Ferries. They’ve featured a fair bit in my life to be honest. When I was a kid and we were coming “home” for Christmas, it usually involved a ferry.
I remember them being cramped, noisy, and generally full of exceedingly drunk people. I remember occasions when we were in the corridor sitting on the floor. The stink of stale beer and the omnipresent fug of fag smoke, with more than just a hint of stale (and sometimes fresh) vomit.
I also remember the years when we used to fly with Aer Lingus. Huge seats, full meal on the plane, free drinks, smiling friendly air stewardesses…..
Amazing how things have changed.
Now, I dread flying – no matter the airline. The hassle starts at the airport with check in for the dreaded bag weigh, then there’s security where you may or may not have to strip down to your skivvies if you have 125ml of water in your bag……. then the 20 mile route hike to your gate, then the inevitable minimum 45 minute delay (never adequately explained). Crammed into a tin can into seats that are really not an appropriate size for the journey length and watching your laptop get crushed into a zillion pieces by the skank that was too cheap to pay the extra tenner and is intent on shoving 2 weeks worth of size 24 hot pants into an overhead bin!
Then there’s the Stena Ferries.
Today we’re on the Belfast/Cairnryan.
We rolled up at 10:30, 1 hour before departure. Our details were taken by friendly efficient staff who only wanted to ensure that we had turned off the gas in our caravan and that we knew where we were going. Oh and that we had our complimentary newspapers of course. No weighing. No shoe removal. And I can tell you that in the caravan alone, there is at least FOUR WHOLE LITRES of liquid (if you count Pepsi as a liquid…! 😉 ).
We drove into our designated parking area, stopped for a nice chat with the couple behind us who also had a caravan and then took the lift up to the Stena Plus lounge. There we settled into our comfortable sofa area, plugged one of the mobiles into the power socket to charger – we didn’t turn it off of course – mobile phones may crash planes, but they don’t sink boats!
I then fetched our complimentary cappucinos – from the large selection available of teas, coffees, soft drinks and wine. I didn’t bother with the wasabi dusted nuts or the olive selection, but did avail of the free shortbread biscuits and chocolate brownies.
I’ve spent the last hour doing puzzles in my complimentary puzzle book, while Grant read his complimentary copy of Wired. Now, I’m typing up this blog on the complimentary computer and wifi also provided.
Shortly, I shall go out on desk for a cigarette and then come back and possibly eat a sandwich before we arrive.
Now I know there are a lot of complimentaries in that last little lot – Stena Plus comes with benefits. But the rest of the ship is still pretty good. Lots of seating in different area types depending on what you’re looking for (tea, coffee, quiet area, cinema, play area for kids….). Nothing like the tug boats we used to travel on in the 70s.
We’re travelling with a car and a caravan and the return journey (also with Stena Plus) is from Holyhead. The ferry fare came in at just under €400. That’s the same as we’d have to pay for a weekend fly and drive to Glasgow.
If you haven’t been on one in a while, give it a try. They ROCK! 🙂