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About Ryan_H

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  • Birthday 20/06/1983

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  1. Cork to Santander route set to launch

    That looks very pleasant. It's nice to read some positive news in the ferry industry, after what feels like a long period of decline and nothing but doom and gloom from certain long-established operators.
  2. Cork to Santander route set to launch

    I'm sure the various unions would just love to see the new ship flying an Irish flag, or any other foreign flag for that matter
  3. Cork to Santander route set to launch

    If the ship is not French flagged and/or not entirely French crewed, that would be a pretty big change would it not?
  4. Cork to Santander route set to launch

    Very interesting news, I wonder to what extent this vessel will be re-fitted before entering service? I imagine she will be very similar to the Etretat inside. Well done to Brittany Ferries for choosing another original and attractive name.
  5. I recall my experience with Viking Line in 2016 when checking-in for my Stockholm-Helsinki round trip. The terminal was packed with people, but there were plenty of self-service machines which made it incredibly simple to print our boarding cards, and from there we simply took the escalator and boarded the ship; the whole process literally took five minutes, despite the large numbers of people. I take the point about the Schengen agreement, but when it comes to dealing with large numbers of foot passengers, I would suggest a number of our operators (in particular DFDS and P&O) could learn a lot from the Baltic.
  6. DFDS SEAWAYS: News & Updates

    Does anyone know what the refit schedule is for the Ijmuiden ships this year? I could be wrong, but I think I read on Twitter (in Dutch) that the Princess has gone for a 10 day dry docking in Amsterdam...?
  7. New cruise Ferry Line to New York ?

