|ON BOARD FANTASIA AS STENA FANTASIA
& AS P&OSL CANTERBURY
2: AMIDHSIPS RESTAURANTS & FORWARD LOUNGE
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|Above & below: In line with the rather changed philosophy of the merged operation, an early P&O Stena refit (1998/99) remodelled the ship's catering arrangements. The large McDonalds and small Rudi's Diner were effectively switched, with McDonalds assuming Rudi's previous position (above) and a new walk-around servery for the new International Food Court (IFC) being created in the space thus freed up to port.
The McDonalds franchise agreement was allowed to lapse and in 2000 the facility was brought into line with the rest of the merged fleet's fast food outlets, assuming the in-house 'First Base' name (below). Of note is that the sofa seating in the foreground, previously McDonalds red, has been reupholstered in IFC-style purple.
|Above & below: Two views looking forward in the IFC, showing (above) the remodelled servery area and (below) the centre section of seating with typically Stena-era individual chairs reupholstered in IFC yellow and purple. The structure of the room and some detailing, such as the metal dividers-cum-handrails are original Fantasia, but the decor is very much in the P&O Stena mould save for the ever-present television sets which were a particular Stena favourite.|
|Above & below: The Stena Fantasia's extensive 1993/94 refit saw the introduction of McDonalds to the English Channel: replacing the original Speedy Gourmet free-flow servery was a large counter for the fast food restaurant to port with a smaller counter-service Easy Diner (later abbreviated to ED's and latterly Rudi's Diner) adjacent to starboard. The tiled walkway area seen most clearly above as well as the new adjacent metal tables and chairs were located in space reclaimed from the area previously taken by the rather larger Speedy Gourmet walk-around servery. (Picture above courtesy Guy Blanchout)|
|Above: Within just a couple of years of the Fantasia entering service it was evident that the pastel coloured fittings in the forward lounge (the Motorists' Haven) were not standing up particularly well to the daily use of hundreds of passengers. Meanwhile, since Sealink had been taken over by Stena Line, the old focus on Motorists' Lounges had given way to the Swedish Company's desire to expand on the range of facilities available. Although Fantasia (now Stena Fantasia) survived through the 1991 season intact, the first major change to the forward lounge was implemented during the winter 1991/92 refit at Gothenburg. At this stage, the space reserved for motorists was more than halved, with only the upper mezzanine level now being set aside for their use. On the lower deck, the lounge was divided in two, but was now referred to as the combined "Bistro & Brasserie". The Bistro (port side including the old bar servery) sold light meals and snacks whilst the Brasserie to starboard offered waiter-service and a buffet with carvery, on a set-price "eat as much as you like" basis. Each new addition complemented the existing Self Service Restaurant. Outfitted by Mivan Marine of County Antrim, the new Bistro & Brasserie retained the structure of the old Motorists' Haven servery (complete with curved panel hanging from above), albeit now clad in typical Stena light wood and metal. Interestingly, the new laminate flooring in the bistro section features a pattern which again replicates the Platner Sunrise mural above the bar counter and in fact mirrors the similar effect which was still carried on the upper deck's ceiling. This view shows the area just prior to the completion of the refit with the new fixed tables already fitted. On the upper level, the original chairs remain.|
|Above & below: The Brasserie restaurant on the starboard side installed in the 1992 refit featured sturdy wooden chairs and tables. A completely new carpet was fitted at the same time.|
|Above: The Bistro & Brasserie double-act was to be short-lived however, and everything changed yet again (for the third time in four years!) during the further major refurbishment the area received in the 1993 refit. By this stage, Stena had evolved the early stages of what would eventually become their own fleet-wide brandings for onboard facilities. This was partly in preparation for the arrival of the HSS in 1995 (the first finally entered service in 1996). Stena Fantasia appeared to fulfil the role of HSS 'test bed' and, as other areas aboard received McDonalds, Rudi's/Ed's Diner and Stinger's branding, so the ship's forward lounge gained the 'Globetrotter' name.
Subsequent experience across the Stena fleets showed that Globetrotter was the most flexible of all brands: on board Stena Fantasia it was officially the Globetrotter Cafe and Lounge. On other ships however it has been a formal restaurant, a bar, and there was even a Globetrotter Casino on the HSS Stena Discovery. Stena's promotional material for the new facility claimed that it would offer a choice of hot and cold dishes drawn from around the world - in this respect it succeeded the former Bistro; however in practice a more formal buffet restaurant was also in fact retained, still as a starboard side division from the main lounge. The pictures show (left) the servery seen from forward - the Globetrotter diamonds are visible along with the brand sign and (right) a view looking down into the Bistro area during the Bistro/Brasserie days, from the upper level showing the new red seating. The partition visible in the background separated and enclosed the starboard-side Brasserie restaurant.
|Below: The merger of the Stena and P&O Dover fleets into P&O Stena Line in March 1998 meant that, once again, the Stena Fantasia's forward lounge would be the beneficiary of a further hefty refurbishment. This was implemented in the refit in December/January 1998/99, and the former Globetrotter, Bistro & Brasserie and Motorists' Haven emerged as the Horizon Lounge. This picture shows the lounge as it was in the ship's final years in Dover service (2000-2003). In the winter 1999/2000 refit, the area received new laminate flooring to replace the Stena one. Clearly visible on the ceiling above the upper level are the 'sun rays' that mirrored the old mural (now removed) and matched those on the old Stena floor. At this stage, the original saucer-shape light fixtures were also replaced.
In the location of the old restaurant is Langan's Brasserie, fitted several months after the lounge itself was rebranded. This enclosed addition unfortunately interrupts the lower level's visual impact and impression of space.
The lounge also incorporates an outlet of the Harbour Coffee Company (a new brand created in partnership with Kenco Coffee), and for this purpose the old bar servery was extended to port. This would have had the knock-on effect of interfering with passenger circulation around the bar due to the proximity of the staircase leading to the upper deck. To alleviate this, the staircase was actually moved slightly further into the room, around the curve of the mezzanine. At the same time, the curved protrusion of the handrails at the base of the stairs were also removed, presumably to further minimise the space taken up by the staircase.
|Above: Looking aft on the port side, showing the extended servery and Harbour Coffee Company. The lounge is now carpeted in areas away from those directly around the servery.|
|Above: A view from the upper level down to the bar servery. The original Platner sunrise mural has gone, replaced by a vapid series of large paintings of leaves and flowers.|
|Above & below: The view across to port from adjacent the entrance to Langan's Brasserie (above). The bar servery has also been extended at this side to accommodate some of the service functions of the restaurant. The only obvious Globetrotter relic to be found in the Horizon Lounge was in Langan's (below) where just one of the Globetrotter diamond panels survived, on which were a series of pegs used for attaching customer orders/bills to whilst they ate heir meal.|
|Above: Looking across to starboard on the upper level of the Horizon Lounge. In later years the seating on the upper (smoking) level would follow a strict port (blue) and starboard (red) division of chairs - this doubtless kept some officious bar manager happy.|
|Below: Two final views of the P&OSL Canterbury's Horizon Lounge. More than any other space on any other cross-channel ferry, the Motorists' Haven on the Fantasia stood as testament to the changes within the British ferry industry in the decade after 1990. The evolution away from Platner's original 'Floating World' and British Ferries' Motorists Lounges reflected the coming of Stena and their 'Travel Service Concept'. During the slow, sad decline of Sealink's channel services Stena reconfigured continually in an effort to turn things around. Ultimately, the merger with P&O and the arrival of the P&O Stena 'Brand World' finally settled things. In the ship's relatively short Channel career of just thirteen years, the lounge went through no less than four quite distinct configurations.|