7-9 February 2015
Reviewed by Debbie Tasker
On Saturday morning (7 February) me and my partner travelled from Manchester to Newcastle for a mini cruise to Amsterdam with DFDS. The journey was around 3 hours and when we got near the port it was well signposted. Our satnav kept insisting on taking us the wrong way though for the last couple of miles so we ignored it and followed the signs for the international passenger terminal. The car park had plenty of spaces and is a stone’s throw from the main building. You get a ticket and pay on return, charges are £12 per day.
I do dread check-in and boarding when going on overseas trips I have to admit, but this time it was smooth quick and painless! Two minutes to check-in and get boarding passes, a five minute wait in the queue to go through passport control and we were walking through the tunnel and on to the King Seaway Ferry. Marvellous and a first for me to not be getting stressed about all the waiting around.
As we entered the boat some of the crew bid you good afternoon which was a nice touch and reminded me of The Love Boat one of my favourite programmes back in the seventies. We looked at our boarding passes which also double up as key card and found our room number 654 on Deck 6. We saw signs for deck six and followed them but when we got there we couldn’t see our room, we went back up to deck seven and asked a member of staff to direct us, she pointed us in the right direction (we were on the wrong side of the ship!). The room was a very basic sea view cabin, we were a little disappointed it was twin beds but having said that they were exceptionally comfy and all the bedding was crisp, clean and sparkly white. There are overhead reading lights which are handy as there is no radio or television in the cabins. A small en-suite bathroom with towels provided and was adequate for our needs. There is also a bedside table, mirror and coat hooks with a couple of hangers. We didn’t hear any surrounding noise throughout the journey but the engine was very loud. Now I am no expert in sea travel but my partner is a seasoned traveller and he agreed that it did seem rather loud in our cabin, maybe we were situated over it? It wasn’t a problem to us as we are sound sleepers but if booking you might want to avoid this cabin if you think it could cause you a problem.
After unpacking and taking in the beautiful sea view we headed up to the 7 Seas buffet restaurant and booked our table for dinner, then explored the ship. It was a big WOW from me as there is so much do; bars, a casino, two cinema screens with two showings per evening, Duty Free shops for all your bargains, three restaurants serving the most delicious looking menus and even a night club for all us party animals! After a nice walk around everywhere we went in the Navigators bar for a quick drink, prices are, I would say, as you would expect. After which we went back to our cabin to shower and change.
As I have already mentioned I have never been on an overnight sea trip before and was very unsure what I should wear for dinner. I imagined it would be very dressy so opted for a dress and shoes, smart but not too over the top. I found when we ventured out that most people were actually dressed quite casually – jeans, jumpers etc… so don’t worry if there is no ballgown in your wardrobe.
The Seven Seas Restaurant is situated on deck seven. A friendly, welcoming waitress showed us to our table and said to help ourselves. We got up and went over to where a massive selection of food is served, there truly is something for everybody’s taste buds! We were spoilt for choice! Splendid starters of seafood pates compotes salads soups chicken wings – you name it they have it, I have never had a beetroot muffin before but I have now! A traditional roast with a few variations is available too as is the most delicious Chinese I have ever had, the lamb and duck was to die for, even the chips I can honestly say were the best I have ever had. Everything is presented well, piping hot and really tasty. There is a Children’s corner which has lower counters and I have to admit I got some chicken wings from here as I passed. Desserts were also truly Scrumptious and again a huge variety, to name a few; cakes, mousses, jellies and fruit. In the kid’s areas is a whippy ice cream machine, yes you have guessed I had to have a go and I topped it with every nut, sauce and sprinkles they had on it, much to Al (my partners) amusement. There were also many types of homemade breads and cheese available. I wouldn’t say it was overly busy but after waiting around 10 minutes to be asked what we would like to drink I had to call a waitress and order, she was very polite and quick bringing the drinks. We had a sprite and a coffee which came to around 8 euros. There is also Explorers Steakhouse and Blue Riband eateries there seemed to be an Italian too where the aroma strays into the bar and smells divine. I saw a gang of teenagers eating pizza there and it all looked great. With very full tummies we left and headed for the Navigators bar for an after dinner drink.
A brilliant young man named Steve Young was entertaining the guests with his cool voice and superb guitar playing, he was happy to take requests and would give anything a try. He does all the classics along with current stuff and we enjoyed his performance on both evenings. When his set had finished we ventured into the Columbus Club on deck 9 to strut our funky stuff (well this isn’t entirely true, it was just me actually) great tunes and atmosphere and a perfect end to our evening. We retired to bed around 1.45am happy and tired.