    When I saw the 'N' in the title of this thread I was hoping it would be for 'Norway'...I think that should be far more of a priority than anything more to the USA - there is already a scheduled liner service to New York for passengers for much of the year, but nothing to Norway or anywhere else in Scandinavia. I would suggest that should be addressed first, Brexit or no Brexit!
  8. Thanks Ed. Well the sailings from Newcastle and Ijmuiden were both taking cars and some freight, though both sailings appeared only lightly loaded. Despite being rather less alert than usual on new year's day I did notice that the two ships had swapped around during the day so that the King could use the berth to load up for the journey home. I just got the impression that the boarding process hadn't been very well thought through and wasn't well organised - it seemed to come as a surprise to them that there was such a large number of passengers. I appreciate it was probably their busiest trip of the year, but there have always been queues at Newcastle whenever I've sailed from there as a foot passenger - things seem to work much better at the P&O terminals in Hull. As for turning in the river Tyne, 180 degrees is probably right, maths was never my strongest subject Still very impressive to watch though.
  9. I have uploaded some more few photos in the gallery, northern Europe section.
  10. On Tuesday I arrived back in North Shields after three days on King Seaways, participating in DFDS’ new year excursion to Amsterdam. I had last sailed on the same trip back in 2012 on Princess Seaways, but whilst that had been the usual two-night minicruise, this would be for three nights, with new year’s eve itself spent sailing up the North Sea canal to watch the fireworks in Amsterdam. Overall it was an enjoyable and memorable experience and I will try to give a flavour of the trip, hopefully without boring you too much. We arrived for check-in at North Shields just after 3.30pm on 30th December to be met with quite the longest queues I have ever seen for any mode of transport. We had already been told by DFDS that the trip was a sell-out, but even so we had not expected to spend the first hour of our short break in such a vast queue; unfortunately, such queues were to become a very common theme over the next few days! As we eventually got nearer to the front of our line, we noticed that a number of passengers seemed to also be paying for meals, which was further slowing the process up. At the same time, very few passengers seemed to be actually boarding the ship after checking-in, which was hard to understand. Whilst it was clearly a busy sailing, the level of organisation seemed poor from both DFDS and the port staff. Eventually we managed to board the King Seaways and found our cabins, which were both of the 2-berth outside variety, up on deck 11. Our cabin seemed pretty unremarkable; the carpet was a bit thread-bare in places but overall it was clean and roomy enough for our needs. I was pleased to note that we were located near to the stern with easy access to the outside decks. I was very pleased to be back on board the ‘King’ for what would be my fourth trip on this particular vessel, the ship which did a lot to start my interest in ferries in the first place back in 1993 as Val de Loire. I went outside to see us making the usual 360-degree turn in the river Tyne and then slowly make our way out past familiar sights such as Tynemouth abbey and South Shields beach, not that either was particularly visible in the dark. Once clear of the breakwaters, I went back inside to join my travelling companions for a pre-dinner drink the Navigators pub. The Navigators pub on deck eight became our bar of choice for the next couple of days, as it was more comfortable and generally quieter than the other two bars on board. I believe this was once the ‘Layon’ piano bar under BF and I don’t think the décor has changed much over the years. We had managed to reserve a table in the ‘seven seas’ restaurant (soon to be known as ‘Explorers Kitchen’) and arrived there just after 8.30pm. Our meal involved yet more queuing, but I found the food to be both enjoyable and plentiful, in particular the mussels in curry sauce. When the waitress came to take our drinks order, we asked for a carafe of the house white wine, which was met with the following response; ‘honestly sir that is not the best wine, I don’t recommend it, I think you should choose another’. So, for a few euros more we went with a nice German Riesling instead, but this must be the first example of ‘up-selling’ I have encountered in a ferry restaurant. After dinner we had a look at the Columbus club and adjacent compass bar, but both were very loud and crowded and so we went back to the Navigators pub where there was an excellent singer/guitarist performing. With the next day in mind we didn’t stay too long and went to bed around midnight. The weather remained pretty calm overnight, until around 06.00am when there was noticeably more movement, though this never became uncomfortable. We had been informed by the Captain the previous evening that we would be approx. one hour late arriving in Ijmuiden, presumably due to high winds. I went outside as we were about to pass between the breakwaters and found that it was indeed very windy, which was well illustrated by the Princess Seaways, which was being assisted by two tugs, having vacated the berth for her sister. As we approached the berth, we too were met by a tug, which further delayed our docking. I tried to take as many photos as I could but the driving rain made this quite difficult and so in the end I went inside for a coffee and croissant from the Lighthouse café. It was around 10.45 before we eventually left the ship and 11.00 before we could manage to board one of the coaches to Amsterdam. Because the weather was so poor and we had all visited Amsterdam before, we spent most of our time having lunch at the famous ‘Grasshopper’ bar/restaurant, which is near to where DFDS drops you off. We then had a look around the shops before joining another enormous queue for the bus back to Ijmuiden; some of the waiting passengers were becoming quite irate with the DFDS man in high-vis clothing who was directing the coaches because they were having to wait so long in the rain. I had looked at alternative routes to Ijmuiden via rail, but they seemed to take quite a long time compared with the bus. Once we had managed to board a coach, the journey proved to be quite lively/noisy with a number of passengers in high spirits after their few hours in Amsterdam, I can’t imagine why Once through yet another long queue in Ijmuiden terminal, we were free to make our way back on board. Staff were on hand to direct passengers to the correct ship, as the Princess was also boarding German passengers for her own trip in to Amsterdam that evening. Some of the UK passengers seemed to be confused as to which ship they were sailing on, which I found amusing. On entering the vessel the Purser was on hand with another crew member, handing out Roses to all the female passengers (us