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Yah boo sucks - I see Mrs dave27 has beat me to the trick with her opinion on our recent trip to Brittany.
However, there is one part of the trip which she didn't cover in that write up and this time I've grabbed the publisher's rights.
We went out to Brittany to take a flat packed kitchen for the builder to fit in our gite over there. Now on most other occasions, we've either gone on the Channel Tunnel or via Brittany Ferries. This time, however, we needed to just pay a lightning visit as we only wanted to drop off our load and come straight back, so we shopped around for a quick journey.
In the end, we settled on a five day trip from Portsmouth to Cherbourg, using the Fastcraft service offered by P&O Ferries. They'd done us a pretty good price for the three of us (Bethany dave27 was with the outlaws, so it was just me, Mrs dave27 and Bethany dave27) - £201, which included transport for us and the trailer and seats for all three of us. Now that is a very good price and we were well pleased.
P&O also offer a ferry which goes from Portsmouth to St Malo, which is a lot closer to where we wanted to go than Cherbourg, but for some reason Mrs D opted for Cherbourg as our destination. I wish she'd thought about it before booking it, but she's always been Little Miss Impetuous (as well as Little Miss Angry, Tantrum and Bad Tempered!)
Going out, the ferry was due to leave Wednesday morning at 8 am British time, arriving at Cherbourg at 11.45 French time. We were due to come back on the Friday morning (neatly missing out the last few days of the drab General Election campaign) at 11.30, landing at 1.35 British time.
All in all, P&O offer a pretty standard service, very similar to others, such as Brittany, and you can also get overnight trips with a cabin if that's your desire. There are a number of things it would be useful to point out, however.
As I've already said, we were taking a flat packed kitchen out there and we'd hired a trailer from Barlow Trailers to transport out the stuff. It had a floor area of 8 foot by 4 foot and P&O had been very insistent that the height could be an absolute maximum of 1.83m. When we arrived to pick up the trailer, Mrs dave27 was EXTREMELY PEEVED (you know what I actually mean if you've heard of Mrs D before) to note that it looked a bit higher than that. She kicked up a stink with Barlows and insisted that they measured it - oh no, 1.9m - disastrous!
They guy at Barlows pooh poohed her concerns and said that he'd regularly taken out much bigger trailers via the Fastcat from Britain to Ireland and never had any problems. He told us to take the trailer and not worry about it and that they'd be bound to let us on. Mrs D was getting quite worked up, however, and was having absolutely none of it - she insisted on the guy ringing up P& O to check. They were adamant - no, it had to be below 1.83m, they said. "What if it isn't?" he asked. "Then she'll be left at the quayside," came the reply. "So, I'll have to get the angle grinder to it then..."
He was finally convinced, although still a little sceptical and we began looking around their yard for an alternative trailer. In the end, we agreed to take a low, open topped trailer, which was all he'd got available for hire at such short notice and we set off on our way.
Imagine my absolute fury when we got to Portsmouth to find that there were in fact loads of much higher 4*4's and trailers which were lined up to go out on the same ferry. Oh well, I thought, perhaps they're going in a separate compartment - more fool me, because, no, all the vehicles were packed into the same area and there was actually a couple of metres spare over the top of our car - I was absolutely livid and we will be making P&O fully aware of it soon. We'd struggled through a journey of almost five hundred miles with this totally inadequate and tiny trailer for absolutely no reason - sounds like a touch of the jobsworths to me.
Oh well, no real harm done in the end...
Apart from that little annoyance, most of the rest of the service offered was quite acceptable. They were fairly punctual getting off, although we had a delay of 15 minutes or so coming back because they were slow in getting the other traffic off, and the journey kept very much to time. It is certainly an extremely speedy journey and we couldn't complain about that at all. It was also a very comfortable trip and the ferry was extremely stable.
The catering on board was pretty reasonable, if a little basic and pricey, and the crew were very helpful (although they seemed to be a little fond of sneaking out onto deck for a crafty fag).
I was quite surprised when P&O were getting ready for passengers to disembark, that they weren’t more organised. When we’d been previously with Brittany, they always asked people to return to their cars in batches – whereas P&O just told you to return to your car, which resulted in quite a lot of people jams.
I'm pretty sure we won't be using them again, however, as Mrs dave27 was well narked by the trailer incident and we're likely to stick to Brittany Ferries in the future. You shouldn't let our experience put you off, however, and if you're after a quick and comfortable crossing, you could do a lot worse than check out P&O - just don't believe a single word they tell you.
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