What type of ferry service do you want?

CONDOR must invest millions of pounds in the not-too-distant future to replace its fast ferries, which its new chief executive officer has said are heading towards the end of their lifespan.

Condor MD James Fulford

CONDOR must invest millions of pounds in the not-too-distant future to replace its fast ferries, which its new chief executive officer has said are heading towards the end of their lifespan.

James Fulford, pictured, said now was the perfect time for Condor to ask Guernsey residents what type of service they wanted, ahead of its major investment.

Mr Fulford said it would cost Condor £5m. a year to maintain its three current high-speed ferries as they came towards the end of their ‘useful’ life.

He also confirmed that, in order to invest in new vessels for the future, Condor wanted to secure a long-term agreement with the Channel Islands.

It currently has a five-year extension in place, due to start in January 2014.

Comments for: "What type of ferry service do you want?"

glep

Is it me, or are they laying the foundations ready to pull the fast ferries and go to a conventional ferry only operation?

Something which they categrically denied a couple of months ago when an employee suggested that this was exactly what they were planning.

DA

1st on the list has to be a reliable one but for me the idea of going back to any form of "slow" boat would be a big backward step, being seasick for 2 hours is better than being seasick for 4-5 hours..!!

guernseysim

with the price of fuel going the way it is thay have no choose . 10 years ago fishermen where all buying fast boats now thay are two a penny on the used market as thay cost to much to run . and all going back to slow low reving motors again . i would think condor will have to go the same way to keep going . as long as we all get there safe should be the main thing .

Mr Bee

A fast ferry service that's reliable and on time would be good...

islander

Those were the days back in the late 1950s setting off on your holidays travelling time 10 hours to Southampton.It was the enjoyment of running around playing hide and seek or singing in a group while the adults kept up the bar.It felt like a days cruise for us kids.

Problem today is its all about time and motion[money making and cost savings]

The choice is yours,if you want to get to your destination quickly then you fly.

If you want to enjoy travelling by sea taking much longer and cheaper then this is the way to travel.

For those who get sick on the sea then do as I do.Strawberry jam on toast before embarking the boat.It taste the same coming up as it did going down.

TED

Bring back HD Ferries.

Rolf

It looks like wave-piercers might go the way of Concord. Winter weather conditions make travel too hit and miss; even Stena line's Explorer out of Holyhead is only seasonal.

But even one SuperFast conventional ship, like those on the Belfast to CairnRyan route would be a massive improvement with a speed of 30 knots compared to that of the Clipper of 19.

Charlie G

This Condor article should be classified as a repeat!! in all honesty Condor just how many times are you going to spin out the same old yarn about asking all us islanders what kind of service and vessels we want.The Islands have told you time and time again what they expect,but to hardly any avail,in one ear and out the other!! a RELIABLE service,and ATTRACTIVE fares,and the correct vessels for the Channel and bay of St Malo routes are the

the ingrediants we've being crying out for!and

All jokes aside,everyone knows the vessels being used at the moment are well past their sell by date.

I know, from talking to the captain on a ferry running between Danmark and Norway who were using the same type of vessels as Condor,that his company had the common sense to replace that hull type,having had the same engine problems as Condor vessels,the cost and embarrasment to his company was getting ridiculous.In my mind the very sad demise of Emeraude ferries was a great loss to these islands,and both Jersey and Guernsey should of done all in their power to of held onto that company in anyway possible.

I fully agree that back in the good old days of the traditional ro ro ferries crossing times were that bit slower,but they ploughed through the waves,whatever the weather,(with plenty to do onboard) servicing these Islands well, and got you there!Condor,if you must use so called fast ferries in the future,then do like many companies,just use them in the peak summer months along side a traditional vessel,then in the off peak periods only use the traditional vessels,yes its as simple as that...and LISTEN TO THE PEOPLE WHO USE YOUR COMPANY,we are your future,not the other way round.

Watcher

Cheap - fast - good. Not worried about food, drink, stewards fussing around or reclining seats. A-B for as little as possible, as fast as possible.

Thanks

Roy

I'd quite like to see a traditional ferry operating the St Malo route as during the winter months the service can be disrupted by bad weather. Maybe even an overnight service so you arrive fresh in the morning with a full day ahead of you. I'm not against the fast ferries and just over 2 hours to St Malo is great, but if we have to chose one or the other then the traditional reliable ferry would get my vote.

