We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

“"Economie" service Santander - Absolutely Ghastly”
Review of Brittany Ferries

Brittany Ferries
Ranked #1 of 24 Tours in Plymouth
Certificate of Excellence
More attraction details
Attraction details
Owner description: Sail with Brittany Ferries from Portsmouth, Poole or Plymouth direct to France and Spain. Our routes take you closer to popular holiday destinations, saving miles of driving, fuel costs, tolls and overnight stops. Choose either superb comfort of a cruise ferry, no-frills economie service or speed across The Channel on our fast craft.
Useful Information: Activities for young children
Reviewed April 23, 2014

We used the new "no-frills economie" return Portsmouth-Santander service. In fact there is nothing "economical" about this service at all. If you take the car/cabin option you will pay typically between £600 and £800 for two people. Opting for the "reserved seat" - no cabin works out at £250-£300 cheaper for two, but you will have a nightmare crossing on seats that are deliberately designed to prevent you lying across two of them, even though typically there are huge numbers of seats free. The arm rests are solid, hard and fixed.

They also lock the restaurant in an additional demonstration of mean-spiritedness to prevent you lying down on the soft bench seats overnight You can just about lie down (illegally) on the bar bench seats, blinded by the bar lights which blaze on all night even though the bar is closed (another attempt to stop you lying down). The seats are unbelievably uncomfortable and no-one will be able to sleep in them.

There is nothing wrong in principle with no-frills, but on this service you are still paying a premium price for extremely poor food. This is the first time I have seen a GREY tomato...I'm not kidding....it had been reheated so many times (as were the potatoes) that it actually had lost all evidence of being red and had actually turned grey.

During the night the crew turned off the heating in the seating area. It was absolutely freezing (in April). I asked at the reception for the heating to be switched on, which was met with an "impossible" and a shrug. After several requests I eventually phoned the bridge and asked to speak to the captain....the heating was turned on. This happened again on the return journey.

What I find extraordinary is that Brittany Ferries seems to think "Economie" means deliberately making your journey as uncomfortable as possible as some kind of punishment, whereas they could actually make more profit by providing catering and other services you would willingly pay for if they were half decent.

This no frills service is just awful, and does not justify the saving. Every aspect of the way the ship is run is sub standard. It is NOT a question of "you get what you pay for". If I drive an economy car it still has comfortable seats and often has air conditioning and electric windows etc. Brittany Ferries thinks "economy" means third world facilities.

In a bizarre episode I wanted a coffee after giving up trying to sleep. The machine (on a FRENCH ship) only accepted Stirling. So I asked reception for Euros. The reply was "we do not have a bureau de change"....while I was actually staring at an open till full of Euro notes and coins! The crew were polite enough but I suspect are poorly paid and hence have little incentive to be helpful.

The ship itself - The Etretat - is the renamed Norman Voyager, a tin can of a vessel which is devoid of anything desirable except it floats. The promised wi fi kept cutting out, was largely unusable and the only half decent signal was in the reception area. Everything about this ship is poor, except that the floors are reasonably clean.

This operation is absolutely dire in every way, and given the past quality of Brittany Ferries, is a bleak contrast to their usual but very expensive services. This economie route is a cynical attempt to provide an extremely poor quality of travel at a price which no-one could possibly describe as giving any discernable value. The prices are gauged entirely in line with a monopoly service on this route which is in fact very expensive.

Please do not attempt, Mr PR man from Brittany Ferries, to excuse or explain this away. There are no excuses available to you for this utterly dire service for which BF should hang its head in shame.

35  Thank Discerner77
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
BF-CustomerServices, Manager at Brittany Ferries, responded to this reviewResponded April 28, 2014

Dear ‘Discerner77’,

Thank you for your comments regarding our new économie service. I’m sorry you found it so disappointing. From the outset, our aim has been to offer even more choice for travel to France and Spain. We’ve tried to be clear, transparent and honest about the service customers can expect onboard, and how that service will differ from our classic cruise-ferry experience. The difference in service is reflected in the much lower fares.

