Have you ever wondered what goes on during the time between the ship's arrival and embarkation? It may be a common misconception that the crew have time to sit back and relax, but, in fact, it's quite the contrary; be assured that when you're patiently waiting in the car lanes, all hands are on deck to get the ship restocked, spick and span and ready for your sailing.
Depending on where the ship has arrived from, or how busy it is, the time between docking and passengers disembarking - either in their vehicles or via the gangway - can vary. On our shorter routes, our ships have a 90 minute window to turnaround (that's industry speak for preparing the ship for its next sailing), meaning our teams on board and ashore must work together as quickly as possible.
Making sure you get a good night's sleep
The whole process starts 30 minutes before arrival into port. Our cabin staff will begin to strip the bedding and prepare the cabins for the imminent arrival of our cleaning staff. This also includes replacing any added extras in some of our cabins such as tea or coffee, or fruit and macarons. This is why we kindly ask you to vacate your cabin before docking - this time really is vital for us so we thank you for your cooperation.
As soon as the gangway is in place, an army of cleaning staff descend upon the ship armed with vacuums, dusters and cleaning products and immediately spring into action cleaning up to 650 cabins or a total of 2,012 beds. In fact, across our fleet, over 6,000 beds are made per night by our staff - that's more than the Ritz, the Savoy and the Waldorf in London combined make in a week!
Having seen this first hand after two years working on board, I can confirm that this is like a military operation and is carried out with precision. They work from a comprehensive plan, compiled moments before arrival by our information desk team.
Preparing for all passengers
Whilst this is happening, the cinema and entertainment schedule is being finalised and printed for distribution around the ship. This is then loaded into the system for transmission on the various onboard information screens. Our Responsable Animations, in charge of entertainment on board, also look after any groups who travel with us and therefore have to finalise any arrangements they have with our hotel and catering teams. On our busier sailings, this can include groups of up to 900 school children.
The all-important passenger manifests, lists of who we're expecting on board, are printed during the turnaround and are studied by our crew to identify any special passenger needs or required assistance. We really like to understand our passengers' needs from before they even embark, which provides us the opportunity to make your sailing as comfortable as possible.
Meanwhile, away from the passenger areas, a team of crew are taking delivery of an assortment of products from perfume to langoustines which are checked, placed straight out on our shelves or stored away in the storerooms and pantries. To give you an idea of the scale or our deliveries, we serve 22 tonnes of langoustines, 15 tonnes of smoked salmon and 260 tonnes of meat in the course of a year.
In our boutiques, we sell so much perfume that we're the third largest retailer of perfumes in France. In the galley, our chefs are busy working away in the kitchens preparing the delicious French cuisine for which Brittany Ferries has become renowned.
Back in the labyrinth of cabin corridors, the cleaning staff are ticking off cabins, one by one, and reporting any defects or problems to the information desk so that they can be repaired or seen to by our onboard handymen as soon as possible. This could be something as small as changing a lightbulb.
As the bustle begins to draw to a close, there's barely time for a quick breath before the teams are briefed on any important information for the next sailing and the words "Votre attention s'il vous plaît, début de l'embarquement" ring out over the ship's loudspeaker.
It's time to welcome you on board!