So how good is PO Ferries Hull-Rotterdam route to the continent? I live in the North of England and was travelling to Eastern Europe by car so I thought I’d check it out and give you the pros and cons.
The ferry runs each day from Hull to Rotterdam (more exactly Europort) and Rotterdam to Hull, leaving at about 9 pm in the evening and arriving at about 9 am the following morning. Being a retired senior traveller I was able to book a mid-week crossing which saved me about 25% on the Friday and Saturday prices. Basic prices include an inside two bunk cabin, but well worth upgrading to an outside two berth cabin for about £15 for two people.
It took only about 5-10 minutes to drive through the formalities at the ferry terminal, embark on the ferry and find my pre-assigned cabin. If only air travel was as civilised!
Then a meal in either the buffet restaurant (cost £16 if prepaid, saving 10%) or in the full-service restaurant with à la carte menu. I opted for the buffet this time and spent a leisurely couple of hours sampling a wide range of soups, salads, main courses (including a carvery) and sweets, plus coffee. Okay, not top restaurant quality, but generally well-prepared and, because there is a rapid turnover, not sitting around too long in the servery. I think I ate too much!
I spent the rest of the evening in the shops (no particular bargains on the booze, but a good range on offer) and watching the live group playing in the Show Lounge. I also visited the rather quieter piano lounge on the top deck, but avoided the casino. There are also two cinemas on board.
Next morning, which arrived too early (see under ‘Cons’), I drove off and after about 15 minutes passing through the Customs and Immigration – which included a breathalyser test for some – I was heading east on the A15 past Rotterdam.
Pros: 1. Relatively quick and easy embarkation and disembarkation. 2. Choice of restaurants with well-prepared food. 3. Live entertainment to pass away the hours. 4. A night’s sleep before setting off on my journey, although could be better – see below.
Cons: 1. From about 6 am onwards the tannoy system starts to announce very loudly that ‘Breakfast is being served’ – isn’t there some way that one can opt out of this! 2. The two ferries are now over 10 years old and my cabin was certainly showing signs of wear and tear. 3. PO Ferries offers no senior discounts on this route, whereas on their Northern Island routes senior foot passengers get a 25% discount.
Tip for regular travellers: You can purchase season tickets (a minimum of five single journeys) from PO Ferries at a large discount, but they must be used within a year.
Overall a positive experience which I will happily repeat in the future – and will on my way back from Eastern Europe in four week’s time!
Update – July 2014: When travelling last night from Rotterdam to Hull, the ‘Breakfast is being served’ tannoy announcement had moved from 6 am to 7 am. A step in the right direction!