“ They transport 1.7 million passengers and 200,000 cars on eight routes traversing the sea between Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Germany, Holland, and Great Britain. „
As a much travelled person I occasionally am called upon to get moving at short notice.
This occasion was no exception, get to Frankfurt then Lausanne complete with kit was the order.
Never forget "You get what you pay for" and cheap items, ultimately, tend to be very expensive.
In this instance DFDS really fitted the description to the 'T'.
Had all things been average and had gone to plan maybe the ferry crossing from Dover to Dunkirk would have been completed with standard DFDS mediocrity but they didnt and this is where the folly of cheap companies and offers starts to show (except that DFDS is not cheap, except for the service);
No Refunds FULLSTOP !
Try calling the premium charge number and it is surprising how long it takes to get a reply, in one case four minutes of brain deadening music but no reply. Just as a tester I called the sales line and was answered instantly.
The email line is O.K. if a qualified British person answers other wise . . .
Eventually after some chasing around the premium telephone line was resorted to again and this time a reply came slightly more quickly.
Changed the day of travel, and the vehicle then the catch. the new fare was horrendous and although a full return had been paid for only the outward journey payment was included in the calculations but because I was not returning with DFDS the paid return journey was not deducted from the new fare. Quite clever eh ?
Finally that was it and the poor chap at the other end of the premium line was politely told to cancel the lot.
Then it was discovered that the cross channel train service costs a lot less is twice as fast and has better terms.
NEVER AGAIN WILL I WASTE TIME WITH DFDS SEAWAYS.
we've just had our booking for a mini break changed, so we'll get less than 3 hours in amsterdam, so we've cancelled it and won't use dfds again as i believe thats extremely poor service, and on top of that it's hard work tring to phone them to cancel. Lets just hope they manage to refund us properly.
traveling at 6am. they know an infant is onboard. plus one of the travellers was pregnant! got message that ferry has been cancelled(ok), but still to arrive at same time as a alternative would be arranged! i went to website just to see what information they had and should we come later as we don't want to wait around. the only advice they had was you must still arrive on time well before your supposed departure time. when we arrived at the passport check, the guy was very very sour faced and rude and just said we have to wait until the 8am ferry. no apoligy was given and he didn't want to hear anything we had to say. if they just told us to come for the next ferry we could have arrived close to the new time rather than wait arround!!. bit of advice for the guy who checked our car in, you might be happier in life if you learnt to smile sometimes!!
note: no place on the official website of dfds for complants so i am presuming they must get a lot of complaints and can't be bothered to deal with them!!
overall not a company that prides it self on taking care of it's customers!!
I went from Newcastle to IJmuiden (Amsterdam) on-board the King Seaways, we both had a really good crossing, which was helped by good weather.
Cabin: A standard Crossing is very small. Thankfully I have sailed on the King before so I knew beforehand how small the cabins really are, so I suggested to my partner that we booked separate cabins so that we both had more space which turned out to be a really good idea as she brought so much stuff that you could hardly move in her cabin. You can pay more money and have a commodore or de-luxe commodore cabin, but it is quite pricey.
Restaurants: Very expensive. In fact everything on board is expensive. I didn't eat on board, again having been on board before I was aware of this and we ate at the Brewers Fayre restaurant in North Shields before boarding. However on the return voyage my partner had a steak which cost over 30 Euro.
Bars: I have to say I enjoyed the entertainments. In the Columbus Club they had three singers and they sang extremely well, seeing as we sailed in September and the busy period had ended I was impressed with the amount they had on. In the Navigation Bar on Deck 8 which I call the Piano Bar, they have a Piano sitting there that never gets used anymore, and one man and his guitar, he plays well.. when he plays. I noticed he plays for about 30 minutes then disappeared for about 20 minutes for a break. Again very expensive, you wouldn't want many drinks onboard. One Coke cost 4 Euro!!
Amsterdam: I found this to be very well organised. If you do the 2 day minicruise you automatically get a sightseeing tour with your ticket. You get off board, go through Passport Control then straight onto a coach which takes you on a brilliant tour around Amsterdam. The tour takes around an hour and a half and drops you off outside the Victoria Hotel opposite Amsterdam Centraal station. You then have a few hours to explore the city.