Layer Cake

We're in the 21st century now. Wouldn't want to go back to pre-1987. The tourist industry is also at the end of it's lifespan?

St Marcouf

Condor only bought Rapide a few years ago at vast expense - why would it have done so if the ferry was nearing the end of its useful life?

Also, they reduced the operating speed of their fast ferries a couple of years ago on the apparent basis that this would extend the life of the engines - why bother if the ferries were nearing the end of their useful lives anyway?

Something doesn't quite ring true. It wouldn't surprise me if they kept Rapide to run permanently between Jersey and St Malo, ditch the other fast ferries, and shove fast conventional ferries on the UK, Guernsey and Jersey route.

I think they should stop going to St Malo altogether and go to Cherbourg instead, which is much closer and would save huge mileage.

PLP

Fast ferries look the part but evidence suggests are unreliable in our waters. Conventional ferries take longer but are more likely to run in all weathers. I suppose if a boat took 4 hours instead of 2.5 and I knew it was going to be reliable I would probably prefer that option.

I reckon it would also be better for our tourist industry, after all it's a matter of expectations. If people know it's going to be 4 hours they'd accept it; if they're told it will be 2.5 hours on a state of the art boat and then turn up and find their trip cancelled or heavily delayed it's going to look worse.

kevin

Fares that are the same price as what's available to mainland UK residents would be a good start!

Digger

Agreed Kevin.

james fulford

this is a high quality debate - just shows that we need to do the research properly - we will never please all of you all of the time, and most of you have acknowledged that we have to provide it to you at a price north of what it costs to deliver (ie we need it to be financially viable for the varied levels of demand). Watch this space - proper scientific research coming this year, but meanwhile thanks for the feedback - very helpful.

Gilthead

James - good of you to come on here. Can be a bit of a hornets nest sometimes!

In my opinion speed isn't the issue (but not as slow as the Clipper please!).

The real issue is timings: what the Islanders and visitors need is early morning sailings to both the UK and France.

Arriving in St Malo at 17:00 (or later) or Weymouth at midnight is neither use nor ornament. Likewise later sailings from UK/France to the islands would be the way to go.

With better ferry times I'm convinced you'd get more business - from me anyway!

tulip

I couldn't agree more. As I said below, weekend boats that allow you to spend a decent amount of time in France or Jersey without having to take time of work would be great too.

I would love to get off the the island more on weekends, but the cost of flying is prohibitive and the boats are at terrible times.

Blackbird

Rumour around the harbours have it that Condor have already done a deal with Austal boats for a trimaran in Perth , "IF" this is so then why are they bothering to consult Jo public ?

james fulford

No secret that the guys had been looking at a new vessel in Perth - but there is a lot about it that would not work on this route. Certainly no deal has been done and i very much doubt it will be the right answer. As said above we have to ask you the questions first in a robust/scientific way and listen to the answer to get a best-fit solution.

valeite

You cannot blame Condor for the weather but many times last year, my relations from Weymouth embarked on the fast ferry to be told they were going to be on limited power so the journey time would be 4hours, I know the Poole trip is going to be a bit longer than from Weymouth, but if that is going to happen all the time, you might as well bring back the large ferries, as I always remember the old mail boats took 4hours to Weymouth.

PLP is right, dont advertise on the boards that the trip is 2hrs 40minutes when you know damn well it is going to be longer. When you have connections the other side you end up having to quickly rearrange your travel pick ups at the very last minute.

j

I would like a services where it costs the same for a return ticket from the UK to Guernsey as it does for a return ticket from Guernsey to the UK

When I looked the other day one was £90 and the other was £250

chris/sevenoaks

Living in the south east of England I am sure that a Condor service from Newhaven to Guernsey would be very popular. It would then encourage more people from this area to holiday in the Channel Islands.

Instead of a 3 hour car journey to Weymouth it only takes 1 hour to Newhaven!!

Nick Le P

Chris

A good point.

Newhaven is only 25 mins for me from Eastbourne and we have used the Transmanche service to Dieppe many times. Perhaps they should be offered the chance to run a route to Guernsey. Its a conventional ferry which would probably take 8 hours, so not much shorter than the Weymouth route when you include the driving time.

