If Carlsberg did PO Ferries Hull -Zeebrugge

P&O  Ferries must increase revenues and promote profitability to survive choppy cross-Channel business conditions in the year ahead, management have told staff.

Here's one of their mind numbing ideas that they've brought in that does the exact opposite. (update) Yes, that's right ... they are needlessly pissing off customers who they already have! Briiliant, eh? lt'.s as though the Health Dept and ASH are in running this company. Would it surprise you to know that P&O isn't British and has no shareholders? lt is in fact a government owned company.

P&O were bought by the Dubai Government in 2006. It's well known that the Dubai Government were never really interested in the ferries, it's the ports that they wanted. A clue is in the name of the government company that bought P&O ... Dubai Ports World. The USA were very concerned about this acquisition on political and security grounds.

Let's now look at increasing revenues and promoting profitability on the Hull-Zeebrugge route.What we have to work with is that this is the ONLY direct route to Belgium for the entire north of England. The ship has the capacity for over a 1000 passengers. An extremely large proportion of passengers use it for cross border shopping.Passengers are on board for 2 over nights totaling approx 30 hrs. Any foot passengers that have been on the mini cruises will have noticed many of the hundreds of passengers checking in for the return leg at Zeebrugge have bought tobacco products.

Yes that's right, P&O unbelievably DO NOT cater for this trade. All they have is a piddling little kiosk, with small stocks, inflated prices (approx 20% higher than Belgium) and a pathetic range of tobacco products. Everyone of those passengers who are checking in at Zeebrugge should have no need whatsoever to purchase tobacco products in Belgium ... THEY SHOULD BE BUYING IT ON THE SHIP!

At the moment it's like ASDA supplying transport to take customers there and back to TESCO!

Our 'Carlsberg' run ship would have the following.

Boarding the Ship

None of the Mickey Mouse security crap we have at Hull. lt would be like Zeebrugge.


An extensive range and stock of tobacco products on display for sale in a LARGE shop (the large shop is currently half full with perfume!) . Prices should compete with prices in Belgium at ALL times.

Every pack of tobacco or carton of cigarettes bought ... you get one casino token (we'll come back to that).

Before the cruise you can pre-order your requirements with your booking ref number.

Information sheets would be readily available explaining your rights (incl relevant FOI's) and how to prepare for Customs plus a SOT pack that you can purchase (or FOC).

Personal recorders would also be on sale.

The cinema would show an information film on how to prepare for Customs and there would be a Q&A session afterwards by someone like N2D.

'Carlsberg' would have in-house no-fee lawyers/advisors available to represent you should you be stopped by Customs. This service would extend to representing you in court re your appeal should you still fall foul of Customs.

There would be an announcement when returning to Hull telling passengers whether Customs were on duty or not.


P&O currently have no real casino, all they have is a toy.

Carlsberg would have a full blown dedicated casino. lt would stay open till the early hours of the morning (no set closing time). Frre drinks for all players, smoking not banned. One slot-machine (one armed bandit) would accept the tokens from your tobacco purchase ... no cash payout ... jackpot is a free cruise.

All slot machines would have seating.

Waitress service throughout.

Fast Food

There would be a fast food outlet on board similar to McDonalds or indeed McDonalds.


Competitive pricing!


Pub Fare and pricing!


Varied good acts, incl comedians and dancers


Smoking would be allowed throughout the ship although there would be a non-smoking area but that non-smoking area would be reviewed on a regular basis..

Stay On Board

No need to get off ship if you don't want to. Have a lie in and then relax around the ship with a few drinks, read, grab a bite to eat ... just take it easy. (Note ... passenger ships always do this). Come and go as you please.

Brugge and Oostende

Regular transport ... say every hour.

Customer Service

A dept that actually listens and does something. Customers are not just important ... they are essential! No automated 'coffee machine' responses!


Maybe the Dubai Government Dept of PO Ferries will wake up and smell the coffee ... ooh look ... pigs flying! The revenue they are missing out on is phenomenal ... believe me l know ... l worked for the cruise ship industry for many years,

Comments welcome (sorry for the captcha but spam is horrendous)


  1. I feel sorry for the regular lads on the runs who have to put up with sub standard facilities, i would opt for a marathon one day event by air instead of prolonging the misery by sea.

    A 30 hour trip is a 30 hour trip that dosen't get any shorter for the regular runners even with a few frills and luxuries onboard.

    Pissed up punters with memories of lapdancers onboard, carrying glasses full of cocktails aint the way forward , clear heads are needed above everything else.

    1. Disagree totally and if l wanted to say lapdancers l would have. The cruise to me is a break. l'm not bothered about runners in the slightest ... theyre a liability to everyone and they're usually drunk anyway.