A bit of advice
- If you don't want to eat onboard due to the prices, then just before you get to the North Shields Ferry Terminal you will see a Premier Inn hotel on your right, there is a restaurant next to it and they serve very good food, it will save you money for Amsterdam. There are also some good restaurants around Amsterdam as well.
- If you suffer claustrophobia and there isn't any more Commodore cabins left then book two separate cabins, it might cost a bit but trust me it really is worth it as you have more space.
- Do not take your own drinks or food into the bars or restaurants. 4 Euro might sound a lot for a coke but if they see you sneaking food or drink in they will confiscate it, so either eat in your cabins or pay the high price for a simple drink
- If you want to enjoy exploring the ship without people getting in the way, go out in the middle of the night, I have to say that exploring the ship during the night was one of my favourite memories of the crossing. You feel like you have the entire ship to yourself and it's great to explore.
- Take your own shower gel. The shower gel offered on the cruise is a horrible gel attached the wall by the sink, that my partner described as smelling like vomit. Bring your own and save any problems.
- Bring your own adapter. If you coming from the UK, do not forget to bring a continental power supply. They do not have any UK electric points on board the DFDS boats. So if you forget your continental power supply you either have to survive two days without charging anything or pay ridiculous amout of money in the ships shop for one.
- Sail out of season and last minute. The reason for this is you can keep an eye on the weather. There is nothing worse than being on a boat that is rocking and makes you ill. I always planned to do the sailing this year (2011) but wanted the conditions to be right. If you go out of season the boat is quieter and DFDS are desperate to sell more tickets so they end up selling tickets at cheaper prices to get people on board, I paid £80 for a standard cabin return, where in the summer you can pay £200 plus. I booked it the day before I sailed, and kept an eye on the weather prior to booking, you just need to check the shipping forecast and type in wind map on google and you will get an accurate report of what the wind and sea will be like over the coming days. It was a lifesaver for me and we had such a calm crossing. In fact the tour guide in Amsterdam said that the sea was the most calmest it had been in weeks, so a little research and last minute booking really can save you money and can save you being seasick. Even on a calm crossing like I experienced I found the King to still rock slightly and bump around a bit which made me feel a bit queezy on the outward journey until I got used to it. So imagine what a rough crossing would be like. If you do find yourself on a rough crossing there are sick bags located all over the ship, very off putting I must say
Cheap but nasty, we bought a return ticket, on the way back we arrived a bit early, car trips in Europe are nearly impossible to time perfectly, so a common occurence.DFDS receptionist at the port laughted in our face when we asked if we could sail earlier, no such facilities by DFDS!We had to go to calais and return with P&O ferries, interestingly they have a policy of allowing you to sail two sailings before or after your ticket time, unlike DFDS.I wasted my money buying a DFDS ticket, sometimes trying too hard to save costs more in the end, DFDS is on that category. New swedish owners of the old and good Norfolk line have no comprehension of customer service!
When booking, they do not provide you with a proper paer/email copy of confirmation. Instead they link you to a confirmation on their website, which can be changed. Therefore if something goes wrong with your booking and they change it, you can't prove it was anything different, and end up paying extra when you phone up and ask for a change. This could also ruin your holiday experience, as when you ask to change, you could find out there are no more rooms available as the one you originally asked for. This happened to me, and instead of a double, we got bunks! Then on phoning and asking it to be changed, no doubles were available, and we paid an extra £17 for singles. Travelling as a couple, we were not at all happy having to sleep in seperate beds!