However, in my experience the service is excellent.

Ed

Well now you mention it, there's this place called Gatwick...

Mark

I hate to think what the excess baggage charges would be if I tried to check in my car!

;-)

tulip

A fast ferry service to St Malo that means that you can actually spend a weekend there, or at least a full Saturday. I would go over to France on weekends so often if only there was a boat service that meant I would be able to spend some time there without taking time off work.

Burdock

Absolutely, let's shout this one loud and clear. At present Jersey have all the options on this one - last time I checked they had two ferries leaving for St Malo during early evening on a Friday. We need to have at least one!

I would also like to ask a question regarding fares. Why is it that when I choose to travel to France I feel the fare charged is 'fair' but on the rare times I consider a trip to the UK it soon makes me feel as if I am being 'ripped off'?

tulip

Same for Jersey too, I have often looked into goiing on a day trip to Jersey on a Saturday, only to find out that the boat only gets in at 2pm and returns at 4pm or such like. Ridiculous.

I'm sure I am not alone and that this would generate more business...

Digger

Give P&O a chance can.t be worse eh!.

Stan

I say give P and O a chance if they are still interested as last summer was bad and many sailings were cancelled and no room on the very slow boat. So a taditional ferry would solve everything. But as usual I suppose it has been decided behind closed doors.

Père Fouras

No so long ago I received a request from Condor to complete an online customer survey.

The whole thing was completely ridiculous. Ninety percent of all the questions they asked were about the food that is available on board. Nothing about timetables, routes, customer service, journey prices etc. All they asked was ‘Did I like the food on board; did I think it was reasonably priced; what type of food would I like to be available’.

A rather frustrating and irrelevant survey for me considering I never purchase or eat food on board (because for me it increases the risk of sea sickness). They really need to learn to ask the right questions!

What I would like are better timetables, in particular early morning boats to Saint Malo like Emmeraude used to provide, and mainly conventional ferries rather than ‘fast’ ferries on all routes. As others have already suggested, I think it is better to have a reliable service that takes five or six hours rather than a one or two hour service which gets cancelled at the slightest sign of bad weather.

Taz

We would like there to be early morning fast boat sailings to UK, most of the sailings get in in late at night so if you do need to travel further afield you either have to drive through the night or get a b&b in weymouth and then start off the next morning

rosie

I agree with those that are suggesting reliability and seaworthiness are the most important priorities. If I book onto the boat I want to know that it will (99% certain) go- whatever the weather. Stabilisers please- I want to feel as un-sick as possible and (obviously) I want to feel safe whatever gale force winds are blowing. I came back from England last year on the Clipper in a force 10 and was really impressed with how it coped.

Plan and design any new boats with the worst weather in mind. It might take a bit longer but we won't have to waste any nervous energy wondering if we will be going at all or whether the trip is going to be the journey from hell. And please don't squish in as many tiny seats as you can in serried rows- make it a comfortable experience and provided it is competitively priced- you will get my vote.

Sara Thompson

I hope the fast ferries don't go, but I suspect they are all of a similar age and will need replacing soon.

Is there a fast conventional ship of the right size with a speed somewhere between the fast boats and the Clipper?

Trouble is whatever Condor decides to buy it will have to be capable of fitting into Jersey's harbour.

This isn't strictly to do with boats, but I would love it if one of the boats set off from the islands early so that you could get to the UK early in the afternoon rather than early evening or later

Rolf

Sara..see my post above and a look at the Stena Line website might be of interest

A.J.

When the Sarnian and Cesarean ships were running between Guernsey and Weymouth, the time taken was around 4 hours.whilst the trips between Southampton and Guernsey took over 6 hours. The Weymouth route was obviously the most popular, although in those days the roads out of weymouth were a bit of a pain, but now no longer a problem, if travelling by car,as you are soon motoring on a dual carriageway.A new ferry,something on those lines,fitted with stabilisers and capable of at least 25 knots might do the job nicely

Dave

I would like the reintroduction of day trips to Jersey and France. Even if it was on selected days in the summer. I tried last year for a day trip to Jersey and only found one in a six week period.

littlepud

I believe sailing times have to be looked at as many people have already mentioned - the times the boats arrive in either the UK or St. Malo are too late in the day.