  2. I also used to think that it sounded like a long journey compared to a flight, but it isn't. You spend most of it relaxing or asleep. Also, the "processing" of passengers is much less invasive than at an airport.

    But it is a shame that PO don't put some effort into it. They really could make a lot more money. The staff are agreeable, the cabins are adequate, the journey is relaxing. I just wish Head Office realized that most of their customers are smokers on a shopping trip!

    SH, any chance of the N2D Social Club putting in a takeover bid for the ship one day?
    What flag would it use? :-)

  3. The stay on board option is by far my favourite. You saw me trying to get off the ship at the crack of dawn with a hangover. I hate that :-)

  4. you should try working for the tossers! shoreside are so full of themselves it makes you sick. heads up their arses all of them. we tried telling them how to improve but they just diss you. no-one here gives a fuck anymore.

  5. Really!!! Mc D's...other than that I agree with all you said...

  6. oh and you wont get out from customer services either. they're as much use as a chocolate fireguard

  7. Customer Services! Yes, we have some experience there! :-)

    To be fair, we have had the occasional good result, but they obviously have very little autonomy. I think they've been knocked back by those above them too often.

  8. Ah... the cult of managerialism pervades P&O - promote total plonkers who parrot management gobbledegook and couldn't run a whelk stall (just to keep the nautical flavour alive)

    Your description sounds like the Scandinavian ferries I used to use in the late 70's - hectic - like a real life Gremlins movie (the monster party bits) :-)

    1. As for your ideas
      Mc Donalds - There is one on the Pride of Canterbury on the Dover run....
      Casino - although not perfect there was one on the Pride of Bilbao , spent many an happy hour in there.
      There are other fast food outlets and 'pub fare' and pricing on the Canterbury..
      Stay on board ?? do they still do none landing cruises on the Dover run, so can be done..
      Ostend Brugge transport its called the Belbus 36 just order it like a taxi..
      everything else spot on
      p.s We'll use the Yorkshire Republican Navy Flag.

  9. All of the above fails to recognice that margins on tobacco are paper thin. There really is no profit in portioning more retail space to a declining product offering with infinitely less margin that perfumes etc. Maybe the company do actually know what they're doing here.

    Another point, the majority of customers on this route are NOT going to buy tobacco...customs chased them off years ago. A reasonable minority of mini cruisers do go for this reason.

    As for McDonalds, No. There's a Costa Coffee shop selling the usual pizza/panini's etc in addition to the restaurants.

    There is no McDonalds on any P&O ship on any route.

    One of the best moves that P&O have made in recent years is stopping smoking in the inside areas, thats not a decision that they need to review any time soon.

    Its a good job that the OP doesnt run the company, it would literally run into the ground in double quick time.

    1. What out and out utter crap. Take a look at the passengers getting onboard with black plastic bags loaded with tobacco. Paper thin margins on tobacco ? Hahaha Tell that to the tobacco shops in Belgium.

      Thank god for such as Stena Line who know how to treat passengers!

  10. I take it you havent travelled on the route in a very long time then? Punters carrying black bin bags full of fags?? Really? Do they also have big signs above their heads saying "Customs Officer, please stop me"

    And Yes...Margins on tobacco products are very small, they may not be in Belgium but does P&O Ferries pay its tax in Belgium?

    If Stena would like the black bin bag brigade you allude to, good luck to them, although its a fair old trek down to Harwich from Yorkshire and they don't even sail to Belgium (once again showing your lack of knowledge perhaps???)

    Trust me fellah, I travel on this route alot and have for a long time. It's a good route, a good service and while you may not like the consideration for smokers, which you have a right to do, to damn the whole company for that seems a tad pathetic, frankly.

    1. You really do talk utter garbage. Know the route? ... many trips organised and run from Oct to Mar! Yes they do have black plastic bags but that's getting on at Zeebrugge. What they do then is up to the shopper.

      Your knowledge of the tobacco industry is frankly abysmal. Yes indeed l damn the whole P&O company as the decisions are made by the board ... which is the company!

      Ref to Stena was how they treat passengers as opposed to P&O only ... not as a viable alternative.

      Shoppers will still use P&O but only as a means of getting to Belgium. As it stands it's like ASDA providing transport for shoppers to go to Tesco and back. Lack of knowledge indeed? ... hahaha

      The shoppers will continue to use their cabins for smoking as well ... ones that you no doubt get sometimes!

  11. "does P&O Ferries pay its tax in Belgium?"
    Yes, the tax on P&O's tobacco goods IS paid in Belgium.
    That's why the price is only slightly more than the shops in Belgium.

    "black bin bags full of fags??"
    No, what SH said was, "black plastic bags loaded with tobacco."
    Most of the shops provide good quality black plastic bags with your purchase.
    Most people transfer them to their luggage before Hull disembarkation.

