To Hull and Back


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In the classic Only Fools and Horses episode of the same name, Del Boy and Rodney set sail across the North Sea from Hull to Amsterdam. I made the same trip recently, but was guided by the captain of the Pride of Rotterdam, rather than by that able seaman, Uncle Albert. P&O Ferries offer minicruises from Hull to Amsterdam, Rotterdam and Bruges – these involve an overnight ferry crossing, return coach transfers between port and city-centre and six hours in the city before another overnight ferry crossing back to Hull.

With selected minicruises costing around £75 per couple, this is an offer too good to refuse. Or as Del Boy himself might say, “He who dares wins, Rodders”…

After arriving at Hull’s King George Dock several hours before our scheduled 8pm departure, we paid the extortionate £7 per day car-parking charge (that’s £21 for the required three days) and went through check-in. There’s no long and boring wait until boarding – the crew let you straight on the boat where you can find your cabin and relax.

Not fancying the bunk beds of the shoebox-like economy berths, in true Trotter style we opted for a Club Cabin which featured a TV, double-bed, fresh fruit and free drinks.

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The Pride of Rotterdam has three decks for cars and lorries, with a further five decks above these where the cabins and entertainment for the 1,360 passengers and 152 crew members can be found. We had a stroll to get our bearings, and came across the imaginatively named Wine Bar, where we enjoyed a pre-dinner glass of champagne – Del Boy would have been proud.

There are two choices of restaurant, so we thought it a good idea to sample both – the Four Seasons Buffet Restaurant on the way to Amsterdam, and Langan’s Brasserie on the return to Hull. Four Seasons is an eat-as-much-as-you-can buffet which is extremely popular – almost everyone on board eats there, so be prepared to wait for a table. The quality is surprisingly good for a buffet, although there is always the danger of abusing the system and eating enough to feed the 5,000.

Langan’s Brasserie is a more intimate affair, with a dozen or so tables alongside the portholes, giving diners a romantic glimpse of the cranes and chimneys of Europort’s docks. The food may not be of a style you’d expect in a brasserie – Kat went for a tuna salad, and I had fish and chips – but again the quality was high and filled us both up.

After a quick drink at the ship’s obligatory Irish Bar, it was time for us to take a seat in the Sunset Show Lounge for a night of cabaret. This was pretty cheesy stuff – one step up from being Phoenix Nights at sea. Still, the covers band got people singing, dancing and spending money at the bar. There were plenty of school and college kids celebrating the end of term on our pre-Christmas trip – the on-board bouncers had their work cut out telling off groups who became too rowdy.

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On the top deck, there is a quieter bar – the Sky Lounge – where we sat slumped listening to a pianist on the return journey, exhausted after our rush around the sights of Amsterdam.

There is a “Sun Deck” next to the Sky Lounge – we didn’t see too much sun on our 8pm crossing from Hull, but this was popular with the smokers prepared to brave the waves crashing in off the North Sea.

As well as the bars, other entertainment options include two cinemas, a casino and a games arcade. Films showing in December 2012 were the most recent Batman film and the Bourne Legacy, so about as recent as you’d find in a DVD rental store.

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After a decent night’s sleep, we were rudely awakened by a 6am klaxxon announcing that we would be disembarking shortly. I’m not at my best in the mornings, but in my view this wake-up call is too loud, too early and too regular – it sounds every half an hour!

We were still too stuffed from the previous night’s meal to eat breakfast, so we made do with a coffee from the on-board Costa as we waited patiently to leave the ferry at 8.30am and join the coach for the 90-minute drive from Europort to Amsterdam. You can read here how to make the most of your short stay in the capital of the Netherlands.

P&O’s marketing team say their target demographic consists of families with older kids and older couples (“empty nesters”), two groups they say take minicruises quite frequently. We had a lovely jubbly time on our minicruise, which was essentially a day of sightseeing in one of Europe’s finest cities sandwiched between two big nights out, and are keen to go back for more.

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Categories: Belgium and NetherlandsTags: , , , , ,

20 comments

  1. I love taking the ferry to Europe and use the Newcastle to Amsterdam service often. Much more civilized than air travel.
    A great review of the service, Richard. The upgraded cabin looks very nice. The food is always excellent and I always sleep very well, although a 6am wakeup is a bit harsh. Newcastle to Amsterdam docks at 10am, so a bit less severe! Agreed that the entertainment can be cheesy and Phoenix Nights at sea is a fun comparison.

  2. Love your photos of the portholes, Richard.
    “Venice” next- I must’ve missed that one.

  3. Good write-up on the ferry crossing. The car parking has gone up! It was only £6 when I went and that was only a couple of weeks before you! That cabin looks smart, I think I’ll upgrade next time!

  4. Sounds like a bargain, but was it rough though? I’m a total wimp with boats and did my first Channel crossing in years this autumn and the return trip was awful. Can just see me spending the entire night staring out of a porthole trying to watch the horizon!

    • Hi Lucy, honestly it’s fine. If it does get a bit choppy, as you’re sitting down for most of the night you don’t notice. It’s walking from the bar back to your seat when things might feel a bit strange!

  5. What a great services – I’m guessing Brugge is next. Does Kat like chocolate?!

  6. Great post! I could see those ferries in the port and i was wondering if people prefer using them rather than taking the airplane. Apparently it’s a pleasant experience (except the wake up call!) No matter the way you reach Amsterdam, in the end you always say…I Amsterdam!

  7. 20 years ago, when I was stationed in the UK in the military, I sailed from England to Rotterdam, but I want to say our port of embarkation was Harwich (or somewhere near there — I was stationed not far from Ipswich.) You’ve brought back memories (though my trip was much shorter with lesser accommodations.)

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