Reviewed by Julie Jessup
I was very excited to be chosen to review the DFDS Mini Cruise from Newcastle to Amsterdam for 2 adults. I asked my travel buddy Anna if she would like to accompany me and of course she was very happy to.
So on Tuesday we were on the train to Newcastle ready for our adventure.
DFDS run their own coach transfers from opposite Newcastle rail station to the port. Transfers take approximately 45 minutes and there is a small charge for this, which you can pay when you book your trip. The coach transfers also take you back on your return day. This makes the start of your journey very stress free. It cuts down the cost of parking a car at the docks and struggling to take your luggage on the metro. The coach drivers both ways were very friendly and helpful.
At the check-in in Newcastle there were some issues with a few customers, not being allocated the correct rooms or being charged for meals they had already paid for. All issues were swiftly and professionally dealt with by the friendly check in staff with no delays to other customers. Check in back at the Dutch Port was straightforward. Just remember if you fancy visiting the well-known special cafes do not bring anything back with you, what might be legal in Holland is not in the U.K.
We were on the 10th floor, so as I have mobility problems we took the lift. There are only 2 main lifts which are always very busy, so be prepared for a bit of a wait. We stayed in a sea view cabin which slept up to 5 people. So for the 2 of us we had plenty of space. I must admit I would find it a little cosy with 5 people. We found the cabin to be relatively clean and the beds comfortable. The bathroom could do with a bit of an upgrade, but it was big enough. As the bathrooms are wet rooms, I would suggest bringing flip flops until the room dries out. The shower head was angled towards the wall so the water ran down the wall rather than on you, so it was impossible to stand directly underneath it. You had to shower whilst holding the head.
The Customer Service Team were located on Deck 7. They were very helpful. You can book tours both ways at a cheaper price. We decided not to do the tours. You could also change currency and buy Wi-Fi. The ship did have various areas with Wi-Fi but I decided to pay 26 Euros for the whole cruise time. If not, it can be a costly experience using your internet which you are warned about.
We were lucky enough to be given a tour of the ship. Our host Dimitrio showed us the luxury cabins, they are amazing just like hotel rooms with all the luxuries. He took us to the Doggy Hotel, I was unaware that this was even on the ship. There are cabins you can take dogs in but if you have booked a cabin you are not able to take your dog in they have what they call the Doggy Hotel with cages for the dogs and visiting times. Also a recent addition has been an extension of the dog walking area with astro turf.
He then showed us the Jail with 3 rooms, interesting to know if there was trouble on board it would be dealt with, but not a room we wanted to stay in.
We were also asked if we would like a trip to the bridge and meet the captain, however this did not happen as it classed with our mealtimes.
On Deck 7 there was also a well-stocked shop, selling alcohol, perfumes, food, tobacco, toys, souvenirs, clothes and more. A lot of items were reduced by 40 per cent. Please remember to take an adapter as the socket on the boat is European. I forgot, but the shop had a plentiful supply.
There is so much to do on the ship to keep you entertained. The children have a play area which does incur a fee. I only saw 2 children in it, I am unsure if it is manned by a member of staff, if so, it was not when I looked.
There is a casino and lots of slot machines and arcade machines. There are also massage chairs, a cinema with a wide variety of films, two bars and a cocktail deck.
During the evenings there were singers on, to be honest, not the greatest so we did not stay to long. You could also play bingo.
As for the food the selection was amazing. The breakfast was buffet style with such an amazing range and very tasty. You had three options during the evening.
The first night we went to the North Sea Bistro with a freshly cooked 3 course menu. I had the most amazing pork with rosemary wedges you could taste every mouthful. They do not have a specific menu for allergies but are able and willing to adapt the dishes. You can prepay for your meals when you book your cruise or as you check in, these are the cheaper options. You have a limit of what you can spend in the North Sea Bistro so be prepared to pay out a little bit more. It is well worth it. The Explorers Kitchen is a world cuisine buffet and has so much food and you can have as much as you want.
Then you have Coffee Brew which serves a range of cakes and Starbucks drinks.
Once we arrived in Amsterdam, we had 5 hours to look around this amazing city. The drop off and pick up point is just outside the Grand Central Station. You have the choice of 2 timings on your return, if you miss the coach then be prepared for a very expensive taxi ride.
There is so much to do that 5 hours is not really enough, but it gives you a feel for the place. I would suggest you research beforehand what you want to do. On the day we went apart from Anne Frank Museum the queues were very small, but that is not always the case.
There was a slight confusion over times as ship time is one hour ahead of U.K. Time and check-in, staff at Newcastle gave us the wrong timings for our evening meals and docking. We did have the correct times on paperwork but this did confuse not just us but other passengers.
We had a wonderful time, we would both recommend this mini cruise and will be using DFDS again but next time for maybe an overnight stay.
DFDS offer a range of trips and tours. They have a fantastic website which explains everything.
We were foot passengers, but you can take your car for a longer trip away. There are so many options.
You certainly would not get bored on this mini cruise and I came home for a rest.
Overall, I am going to award 4/5 stars. This is because of the bathroom and timing issues which could easily be rectified.
2-night Amsterdam mini cruises start from £84 per person (based on two people sharing).
For more information or to make a book visit www.dfdsseaways.co.uk.