to their apparent arrogance.

Allow me to explain, I did one round trip with them and was late loading by an hour and a half on each trip. No explanation and no apology. So be it, this happens. Then on the return trip I was early enough to be first in the queue. I was loaded first and sent down into the front of the nose and of course was then literally the last vehicle off. It being a busy Saturday night on our already late arrival at Dover it then took me 45 minutes to get through the queue to get out past customs.

I have since sent two polite E mails querying whether I should expect this because it was loading policy (apparently 1st on last off) or whether it was a one off and therefore an error. Both were 'auto' acknowledged but never replied to. In other words I appear not to be worth even the courtesy of confirmation of policy or even an explanation never mind an apology.

In my book that sort of discourtesy borders on arrogance and only invites accusations of treating customers with contempt. Thus my future guests, fee paying and otherwise will all be notified of this experience. How they view it is a matter for them of course, but with three ferry operators all asking almost identical fares, Speed Ferries may yet discover that attention to detail and attitude might be at least as important as competitive fares. Or perhaps more likely, they will not. Thus relying on being 'cheap', from my perspective, in more ways than one.

 

 

 

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

[quote]Why are some people still insisting on advertising Speedferries? Yes their cheap, I've never used them but I'm told their basic. What about Norfolkline! Norfolkline are now offering £19 single fare...[/quote]

Hello,

What do you mean `basic`, what do you need when on a boat for 55 mins, a seat, a coffee, a sandwich or snack, a loo, a shop, and a really nice crew. Norfolk Line sails into Dunkerque, quite a bit further up the coast if you are coming south or even through Paris. The Norfolk Line ship we used was really tatty, and all the Eastern European and German lorry drivers were hugging the telly,  Anyway, you apy your money and take your choice.

Aileen

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
×
×
  • Create New...