The crossing from Portsmouth to Santander is more like a cruise than the normal cross channel ferry.
For a start, I have a very nice cabin with ensuite shower room, desk and comfy single bed. It’s located towards the rear of the ship, but along the central axis and relatively low so that when the ship starts to rock in the breezy Bay of Biscay conditions, there is little sway to be felt while I sleep.
The communal areas of the ship are varied. There’s a plush expensive restaurant with adjoining piano bar at the stern or for the more frugal passengers, like myself, there is a self-service restaurant and café at the bow. Two cinemas offer the latest blockbusters or there is live entertainment in the bar; singers, magicians and an afternoon general knowledge quiz. There is even a small spa where you can get a massage or manicure to help you ease into that relaxed holiday mood.
However, Brittany Ferries have an even more unique way to pass the time during the 24 hour ferry crossing on the Pont Aven. Dotted about the ship are pieces of art, each with a story to tell and passengers can view the art while listening to information about it from a download. A map guides me to the 21 art installations while two English guides whisper in my ear via my MP3 player.
The artwork varies from brightly coloured modernist paintings to blown glass sculptures and Quimper earthenware which seems a dangerous choice given the motion of the ship in the strong winds. My favourites are the tiled mosaics around the top deck pool which feature traditional Breton musicians and the watercolours lining the corridors of the Commodore Suites which depict the building of the ship.