Reasons to be Cheerful ... Pt 3. The Baccy Cruise

Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're gonna get. Well, we got academics, businessmen, anarchists, military, journalists, bikers (female), councillors, blue collar workers and that isn't the complete list. Special mention has to go to a certain forklift truck driver who has changed my perception of forklift truck drivers for eternity! :)

We were not certain who would turn up because we had announced and given prior warning through this blog to the UKBA of our intentions. Our blog is constantly monitored by the UKBA and that has been confirmed by our lawyers. Not to mention both myself and Zaphod who are certainly not unknown to the UKBA. You'd think that this being the case it would put many people off coming on this baccy cruise. Well we needn't have 'worried' ... the turnout was great and by the end of the cruise we'd made further contacts and friends that swelled the numbers significantly.

lt certainly was a fun occasion with large amounts of alcohol being consumed along with the 'smokes' of course and loads of laughter :) l only wish l'd had more time to spend with individual people but l understand Zaphod filled in admirably whilst l did the 'rounds'.

lt all began at arrival at the Hull Ferry Terminal where P&O treat us to 2 forms of security ... one for foot passengers and one for those with vehicles. The foot passengers had their luggage x-rayed and searched for alcohol because P&O don't 'allow' you to take your own alcohol onboard to try and force you to use their bars. We had forewarned everyone of this and suitable measures had been taken. Those that were travelling with vehicles were subject to no searches whatsoever! You have to wonder who thinks up these policies .. lol

P&O further compound their 'no personal alcohol' policy when you buy the spirits and wines from the onboard shop. They don't allow you to collect it till the next morning ... which leaves you with the alcohol for the return sailing. l can see a flaw in their thinking here :)

The shop has low stocks of tobacco but as most of our 'crew' had made other arrangements it tended not to matter. Some went to Brugge for their goods and others went to Ostende. Most people had pre-ordered their tobacco from Brugge so knew it was there to collect. Those that went to Ostende found that certain brands were not in plentiful supply or not in stock at all. lt would seem prudent therefore to pre-order before you travel. lt seems that a Mr Sked did this, he ordered well above the new guidelines and it was there waiting for him in Brugge .... all packed nicely in a black plastic bag with his name stuck to the side. :)

As for the amounts ordered l will only say that the amount we ordered were above the guidelines. As for the specific amounts l am not at liberty to say as it is restricted under Section 31 of the FOIA exemptions.

Now then ... Mr P&O, l have some recommendations for you

Firstly, it may come as somewhat of a surprise to you but the majority of people using your Hull-Zeebrugge services are going to purchase tobacco for their own personal use. This being the case you would think it would be in your interest to have enough stock to satisfy these potential customers instead of letting the tobacco shops in Belgium have this business. lt seems commonsense to me, especially so as your company is not doing very well at the moment. ls the person in charge of the retail division a smokerphobe perhaps? This isn't a one-off regarding very little stock that your ships carry on this run ... it's being going on for quite some time now. lt was like this a year ago!

Secondly, it may come as a surprise again but people who buy tobacco are virtually all smokers! So why the hell are you not catering for them? Just one small bar where smoking is allowed is not a lot to ask for. You are not bound under UK regulations, you fly under the Netherlands flag. Before you start coming up with excuses l should like to remind you that the Holland America Line with it's many massive cruise ships also fly under the Netherlands flag and they do cater for smokers and have bars that allow smoking! ls the person in charge of the bars division another smokerphobe perhaps?

You must be losing a bloody fortune by not having the above. A fortune that you can't afford to lose. l'd put money on it that if you did have a small smokers bar you would very soon alter it round so the small bar was non-smoking and the rest of the bars become smoking bars!

Thirdly, your non-smoking cabins ... nah, l won't bother with this. Everybody ignores it anyway! :)

Thanks again to EVERYONE that came and EVERYBODY that joined us during the cruise. Great fun and lots of contacts and new friends made .... not forgetting all the valuable new input!

l left the ship alongside Webbie's car from Daytripper (thanks for the meal Sun night mate) and got no hassle from UKBA. The info held on me seems no longer on their screens. All Mr UKBA man did this time was glance at the screen and wave me on ... a big change from them getting a cup of tea whilst they read all the notes! :)

No UKBA stop at the Sked Sheds either. Zaphod also encountered no UKBA stop and search as he disembarked as a foot passenger, they simply stood and watched. Our invite must not have arrived ... or maybe it did!

Have to start organising Baccy Cruise 2 now lol


  1. "Those that went to Ostende found that certain brands were not in plentiful supply or not in stock at all."