Day/Weekend trips to Jersey and St Malo are also impossible at the moment and something I think would generate quite a lot of extra business.

I have travelled extensively around Denmark & Norway and taken a lot of ferries there - the type used between Denmark & Norway would be ideal as they are fast and reliable http://www.colorline.com/ships_and_sailings/hirtshals_-_kristiansand

Taz

Looks good Littlepud

St Marcouf

But that ferry only travels at 27 knots and it's huge - 2300 passengers and 750 cars - it would be half to 3/4 empty most of the time.

I don't understand what's wrong with the current fast ferries, unless it's because they are gas guzzlers. They cannot be much older than 15 years, which is a pretty poor shelf life for a ferry. There are Townsend Thoresen ferries built in the 70s and early 80s which are still plying the seas.

rosie

Of course the fast ferries are 'gas guzzlers' and since fuel is not going to be getting any cheaper, asking for replacement fast ferries will also be asking for expensive tickets. We would all rather a quicker journey but I think it is more realistic to recognise that slower, steadier and more reliable boats will in the long run provide a better service at a price more can afford. I would just ask that the boats are designed to make the journey a pleasant experience..... and not like you are on a cattle truck.

I do think tho' that a better designed timetable would be a real benefit as has already been pointed out several times, so that brief trips to Jersey & France could be a regular treat.

In Control

There are as usual no way to please everyone, for me the evening sailings can be a god send meaning no lost time off work and occasionally the destination can be reached the same evening (just) if its a drive to far we stop off enroute and get going again the following morning nice and fresh, I quite like the overnight boat (clipper) however i detest the thought of spending 8 hours of a daytime awake on that boat its just to boring, for me a return overnight boat would be a useful option also allowing time to get home showered change and off to work again not losing any days off, holiday time is difficult for some to get so the minimum lost can be a godsend, Agree with comments that daytrips are difficult to fit in, I had 2 weeks off last August with the family and there was one or 2 days available for day trips to either Jersey or France none of which we could make, needless to say we broke some promises last summer which isnt nice.

VQ

I agree with everything you say.

conrad

What we really need is healthy competition. stop the monopoly.

Open the door to who ever can produce the best service.

St Marcouf

Seeing that Mr Fulford has been reading these comments, I would make some additional ones...

Year round fast ferry crossings should remain; slower crossings would be a step backwards - the relative unpopularity of the Clipper demonstrates this.

The time-keeping of the fast ferries is really not all that bad when considering weather, loading times and number of ports of call.

The unreliability of the fast ferries is blown out of proportion - I must make about 15 trips to France each year throughout the spring, summer and autumn and not once have I been stuck in France because of a cancelled ferry and I can only recall one or two cancelled ferries in Guernsey because of weather.

The issue for me is the poor service between Guernsey and France. There are no day trips at all as others have mentioned, weekend trips often involve having to return on a Monday, and there are no ferries for half the year.

Sorting this out seems to me to be nothing to do with the ferries themselves but merely a question of scheduling and extending the dedicated Jersey-France ferry to Guernsey which would do away with the absolute farce of changing ferry in Jersey or "trans-shipping", which now occurs in the schedules all year round.

Trans-shipping means that it is no exaggeration to say that there are no ferries between Guernsey and France for half the year (except the odd few in December perhaps) because the reality is that from October to March there are only the occasional ferries to Jersey: it is only upon disembarking in Jersey, waiting, and catching the dedicated year round Jersey-France ferry that you can then get to France - all because the ferry, for apparent economic and crew reasons, is no longer prepared to travel an extra hour up to Guernsey.

Dani

Refreshment wise I have a request. Last time I was on the boat I got a craving for a burger & milkshake. You had neither... I can't remember if it was the time of day for the food item? I figure it would be fairly easy to provide both all day. Then I can pop some cheese and your chilli con carne on top too. Yum.

rosie

Noooooo! No burgers pleeeese! Burgers have an all pervading smell that is really nauseating particularly to those who suffer from unruly stomachs when travelling by boat.

Island Wide Voting

A burger and a milkshake!Were you 'with child' at the time ?

Dani

Ray

No lol!

It was more of a case of being so hungry I could have eaten a horse.