This cruise was the worst one I had experienced. The ship rocked so much that I was seasick for the whole time onboard and couldn't get any sleep or consume much food. Also, the buffet food they offer in their seven seas restaurant is a total ripoff for the price they are charging you bearing in mind that the price does not even offer you basic tea or coffee. It costs £2.50 for a bottle of water. I find it is unacceptable and despicable that hot drinks are not included in a £26 buffet plus the customer service is appalling from the waitresses. Don't query the price with them cos they do not like it. As with the food, don't expect anything spectacular or expensive, just something you can eat from normal supermarkets and there were flies hovering over the cold food and desserts which was disgusting. Oh and they only allow you to have 2 hours to eat so it wasn't a relaxing dinner at all. The worst thing about this company is they are irresponsible and deceiving. They will not own up to their staff's mistakes even though they admit their staff gave you misleading information causing financial loss to the customer. I would strongly NOT recommend this company to anybody at all. P&O is much much better. STEER CLEAR OF THIS COMPANY!!
HARWICH TO ESBJERG
For anyone wishing to try cruising without having to spend a lot of money or spend too many days at sea there is another option other than the recognised cruise lines. There are several ferry companies operating out of the UK with regular crossings to Europe, some of which require an overnight stay on board resulting in an economical way to experience cruising.
Obviously the facilities on board these ferries are not in the same league as the large purpose built cruise ship with their swimming pools and numerous other resort type attractions. However, the standard of cabins and restaurants can be refreshingly good and it can certainly be a most relaxing way to cross the sea as part of your European holiday or in my case a mini trip in its own right.
We was sailing out of Harwich with DFDS on the m.s. Dana Sirena. m.s. Dana Sirena was built in 2002 and can accommodate over 600 passengers and 435 cars and provides an alternative daily service, carrying car and foot passengers as well as freight from Harwich on the east coast of England to Esbjerg in Denmark. The crossing takes approximately eighteen hours and you can choose from three cabin grades and have inside or sea view cabins.
The time of departure was 18:00 and check in was from 17:00, unlike airports there is no need to arrive hours before. We arrived in good time at 16:45 and as we had driven to the port we left our car in the Pay at Meter car park, it was then just a short walk (or lift) up the stairs to the terminal building. There is a cafe and toilet facilities as well as the DFDS office prior to the departure lounge, Harwich is also served by a direct rail service to London Liverpool Street and other local branch networks for those not wishing to drive.
Check in was quick and efficient and we were soon settling into our twin cabin with sea view, the cabin was small but comfortable and had its own private shower/wc. I arranged to have a tour of one of the Commodore De Luxe Class cabins and lounge, these are situated higher up on the ship and can only be accessed by staff and passengers staying in those cabins, the cabins are larger and more resemble a good hotel room than the standard cabins, you also have access to a private lounge and bar where you can take your meals if you wish, there is always a steward on hand to help.
Feeling rather envious of the fantastic views and comfort of the Commodore Class I returned to my own cabin and got ready for dinner. There are four eating options, The Seven Seas Restaurant, Explorers Steakhouse, The Blue Riband Restaurant and The Lighthouse Cafe. We decided to treat ourselves to The Blue Riband Restaurant with its a la carte menu, excellent food and very pleasant surroundings, the waiters were very attentive. Tables by the windows are reserved for those staying in the Commodore Class
cabins. The Seven Seas Restaurant serves hot and cold food from a self service food station and for lighter snacks then the Lighthouse Cafe should suffice.
After dinner we took in the entertainment in the bar, a male singer/guitarist who was very entertaining with a good mix of songs. We then retired for the night to our adequately comfortable beds. Ships time is one hour ahead of British time C.E.T.
I had a very pleasant walk around the deck before breakfast, a little bracing as this was mid October but the sea had been (and will continue to be so throughout our cruise) very calm. Breakfast was a full English in The Seven Seas Restaurant, after that it was a case of relaxing until our arrival in Esbjerg at 13:00.
The ship does offer a coach excursion to Ribe, a beautiful town to the south of Esbjerg but as we had experienced that excursion on our last mini trip to Esbjerg (which incidentally was from Harwich on board The Dana Anglia some ten years earlier and was a three day mini trip with one night in port in Esbjerg) we decided this time to make our own arrangements and once ashore we headed directly to the offices of Scandlines and purchased tickets for the next ferry over to the little island of Fano.
