When I asked Abigail if she wanted to finally go on a mini cruise to Amsterdam from Newcastle to celebrate her 14th birthday and her resounding response was "Yes, when do we go?" Now I must admit that by the time I actually got on the DFDS website to book I'd left it until just a few days before we were about to sail so I knew that we wouldn't especially get the best deal, in the end it cost £204ish for our 2 bed seaview cabin.
The last time I went on a cruise was the Norwegian Epic mini cruise from Rome to Barcelona, see how they both have the same name? Mini Cruise? Well let me tell you, that is where the similarities end unfortunately. Whilst I sailed the med in the lap of luxury enjoying fabulous food, wonderful weather and great company the DFDS mini cruise felt more like I was sailing across the North Sea in an overpriced 1980's velour clad budget cabin. Now it's no surprise that people just kind of deal with it when you consider that a lot of the passengers simply seemed to be there for the alcohol, perhaps that's why the cheapest thing on the boat was alcohol, no surprises then that there were uncouth men throwing up on the back of the bus on our transfer from Ijmuiden to Amsterdam. Perhaps they couldn't afford to eat? After all, a trip to the Pizza restaurant left us with a €60 euro bill for Abigail and I, that's 2 pizzas, a lime and soda and a diet coke!! A trip to the buffet restaurant cost us a staggering €75 after we "splashed out" on a large bottle of still water. Breakfast was the least expensive at €32 euros but at least it included the drinks.
The cabins were so basic they didn't even come with a tea tray or kettle and there was only 1 european plug point for both of us, in this day and age, 1 plug socket per cabin just isn't enough. Still at least we could see the sea, those poor people in economy, well that doesn't bear thinking about, I just can't imagine how bad it is down there. I wondered if Commodore Class would be any better, at least they got complimentary breakfast, wifi and a TV, yes a TV, we had europop radio, 3 or 4 channels of the stuff. Now I know that satellite wifi isn't the best, I've been there and done that before but I would have thought they could install it ship wide and not just in a couple of the bars. I think one of the main problems might be the age of the ship itself, both the Princess Seaways and King Seaways were built in 1986 and refurbished in 2006, that's still 10 years ago, a very long time indeed! I think my biggest kindest suggestion would be that they take these ships out of service, or up their service, maybe a pool would be a lovely idea, better bedding, a kettle, more plug sockets, anything to make it more of a mini cruise than a budget ferry trip.
Now you may be thinking that my scathing review means I had a horrible time but I actually loved spending a couple of carefree days in the company of my beautiful daughter Abigail (who didn't complain about anything, not even the cabin) and we adored our 5 hours in Amsterdam, and that's it people, that's all you get, not even vaguely enough time when you consider it takes around 17 hours to get there! We did however spend a pleasant 75 minutes on board Terra Nova, a 110 year old luxury boat cruising around the canals of Amsterdam with around another 10 people, this is the way to see Amsterdam, don't go on the crowded boats, go on the comfy lovely one, the cost was €37 for Abigail and I, one day later and it would have been 42, child age seems to end at 14, better than on the boat though when it ends at 11! After our cruise we wandered and walked and we ended up on the roof terrace of de Bijenkorf, Amsterdams oldest luxury department store, we only went for the cake but it did not disappoint!
5 hours is enough to give you a taste of the madness and beauty of Amsterdam, home to 500 museums ranging from bags and purses to death and my personal favourite, the Kattenkabinet
I wouldn't say I hated the mini cruise but if I were to be persuaded to get on board again it would have to be in the luxury of Commodore Class, perhaps DFDS could turn my head with just a little more luxury and then I'd deal with the food prices as it was at least well cooked and a great selection of vegetarian Abigail and carnivorous me. Just a bit more sparkle and a little less tired would work a treat I think and whilst they might not think a pool would be good surely a jacuzzi or two would be nice. I loved the Sky bar but it was messy and uncared for and crowded with smokers ignoring the designated places and basically smoking wherever they felt like it without anyone to stop them, just because you're outdoors doesn't mean it's any more pleasant.
|We even spotted Holly Bobbins Dutch beagle cousin!|
So to sum up, I loved time spent with Abigail, I loved Amsterdam but the cruise itself should just be named the no frills ferry.