Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Cruising To Amsterdam!

Guest blogger Danielle Fear, aka Cruise Miss, starts a cruise-with-a-difference. She is sailing aboard MSC Cruises' MSC Magnifica this week from Amsterdam. But first she had to get there... 

Yesterday was the start of another exciting adventure but this time with a twist. There is a cruise involved but I actually started my journey aboard DFDS Seaways' Princess Seaways (above). She sailed me overnight to Amsterdam, where I am staying until tomorrow morning.

I checked-in at 3.30pm and was soon on board enjoying the atmosphere and experience of being on a ferry. I honestly can’t remember the last time I took a ferry journey. I know it was to France but that’s it. I must also say I experienced the fastest check-in of my life. Between the drop off point and boarding the ferry it took exactly 7 minutes!
My friends and relatives sail with DFDS quite regularly to and from Amsterdam as the mini-cruise option is not only cost effective but makes a nice break. I have said for years I wanted to try it and, although I am not getting the full mini-cruise experience, I am definitely doing a good portion of it. It’s convenient too - Port of Tyne is literally just 5 minutes from my house, so it’s extremely easy to get to.

Princess Seaways is clean and very modern. I believe she first entered service in 1986, which makes her almost as old as me, but she is in much better condition! There is a good selection of bars on board, including the Compass Bar, Sports Bar, Columbus lounge and a wine, beer and whiskey tasting bar. There were a lot of German and Dutch passengers on board so conversation proved something of a challenge with the language barrier, but that’s what travel is all about, right?

I didn’t get the chance to explore all the entertainment venues but there was a cinema on board and a casino. Regular readers of my own blog will know I like a flutter now and then when at sea, but I was on my best behaviour and told myself no gambling just yet! I also made the interesting discovery that wildlife watching is offered on the Newcastle to Amsterdam routes on King Seaways between April and September, hosted by an ORCA wildlife officer.

For the kids, there was the Pirates Club on board, and it was notable that throughout the vessel there is signage at children’s eye level. I like this touch because it’s not something you see too often and it stops them nagging mum and dad all the time about where on the ship they are going!

The dining choice on board really was far better than I imagined. The most popular was the buffet-style 7 Seas Restaurant, but you could also opt for the Explorer’s Steakhouse or Blue Riband, both of which are waiter service. Within just a few minutes I heard several different people chatting about the ‘world famous steaks’ they serve on board, so I guess word gets around fast! I opted for the slightly lighter option of fish and chips in the Lighthouse CafĂ©, a fresh, inviting option that feels like you have your own space. There's nothing worse than feeling like people are sitting right on top of you, but that certainly isn't the case here.
As we sailed away from Newcastle, I was excited to be back on a ship. The feeling for me is like no other and, although the ferry experience is definitely different from a cruise ship, I do like it. It was also the first time I'd sailed out of my home port, so that was very much appreciated.

Next - Exploring Amsterdam