The crossing took just twelve minutes on what is basically a car ferry with an upper deck for passengers with basic seating available. The island of Fano is well worth a visit for anyone who enjoys scenery and peace and quiet, it has many thatched cottages and has a certain charm about it. We explored Fano for a couple of hours before returning to Esbjerg where we discovered that as it was a Saturday afternoon most of the shops were closed. We found a nice cafe/bar and whiled away the time before boarding at 17:45 for our 18:45 departure.
As we had enjoyed our meal in The Blue Riband Restaurant so much the night before we decided to eat in there again. We did look at the food available in The Seven Seas Restaurant and it did look very nice and would have been easier on the pocket but we felt like spoiling ourselves as we were having such a good day. As with the previous night, the food, service and atmosphere were perfect, I certainly didn't expect to find such good food on a ferry across the North Sea. After dinner we took in the entertainment again in the bar before retiring to our cabin.
In the morning we had a full English breakfast in The Seven Seas Restaurant before having a walk around the ship, it was a beautiful sunny Autumn day, the sea was the calmest that I had ever seen the North Sea (and I have crossed it dozens of times) and as we sat on deck resting, taking in the sunshine we really could have been on a cruise. We arrived back in Harwich at 12:00 feeling relaxed and recharged.
For anyone wanting a mini break with a difference this is certainly an inexpensive option, DFDS also have a service from Newcastle to Amsterdam and have a good selection of short breaks in Denmark, Sweden and Holland.
If you have enjoyed my review then I have many more on my blog at www.independentworldtravelreviews.blogspot.com
I had a horrifying experience on the DFDS Seaways Princess of Norway. The whole boat smells like cigarettes and fish. The customer service is non-existant. The food is extremely overpriced. The cabins are tiny. The boat goes back and forth and thrashes around in the water, you feel every wave. It feels very unsafe. We were delayed 4 hours. People were fighting in the hallway and there was blood everywhere, no one did anything about it. It was disgusting. I spent 250 quid to come home on trains even though I had already paid for my return ferry ticket. It was a horrendous, horrifying experience and I wouldn't advise anyone to take it. If I could give it 0 stars, I would.
travelled monday 5 sept 2010, my husband was a bit scepticle of the trip,i had a more open mind, set sail at 5pm, we had booked the buffet meal at 6pm (ship time), it looked amazing and everything we ate was lovely, the waitress comes to table with some sparkiling wine with a strawberry on top of glass, asking if you would like champagne with your meal, when you says yes she tells you its 4.95 euros each, bottle of wine on special offer is 24.95 euros, 1 litre bottle of still mineral water is 6.50 euros. after meal went back to cabin , we had double bed which was comfy enough, but small, then the sea sickness started,it was awful. went up to the night club that night sipping water, the sea was so choppy everyone was struggling to walk, even the staff. that night in bed was terrible hardly had any sleep, the ship was rocking from side to side,back and foward,the crashing noises were terrifying, spent most of the night hanging on to the sides of the bed. the waves were smashing off our cabin windowm we were on deck 6. the captain announced at 7.30am that due to extreme weather conditions, we were extremely delayed, and wouldnt dock until 2.30pm, which meant we would get to visit amsterdam, i was so dissapointed, all the sickness, lack of sleep, and dont even get to go amsterdam, the whole point of the trip for us. we did dock at 2.30pm and were taken by bus to the local town and walked around for 2 hours lokking at the shops, there were about a dozen shops, the back to ship. thankfully the 2nd night on board wasnt so choppy, entertainment on board is actually good,well i enoyed it anyway, they also charged 7.50 euros each for cinema,we idnt use it,got back to newcastle at 10.30am on the wednesday, to be offered 50% off our next mini cruise with dfds, no compensation!!! no dont think so thats one experience i wont be repeating.
I recently went on a mini cruise to Amsterdam with DFDS, travelling between Newcastle and Ijmuiden on their King of Scandinavia.