    "customs chased them off years ago."
    Possibly, but Customs are now having to deal with increasing numbers of shoppers who know the law. It's a pity that P&O have not protected their customers in this, as Hoverspeed did.

    "more retail space to a declining product"
    A quarter of adults in the north still smoke. They spend a lot more, on a regular basis, than perfume buyers. I've never heard of a "Perfume Cruise", have you?

    "Margins on tobacco products are very small."
    Idiot. Nobody buys a suitcase full of perfume.

    "Trust me fellah..." Er, no, we don't. Sorry.
    We welcome coherent, informed and observant criticism, though.

    3 out of 10 for effort.

  12. Anon - Having a lack of knowledge is one thing you can't accuse these guys of.

    They do the trip regularly, and I've been a few times since discovering their site, even getting the opportunity to meet them on one trip.

    I don't know about the regular priced runs but the cheaper ones are packed with tobacco shoppers, all carrying their black bags onto the boat, some filling ruck sacks and suitcases with tobacco, some buying a years supply in one go.

    We meet and talk with these people as they are all friendly and all there for the same thing.

    It's just a pit the boat doesn't cater for them.

  13. Well I guess I've upped your site reading numbers by err, about 3. You don't have to thank me.

    Bucko hits the nail on the head...the cheap 2F1 sailings are the ones that that the tobacco people book. They tend not to eat on board, tend not to spend much in general save for a few drinks. You could argue that if P&O sold more tobacco at cheaper prices they would spend more then but there REALLY is no reason for them to dedicate more retail space to it. In fact, regulars will notice that space for tobacco is being slowly taken away. There is a reason for that and it isnt idiocy, it's putting on display the things that sell. Zaphod really doesnt get it btw.

    He said that people don't take "perfume cruises"..that's true, but did you know that P&O are in the top 10 retailers for most of the perfume houses?
    Margins on these products are much higher. And the passengers who buy these products also tend to eat in the restaurants etc.

    Five years ago there was a raft of coach operators who sold and ran tobacco trips to Belgium on the route. That has virtually stopped save for 1 or 2 companies specific to a local area (Yes I do know who they are).

    Like I said, I travel alot on this route ...I know the passenger mix and the point is, I think you'd be surprised and disappointed to learn how much of a minority the "sell more tobacco and sell it cheaper" people are in, although as I originally stated, I do agree that there is a reasonable minority of customers who do go to buy it.

    1. **Yawn** ... we average over 1000 visitors a day ... thats actual readers, not hits. If that reduced by one i.e. you, l don't think we'd miss you.

      Do you judge retail in tobacco by your onboard shops Mr P&O representative? M'thinks you do.

      'Real Tobacco' are expanding their shops ... that should give you a clue as to how much revenue is being made by them ... and lost by P&O.

      The 2 for 1's quoted were OUR choice but l know coach companies in the North use the route all year round ... and their customers don't buy off P&O shops either.

      Reducing space for tobacco sales? Well, selling at an average of a 20% markup on Belgium prices l think one can safely say that no-one would miss it.

      You say you know the mix of passengers. How do you know? Do you sit outside the shops in Bruges or Adinkerke? Do you sit and observe the pax getting on at Zeebrugge? From your comments it's plain to see that you patently do not know the mix of pax at all.

      Ultimately it doesn't matter at all to us what P&O do. P&O will continue to lose revenue, the Belgium shops will continue to take the revenue, we'll use P&O, as will many others, as little more than a means of transport to get to Belgium.

      Oh, and the casino sucks too!

    2. One other thing ... You've been trawling Google for P&O reviews. Which dept do you work for?

  14. Oh and Zaphod, can you remind me what happened to Hoverspeed?
    1/10 --Can't even credit you with effort.

    1. Didn't you know? The Channel Tunnel happened to Hoverspeed.
      As you work in the business, you should have known that.

      "P&O are in the top 10 retailers for most of the perfume houses"?
      One could be the biggest global retailer for left-handed back-scratchers, but it wouldn't amount to much turnover, would it? Tobacco sale is a huge business, a tiny percentage of that at an honest mark-up, is worth much more than a major share of a perfume rip-off.

      You don't sell much tobacco because you don't stock the shop. Ask your retail staff, they get very exasperated about it.

      Many coach operators have stopped doing tobacco runs because they are scared of Customs' tactics. They worry about having their vehicles seized.
      We have made substantial inroads into curtailing Customs' tricks. P&O should have done that. You may despise the common customer who doesn't eat in your restaurant, but there aren't enough classy travelers to keep you in business. This is Hull, not Sloane Square. Know your customer.

      You know you're in trouble, Mr P&O. Don't just talk. DO SOMETHING!

    2. l use this route 4 times a year. l don't understand how this apologist for PO can miss all the people shopping for tobacco in Brugge and Oostende.The PO shop is a rip-off and thats when they have stock. Recently the shop got better for stock but the prices are too high. The restaurant was recently upgraded but the food is crap. PO should sell this route to someone who knows what they are doing.

