DFDS Newcastle to IJmuiden

Ferries that operate across the North Sea between the UK and Europe
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fiobhaniar
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DFDS Newcastle to IJmuiden

Post by fiobhaniar »

Made a last minute booking to try this for the first time earlier in the week, here's how it went.

With only two of us travelling, and in an attempt to keep costs down, we went for an inside cabin with two bunks. DFDS tried to flog various extras to us during the booking process, like transfers and meals. The Newcastle to Shields transfer was duly added, but the Amsterdam one wasn't since we were picking up a train in Haarlem. In what turned out to be a catastrophic lapse of judgement, I skipped pre-purchasing meals.

The transfer bus from Newcastle city centre was extremely straight forward, laid back, even. Upon telling the driver I couldn't find the bus tickets in my emails, I was promptly told that it was fine and to grab a seat. Except, all the seats were taken - if not by humans, then by bags. Everybody saw us looking about for a space, but not one person moved their luggage. We stood for the 25 minute ride to the port.

Check-in and security was simple enough, and we were soon aboard Princess Seaways. We were upgraded to an outside cabin for some reason, which I can't imagine was any different from the inside one we paid for, other than it had a window. We dropped our stuff and went for an explore.

The Sky Bar was open by the time we got to it, pints were ordered at a relatively reasonable price, which killed time until departure. After that, we headed for the Explorers restaurant, where we paid nearly €40 a head for some less than spectacular buffet food. Remember the pre-order option on the DFDS website? They were only charging €25 for that. Ouch.

The highlight of the less than memorable meal was undoubtedly one of the children's mascots (a large purple turtle) inadvertently smacking a catering rating.

By this point, the occupants of the club/bar/lounge thing on deck 9 were about as liquified as the vessel's effluent plant. The generic cover band were doing their thing and several of the fifty-somethings on mini-cruises were on the dance floor doing their best impressions of fish attempting to escape an angler's hook. In the games room, a group of German men were monopolising the punchbag machine and recording some alarmingly high scores. I settled for being hammered at air hockey by my travelling companion.

A visit to the duty free was had. The massive clothes selection was little unexpected, but the rest of the fayre was pretty standard. My only complaint was the lack of drinks and snacks that for consumption on board in cabins, as opposed to taking away as gifts. 

And so to bed. My mate went for the top bunk, only to realise that the beer and cocktails consumed aboard had impaired his motor function somewhat, which made climbing the ladder reminiscent of an episode of gladiators. Smug about having bagged the bottom bunk earlier on, I lay down on what appeared to be a lump of concrete. The ship rolled a little, while the engines added a bit of vibration to this sensory bovril. Sleep did not come easily. In the early hours I discovered that curtains were made from recycled wax paper.

My only previous experience of overnight ferry travel was on Stena Line's Harwich to Hoek van Holland services, which pump automated announcements into every cabin rather earlier than is strictly necessary, so that passengers can get back to the important business of spending money. I was pleased to discover that DFDS' announcements were much closer to arrival, although they came thick and fast once started. Within 30 minutes we knew it was time to get up, that the restaurants and shops were open, the names of the colouring-in competition winners, and no doubt more.

After my error with dinner, we opt for a muffin from the coffee shop as we enter the mouth of the IJ. It's a cracking morning and the sheltered decks make for a fantastic spot to watch our arrival, while simultaneously explaining what's happening to my non-ship enthusiast friend.

Remarkably, despite the efforts of sharp-elbowed Geordies, we're one of the first off. Immigration barely glance at my passport, but I have time to watch a group who had been a particular pain being hauled off by customs. A beautiful experience overall.
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Andy-Freeman
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DFDS Newcastle to IJmuiden

Post by Andy-Freeman »

Yes, pre-booking meals is the way to go on this route....you save a fortune as you discovered, if you forget to do so when making your booking I think you can still pre-book when you check-in....for 40Euros a head the buffet probably did seem a bit underwhelming, but at 25Euros I think it is excellent value. Glad you enjoyed it, I hope to go again soon.

Andy
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vikingvoyager
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DFDS Newcastle to IJmuiden

Post by vikingvoyager »

great report...lots of colour...
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ryanh
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DFDS Newcastle to IJmuiden

Post by ryanh »

Great report, thank you. I think Princess Seaways is one of my favourite ferries, maybe in the top 3. Her sister the ex Val de Loire is arguably perhaps the more complete "cruise ferry" but there remains a hint of Scandinavia about the Princess, for me at least, which I slightly prefer; maybe it's because I once sailed to Norway on her.

The morning arrival times are definitely a lot more civilised than on Harwich-Hoek van Holland. Nice as the cabins are, being woken at 5am or whatever ridiculous hour it was by "don't worry, be happy" wasn't my preferred way to start the day.
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LeQuiberon
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DFDS Newcastle to IJmuiden

Post by LeQuiberon »

I love the route for so many reasons but the later arrival in comparison to Stenas Har/HvH offering makes it more favourable for me when travelling from 'up north.

