Saturday, September 1, 2012

Ferry Bad Food on the Oscar Wilde

We love going on holidays.  It's the anticipation of packing the car with our clothes and my cooking utensils so I can make some home cooked dinners in our apartment or mobile home in France.  We are confirmed Francophiles (ignoring the fact that The Hubs can only say "large beer please" in French...) and we have had many wonderful holidays there over the past 15 years.  We usually get the ferry as we can fill the car to capacity with fantastic wine on the way home and I do appreciate a night at sea to prepare ourselves for the holiday that lies ahead.  The only negative is the food.  And boy, it's bad.

We've only ever had one ferry crossing to France where we could honestly say "that was delicious".  That accolade belongs to Brittany Ferries who sail from Cork to Roscoff every Saturday.  Their catering is superb - fresh fish, meat, bread... you name it, they have it and it is worth every penny.  I commend their food policy and wish others would take example.  Sadly, we sailed (yet again) with Irish Ferries on their flagship Oscar Wilde ship from Rosslare to Roscoff where every year we board the ship saying "the food will have improved, won't it?".

All fur coat...

Once again, we were wrong.  Irish Ferries have a captive audience and either serve greasy canteen fodder in The Left Bank which makes hospital food taste like Michelin-starred cuisine or charge €30 for two courses in their flagship Le Bernardin restaurant.  It takes a lot of skill to make food taste this bad and the proof is in the barely touched plates that the waitresses clear from tables throughout the evening.  I knew things were bad when the fast-food hating Hubs muttered that "even McDonalds would taste much better than this crap".  And he's right.  A quick Twitter poll mirrored our experience.  Basically, the food is dire but the drink is cheap, and you need it to wash away the taste of the grease...

Our cabin class entitled us to a complimentary breakfast this morning in Le Bernardin and at first glance, it appeared impressive but one taste had me putting my knife and fork back onto the table as it was dreadful.  The pork products tasted of nothing at all, even the white pudding, and the hash brown was just a puddle of grease masquerading as a fried shredded potato cake.  To be frank, it was inedible, and at almost €15, was appalling value for money.  To be honest, you'd be better off stopping off at Ikea in Brest for their breakfast at less than 1/4 of the price Irish Ferries charge.

I know that all companies are under pressure to cut costs and keep numbers up to satisfy shareholders.  But does anybody in Irish Ferries actually eat good food?  It's not difficult to be honest - there are plenty of quality suppliers in Ireland who I am sure would be delighted to work with such a large company and anything would improve the current abberation they now sell as food.  Shame on you, Irish Ferries.  You should be embarrassed to serve such rubbish to both Irish people travelling abroad and the millions of tourists whose first experience of Irish cuisine is the dross which you serve on board.

Open your eyes, eat some decent food and change your menus and suppliers.  People need a change and it is your responsibility to make that change.


  1. So true!! Try being a vegan on top of the disgusting food that is on offer! A big cooler box and the largest overnight picnic ever is a must!

  2. I'd agree that the food is poor on the Oscar Wilde. Coming from France to Ireland in particular we usually make sure we've got a nice range of goodies for a picnic in our cabin.

    I would say though that I've found the staff to be universally friendly on the boat. They are a credit to the company.

  3. We also went to France on the Oscar Wilde. We were to have travelled with daughter and her boyfriend. Being unsure of their dates, I paid extra for the 'Flexibility Package'. Daughter and BF could not travel and I asked Irish Ferries what they could do for us. They told me that I could pay a 25% penalty (€250) if I cancelled under the package, I was left in a bind. We resolved to spend nothing more with them and I brought roast lemon and thyme chicken with a Pinot Grigio for our main and three Irish cheeses with a St. Emilion to finish. We brought our home made muesli, fruit and yoghurt. We did similar on the return leg with supermarket roast chicken, french cheeses and less wine. Total spend with Irish Ferries was on 4 cups of pretty awful tea. Awful customer service but we took great pleasure eating fine food and drinking fine wine just outside the awful restaurant.

  4. We are travelling to Brittany next month and I was checking out the menus on board the Oscar Wilde. The ship itself looks great but was worried about the food as if it's a rough sailing we skip food in the evening and just go for the restaurant breakfast. It's our first trip to France in 9 years and we're all pretty excited - I think it will be a cabin picnic for us. Thanks for the heads up!!

    1. Breda, we are back to France tomorrow on the Oscar Wilde. We are definitely packing a picnic (the cooler packs are chilling as I type!). If you're worried about a rough crossing, get Dramamine or Stugeron and take it before you board. I am a ferociously bad traveller and this is my saviour

  5. I always have a salad and it tastes absolutely delicious. So stay at home if you are a bunch of miserable know-all gourmets!

  6. Anonymous,

    You're very lucky it seems. Which restaurant do you have your salad in

  7. Hot water is free on the OW and you can buy fresh milk. Take everything else yourself. Last year coming home we had the most amazing picnic outside on the deck whilst watching the Dolphins follow the ship