    This requires further comment/explanation/a report from those who went to Ostende; which shops? Which brands? etc

    Stena line, Harwich-Hoek, have an enclosed-in-bullet-proof-glass Smokers Lounge right next to the bar which has comfy seats, free wifi and piped music (more's the pity) so it is as near as a Smoking Bar as you can get--hell sometimes the bar staff outside will bring the drinks in if you catch them when they come in to collect the empties.

    P&O could surely do the same?

  2. Hello

    Just read the blog, I went along to acompany Mr Bucko and to do alittle bit of baccy shopping. I met some really cool new freinds and had some really good chats. Pat many many thanks for the use of the kettle and the way way past midnight chats loved it. So tired after the trip but can't wait for the next one. dibs on the next trip. X X X


    Link above is for the Pee 'n oooOOOOh

    Bosses, showing how Stena do it.

    No, no Carol need to thank-happy to help.

  4. BTW Great post by Nomine about it on his blog

  5. Hopefully the other 'crew' will give you the details about Ostende SBC. I'm sure they'll post here :)

  6. When is the next baccy run due?

  7. I bet you've never met a chap with a fork lift truck driver fetish before!

  8. Truly understandable though Bucko me ole son! :)

    Anon 19.02 When l've recovered l'll start to put something together.

  9. Thanks S I loved it and getting taken to the bacci shop in a mercedes limo xxx

  10. "I bet you've never met a chap with a fork lift truck driver fetish before!"

    This post possibly contravenes Rule 34 of the internet and requires redacting.

  11. Hell I'll second the post that needs redacting, could work meself into a fetish if more fork lifters were as good looking as the one I met this last weekend, don't blame you either Bucko.
    Thanks for the kind words SBC...youre always welcome to pop round, , comments all now aproved (you won't have to wait next time its automatic after the first aproval) and repied to, going to me scratching now am totalled, stay safe all xxx

  12. "UKBA man did this time was glance at the screen and wave me on"

    Prob now says "Do not stop this person" lol

  13. Visigoth posted this on F2C 'For your added discomfort Belgian Shops ,in cooperation with the UK government are limiting customers
    to 1.5 kg Amber Leaf (30 pouches)'

    It's not all Belgian shops cos he was only at Ostende. There was no prob in Bruge as you could get what you want and any amount.

  14. My pleasure Mrs B. Thanks for dropping in and keeping us company. I crashed out when we got home too. Knackered - but in a nice way.

    Thanks SH. I thought I had left a comment on this post but I've visited so many today - all with good things to say - that I must have got diverted.

    Til next time me hearties ..

  15. sounds as though you all had a great time.
    anon 21.33 yep l agree, it's all in the detail. thanks for that.

  16. That was the best run yet!

    I just realised why. Looking back now, it was a bit Kamikaze.

    Point one, the start of the cheap ticket season attracts cost-conscious smokers to do their bulk shopping, and Customs know this. Time for an ambush offensive.

    Point two, the new drastically reduce "guidelines" should increase Customs' haul enormously.

    Point three, SH openly announced the date and location, even giving his phone number! (This immediately following a glorious victory over Customs, which I can't tell you about, alas.)

    Oi! Mr Sked? Come on, if yer think yer 'ard enough? Ya want some revenge?

    So it's no wonder that only the fascinating characters turned up. Warriors, witches, maniacs, tacticians, strategists, freedom fighters, all kind of superheroes! (Even a forklift driver!) We should have staged a revolution instead. Or Lord of the Rings part 4?

    I'm knackered. I went straight to work from the run, so I haven't even started the recovery process yet.

    Customs? They bottled it. Why? Bullies only pick on the weak? I know you're reading this, Mr Sked.

    Public servants? Ha! We're not the Pirates, HMRC are.

  17. l have to congratulate the way this was done. Openly stating that everyone were legitimate crossborder shoppers and giving the details of the trip was inspirational. By adding that everyone knew the actual procedures that Customs must to adhere to was the icing on the cake.

    ln truth, this is one of the few occasions that l can actually say that Customs have made an intelligent decision.

  18. Anonymous said...
    Visigoth posted this on F2C 'For your added discomfort Belgian Shops ,in cooperation with the UK government are limiting customers
    to 1.5 kg Amber Leaf (30 pouches)'

    It's not all Belgian shops cos he was only at Ostende. There was no prob in Bruge as you could get what you want and any amount.

    This is definitely true, as I am in Bruges next week, and have pre-booked 120 pouches of The Amber Stuff (amongst quite a lot of other stuff, the order is for six of us to share, but quite happy for it to be on one receipt, if HMRC want to argue the odds, or try to seize our vehicle, fair enough!) confirmation e-mail received yesterday confirming my order was ready and waiting.