I will be doing the route for the second time this year in July. I did a mini cruse on the Princess in January. Pax loadings were quite decent and the sea was quite bumpy from Newcastle. 
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hcollier
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DFDS Newcastle to IJmuiden

Post by hcollier »

As a regular HVH passenger, I have never understood why the wake up alarm Hoek bound is 90 minutes before arrival, but only 45 when arriving at Harwich.  Thiis isn't even vessel specific because when Stena anually switches the ferries around, the wake up call difference stays the same.  TIP: I normally treat the first two (Hoek bound) as eqivilent of hitting the snooze button.
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vikingvoyager
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DFDS Newcastle to IJmuiden

Post by vikingvoyager »

hcollier wrote: 09 Jun 2024 12:49 As a regular HVH passenger, I have never understood why the wake up alarm Hoek bound is 90 minutes before arrival, but only 45 when arriving at Harwich.  Thiis isn't even vessel specific because when Stena anually switches the ferries around, the wake up call difference stays the same.  TIP: I normally treat the first two (Hoek bound) as eqivilent of hitting the snooze button.

Could it be something to do with the time zone difference and no-one in the crew has realised?! Surely not?
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Dovercalais
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DFDS Newcastle to IJmuiden

Post by Dovercalais »

From memory the wake up call when arriving in Harwich isn't until even after the ship has docked? As they generally arrive quite a while before disembarkation is possible.
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fiobhaniar
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DFDS Newcastle to IJmuiden

Post by fiobhaniar »

ryanh wrote: 08 Jun 2024 12:05 Great report, thank you. I think Princess Seaways is one of my favourite ferries, maybe in the top 3. Her sister the ex Val de Loire is arguably perhaps the more complete "cruise ferry" but there remains a hint of Scandinavia about the Princess, for me at least, which I slightly prefer; maybe it's because I once sailed to Norway on her.

The morning arrival times are definitely a lot more civilised than on Harwich-Hoek van Holland. Nice as the cabins are, being woken at 5am or whatever ridiculous hour it was by "don't worry, be happy" wasn't my preferred way to start the day.

I really like the Princess, my only other cruiseferry experiences have been on the Hoek sisters - which are nice, but it feels like passenger accommodation, especially all the “day” areas being on one deck, is just strapped to the top of a freight vessel (which I suppose it is).
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hcollier
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DFDS Newcastle to IJmuiden

Post by hcollier »

fiobhaniar wrote: 10 Jun 2024 16:06
ryanh wrote: 08 Jun 2024 12:05 The morning arrival times are definitely a lot more civilised than on Harwich-Hoek van Holland. Nice as the cabins are, being woken at 5am or whatever ridiculous hour it was by "don't worry, be happy" wasn't my preferred way to start the day.

I really like the Princess, my only other cruiseferry experiences have been on the Hoek sisters - which are nice, but it feels like passenger accommodation, especially all the “day” areas being on one deck, is just strapped to the top of a freight vessel (which I suppose it is).
The refurb of the main passenger deck on the Hoek sisters was meant to address this, but, in my opinion, missed the mark.  Ripping out the al la carte restaurant to make more seating areas just makes the day crossings feel weirdly more crowded.  Please note that I maybe getting old, jaded and cynical as I cross once a month and have done for 50 odd years. How I still long for the Olau days, which the Princess is a part sister! Sadly the drive to Newcastle for me would be as long as the Hoek crossing itself!
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LeQuiberon
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DFDS Newcastle to IJmuiden

Post by LeQuiberon »

fiobhaniar wrote: 10 Jun 2024 16:06
ryanh wrote: 08 Jun 2024 12:05 Great report, thank you. I think Princess Seaways is one of my favourite ferries, maybe in the top 3. Her sister the ex Val de Loire is arguably perhaps the more complete "cruise ferry" but there remains a hint of Scandinavia about the Princess, for me at least, which I slightly prefer; maybe it's because I once sailed to Norway on her.

The morning arrival times are definitely a lot more civilised than on Harwich-Hoek van Holland. Nice as the cabins are, being woken at 5am or whatever ridiculous hour it was by "don't worry, be happy" wasn't my preferred way to start the day.

I really like the Princess, my only other cruiseferry experiences have been on the Hoek sisters - which are nice, but it feels like passenger accommodation, especially all the “day” areas being on one deck, is just strapped to the top of a freight vessel (which I suppose it is).

That is so true, you really don't feel as though you are on some of the biggest ferries in the world, as the passenger accessible areas are on one side of the vessel, on one deck. You could be on a small ropax and not know the difference. And it really irritates me that don't make more of the port/starboard deck space accessible.

Nevertheless it is a very functional service, facilities are excellent and I must say the sisters are excellent seakeepers - I have used the service many times and never felt a roll.
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fiobhaniar
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DFDS Newcastle to IJmuiden

Post by fiobhaniar »

LeQuiberon wrote: 11 Jun 2024 00:13
fiobhaniar wrote: 10 Jun 2024 16:06

I really like the Princess, my only other cruiseferry experiences have been on the Hoek sisters - which are nice, but it feels like passenger accommodation, especially all the “day” areas being on one deck, is just strapped to the top of a freight vessel (which I suppose it is).

That is so true, you really don't feel as though you are on some of the biggest ferries in the world, as the passenger accessible areas are on one side of the vessel, on one deck. You could be on a small ropax and not know the difference. And it really irritates me that don't make more of the port/starboard deck space accessible.

Nevertheless it is a very functional service, facilities are excellent and I must say the sisters are excellent seakeepers - I have used the service many times and never felt a roll.

The last time I went on Britannica was when there was some exceptionally poor conditions. Went to bed (inside cabin a little bit back from the bow) as we left Harwich, could feel her pitching up and down soon after. Woken a few times in the night by the sensation of dropping as we went over a massive wave. Going to the toilet at 3am was an experience.
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