I wasn’t particularly looking forward to our ferry crossing to Holland. But I’m surprised to say that the seven hours and 15 minutes which I spent on board the Stena Brittanica ferry from Harwich were actually relaxing and enjoyable.
I was driving to Holland to stay at Duinrell holiday park (I’ll be writing about that soon) for a week during the Easter holidays with my son (13), my sister and her son (14). Stena Line had kindly invited us to experience their Harwich to the Hook of Holland service. The crossing was perfect for us because Duinrell is only around 40 minutes’ drive from the Hook of Holland port.
Getting on to the ferry was easy – we showed our passports and were given tickets for the crossing, our cabin and dinner in the restaurant. We found our cabin easily – number 10316, on Deck 10 – and I was impressed by how cosy and comfortable it was. It was a Comfort Class 2-Berth Cabin with an outside window. Here’s a short video to show you what the cabin is like:
We’d left home at 6am to make the 9am crossing, and by the time we got on the ferry we were hungry and thirsty. We left our bags in the cabin and headed to the self-service restaurant on Deck 9 for breakfast. I had scrambled egg, toast and coffee and my son had bacon, sausage, baked beans, toast and hot chocolate, which cost 13,50 euros in total. It was all good, and just what we needed after our early start.
Facilities on board
After breakfast I went to explore the rest of Deck 9, which is where all of the passenger facilities are located. Besides the self-service restaurant there’s an à la carte restaurant, a children’s play area, a cinema, a bar, an information and exchange office, a shop, a ‘quiet area’ with seating and tables, a TV lounge, an enclosed smokers’ lounge and an outside sun deck. There was a calm, relaxing atmosphere, and the interior design reminded me of a cruise ship. Outside I found an enclosed football area on one side of the ferry and seating and viewing areas on the other.
Back at our cabin we settled in for the journey. The boys adjusted the temperature of the cabin until it was to their liking, plugged in their devices to charge them up (luckily we’d remembered to take our adapters on board) and checked out the TV channels. They were enthralled by the Jeremy Kyle show.
We made ourselves comfortable with the quilts and pillows (there were only two, so we had to take turns) on the beds and watched from our window as the ferry set off for Holland. My sister made drinks for all of us and I stretched out on one of the comfortable beds and dosed, as I was unusually sleepy (note to self: read the back of travel sickness tablet packets before taking any tablets). We all found that we were quite thirsty during the crossing, and we drank most of the drinks which were provided in our cabin. There were various teas and coffees, still and sparkling water and juices, as well as beer and wine (we didn’t drink any of the alcohol). We also bought drinks on board.
It was brilliant having the cabin to use as a comfortable base. The en suite shower room had shower gel and soft, white towels and the boys both had a shower and used the hairdryer in the cabin afterwards. They went to check out the football pitch, but our football was in the car, so they couldn’t actually use it. There were three films showing at the cinema during the crossing, and the boys chose to see Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip, at a cost of 7,00 euros each.
Towards the end of the crossing we went to the restaurant for lunch.
We had a set price two course menu (22 euros per person), and we all thought that it was very good. There were five options for the main course, and I chose Risotto with green peas and asparagus served with truffle oil and toasted pine nuts. It was delicious. The boys enjoyed steak, my sister chicken. We opted for dessert (rather than starter) and I had a very tasty slice of apple pie, while the boys chose chocolate torte and my sister decided on fruit salad. The restaurant was quiet, we had a table next to a window and our waiter was friendly and attentive.
On our return crossing our cabin (10322) was a mirror image of the one we’d had six days earlier. The crossing left at 14.15 and we weren’t as hungry or thirsty this time. We were armed with a football, snacks and bottles of water, and we settled straight in to our comfortable cabin. We had dinner at the restaurant – a three-course menu this time (32 euros per person). I’m vegetarian so I opted for Clear Vegetable Soup followed by Risotto with green peas and asparagus, then strawberries for dessert. As before, it was an enjoyable and relaxing meal with good food and service.
My sister says: ‘The cabin was excellent. It’s really nice to have a quiet, comfortable, relaxing place to chill out on a long crossing. It’s great that you can make your own drinks and I like having a private bathroom.’
My 14 year-old nephew says: ‘I’d rather be in the cabin than in the rest of the ferry. The beds are nice and I like the adjustable climate control. It would be better if it had wifi.’
My 13 year-old son says: ‘Definitely get a cabin because then you have your own place to be.’
I enjoyed the crossing and I felt rested and ready to drive when we got to the other side. The restaurant meals that we had were excellent, and it was great having a cabin. I’d recommend taking bottles of water on board, and a football, and extra pillows if you need them.
Stena Line offers two crossings a day, seven days a week from Harwich to the Hook of Holland. Prices start from £59 for a car and driver – the price that you pay depends on when you travel, the number of passengers and other factors.
There are various cabins available on board – prices start from £20, but the price you pay depends on the type of cabin, your travel date and other factors.
Lunch at the à la carte restaurant is 22,00 euros for two courses, children up to 15 years old can have half portions for half price.
Disclosure: Stena Line provided us with our return crossing, cabin and dinner on board for the purposes of this review. Our trip to Duinrell was arranged by Holiday Park Specials. All opinions, words and images are our own.