After a lovely night’s sleep we were woken by customer services announcing it was 8am and what areas were now open, this made me giggle as it reminded me of Hi Di Hi… good morning campers! The announcements continue throughout the journey into port so no chance of sleeping in. We packed up what we needed for the day and headed for breakfast, no tables are allocated for this so we chose to sit next to a large window and watch as we arrived. There was a full English and a continental on offer, again we were spoilt for choice everything tasted freshly cooked and we enjoyed it immensely. One thing I would say is nobody told us where tea and coffee was so we had to find it. I then couldn’t find milk, I asked one of the waiters and he pointed me in the direction of the large milk machine used for cereal, as I hadn’t found a jug I had to put it in a cup which I felt was rather uncouth only a little niggle but something that could be corrected with little effort.
We arrived in Holland rather late as weather conditions prevented us entering the port on time. Once we had disembarked and been through passport control and travelled by coach to Amsterdam we only had around two and a half hours to sight see. The driver told us where we would be picked up and we set of on our adventure. Amsterdam is a stunning city with beautiful architecture and lots of character. We hadn’t been given a map on the ferry and forgot to ask at customer services on the way off so we found a tourist information centre and collected one from there. As our time had been cut short we decided to head for Ann Frank’s house first, the queue was very long and we couldn’t risk standing in it and then not having time to actually see inside so we left it. There are lots of shops and cafes and it isn’t that much unlike Manchester apart from the bikes – there are literally thousands of them parked up or nearly knocking you off your feet if, like us, you keep straying to the bike lane. We had a look round the museum and a couple of other places of interest but all too soon it was time to head back to the coach.
Boarding took a little long this time once through passport control we had to wait about 45 minutes. Once back on the King Seaway we booked our reservation for dinner and went to have a snooze for a couple of hours. We woke to extremely choppy seas but it didn’t bother us as we headed up to the Seven Seas for our evening meal. I meant to ask for a window table when I booked but it slipped my mind so when we arrived I asked was it possible to have one? The member of staff who I think might have been the manager looked through her table plan and apologised as none were available but we could come back later and she would reserve us one. I said no it is fine we will have our original table it is no problem, she then said hang on and I will see what I can do a minute later she came back and said she had sorted one – excellent customer service and thank you! We enjoyed another out of this world meal. Although a lot of it was more or less the same as the previous evening there was still plenty to sample that we had no room for the night before! Again hot tasty food, clean tidy surroundings and excellent staff.
We decided to retire early as it had been a long day but before we did we popped in the bar again for a hot chocolate and to listen to Steve for a while. By this time lots of people were suffering as the ferry was rocking and rolling and at times it was hard to keep your footing. As I mentioned earlier we were absolutely fine but seeing people hanging on to the rails and looking very green I would advise you invest in some sort of sea sickness prevention if you think it might be a problem. We headed to bed and had yet another fantastic night’s sleep. We were woken by our very own Gladys Pugh (Hi Di Hi for all you young uns’). After showering and packing we went for breakfast. Again great food there doesn’t seem to be many staff around for breakfast time so our plates weren’t cleared even after 15 minutes of finishing eating so I moved them to an empty table we had another drink and then left. The dirty dishes were still where I had put them maybe this needs looking at? We went out on deck 10 to enjoy the scenery and watch as we sailed back into Newcastle. There are some amazing views to be had and I was quite taken aback at just how beautiful everything looked. We stayed out and watched the staff at the dock side going about their business making sure we were safe and everything was secure. When the announcement for foot passengers to head for deck five came though we picked our bags up from the cabin. Experience from the day before told us there would be no rush as it does take time for everybody to leave and as we all know you always get the pushes and shovers who I would prefer to avoid. Once through customs we headed for our car and started the journey home.
We had an absolutely marvellous time and were sorry to leave the King Seaways ferry. Our whole trip was made even more special by the helpful friendly staff who work very hard and seem to never sleep. I have already recommended this cruise to family and friends and one has booked for March while another is thinking of doing so also!! I know they will have the time of their lives just as we did.
Well done DFDS Seaways and thank you for memorable weekend.
DFDS Seaways sails up to twice a day between Newcastle and Amsterdam. Prices for mini cruise packages start from as little as £79 per person.
Sailing overnight, the break starts as soon as you board one of DFDS Seaways’ cruise ferries. With plenty to do onboard, including a children’s play area, casino, cinema and in-room films on demand, as well as a variety of bars and live entertainment, passengers have the space to relax and spend time with their loved ones and plan the details of their short break. Guests can also enjoy a delicious meal in one of the three onboard restaurants and then take a refreshing stroll on deck to admire the great views before heading off to their en suite cabin for a peaceful night’s sleep. Next morning, passengers will wake up refreshed for their time ashore.
To find out more information and to see the latest special offers, visit www.dfds.co.uk or telephone 0871 574 8235.
Amsterdam Tourist Information
For further information about visiting Amsterdam, log onto www.iamsterdam.com for more details.