Saturday April 1, 2000
After several days of good weather, the forecast of Saturday, April 1 did not look very promising. The forecast beyond Saturday looked pretty unpleasant altogether. However, despite prospect of a murky and damp day, the prospect of my first BEN-MY-CHREE voyage since late last Summer was very appealing. I had intended to do the Heysham-Belfast-Dublin run at Christmas as I had done in 1998, but a shorter holiday and all the millennium hassles led to a decision to leave well alone for the Christmas period.
On Saturday I had intended to get out early enough to get to Heysham before the BEN-MY-CHREE arrived and photograph her from the harbour entrance. However delays on the motorway meant that by the time I arrived at the roundabout at Trumacar Road, Heysham, the first Manx registered cars were coming along indicating that the BEN had already arrived and was discharging
Little had changed at the Heysham Terminal since my last visit in late August. The cafe is no longer branded a Little Chef Express, as it, along with the on board services are now directly operated by Sea Containers. Probably a change for the better, as I have never understood the logic of contracting out catering when all receipts could be retained "in house". One disappointment though was that hot mini-doughnuts no longer appear to be available.
Boarding commenced shortly after 13:30 and it was pleasing to note that the passenger gangway was back in use. On my last trip bus boarding had been in operation again as modifications to the quay wall were underway as modifications were underway to the quayside.
On boarding the BEN I discovered that there has been a good attempt to make her more homely and identified with the Isle of Man route - she now has photographs of Manx scenes in the stairways. I climbed the stairs to Deck 8 for the Blue Riband Lounge.