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rogerpatenall

Trip to Holland 2019

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Every year my wife attends a conference in North East Holland (Gelderland0 and I traditionally make the trip and have a mini break. (last year included trip on Eurostar between London and Rotterdam.

I have never travelled from Harwich to the Hook, so determined that this year we would sample the route. We arrived at Harwich at 830pm on Thursday in time for the pre-booked dinner on board. Our treat was dinner and a Captain's Cabin. The spacious cabin is situated at the front with a big round picture window. On entering it looked really good, and didn't disappoint. A comfortable double bed, tv if you wanted with a wide choice of channels, two comfortable chairs, a desk and a well stocked complimentary mini bar. Two small bottles of Prosecco, two small bottles of red, water, soft drinks ( including a very passable orange juice) and crisps and nuts. And all for the price of a last minute booking at a Travelodge. The cabin, like the rest of the ship, was spotless.

Dinner in the Metropolitan restaurant was £26 or thereabouts for a three course offering. No buffet, but a selection to meet most tastes. (My wife's steak may have attracted a supplement - but after sharing a bottle of champagne and a glass of red, I didn't notice). The Hotel manager (if that is his title) spent quite a while chatting at each table. He was very perturbed that I kept referring to the Stena Britannica as a ferry. He kept correcting me that it is a SuperFerry. I guess that if we had been regulars on the straits of Dover, it would have been obvious to us, but being exiles from MSM, Bretagne and the Pont, it was not so relevant. The Food was excellent, and in no way inferior (nor superior) to the best that BF offer. (I still miss the waiter service restaurant on the old Stena Normandy from Southampton - that was special).

The rest of the public areas looked ok - they always look better on quiet crossings. We skipped breakfast - just making a cup of tea in the cabin.

The return trip on Sunday was on an old friend from Dunkerque - Delft Seaways. Although we had a flexi ticket(which also gave access to the 1st class lounge) upon arriving at 530pm with a booking for the 8pm ferry, it was not possible for us to get on the 6pm. Disappointing - but so be it. We spent the extra time in the dismal but warm terminal building, although we found a well lit table, created a hot spot, and got up to date on our computers.

The Delft Seaways was quite busy, but the overall standard of cleanliness was higher than we have found in he past. The lounge is a quiet area with a welcome glass of prosecco, tea, coffee, soft drinks etc. You wouldn't, though, call it 'plush'. The restaurant has a limited menu with nothing that is suitable for a wife with severe allergy to both gluten and dairy. In the lounge the charming Latvian steward (he flies home to Riga every fortnight) - arranged for the filling of a steak sandwich, which set us up for the unexpected diversion back in the UK as we found that the A2 was closed between Dover and Canterbury and the M20 was also closed near Maidstone.

For me, the highlight of the trip came on Saturday. When I was very small I was the proud owner of "The Wonder Book of Trains'. Featured was the overhead metro system in Wuppertai, Germany - built in 1901 and still going strong. My ambition to visit this engineering pioneer, which still uses exactly the same technology, was finally  satisfied. A wonderful day out. It was too dark to take any photos of the ferry and Super Ferry, so here is one of the Schewebahn . . .

 

 

Wuppertal.jpeg

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18 minutes ago, wortley said:

Stena Britannica to Holland sounds rather different from sailing on Etretat to Spain.  How and why has B/F gone so far down market ? 

Wrong choice of ship.

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13 minutes ago, Gareth said:

Wrong choice of ship.

That said, I agree, the fact that you have to be careful with your choice of ship is itself not the best BF development over the last few years.  I’m sure those days will be over, though, once the new ferries from China arrive.

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Interesting to hear Britannica is still on the overnight from Harwich.  Used to be the other way round, with Hollandica taking that sailing and Britannica operating the morning departure.  It used to switch round during the week between Xmas and NY, and then revert again.

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48 minutes ago, wortley said:

Stena Britannica to Holland sounds rather different from sailing on Etretat to Spain.  How and why has B/F gone so far down market ? 

I'm not sure it is fair to describe Etretat as being "down market". Perhaps not your first choice of vessel for a 24 hour trip to Spain, but certainly more than adequate for a straightforward overnight crossing. 

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