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A friend's fascination for ferries

by Mike

28 April 2015 • A couple of years ago I met Bruno Jonathan in Marseille. Together with another friend, Bruce Peter, we enjoyed a delicious Tunisian lunch before boarding our ferry to Corsica.

Recently I asked Bruno if he wanted to write about his passion for BlackBlueGreen.

So Bruno, when did your interest for the maritime world start?

“As far as I can remember, I have been interested in ships. I was born in Marseille 20 years ago, where I lived for a few years. Driving next to the port and seeing the docked ships fascinated me. It is also from this port that my parents, my brother and I were heading to Corsica every summer for at least ten consecutive years. It was an annual event I was looking forward to. At that time, I began to choose the ships we would take, in order to discover most of the SNCM and La Méridionale’s fleet on the outward journey. On the return one, not taking the cruiseferry NAPOLEON BONAPARTE was almost inconceivable."

Onboard the ill-fated COSTA CONCORDIA.

"Our parents has always wanted my brother and I to travel, once or twice a year. We discovered mainly Mediterranean and southern Europe cities and countries: Lisbon, Madrid, Tunisia, ... Each time, the trip was organized by my father: no travel agency, no tour operator. Internet, phone and travel guides were the main tools. Trips were exotic, as seemed to be the destinations while they were not as original as that.

Early, I created my first blog about passenger ships, called "Fandebateaux" (“Fan of boats” in English). I was posting photographs taken during my crossings. Later on I founded the website PASSENGERSHIPS.FR, which is more "professional".

At 14, I started to contact companies to visit ships during their calls in the port of Marseille. Ferries, but also the famous COSTA CONCORDIA. It was the first time I discovered a cruise ship. Initially intended only to satisfy my curiosity about these ships, I suggested companies to take photographs during these visits, and publish it on my website. One day, a ferry operator answered my request by inviting me to make a journey with them, an offer which I did not expect at that time. It was a very motivating surprise."

Crossing the Med from Marseille to Tunis.

"Since four years I have this kind of deal with fifteen companies. It made me travel to Scandinavia and the North Sea, which was a dream coming through, since I always went to Mediterranean countries when I was younger."

Entering the Oslo Fjord.

"My idea is to go as far as possible - preferably on ships that I do not know, to new destinations - port by port. For instance, last summer I travelled from Toulon to Istanbul on board a Turkish ro-ro ship. On our way to back to Marseille we stopped in Cesme (Turkey), Chios, Piraeus, Patras (Greece), Ancona, Florence, Livorno (Italy) and Bastia (Corsica), by plane, bus, train and ferry of course.

Alongside my activity of editor of my website, I occasionally write articles for the Shippax’ Cruise and Ferry Info magazine."

Along the Greek Coast with ferry BLUE STAR PATMOS.

"Becoming a Merchant Navy officer became a dream, very early. I never considered another job. What job would allow me to combine work and sea travel? After passing my baccalauréat (final exam) nearly two years ago, I headed to a “Prépa” in engineering sciences, physics and mathematics. The Prépa is a typical French system where students integrate very difficult classes in science (or letters, economy, etc ...) for two years, and try to enter the most prestigious schools in the country. After a year in this class, I passed the entrance exam of the Merchant Navy, where I was received. Admitted to the second year of prep class, I chose to become an officer in the merchant navy. I do not currently see myself working in an office every day. Having the sea as working environment suited me more, despite the constraining lifestyle."

With Bruce, Jake and Mathieu on a mini-cruise between Rotterdam and Southampton. Photo: Bruce Peter

“I met other enthusiasts who had their own website or shared ship photos across different web platforms. Many have become great friends, and all are studying to work in the maritime sector or are already working there.”

First day at merchant navy school, with Julien and Mael, two friends. Photo ENSM

“I have been calling shipping companies to find internships as a student officer - in France at first, but abroad later, I hope. Ships are my daily life. A routine, but a routine that I particularly like ! After a report in Spain next month, I will sail as a dual cadet officer on a ferry between Calais and Dover for a month, and at the end of the summer on board a small ferry sailing between Brittany (Brest) and the small island of Ouessant.”

BlackBlueGreen wishes Bruno the very best with his naval career.

WWW.PASSENGERSHIPS.FR