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ON BOARD
SPIRIT OF FREE ENTERPRISE
Conforming to Townsend's open-plan tradition, internally the Spirit class nonetheless represented a significant advance over the previous Free Enterprise ships, with high quality and modern fittings to be found throughout. However, as competitors Sealink soon found with their rival Saint class ships, fittings which would seem modern in the early 1980s dated rather quickly and were made to look distinctly inferior after the 1987 arrival of the Pride of Dover which, although herself still fitted in part with rows of fixed seating, was able to bring much more space and style to the Channel crossing.

Passenger facilities were concentrated on two decks - the upper (B) Deck featured a midships restaurant on the port side capable of seating 53, opposite which a cafeteria provided a further 148 seats. Aft of these was an open-plan coffee lounge and bar area, whilst forward on this deck were located crew cabins.

The main deck was C Deck below. Accommodation here began with a 176 seat cafeteria located forward with imposing views of the waves crashing over the forecastle. Heading aft was a small lobby area (from where foot passengers exited the ship in Calais through doors on either side) which lead on to a large open-plan seating lounge fronted by information desk, bar and bureau de change counter. In total this space could accommodate 275 passengers. Off this lounge to starboard was found the ship's relatively small (by modern standards) walk-around duty free supermarket. Right aft was an area of covered deck space onto which the new ships would board foot passengers at the Dover end of the crossing.
Above & below: Spirit of Free Enterprise's attractive original waiter-service restaurant, located amidships to port on B Deck. This small restaurant was separated from the rest of the open-plan passenger spaces by a smoked glass dividing wall. As can be seen here, the ship was fitted throughout with dark wood-effect wall panelling. (Picture below courtesy Arjan van Gelder)
Click here to return to the main Spirit of Free Enterprise page.
Above: Outside of the restaurant areas, the bulk of the ship's accommodation in her original guise was in the form of rows of fixed seating complete with small shared tables. This picture shows part of the main lounge/bar area on C Deck. Visible in the background are some of the vending machines installed as an alternative for passengers only wanting snacks.
Above: Forward on C Deck was found the main self-service restaurant. At the very front on this deck was a small area of fixed seating, essentially open-plan to the cafeteria, but optimistically described by Townsend Thoresen as an 'Observation Lounge'. The popularity of the view forward more than compensated for the rather contrived setting however.
Above: Another view of the lounge areas on Spirit of Free Enterprise's C Deck, as built, looking aft to the bar counter. Although the overall impression is that of a modern and comfortable ship, she also seems surprisingly austere in many ways.
Above: Located aft and to starboard on C Deck was this walk-around Duty Free supermarket.
Above: The small area of enclosed deck at the stern on C Deck. This was matched by a similarly-sized uncovered space above. Although the Spirit class were often criticised for their lack of deck space (TT being accused of preferring passengers stay inside the ship in places where they could more easily be parted from their money), and it is true that uncovered deck areas were very limited, the ships actually boasted full-length, covered side promenades at the level of the upper car decks. Alas, few passengers ever seemed to find these, being located two flights of stairs beneath the main passenger deck.
LINK: Original General Arrangement plan
Above: The main car deck which could accommodate up to 168 cars or 30 lorries with 50 cars - the latter being stowed on either beam where there was restricted height due to the overhang caused by cabins on the level above.
Above: The upper vehicle deck featured mezzanine car decks which, when lowered, meant the deck as a whole had capacity for as many as 182 cars on its two levels.
Below: Aft on B Deck was an open-plan bar area with free-standing chairs and a bar counter on the starboard side. This is the view looking forward on one of the Spirit class. (Picture courtesy Arjan van Gelder)
Above:  A view of the cafeteria food servery area, looking forward.
Above: The counter service perfume and souvenir shops. (Picture courtesy Arjan van Gelder)
Above & below: More pictures of the fixed seating areas on C Deck. Again, the wood-effect panelling of many areas of the ship is evident. (Picture above courtesy Arjan van Gelder)