HD Ferries Sets Sail
between the Channel Islands and France
15 March 2007
Since this article was written, HD Ferries have pulled out of this route. We have left the article on the site as many people are interested in the history of the boats.
Online Magazine Article March 2007
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Today, March 15 2007, saw the first voyage of HD1, the new car ferry sailing between Jersey, Guernsey and St. Malo. This was an exciting day, both for the company and also the passengers who had been looking forward to their trip on this new vessel. The sun shone, the seas were calm and the trip was a pleasure. The vessel moved smoothly through the Channel waters and first impressions were good.
The interior of HD1 is roomy and comfortable with the passenger seating area occupying one floor which is sectioned off into two areas - front and rear of the vessel - and the duty free shop is downstairs
It was also a pleasant surprise to see some familiar faces from Solidor 5 among the crew. It was so reassuring to see cheery, efficient Philippe (who is well known to Channel Islanders in his capacity as Purser with the old Emeraude company which gave up the route) as well as Patricia, Nathalie, Sarah and Helen. Welcome back!
All the crew members appeared delighted to be working for the new company - particularly Philippe who has had a brief spell on board a vessel in the Antarctic! Their enthusiasm spilled over and the boat was alight not only with sunshine but also their happy smiles.
The HD uniform is casual - tea shirts and yellow fleece body warmers and jackets and this worn by both the crew and the port staff. The latter were well in evidence on the desk in St. Malo and they were all welcoming and helpful. Some of the staff (ex Emeraude) Karine, Patricia and Sara are seen here, pictured right in a photo taken by Barry Ashborn - Jersey's well known taxi driver - as the vessel prepared for its maiden voyage on the route.
The layout of the vessel keeps the passengers together on one level but this is separated into inter-communicating areas. At the front of the passenger seating area there is a separate, licenced bar and the cafeteria is in the back. On sale in the Cafeteria are the usual biscuit and crisp type snacks, tea and coffee and also serves a range of freshly made sandwiches (English bread) and baguettes as well as hot paninis.
The Duty Free Shop is situated downstairs and this is supermarket style with plenty of room for shoppers. It is clearly early days for the route and at present a variety of alcoholic drinks are on sale together with tobacco products. Whether perfumes are to be sold in the future we do not know. The layout is very easy to move around and should be hold up free.
This, the first sailing, had its initial teething problems but these are fast being rectified. One of the four engines was playing up but this is very much a temporary glitch, which we are told will be sorted out by tomorrow. The company has worked hard to get the vessel on the route in time for the season and all techniques from docking to checking in procedures are of course new. As one of the passengers waiting to go onboard for the St Malo to Jersey sailing, I was pleased to see free pastries being handed out to passengers by charming and very conciliatory HD Ferries port staff. None of the waiting foot passengers complained and when on board were too busy walking around the new boat and admiring the facilities to be greatly bothered by the delay. This was a shame on the first voyage but one of those things and handled nicely by the staff.
Most excitingly there is free WiFi internet access! This is a tremendous boon and means that for business passengers communication goes on and no time is wasted and other passengers have the distraction of access to the internet.
All in all, the new service is good and will be sure to "up" visitor numbers both in the islands and in France.