This summer I spotted a curious large white vessel streaking across the harbour in Poole, Dorset. The futuristic three-hulled shape was impressive as it quietly sailed past the white rocks of ‘Old Harry’ on the Jurassic coast.
It turns out it is the new fast-ferry, Condor Liberation, a triaman, and the first of its kind in Northern Europe. For those in the know, it is officially a stablised mono hull and was making its daily return voyage to two of the small Channel Islands calling in at Guernsey and Jersey lying between England and France.
The tiny cluster of the Channel Islands are reputed to experience some of the best weather in the UK with an additional benefit of not adding VAT to your every purchase. Good enough reasons to visit, particularly as it now only takes three hours to get to Guernsey on this new fast ferry. Onwards to Jersey, just one more hour. The possibility of making a visit on a day trip or a weekend mini cruise island hopping is worth experiencing. I booked the latter, a long weekend leaving Thursday back Sunday visiting both islands.
Boarding the vessel was straightforward as everyone is allocated a seat in one of the three seating options. Ocean Traveller comfortable airline seats, Ocean Plus and then exclusive leather seats of the Ocean Club Lounge that offered reclining seats and table service. However, I chose to be the located at the front of the ship as this offered almost floor to ceiling windows. A great choice – as I was able to enjoy panoramic coastline views throughout the voyage.
There is an outside viewing deck where you can enjoy the coastline and seascape, but at 30 knots expect to feel more than a breeze
The onboard catering was good. There is a range of eating and drinking outlets with plenty of choice, a large Duty Free Shop with extensive retail offering, children’s play area and helpful information desk.
The crew was excellent, welcoming with good sense of homour. As I parked my car I was immediately given directions to the nearest staircase by the helpful staff and directed to my seating area. Comic information signs abound, but their safety video really attracts your attention. It’s done rap style and gets the message across; it’s done in a lighthearted and generally hilarious, tongue-in-cheek way and definitely worth a watch just for fun.
I asked ‘nicely’ and was able to visit the bridge and be introduced to the friendly Captain, something you can’t do on an aircraft!
Captain Auscow was at the helm – it all looked ‘Star Ship Enterprise’ to me but what a great view.
He explained that she had three engines and two bow-thrusters and is able to operate in most, but not the roughest weathers.
We were lucky to have fair weather and experienced a calm smooth and quiet crossing, but it can have a gentle roll in rougher weather.
He explained that Condor is very understanding with their guests who are poor sailors and allowed passengers to change their sailing dates should the forecast be really unsettled. He wants everyone to have an enjoyable experience. In fact ‘Good Times’ is the company motto.
As we got nearer to Guernsey the Captain announced the route he was taking pointing out the Isle of Brechou. Here stands an impressive mock Gothic Castle owned by the billionaire Barclay twins, owners of the Telegraph and Spectator.
Having travelled on the old Condor last summer, by comparison this new ship is immaculate with new carpets big windows with views out to sea. Most importantly the new ship was so much quieter whilst being appreciably faster.
So this is one happy traveller and in just 3 hours I was whisked to the Channel Islands.
Which Island to visit? Why not both?
Guernsey, the first stop is an island only 25 square miles and remains self-governing, whilst remaining loyal to the Crown. It is rich in natural beauty with reminders of its often-turbulent past.
I discovered all my favorite things coming together with their suggested ‘Tasty Walks’, a series of 15 self-guided walks highlighting, food and heritage.
I explored ancient castles and gentle coastal rambles to some of the 27 bays on the island, before indulging in a mouth-watering array of fresh seafood.
I stayed as guest of Les Rocquettes Hotel, St Peter Port. A charming three star Hotel with excellent restaurant and facilities.
This is largest and most southerly of all the islands. It has an area of 46 square miles with a more cosmopolitan feel being nearer the French coast. The beaches are on a different scale with those such as St Ouens being 5 miles with a huge expanse of uninterrupted white sand.
The capital, St Helier is great for for shopping. Don’t miss are the Durrell Wildlife Park and the thought-provoking Jersey War Tunnels (a former WWII underground military hospital).
I was thoroughly spoilt at the Hotel De France a majestic hotel with great views over the harbour.