Road trips are my favourite way to explore: just pack the car and off you go. I always love exploring new routes and getting the insights of friends who have taken different routes, which I haven’t tried, especially those across the English Channel. In October, both the lovely Sian from Helpful Mum and I were in the Netherlands, tweeting each other as we enjoyed very different adventures in this easy-to-travel country. We took our normal route- Dover to Dunkirk with DFDS-, but Sian was travelling from Yorkshire so chose the closer port of Hull. I asked her about her crossing:
In the October half term our family embarked on a trip to Holland to go to Center Parcs Port Zelande, near Rotterdam. This was largely because is was considerably cheaper to go to Holland, including the travel, than to go to Center Parcs in the UK for four nights.
We opted to get the ferry from Hull to Rotterdam, an overnight crossing taking twelve hours.
Now, I don’t have sea legs at all, so I was rather nervous about this part! I hadn’t really looked into the type of ferry, how big it was or what there was on board. Largely because I imagined I would just go straight to our cabin when I got on board. Due to the fact that it was an overnight crossing, all bookings come with a basic cabin which have four bunks and a small shower room and toilet. You can upgrade to a cabin with a window, but as we would be travelling overnight, we didn’t imagine that a window would be all that useful. Towels and bedding are provided as standard, meaning you don’t have to lug a load of extra stuff on to the boat.
When we arrived in Hull, the check in procedure was simple and didn’t take long. We arrived a couple of hours before the ferry was due to leave and it wasn’t busy at all then. Once on board, we had parked the car up we headed up to find some food. I hadn’t really thought about the fact that there might be a restaurant on board, or that it would be serving food before we left the port. We ate in the buffet restaurant.
My top tip for this is to book in advance as it says you around 10% of the cost (we did this for the journey on the way back).
The food was great and there was plenty of choice for all of us. There was an option of ordering other food for the children too, so ours had pizza and spaghetti bolognaise.
After food we had a walk around the ferry. It was absolutely massive! There were two cinemas (you have to pay extra for these), a casino, shops and a few different bars and pubs. We went up to the Skylounge on the top deck and had a few cocktails before turning in for the night.
Admittedly it was only about 8pm
but my head was starting to dislike being vertical on a boat and I needed to lie down! We had four pull down bunks in our cabin and they were very comfortable.
Aside from my daughter falling out of her bunk in the night (luckily she was on the bottom), we had a restful night’s sleep. It was a bit noisy until around 11pm with people walking past the cabin, but we didn’t hear anything throughout the night. My husband and I had slept on the top bunks as our children are a bit too small to sleep up top (and we were worried about them falling off).
We were woken by an announcement from the captain at around 6.30am (Dutch time). We brought our own breakfast with us to save money so we got up and ate our bananas, pain au chocolat and breakfast bars. We got our bags together and had a quick walk up to the top deck to see our first glimpse of Holland, before heading back down to our car.
Disembarking was also incredibly smooth and happened very quickly. There was a small lay-by we could pull over in and wait for our friends’ car to come off the ferry too.
We had a wonderful experience on P&O ferries and would highly recommend the crossing between Hull and Rotterdam. My tips for the journey would be:
book the buffet restaurant in advance;
pack a small bag with everything you need for one night,
take something for breakfast to save you having to buy it on board
Fab tips! Thanks Sian!
Do you have any tips for ferry travel?