  19. Thanks Duncan, l can confirm what you say is true. We've dealt with these Bruges shops for a long time and found them always to be dependable. Something to take into consideration is that you can actually ring them direct and they'll confirm immediately. l did this on Sat for one of the 'crew' and their order was there the next day ... as you say, waiting.

    Have a good trip and let us know the details ... especially UKBA reaction. Stay safe!

  20. Last time we went over we had a two and a half hour ferry delay outside of Dover (not happy bunnies when we got off, I can tell you!) and we were about the tenth car off the ferry when it finally docked. We hoped, somewhat vainly, that HMRC would be sympathetic after our ordeal and not be too awkward. Well, it was a nice thought! We were stopped/not stopped (physically barred from moving, but only for a 'chat', so not stopped), were completely honest about what we had done (four of us, each with 70-80 pouches of HRT), were told to wait by their sheds, where we could see at least three other vehicles that had already been stopped and taken into the sheds - one, a 4x4, being taken apart by a team of HMRC goons. After about ten minutes the same ossifer came back and told us we could go, so I suppose it was a result.
    HMRC were their normal extremely rude in a very official way selves, and seemed to be enjoying delaying us even further. Of course, I can't say why the other vehicles had been stopped, maybe they were all the result of intelligence-led operations and maybe they were after class A drugs, weapons and kiddie porn, but I think that the balance of probability is that they were simply taking a chance with as many punters as possible, and hoping to be able to seize as many pouches of baccy as they could get away with, knowing that a lot of people would be late home, and had been stuck at the ferry bar for an extra two hours, so being unable to argue accurately or coherently. We were all sober, not happy, and ready for a 'jolly good arguement' is HMRC wanted one, and it probably showed, so we got through.
    This is my first trip since the new 'guidelines', so it may be interesting. between six of us there will be 260 pouches of HRT, so well within last months' 'guidelines' but well outside of this. Of course, I hope we are ignored but I at least will make sure that at least half-a-dozen ossifers are tied up for several hours if they try to take my baccy off me!

  21. Thank you for an enjoyable trip. We me Greg Burrows and Grant French went to Ostend we both represent'd UKIP in the last general election,I am pleased to note that no problems were experianced by customs on our legal import of duty paid tobacco.
    Our main contension was being treated like criminals at the Saint Georges docks were we arrived early and were not allowed to take alcohol through checkin/passport check, no free country in the world has tactics were they do not allow you to have a drink after check in, no bar three hours without a drink P&O wants to start looking after its share holders and start changing its policy, no area to smoke is outrageous, can P&O afford to upset 25% of the population like this, and as for not having a smoking bar onboard ship adds insult to injury the UK government maybe dictorial but that does not give the right for P&O to dictate why people can not smoke as there is no significant risk from second hand smoke (see HSE OC255/15)or P&O look at the 113 studies carried out which show no significant harm from SHS.
    P&O want to get there act together.

  22. Ramble over, Thanks to Mick Walker for telling us of the trip, and I hope we can have many more to stop the bully tactics of the government and HMRC.

  23. Anon 12.05

    P&O only have to look at the Holland America Line that sail under the same flag as these P&O ferries did ... the Netherlands. Holland America Line cater for their smokers and have smoking bars.

    There is no reason whatsoever that P&O do not have a smoking bar on their ferries apart from the P&O Board being full of smokerphobes of course.

    You quote 25% smokers but that figure is much much higher on these ferries due to smokers shopping for cheap tobacco/cigarettes.

  24. "
    You quote 25% smokers but that figure is much much higher on these ferries due to smokers shopping for cheap tobacco/cigarettes."

    On my recent trip with Stena-most of it spent in the smoking lounge- I'd guesstimate that it's probably not a 1/4 but more like a 1/3 of passengers are smokers.

  25. The people searching for alcohol when we boarded in Hull, were using Customs' scanner. Can that be legal?

    The guy in front of me had a bottle of spirits. He suggested that he drink it there, but "That's not allowed." WTF? He had to leave it, to go in their stash. I bet those people enjoy their job.

  26. Zaphod, thats how these idiots think. They really believe that by doing stuff like this the bar sales will go up! What a set of morons.


"In the eyes of the Tribunal the review letter contained several preconceptions, prejudgments and non-sequiturs"

"the absurdity of this reason is demonstrated by simply stating it"

"We therefore find that Mr Sked misdirected himself as to the Policy in carrying out the review and his decision is therefore one that no reasonable review officer could have arrived at."

... commonly known here at N2D as 'Skeds' ... that is to say these are Judges comments regarding UKBA Review Officer Ian Sked's reasons for rejecting peoples appeals against seizures.

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