Our crew onboard are all experienced Brittany Ferries personnel, this extends to the galley team. As we make clear before accepting any reservations for the économie service, the food served is more limited in choice than other ships but should still offer freshly prepared, tasty meals. I am sorry your breakfast was so disappointing and trust you were able to address that with the crew at the time. Unfortunately we have to keep the self-service restaurant locked when it is not in operation to prevent access to the till, fridges and kitchen areas.

Thank you for your comments regarding the temperature in the reserved seat lounge. I am sorry that the temperature was cold and I will pass on your comments to the ship. The temperature on our ships is notoriously difficult to get right for all customers, we have as many people asking for it to be cooler as we do asking for it to be warmer, however, based on your comments it does sounds like it was too cold. For future reference we do offer a sleep kit from the Information Desk which makes the experience in a Reserved Seat more comfortable. This comprises a blanket, eye mask and ear plugs and can be a useful addition if you are finding the lounge uncomfortable for any reason.

I’ll certainly pass all of your comments onto the ship’s Purser. As a company we are adept at responding to customer comments and using them to create a positive change to every customer experience. In this vein, we have been scrutinising all feedback about the économie service, in the hope we might be able to manage customer expectations even better and ensure nobody expresses similar disappointment again.

Yours sincerely
Gareth Bewley

Customer Services Manager
Brittany Ferries

Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Write a ReviewReviews (2,370)
Traveler rating
Traveler type
Time of year
  • More languages

1,618 - 1,622 of 2,370 reviews

Reviewed April 23, 2014

Second time we've used Portsmouth to St Malo on the Bretagne. Last year we did the Caen route on the Normandie, which is not a patch on this crossing. In fairness we did splash out on a Commodore cabin, which is very luxurious and not bad vfm. The whole thing is very civilised and the Abers restaurant in particular excellent. But the real bonus is saving the dull slog down from Calais, and the fact that on the UK side you can avoid London/M25/Dover.

1  Thank johnPerpignan
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed April 22, 2014

Took the ferry from Plymouth to Roscoff,for a two night stay. Decided to take the car for convenience. Had good crossings both ways, out on Pont Aven and returned on Amorique. Booked cabins each way but the only negative comment is the pillows! Never had such awful, uncomfortable, lumpy pillows ever!

We have travelled many times with BF, first trip on Penn Ar Bed in 1981 and we think the ships are excellent.

1  Thank Carolyn W
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
BF-CustomerServices, Manager at Brittany Ferries, responded to this reviewResponded April 25, 2014

Dear ‘Carolyn W’,

Thank you for taking the time to post your review.

It is great to read that you had good crossings on both Pont-Aven and Armorique and that you think our ships are excellent!

I’m sorry that you found the pillows to be uncomfortable. We are in the process of replacing the pillows across our fleet, but in the meantime I’m sure the staff onboard will be happy to offer replacements if you are unhappy with yours.

Thank you for your continued custom over the last 33 years and we look forward to being of service to you again in the future.

Kind regards

Customer Services
Brittany Ferries

Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed April 21, 2014

Impressed by the professionalism of the crew and how pleasant they were on board. Food and service was excellent and was good value for money.
We were on an upper class cabin with small balcony of the Pont Avent ferry. Having breakfast on the balcony facing the isle of Ouessant under the sun was just a fantastic experience.
Strongly recommended as an alternative route to Spain!

5  Thank Benoit B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed April 18, 2014

Took the Santander to Plymouth (Pont Aven). The things that stood out most to me were the very professional and motivated staff, the excellent quality of food in the restaurant, and comfort of the cabin. I have taken various ferries in the past, and in my opinion this one tops the lot.

6  Thank Eric F
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Travelers who viewed Brittany Ferries also viewed


Been to Brittany Ferries? Share your experiences!

Write a Review Add Photos & Videos

Owners: What's your side of the story?

Own or manage this property? Claim your listing for free to respond to reviews, update your profile and much more.

Claim Your Listing