blokes simply got a happy new year if we were lucky) which was a nice touch. In our cabin was a card Inviting us to dinner in the Blue Riband restaurant at 18.30 that evening for the ‘gala’ meal. No dress code was stipulated, so when we arrived at the restaurant there was the full range on display from full ‘dinner jackets’ through to jeans and t-shirts; I myself simply opted for an open-neck shirt and some dark jeans. I guess the popularity of cruising in recent years has changed the way some people interpret these occasions. The meal itself was very pleasant, although I did need to tell the waiter that two of our group were vegetarian (we had stipulated this at the time of booking) and that this also meant they did not eat fish; both had been presented with smoked Cod as a starter. Once this had been sorted out, we were well looked after for wine and food and there was a very good atmosphere in the restaurant. Whilst we were eating, the Captain announced that we would be leaving the berth and making our way to the lock, en route to Amsterdam. Shortly after 8.30 I made my way outside to see us enter the lock, with the Princess just behind. Seeing the two sisters together in the lock (which I didn’t think would be possible) was a real highlight for me and probably not something I’ll get to witness again. There was a free bar and so the drink was most certainly flowing as we found some seats in the Navigators pub. At around 11.30, crew were on hand with trays of Champagne and so we took ours up on deck where we discovered we were now in the company of Cunard’s Queen Victoria and P&O’s Oceana, as well as the Princess. The King did not berth but merely held position with her engines running as the main fireworks began at midnight. The outside decks were packed with people, the majority of whom I don’t think had been outside at all previously or would go outside again for that matter. A number of empty Champagne glasses were heard smashing as they blew over having been left on tables around the Sky bar area. Once the festivities were out of the way, we were soon underway again back up the canal to Ijmuiden, and were able to witness countless more fireworks along the way. We spent another couple of hours in the Columbus club and Compass bar to ‘see in’ the new year before finally retiring around 2.30am. Being woken up later that morning by the usual announcements about breakfast was a fairly brutal experience and it’s fair to say I would happily have stayed in bed most of the day if I could! Alas, I could not, and whilst I would have preferred to spend the day in Ijmuiden, perhaps with a walk along the beach, my companions wanted to return to Amsterdam and so we boarded a coach around 10.30. The weather was much better and the atmosphere noticeably more subdued (it was new year’s day after all) as we made our way across the city en route to the Rijksmusuem. I don’t think I have ever seen as much litter as there was on the streets of Amsterdam that morning, it must have been quite some party the night before. By mid-afternoon I was feeling distinctly more human and was looking forward to a more relaxed evening on board as we sailed home. The queue for the coach back to Ijmuiden was even longer than the previous day but rather better tempered. However, on arrival at the terminal in Ijmuiden we were met by an enormous queue of people stretching outside and well in to the car park. This queue simply got longer as each coach arrived and it seemed clear that no-one was being allowed through passport control and on to the ship. Being stood outside for at least 15 minutes on a cold new year’s day was the last thing anyone needed and even once we were inside the terminal building things scarcely improved. I don’t know whether the delays were down to DFDS or the Dutch authorities, or a combination of both, but this surely could have been foreseen and therefore avoided; it seemed to be the result of very poor planning and organisation. Once back on board I had a much needed lie down before our departure just before 5.30pm. The Captain then addressed us once we were clear of the Ijmuiden breakwaters to inform us that it would be a relatively calm crossing, with the wind not much more than force 5. We had decided to try out the ‘Little Italy’ restaurant for dinner that night and met for pre-dinner drinks around 6.00pm in the Navigators pub; after our day in Amsterdam, this was a great way to wind down and relax. The Little Italy and Explorers steak-house restaurants share the same entrance on deck 8, and I believe this was once the ‘Les temps de vivre’ a la carte in the Val De Loire era. The red plastic seating in the Little Italy area looks a bit out of place compared with the rest of the décor and presumably this area will get some kind of refit soon as this particular eatery is being discontinued. The new dining options will consist of the ‘North Sea bistro’, Explorers Kitchen and Steak-house, so it will be interesting to see which goes where. We each ordered a Pizza and whilst they were very nice, they certainly weren’t cheap at over €18 each. Once we had finished our meal I had a chat with our waiter who told me that he’d been with DFDS over 25 years, which prompted me to ask which other ships he had worked on. He then recited a list of vessels and routes, all of which have been sold/closed over the past decade or so. I remarked that if he’d survived for 25 years he must be doing something right, and we both put our hands on the table in the table in the hope that this last remaining North Sea route survives. After dinner I did some shopping and found the ‘sea shop’ to be very well stocked and nicely fitted out, with some very good offers on certain products such as Spirits. We then joined the ‘troubador’ in the Navigators pub for the last couple of hours, where to my surprise there were plenty of fellow passengers singing along. Before heading to bed I decided to seek out the observation area at the bow, only to find the doors locked shut; I had been hoping to watch us make our way up the river Tyne from here the following morning. I slept very well indeed that night, perhaps not surprisingly, and had completely forgotten I was on a ship by the time I awoke at 08.00am the next morning! Watching us enter the Tyne in the cold January sunshine was a great way to end the trip, unlike the lengthy queue for immigration which met us once we had docked. It had been a very memorable experience overall, perhaps not something I would want to do every year, but certainly worthwhile. Whilst the amount of queueing was very irritating and frustrating, it did not spoil our enjoyment overall. For me, sailing on the King Seaways was a special experience and the ship is in great shape, having received a comprehensive refit last year; she certainly does not look like a ship about to turn 31. I did see bits of rust here and there on her paintwork, but considering the time of year this is to be expected; I presume she will be going for overhaul soon anyway. I hope we get a few more years to enjoy these two lovely ferries. __._,_.___
  11. Princess Seaways