On first boarding the ship appeared large, grand and clean. However when it then came to finding the room we realised how small the cabin area's were. Cabin door's were paired together with the same opposite. Once into the room it was clean enough however a lot smaller than expected. There was one bed which was made up and a bunk bed which you had to pull down, the ladder from the bunk bed was broken meaning that it didn't sit safely on the bed and so in the end we took the mattress off and put it on the floor. In order to do this the mattress had to go under the bed slightly and also what was supposed to be a sofa but was more like a one person chair. The walls were covered in Lino and had an awful picture on the wall. Due to the fact the mattress was on the floor there was no floor space so we had to climb over the mattress. There is no storage space apart from a couple of coat hangers near the door. The bathroom is a small cupboard which is a walk in shower room, a toilet and a sink. The door was stiff and so I was stuck in it at one point and couldn't get out. The rooms are fitted with a tannoy which can be rather annoying as you do get messages about how the shop's are open etc.
The facilities on the board were ok, although a bit over priced. There was a cinema in the basement, a casino, a 'club', sports bar and then several restaurants. The restaurants consisted of a steak house and all you can eat buffet (which charged 31 euro's per person!!!) in the end we settled on the most basic restaurant in which we had fish and chips and a drink for just under 15 euro's each. Not cheap but cheapest there was. Gifts and refreshments were also very over priced costing around 3 euro's for a small glass of coke. Own private refreshments were not allowed in public area's and were confiscated. If we could have found a power supply in our room I think we would have taken a travel kettle to make tea and coffee in the room.
In the end we bought sandwiches in Amsterdam and a bottle of pop and stayed in the cabin reading on the way home.
We took this crossing in April 2009 beginning on a Monday evening and returning Thursday evening. A lot of people seem to take the 2 night deal but it means you only get about 4 hours in Amsterdam before you come back. Booking 2 separate nights on the boat with a few days in between (which you can book into a hotel in the city) doesnt cost any extra money and is better if you want to actually see the sights.
Back to the boat.......there were 2 of us and we opted for an inside cabin with no windows and bunk beds and the return journey cost £156 in total. These cabins are very small and not a good idea if either of you have mobility problems as neither of us have any problems but didnt really like climbing onto the top bunk. This is especially relevant if you happen to get poor weather on your crossing as it can be a little nerve-wracking. However since we are young and easy going (and dont spend our holidays in our room!) this cabin was fine and did the job, and I must admit I slept very well on the trip from Newcastle to Amsterdam.
We happened to get the same boat in both directions, the Scandinavia, so I cant comment on the second boat which takes this route on opposing days, however Im assured that the facilities are basically the same.
Food - There is a buffet restaurant on board, The 7 Seas, which we found to be very overpriced at 31 euros (much like most things on board) so didnt venture into here. There was no sample menu to give an idea of the food but the advertisement board seemed only to have a varied arrangement of fish which certainly would not be my choice of meals. There is also The Blue Ribband, the upmarket a-la-carte restaurant on board. Again we didnt bother with this as the menu was very selective. As well as this is the Explorer restaurant at which most of the menu appeared to be burgers and salad. Sounds good right? Except you are looking at 15-20 euros for the most basic of burgers. There is also a cafe located just past the explorer which serves hot drinks and cakes and has some lovely offerings.
Bars - The main bar is called the Columbus Club and on most crossings you will find a variety of entertainment including a live band, bingo and a show. Unfortunately this show isnt changed for the trip back, so you really have to hope that you happen to be on the other boat back. Our trip involved a hungarian pop rock band and a hungarian dance act with a magic act section. It wasnt good Ill be honest, think summer camp by the sea as a child and thats the level of entertainment you can expect, but actually its much better than no show at all! The sports bar doubles as a nightclub later in the evening and the navigator bar is in the style of a piano bar, however the entertainment here is one man and his guitar which is a bit disapointing though he isnt all that bad.
Other activities - On board there is a casino, slot machine, a cinema and a shop. While sounding like a quite a lot of things to do, I did get quite bored. Id suggest taking a book for the crossing and a bit of extra thought before taking kids.
Getting to Amsterdam from the boat - The company lay on buses to central station which you can book with your cabin or pay for on the day at 15 euros return each. The bus takes around 30 minutes to get to the station but can take twice as long on busy days. A sightseeing tour is also available.