  15. Firstly..do I work for P&O Ferries? No...simple as that. Millions of people search for reviews on products, so do I. Ironically my search yesterday was to find this site because I'd forgotten which one it was. You're now using that search to prove I work for P&O? No, I work for a company that uses P&O alot and has done for a very long time.

    Second ...Hoverspeed went bust because it was an unsustainable business, a high cost base, low fares and squeezed out by Yes, the Tunnel but also the ferry operators who offered a more reliable service. Being helpful to tobacco shoppers couldnt save it.

    Zaphod...I'll leave the point about margins and retail for now, you just don't get it.

    I agree about the reasons why coach operators stopped doing those runs, it was to stop having the coaches seized, some came perilously close to having just that happen to them. There really are only 1 or 2 that still do it.

    Most of the replies are missing the point..I agree that there is a reasonable minority of customers who go to buy tobacco and also agree that they don't buy it from the ships, I'm only making 2 points. One is that it isnt a majority, most of the people that do this go on midweek 2F1 which operates Oct-Mar (indeed thats when the OP said he travels)when the ticket price is at its lowest. It doubles in the summer and P&O trade in regular car, caravan and coach tour traffic takes its place. Secondly, that there are reasons why tobacco isnt sold in vast quantities onboard. You dont have to agree with those reasons, clearly you don't, but ferry companies used to make millons of pounds in profit every year from tobacco and alcohol, if they could still do it they would.

    And about the customer mix, the ship sails from Hull, Yes..but the audience is M62 corridor, not just Hull.

    1. What reasons are those then? Belgian shops have a markup of approx 18% on tobacco products. PO add upto another 20%. PO make no effort to sell tobacco even though they have customers for it. Most recent example was taking down the online prices when there are no regs forcing them to do it. The trade is there but PO dont want it.

    2. we used to have very little stock and many a time no stock at all. we could've sold loads. we then got stock but then found our prices had gone up so we were not competitive because like cigs you could get on land for 40 quid were now 48 quid in the shop. shop is so small we caould never do the range either. the buisness is certainly there but your right that they dont want it. what the bosses would rather do is to avoid paying the crew minimum wage by reflagging the ships.

    3. l once spoke to the shop assistant in the shop and asked why they had no tobacco or ciggies for sale. He blamed it on head office and said much the same as you. Wonder if it was you? lol

  16. Tbh both of you are pretty much agreeing with me, P&O Ferries make litle effort to sell tobacco. Absolutely...nailed on...no argument from me there, we're all saying the same thing. All we disagree about then is why that is. You think its because they are lazy and incompetent and I think its because they've decided that they can't make a significant profit from doing it.

    I actually agree with the OP, tobacco buyers will travel at the cheap prices, use the ship as a means of getting there and back and buy the stuff in Belgium. They wont eat in the restaurants and buy in the shops, and they will continue to for as long as the service operates and with that price structure. Somebody said why don't P&O sell it? Well they could do, maybe to DFDS who took over Fjord Line's run to Norway and guess what? closed it down. Sometimes it really is better the devil you know.

    Pocrewslave (who should change their job if they really think that)says it, the company have prices that are uncompetitive, a small shop and fierce competition in the destination itself. I guess they'd like the additional revenue if they could do it profitably but they cant...on this route.

    I have nothing against tobacco buyers, and wish you luck in your battles, it may just be that sometimes you can get a little bit zealous about one issue and think that only you can be right. I have some knowledge of ferries and with a retail background I understand the difficulties that ferry companies face with regards to selling on board.

    Anyway, that's my last post, I'm sure that as I don't say what you'd want me to say, I won't be missed. But given that nobody had commented on this blog for over 3 weeks before I posted and now its kicked into life, I may have inadvertently helped you out a bit.

    Btw I had a mooch around, there is some useful information on the site, good stuff and I hope it helps people to buy their products legitimately, without issues.

    Cheers :)

    1. Anon ... you came to an older post on the blog. We get comments daily on many other posts but mainly the current most up to date post. Unfortunately we've attracted a troll on our most current post. He's been here once before the sad sad excuse for a human being that he is.

      Thanks for posting. Stay well.

  17. go to hell anon. i know who you are and yo do work for PO. i know the board can't do the tobacco shop profitably cos they couldnt organise a piss up in a brewery. ever since the arabs bought PO the board have been feckin useless.

  18. l will add this. l do know the casino industry inside out and especially on ships. That P&O don't have a dedicated separate casino on board is frankly criminal. lt's almost as though the board have been told by their owners Dubai Ports World to run the route into the ground. lt's either that or the board doesn't know what it's doing and DPW aren't aware of what the board is doing.


"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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