Accessible Travel: Brittany Ferries Poole - Cherbourg Return
After doing the hotels that brett and I stayed at during our French and Spanish roadtrip as part of the Accessible Hotel Series, I thought I'd write a post about the ferry company that actually got us from the UK to mainland France, Brittany Ferries. It's the first time on this blog I've actually written about a ferry company, mainly because I haven't thought to do it until recently, when a few people asked me to review ones I've been on since I became disabled of which there are only two, Brittany and Wightlink.
Brittany ferries however, did leave a lasting impression on me from our roadtrip and I hope to be able to do one of their longer Spanish crossings next year due to the level of customer service received throughout our outward and return journey. For now though, this is a review of the ship Barfleur, and the service received on both our outward and return trips. As you'll probably notice, we had the Barfleur for both our outward and return trip, as this is the ferry that works to Poole-Cherbourg route.
Barfleur The Ship
The Barfleur is a small car and passenger ferry and is the smallest ship in the Brittany Ferries fleet. The Barfleur has a self service restaurant, bar area, games area as well as 2 outside deck areas. The Barfleur also has a small range of cabins on board, including accessible cabins however, if you've been on any of the Brittany ferries ships before, you'll notice that the cabins are very basic compared to some of the bigger ships. The crossing however, is only 4 hours long and isn't overnight so the cabins are good for going to a quiet area to have a rest in. For those who don't want a cabin, there is also the Barfleur Club lounge. There is lift access to the decks from the car park and if you need access to the lift due to being mobility impaired, they will organise for you to be parked next to the lift door. They normally ask for 24-48 hours notice but we booked with less than 12 hours to go and the ferry staff were expecting us thanks to the online booking system allowing you to state your accessibility requirements. The ship was extremely easy to get around on both crossings in the wheelchair despite it being a bit choppy at times as most of the ship has laminate flooring with carpets in the bar and restaurant areas.
Poole - Cherbourg
The Poole - Cherbourg was an early morning crossing on the Sunday, so we left home at 0500 to make it to the ship in time. Because it was early morning we decided to have breakfast on the ship and did not get a cabin for this crossing. We spent half of the cruise across the channel out on the deck area outside and the other half browsing the ship, having breakfast etc. It did get quite foggy around an hour and a half into the trip and the fog stayed put until around 45 minutes before we got into Cherbourg despite it being July so if you want to spend time outside on the deck, I'd suggest a coat or something else to keep warm! The breakfast from the self service restaurant was good value for money and the staff in the restaurant were very helpful. All staff spoke both English and French which was very helpful.
Cherbourg - Poole
The Cherbourg - Poole return crossing was an early evening crossing that got us back to Poole at 2130 (half past 9 at night for those who aren't good with 24 hour clocks). For this crossing we decided to see if there were any cabins still available on the crossing back around 8 hours before we were due to get to the port. Luckily there was the 3 berth accessible cabin available and we paid £20 to have it added to our booking. The cabin was basic with 3 beds (2 of these in bunk configuration) and an accessible shower room however, for a 4 hour crossing it did the job. Brett and I were able to have a rest although Brett had to watch over me because when I was asleep he realised that if I rolled or a spasm came on, I'd be out of the narrow bed! The one nice thing about the accessible cabins however, was that they were outside view, so when I was awake I got a nice view of the sea just before sunset! One thing I will say about the beds though and choppiness is that when you are about to transfer from your chair, if you are a wheelchair user, is to put your feet on the floor and give it 2 minutes to make sure that you're completely comfortable with the rockiness before trying to transfer over.
Overall, I really loved the service that Brittany Ferries provides, and I'm hoping to do their flagship Pont-Aven on their Plymouth to Sandtander route next year with Brett, purely because I want to see what their Commodore cabins with private balcony are like! That will definitely be a trip I will review for everyone when it happens!