Return crossing - As I mentioned before we ended up on the same boat on the way home although with not so great weather. We spent the first few hours holding on to our stomach in the cabin which surprised me as Im not prone to travel sickness. We were assured that this was not a 'bad' crossing therefore I would think twice about the boat as an option if you suffer badly from this kind of sickness.
Overall this was a far more interesting way to travel than the plane, however I was disapointed at the lack of variety available not only in the entertainment and the food. Im not a fussy person and often stay in hostels and take budget flights, however I felt like I needed more space on the boat purely due to the length of time the crossing takes. Its certainly a different way to get to Amsterdam but the jury is still out here on whether its a better way or not.
Found a two for one offer atwww.AmsterdamMiniCruise.comPaid £67 for two of us. Had a nice clean cabin with en suite facilities and excellent entertainment on Board. Weekends are busier so if you want the action go on Friday or Saturday sailings. If you want a quiet trip go midweek.Had about 6 hours in Amsterdam. he covered the cost of the trip with duty free on the way back
Back in February I won a mini-cruise to Amsterdam in a competition. Personally, this is not the sort of holiday I would have chosen for myself - firstly you only get one day in the city itself and I would have preferred to have had a longer stay, and secondly, I'm sure most of us have seen Titanic, and we all know how that ended!
~About the trip we booked~
There are several different trips that you can book with DFDS, but due to this being a prize, we were not given a choice in this. As well as the mini-cruises we booked, there are also Holidays which I believe entail staying with a Centre-Parcs once you get there, or you can book a simple ferry crossing as foot passenger or with a car. You can sail from either Newcastle (or technically North Shields) or Harwich. The ship we were on was The Princess of Norway.
The mini cruise we won, departed on Wednesday afternoon, arriving in Amsterdam on Thursday morning. You get until around 4pm to look around the city, before getting back on the ship and returning to the UK at around 9.30am the next morning.
Although this was a prize, I still had to book in the normal way, the only difference being that I had been given a code to input onto the web booking form, entitling me to have this free. You can book either online at www.dfdsseaways.co.uk or over the phone by calling 0871 522 9955. If you want to book by telephone you will need to pay a booking fee, something that is becoming quite common with a lot of companies now. The fee is £20 for Ferry Service Transport, Holidays and Motoring breaks, and £10 for Short Cruise Breaks.
I booked online, as this was a condition of the terms of my prize, however I would have chosen this method anyway, as I find it more convenient and I don't see the point in paying an unnecessary booking fee. I found the website very easy to navigate - there is an option on the homepage stating 'book online' which takes you straight to the booking form.
The form itself is simple and set out in steps. You can also use this form to get a quote for a trip, by only using the first few steps.
The first step is to select dates from the calendar provided, as well as number of passengers and vehicles.
Step two is to choose your cabin. At first this list can seem quite daunting, as there are quite a few cabin options to choose from, but you will notice that next to each cabin is a letter 'i' which, when clicked will bring up a picture of the inside of the cabin and give you information about it. There are two classes to choose from 'Seaways Class' which is standard class, and 'Commodore Class' which is basically first class, and costs a lot more, but you will get better rooms and exclusive access to the Commodore Class restaurant if you choose this option - no need to dine with the little people!
Moving on, the next step is to select any meals you would like included. Booking meals are optional , but by booking online it states that you can save up to 15%. If you don't choose to buy your meals at the same time as the booking, you can either buy them whilst on the boat, or you are permitted to take your own food. We chose the latter option, as I went with my sister who is a very fussy eater- to be honest I'm surprised she hasn't dropped down dead with malnutrition, with such a limited diet!
You are then given the option of buying Travel insurance, which for a 3 day mini-cruise is only £9, so quite reasonable.
The last steps in booking are to enter your name and address, and payment details.
Once you have submitted your booking, you will be sent a booking confirmation, with a booking reference number. You will need to either print this email or write down the number, because you are not actually issued with a paper ticket, nor do you receive any correspondence through the post to confirm you have booked. I printed the email twice, and saved a screenshot of the email to a memory stick, as well as filing it in a folder marked 'Do not delete' just to be safe!!
