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Saturday, 11 April 2015

Condor Liberation.A fine ship, but there are issues.

A nice ship, but a shame about the onboard organisation

Condor Liberation.

 Image result for Condor Liberation                      

Condor Libertion, the new (well almost new) addition to the Condor fleet, is a fine ship, bigger than Vitesse and Express operating out of Weymouth, which it replaces and with a larger vehile capacity.
The lounges provide panoramic views from comfortable seating and with even more comforts in the "Traveller plus" and "Club" lounges. There I am afriad, all praise finishes.
There may have been reasons for the chaos on the crossing of 10th April 2015. For example, the Liberation collided with the docking peir in Guernsey on her maiden voyage out of Poole on the 27th March and was taken out of service for over a week for repairs to the hull. Then, upon returning to service, she deloped and engine fault with a further fault on the forward engine control unit which apparently has to be replaced with a unit being sent from Germany. All this has led to complete chaos with the timetables from the mainland to the Channel Islands and the inter Island connections as well as sceduled departure and arrival times as the ship has been running on reduced power since returning to service.
On Friday 10th crossing, the departure time from Poole was brought forward by 45 minutes to depart at 07:45  going direct to Jersey with no call at Guernsey on that leg in order to meet tidal conditions. It seems that passengers for Guernsey would not arrive at their destinations until 16:30 that afternoon. As it transpired, the Liberation did not sail from Poole until 08:20, thereby adding at least another 30 minutes to travel time. I am glad that we were only going to Jersey.
As soon as we got on board, it was eveident that not only was it the middle Friday of the Easter holiday, but clearly more passengers were on the ship as a result of rearranged and amended traveling arrangements brought about by the amendments to timetables over the past weeks.
The ship was packed and people were wandering around trying to find seats, lounges, toilets or whatever with little or no evidence of Condor stewards or cabin staff assisting people and families with children.
Eventually, the ship sailed and almost immediately an announcement on the tannoy system informed passengers for Guernsey only that as a result of the timetable amendments, "Free coffee, tea and filled baps" would be available in the only self service restaurant on the ship serving hot food. This almost instantaneouly resulted in a queue almost the length of the ship waiting for the refreshments. The consequential result was that anyone wanting just a slice of toast with some marmalde would have to queue for almost 45 minutes! At the end of that time they would then discover that the slice of toast would cost them £1.99. Unbeleivable. To cap it all, a very appologetic and hesitant voice came over the Tannoy, this time announcing that they were aware that there were problems and the catering staff and restaurant attendants were working very hard to resolve the issues and reduce waiting times.
The extra efforts seemed to have little effect, as the queues remained extended through most of the ships length for some hours.
Eventually reaching Jersey, ironically at the same time that the ship would have arrived according to the original schedule, the chaos continued as passengers tried to reach the car decks at the same time as foot passengers were swarming in opposite directions to the port side of the ship to reach the gangways descending to the peir. All in all, a very unsatisfactory experience for our first trip on this new vessel.
Clearly, on a ship of this size, another source of hot food is essential, one source will never be enough. It is also essential that more cabin staff are required to be on duty at the time of embarkation to avoid having assengers wandering around aimlessly, looking for their seats. Presumably. as staff become more used to loading vehicles on board, there will be less of a delay in the loading process.The loading of vehicles should not take more than one and three quarter hours.
Naturally, we wish the ship well in crossings to the Channel Islands, but Condor must make every effort to resolve these issues sooner rather than later.
The ship is fine, but it would be sad to see letters of complaint outnumber reccomendations and praise.