Newcastle to Amsterdam on the Princess Seaways
After three great weeks in Scotland it was time to continue our European road trip back on the continent.
To make our way to Norway we had the choice of taking an overnight ferry from Newcastle to Amsterdam (actually nearby IJmuiden) or driving back to the southern part of Britain and taking the ferry or train back across the channel.
Ultimately we decided on the overnight ferry for the new experience and the reduced drive time. We would have liked to take a ferry directly from Scotland to Norway but there are currently no ferry operators offering this route. On the plus side, arriving in the Netherlands meant that we’d have to drive through Denmark and Legoland was high on the kid’s list of places to visit.
We made our booking with DFDS online prior to the start of our trip. The cost for our one-way journey (including the car plus a cabin for five) was 455 Euros. This was not exactly inexpensive, but it did save us the cost of lodging for one night, the cost of getting across the channel elsewhere, plus ~100 Euros in fuel.
Check-In and Embarkation
The scheduled departure time was 5pm and we arrived at the terminal around 3:45pm, a little ahead of the mandatory check in time of 4:15. A lot of other cars had arrived around the same time and it took a while to make it to the check-in booth. Upon checking in we were handed boarding passes that also served as our room keys.
Following check-in we were directed to a numbered lane where we waited for someone to tell us it was time to drive onto the ferry. We watched a few tractor trailers drive onto the ship and shortly before 5pm the passenger cars finally started rolling on.
After driving onto the car deck we had to quickly grab our bags and make our way to the upper decks. With so many cars crammed together there was not much room to walk. Fortunately we had prepared overnight bags so that we didn’t have to take our large bags out of the car.
We had read online reviews that warned that food and drinks on the ship were exorbitantly priced so we had stopped at a grocery store beforehand to pick up a few things for dinner and breakfast.
Aboard the DFDS Princess Seaways
We made our way up to deck nine and found our cabin. After dropping off our bags in our cabin we went out on deck and our journey was soon underway.
The day before we sailed from Newcastle there had been a gathering of tall ships nearby. Some of them were still in the area and we enjoyed seeing the different kinds of sailing ships.
Next we decided to explore the rest of the Princess Seaways. The kids were most interested in checking out the Kidz’ Club where they found a ball pit. The Kidz’ Club also had a few games, organized arts & crafts activities, and a movie nook.
There was a DFDS employee coordinating some of the activities but sadly no babysitting service was on offer. We parents had been hoping for a drop-off club so that we could go enjoy some of the grown-ups only activities on the ship (live music in the lounge, casino, etc.).
There was a cinema we could have watched a recent release movie for about 9 Euros per person but the kids were just as happy watching one of the older Ice Age movies in the Kidz’ Club (for free).
We also checked out the duty-free shopping area that had the usual offerings plus a large selection of Legos and Haribo gummies. We had a few pounds that we needed to spend so we let the kids each pick a bag of gummies (both GBP and Euros were accepted). Prices in the shop were actually more reasonable than we were expecting.
The sleeping arrangement in the five berth cabin was a triple bunk on one side of the room and a double bunk on the other side. The small bathroom had a toilet, sink, and shower wand. It was snug but not bad for one night.
Our passage across the North Sea was smooth and we all got a good night’s sleep in our bunks. Some reviewers had complained about thin walls and noisy passengers but we didn’t notice any noise coming from the adjacent cabins or the hallway.
We woke a little after 7am which gave us time to eat some breakfast in the room and to visit Kidz’ Club once more before debarkation at 9:45am.
A few minutes before 9:45 the car passengers were called to their cars on the car decks. We made our way back to our car and we were rolling within just a few minutes. After driving off the ship we got into a short line for the immigration checkpoint.
There was no immigration check when leaving the UK so we had not gotten departure stamps, which was a bit concerning because we needed to be able to document the length of our stay in the UK to comply with the Schengen area visitor limitations (no more than 90 days allowed in a 180 day period). Ahead of us, the immigration officer did not appear to be stamping passports of the Europeans but fortunately the officer stamped our passports as we went through the checkpoint.
After getting our passport stamps we were back on the road. The whole disembarkation process took less than 20 minutes once we were in our car.
Overall we were happy with our decision to take the overnight DFDS ferry from Newcastle to Amsterdam, especially since it saved us 10 hours of driving. The process for getting on the ship was a bit slow but we were thankful that we were able to get off and through immigration quickly. Our cabin was spacious and comfortable enough for the five of us.
For us the main shortcoming was the lack of childcare at the Kidz’ Club so that we parents could have enjoyed some of the other amenities while the kids played.
We’ll be taking another ferry in August (from Stockholm to Tallinn, Estonia) and it will be interesting to see how that one compares.
Thanks for reading! 🙂