The email you are sent includes a link to a fact file, which has some information, such as the currency used on board (both euros and sterling) and what times you need to return to the ship. Personally I did not find this all that useful, as a lot of the info didn't really seem to apply to us. There is a section of the website entitles 'Travel Information' which I found was much more useful to me than the fact file.
Something else, I must mention, is that you are given the option of having a sightseeing tour included for free with your booking. Initially when I booked, I chose this option, but after speaking to other people who had been on the same breaks, I changed my mind, as you only get a limited time in Amsterdam as it is and I'm told the sightseeing tour takes 2 hours. Even if you have chosen this option, you are under no obligation to actually go on the tour.
~Getting to the Ferry Terminal~
Our trip went from North Shields to Amsterdam. Luckily I live in Newcastle and my sister lives in Durham, so we were both pretty close to it. There are coaches that leave from outside of Central Station to the terminal pretty regularly, or if you prefer you can go via the Tyne and Wear Metro, but you will need to get off at Percy Main, not North Shields. If you want to drive, car parking will cost you £6 a day, which would have made it £18 for the full 3 days of our trip. We managed to get a lift, and I noticed that there were lots of sign-posts to the terminal.
~Check-in and Boarding~
You will be given boarding times on the booking confirmation. Our ship left at 17:30 but we were told we needed to check in and board the ship between 15:00 and 16:45. The Ferry terminal at North Shields is quite large, and has toilets on the left as you go in, a small café where you can get something to eat before you board, and a check-in area to the right.
When you go to the check-in desk you will need to present your booking reference number, and you will each be given a boarding card. It is very important to keep this boarding card safe, as it also acts as the key to your cabin door, and you need to present it at various points, such as getting on the coach once you're there and when buying anything from the duty free shop.
Once you have went through passport control, you can board the ship and there are stewards waiting who will check your boarding cards and point you in the right direction of your cabin.
As I mentioned, in the booking stage, you are able to see a picture of the cabin. I was quite surprised when we got to the cabin, that it actually looked just like the picture! I honestly thought, that it would be a very awful version of the picture, but it was pretty much the same.
The cabins are very basic (in Seaways Class at least), but are functional, and I don't think they really need to include anything else. The cabin we booked had bunk beds, but you can also choose a double or twin beds. The beds have reading lights above each. There is a small sofa, a little bedside table, and a dressing table, with a stool, and a light above it. You also have your own bathroom, which has a wash basin, toilet and shower. There are hooks and coat hangars, but no wardrobe space as such, but if you are only going for 2 nights that shouldn't be too much of a problem. There are two point plug sockets, so if you need to take any electrical appliances with you, you will need an adaptor.
There is also an air conditioning unit - when we went it was roasting hot, and even on the coldest option it wasn't all that cool. The duvets supplied were pretty thick too, which didn't help. There is a radio on the wall which has four channels, all in Dutch, but some of the music you will recognise. Announcements are also made over this radio - such as safety announcements and when the shops open etc...
The cabins are cleaned and bins emptied whilst you are out of the room. You are supplied with towels and these will also be replaced with fresh ones while you are out.
~Facilities On Board~
There are lots of facilities on board - a guest service centre, which is basically like a reception, where you can get information and also have your boarding card replaced should you lose it. There is a cinema, which shows fairly recent films - some of the ones I can remember being on when we were there were Enchanted, Juno and I am Legend. All films are in English.
There are several restaurants and Café's some of which need reservations, others which don't . As I said, my sister is quite a fussy eater, so we didn't actually eat in any of them, but we wandered through, and I didn't think it looked like they had much variety on offer. Also, I am told that they are very expensive.
There is a 'casino' at the back of the bar, which basically consists of a blackjack table and a roulette wheel. The whole time we were there I never saw anyone use this facility.
