Utrecht Uncut – Part 1 – Onboard!

October 19, 2015

My husband Paul and I recently decided to discover what Holland has to offer beyond Amsterdam, and instead we ventured to Utrecht, a popular city in the heart of Holland. As there is so much to share from our time there I will break it down over a few posts.

First up, how we got to Utrecht and our time onboard with DFDS.

We arrived at the ferry terminal in North Shields just as check in opened, it was swift and seamless and we booked our breakfasts at this point too, as it saved ourselves a few quid each, in each direction. When boarding was announced, we happened to be the first one on to the ship thanks to the people in front of us having to offload their luggage trolley -– bonus – I felt like all those crazy folk who post FIRST on famous peoples Instagrams!

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As soon as we set foot on the ship, the friendly staff greeted us and pointed us in the direction of our cabin. Our room was on deck 6 with a sea view. It was plenty spacious for the 2 of us and our luggage, and the room came with it’s own en suite bathroom. Without further ado, we headed straight up to the Mermaid bar on the top deck of the boat. With both open air and covered seating, we snagged the best seat to enjoy the view, which was handy as it is a popular spot especially as the ship sets sail along the River Tyne and out of Tynemouth. Thanks to the weather being so glorious for the 1st October, it was lovely to sit outside with a drink and catch some rays and fresh air. I won’t lie though, I was a bit scared, but determined to conquer my fear. The final flight of stairs sapped all my boat bravery but I did it….. and I did it on the way back too. Is this a definite sign I have kicked my boat fear in the behind?

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We had booked a table at the 7 Seas buffet ready to sample the excellent dishes on offer from the culinary team. With 80 dishes on offer, there was something for everyone. I favoured the light salads and seafood which were a very popular choice. They were replenished regularly and the selection was outstanding. Paul went for the hand carved meat which was juicy and tender and well worth the queue. The food was in an abundance and the quality was impeccable. My top tip is to book the meal in advance as you save around £2-3 per person and the same for breakfast so it is quite a saving on a return sailing overall. You can also request a window seat which was stunning as the sun was setting.

With several bars on board, a casino and even a cinema, there is plenty to occupy your time until you’re ready to hit the hay. On both sailings we preferred the quieter and more intimate setting of the Compass Bar. Paul pushed the boat out (geddit?) and ordered the Whisky tasting, trying 6 different whisky’s as well as Octomore which is known as being the worlds peatiest offering by the Bruichladdich Distillery. There was a healthy selection to try in the Compass bar as well as to purchase in the onboard shop.

My one top tip for the sailing is to choose your room wisely. If you aren’’t a fan of the bars or have children it could well be worth paying for a superior rooms if you’re likely to spend more time in there. We would definitely upgrade our room choice next time.

After a quick but filling breakfast onboard, with an abundance of continental and cooked options, our first glimpse of Holland was fleeting as we arrived in thick dense fog but once we docked, the haze cleared and we made our way off the ship. Entering the terminal and through the official entrance to the country was rapid and painless. I wish airports had it down to such a sleek routine!

From stepping off the ship and on to the transfer coach must have taken 10 minutes. Not bad eh? The transfer coaches wait right outside the door so all you need to do is hop on and settle in for the ride which takes around 40 minutes. The drop off point is very central in the city of Amsterdam and is perfectly located for the train station, trams and of course the infamous canal tours. Stopping outside of such a land mark area meant it was easy to find on our way back from Utrecht.

Utrecht is a mere 20 minutes via train from Amsterdam and in less than 2hrs from docking, we are off and on our way to Utrecht. The trains here are double decker too – how exciting!

Heading back to the UK, the check in was just as efficient and we boarded straight away. This time we checked out the Explorers Steak Restaurant for dinner. The food was once again spot on and the portions were rather generous! The fillet steak was melt in the mouth like butter – heavenly!

Hitting the sack after a long sightseeing day, we were sad to wake up and be back at North Shields. We really enjoyed our time on the ship and have learnt a few tips to maximise the experience. I also found out it is only 3hrs drive from the port in Amsterdam down to Cologne, Germany.…… I am very tempted to book a driving trip to the fabulous Christmas Markets!

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