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THE A DECK CAFETERIA AND RESTAURANT
matt@hhvferry.com
British Rail/Sealink's interior designers managed to largely restrict the intrusive input of their French colleagues into the interior design of Senlac to the catering facilities on A Deck. Whereas the rest of the ship followed much the same plan as her earlier 100% British-owned sisters, the cafeteria and restaurant areas were radically different, although it was again located amidships/aft on this deck. In many ways, however, the arrangement was a large improvement on the Hengist and Horsa, if only for the fact that the cafeteria was given an outside view (obstructed by the queueing alleyway on the earlier ships).

In the
Senlac's case, the galley was located along the port side, with the seating areas to starboard - aft was the cafeteria area (with a servery on the centreline next to the galley) seating 120, whilst forward was a restaurant for 50. In between was an area of 26 seats which could be allocated to either of these spaces depending on demand with moveable screens to partition the area as necessary.

The feature artworks throughout the restaurant spaces were a series of bas-relief etchings showing stylised scenes from the Bayeux Tapestry depicting the Battle of Hastings, the location of which (Senlac Hill) gave the ship her original name.

In 1983, the area was refitted with the conversion of the former restaurant into a dedicated lorry drivers' eating area whilst the cafeteria section now offerred a Scandinavian-style smorgasbord, apparently at the suggestion of a crew member.

In Greek service, the former
Senlac has served as a two-class ship, and for distinguished (first) class passengers, a formal restaurant is available. The obvious location for this was in the original restaurant, latterly the lorry drivers cafeteria, and thus this space returned to its original purpose.
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Top: The cafeteria on Senlac as built in 1973 looking aft. Whilst this featured the same seating as found in the Hengist and Horsa's waiter service restaurants, there was little else that resembled the equivalent space on the earlier sisters.
Below: Another 1973 view, this time looking forwards.
Of interest is the way the seating on the outside of the space has been built into the outboard bulkhead with each small dining recess having a window which overlooked the covered promenade deck.
Below: The 1983 refit saw the cafeteria modified to include a cold meat smorgasbord counter. Here is the area after this modification with passengers helping themselves to the food. The impression is distinctly unglamorous.
Below: The impression Sealink were perhaps keener to present of Senlac's smorgasbord: an attractive and happy customer helps herself to what would appear to be a veritable feast, with a friendly chef on hand to help with any queries.
Below: The cafeteria section on board Express Apollon in 2000, looking aft towards the servery area on the centreline. In Greece, new chairs and flooring have been added although the modification of the booths to their present part-cut out state seems likely to have happened whilst the ship was still in Sealink service, possibly at the 1983 refit. Clearly visible on the left hand side is one of the series of bas-relief panels featuring scenes from the Battle of Hastings. (Picture courtesy Richard Seville)
Below: The Express Apollon was given a fairly substantial refit by Hellas Ferries at some stage between 2000 and 2002, despite being in much better condition than many of her fleetmates. In the cafeteria, the impact was limited to merely a new floor covering to replace the stripes seen above. This is an overall view looking forward in July 2003, with the servery space on the left and more of the original artwork visible on the dividing walls.
Below: Seen in part in the above picture, this view shows the cafeteria servery on Express Apollon in July 2003.
Below: Although as built the restaurant and cafeteria were to all intents and purposes the same space, they have latterly been more formally divided with an inter-connecting door. That door can be seen in the background (centre) in this view looking aft in the restuarant taken in the early 1990s when the ship was operating as Apollo Express. (Picture courtesy Richard Seville)
Below: Another view of the Distinguished Class restaurant, this time looking forward. The basic layout, with free-standing chairs centrally and sofa booths on either beam, is essentially original (Picture courtesy Richard Seville)
Below: Looking aft in the restuarant in July 2003. Although new chairs have been added, the bas-relief panel and the cabinet beneath it are both original.