There are two bars, one of which seemed to play music on a jukebox, the other of which had live entertainment. This was the one we went into on both nights. The live entertainment came on at about 9pm and was two singers, who sang English songs with a Dutch accent! They were OK, I suppose, but don't go expecting anything too fantastic! Also, they sang the same songs on both nights, which I thought was a bit disappointing really. There is also a dance troupe (if that's the right expression) who were...well...interesting. The first night I thought they were quite good, the second night, however they were just plain weird, with glow-in-the-dark costumes and strange ballet! Also, there was a bit of a David Brent moment when the Cruise Manager got up to sing, and totally took over the set - this was obviously rehearsed, as it happened both nights, but it was quite cringy - it was like he was trying to be better than the live acts.
The drinks in the bar were quite expensive and also limited. They serve a wide range of cocktails, but we ended up drinking Carling as it was one of the cheapest things there - and still nearly £8 for two pints. You can pay in either sterling or Euros.
Facilities available vary from ship to ship, so it may be worth checking the website for further info.
Once you arrive, as soon as you go through passport control on the other side, you are then directed to a coach park, where you can get the coach to the city centre. The coach took about 40 minutes to get there, and you are dropped off at the Victoria Hotel, which is the same place you must board on your way back. On the way back we were told to check-in between 3pm and 5pm, so you don't get much time in Amsterdam itself, considering it was about 10.45 when we arrived.
Depending on what trip you take, it can actually work out to be pretty cheap - we went the first week of May, and had we paid for the trip, the mini-cruise would only have cost us £122, so just over £60 each, which is pretty reasonable - I guess they really make their money from the amount that you spend on board. I believe that during the winter you can get a crossing a lot more cheaply as the seas are usually rougher, and not as many people want to go. If you want a price, you can get a quote from the website.
~What I thought~
I found the whole booking, check-in and boarding phase to be very easy and straightforward. Once on the ship, despite being quite basic, the cabins were very clean and functional.
Before I went, I read a few reviews here and on other sites, as well as speaking to friends who had been already. A lot of the reviews I read seemed to have been written during the winter months, and I was told lots of horror stories about people being extremely seasick and spending the whole time in the toilet! Needless to say this put me on edge. Although we did take travel sickness pills, I think we were very lucky as the sea was very calm, but even so, I would be reluctant to go at any other time of year, because of what I have been told.
One of the most annoying aspects of the trip, is that once you board the ship there is a lot of waiting around doing nothing between the time you board and the time the ship moves. All the café's and the shop are closed until about half an hour after you sail, so although you can still look around the ship, it's quite boring as there is nothing to do.
I would be prepared to go again, but I think it might be more fun if you went with a group of friends, as at least that way you could entertain each other while waiting for the ship to move! I know a lot of people have stag and hen parties on these trips, which again, is a good idea as it is a fairly cheap holiday.
I realise that this trip will not be for everyone - if you are expecting any sort of luxury, I would suggest something else, there is no doubt that this is very basic in terms of accommodation, but I feel that this is reflected in the price, and personally I enjoyed myself, I suppose the trip is what you make it.
Lastly, I would like to apologise for the length of this review. It is a lot longer than most reviews I write, however, before I went I found it difficult to find all the information that I needed for my trip in one place, and so I hope this helps at least one person planning to sail with DFDS. If you managed to read all that, thank you (and well done!).
Me my partner and my 10 omnth old daughter went on the Ms Queen of scandanavia in september and i wouldn't reccomend it. The price is really good but the prices on board are extortionate. The sandwiches cost about £7.50 and they only have one kind. Once we found out that we would only get an hour in norway at 10:00 at night we decided that we would treat ourselves to a nice meal before. We decided to go for the buffet. everything was seafood, which is good if you like it but i would be nice to have some choice. Everything was cold and tasted like it had been there since the day before. We didn't even eat a full plate food each and the bill came to £48. I felt like i had been kicked in the teeth when this arrived. I read all the reviews before booking and decided that maybe people were just being fussy but i wish i had never booked. The sea was rough so we spent most of our time feeling sick. We were never told either that we would only get an hour in norway, plus it was too late at night so everything was closed. We upgraded to commodore which i would deffinatly reccomend the rooms are really nice and value for money on a trip like this. I thought the staff were really friendly and would help in anyway they could. I would reccomend to take some of your own food if your going on this trip and good luck, hope you have a better time than we did