Linda Jamieson recalls her first time taking the ferry and discovers it’s the perfect way to travel with a toddler.
Travelling with a toddler can be daunting. Will they throw a tantrum? How do you fit all their favourite toys into a single suitcase? How often will you hear “Are we there yet?” uttered by excited children or muttered by exhausted parents.
When planning our first holiday abroad since having our daughter Natalie, now aged two, top of the list was a stress-free experience. We live in Edinburgh and didn’t fancy a long drive so Camping Duinrell , near Amsterdam, seemed like the ideal destination as it is easily reached by ferry from Newcastle.
Comparing prices for flights and car hire with the ferry, we found the ferry worked out as most affordable so we booked the Newcastle to Amsterdam crossing with DFDS Seaways.
As first-time ferry travellers we didn’t know what to expect but the freedom gained by taking our car really appealed. Having no baggage restrictions was handy too – no need to leave behind those five essential teddy bears! We even took Natalie’s favourite Peppa Pig duvet, keeping some of those important home comforts.
When we arrived in Newcastle we found an outlet centre next to the ferry terminal, which was great for a pre-departure coffee. Boarding the ferry was quick and simple. We checked in without even leaving our vehicle.
Once settled on board (and it’s worth remembering that once the ship sets sail you can’t return to your car so take everything you need) we found our en-suite cabin to be cosy but perfect for an overnight stay. Our next stop was to book our table for dinner. Make sure you do this early as the restaurant gets busy at peak times.
We explored the ferry and found there was plenty to keep Natalie entertained. She especially loved the ball pit and cartoons found in the Kids’ Zone. Fortunately for us, it was conveniently located next to one of the ferry’s four restaurants so we enjoyed a coffee while Natalie ran about to her heart’s content. It made such a difference having space for her to play compared with entertaining her in an airline seat.
Having worked up an appetite, we headed to the 7 Seas restaurant for a delicious “all you can eat” buffet. Kids eat for half price and there’s a huge choice of dishes so even the pickiest of eaters won’t go hungry. If that doesn’t appeal, you’ll also find a steak house on board or delicious à la carte cuisine at the Blue Riband restaurant. Wherever you choose, don’t forget to pre-book your meals online to save money.
With full stomachs we enjoyed a walk before Natalie and I retired to our cabin. My husband, Gary, decided to view a film at the cinema instead. You can also opt to spend the evening at one of the on-board bars, nightclub or casino if you prefer.
In the morning we returned to the 7 Seas restaurant for a tasty buffet breakfast before heading back to our car. Soon we were on our way to our campsite, feeling refreshed and relaxed.
Natalie loved the experience and still talks about sleeping on a boat with Mummy and Daddy. If you’ve got young children or just want to make the journey part of your holiday then the ferry is a relaxing, convenient and entertaining way to travel.
Booking the ferry
Travelling by ferry is the perfect start to a camping holiday. With no baggage restrictions you can take everything you needs and by bringing your own car all our campsites are within easy reach. You can book a ferry crossing with your Canvas accommodation. Prices start from £50 per car for a Dover to Calais crossing.
Visit the travel section of our website for more information.