Nige

is it possible to get WiFi on board whatever you buy

Chris

They need a few more horses in the engine room department to make these bloney 'fast' ferries do their rated speed but I suggest it's more likely we'll see the horses in the cafe. What's the deal on the provenence of the chilli con carne, cottage pie and burgers Mr Fulford? Please tell us !

Dobbin

"Neigh !"

PLP

Shut it Dobbin or I'm calling Findus ;-)

Dave

If you scan for wifi hotspots when you on the ferry you will find some. They are all secure so you are unable to use them. A number of ferry operators offer wifi now.

Ed

I've got this idea for a new way of getting on/off-island.

Basically, get a long aluminium tube and shove 70 seats in it. Perpendicularly mount a big sheet of metal on top and put two powerful engines on that. Then whack some people inside and take them to this big strip of tarmac in Sussex. Oops, I forgot. It's called Aurigny.

I jest. Obviously you can't take a car, but the prices are reasonable and you get linked into the UK transport network fairly effectively.

islander

ED

Will you test fly it and let us know if you return.

concerned

It seems to be contrary to everybody else (judging by most of these comments), but I've always been very happy with the service I've received from Condor. The fast ferry can't sail in rough weather. The planes can't fly in fog. Thats the way it is, not much anybody can do about it.

Oh Dear

I agree with you entirely.

I've always found Condor to be reasonably priced, the boats are comfortable. If I wanted to get to my destination as quickly as possible, I'd take a plane. I quite like the slow pace of the boat. When I'm going away I like to slow my pace right down, surely that's what holidays are all about.

I suppose things would be different if I was incapable of keeping the contents of my stomach inside me once I'm on a boat.

A.J.

The ship they have at the moment (Commodore Clipper) is definitely up to the job,it's just that it goes to Portsmouth,an extra sixty miles or more than a Weymouth route.

If it could be used say, once or twice a week on the Weymouth route, I believe that the journey would be around three and a half hours. Perhaps there is a reason why this is not possible. Mr Fulford ?

Caza

I am a Guernsey resident and have been trying to book corporate and personal day trips to Jersey and St Malo on Fridays and Saturdays for the past years but despite complaining to Condor and them saying they would consider the possibility of re-introducing this service, nothing has transpired which makes me wonder if you really want our opinions at all!! I enjoy using the fast ferries and indeed have, on occasions, chosen to ferry to the UK and cab up to London airports instead of flying. Please Condor, remember Guernsey residents needs a day trip service. I believe there are regular day trips offered to Jersey and UK residents. If you feel you cannot service Guernsey adequately then a competitor should be brought in which would also keep prices competitive.

Mark

The days of Emeraude sailing from Guernsey to Jersey and France ended ten years ago this year. Back then you could travel on day trips at 0530 to St. Malo and back at 2030 at a very reasonable cost of £99 for two and a car.

Condor then muscled in with their larger wave piercer Condor 10 and forced the company into financial problems which they could not recover from.

Condor have now gradually reduced their service to something last seen in the late nineties.

Okay, Emeraude had smaller vessels, but I wonder how many islanders pine for the days where they were Guernsey's first choice to France? I would say many wish they were still in existence. I certainly do.

St Marcouf

Surely some responsibility lies with the States for not insisting on a proper year round service to France since Emeraude's demise.

It's interesting how so many comments concern sailings to France, I wonder whether Condor will listen and act.

Mark

The States didn't exactly help the situation when they put the route out to tender, and forced the company to put together a very expensive bid to win the licence, before announcing they couldn't actually enforce it, and scrapped the whole thing.

Guernsey had a twice weekly service throughout the winter, except January when Solidor 5 was in maintenance, and in any case there was very very low demand in January.

It will be interesting to understand if Condor acts and listens.

Lets remember that although Jersey still has a better service, they have also lost out heavily on the French route since Condor became the operator.

GFCFan

For me better ports with better road connections. Weymouth is a pain to get to and out of. Southampton or Portsmouth would be better.

It seems that the schedule is so tight that any slight delay throws it all out.

I do like the fast ferry, but perhaps a more reliable slower one that could do the crossing in around 5 hours would be better?

GFCFan

Have to agree with the option of wifi, many other operators offer this so why not Condor? If you charged £5 I would think you would soon make money.