15 August 2010


So we set off, in the pouring rain from Gateshead.

Quite a lot of time later, we were in glorious sunshine at Harwich docks, ready to board the DFDS ship, the Dana Sirena. It looked huge on the dockside...until we noticed the enormous container ships and tankers nearby.

The crossing itself was surprisingly fun. I say that because I just don't do boats - I hate crossing the Channel, and the thought of 18 hours between Harwich and Esbjerg filled me with horror. But actually, it was great. Calm seas, a lovely cabin (really comfortable bunk beds, nice shower/bathroom and a sea view), and a dinky sun deck to soak up the evening sunshine.

Captain Jack liked it too...

By 2am, the ship was rocking and rolling about ('bumpy' was the technical term the Captain used), which was a little unnerving. It all made for a rather more exciting stroll on deck this morning, when the spray was shooting up all over the place, and the wind made your hair stand on end.

Our top tips for the crossing:
  • Plan ahead for food for your evening meal (the ship leaves Harwich at 17.45). Both the buffet and the a la carte restaurant options are frighteningly expensive (c.£26 per person for the buffet, although you can get it slightly cheaper by booking ahead), so most families (including us) took a picnic. There's a Morrisons very handily placed (for food and petrol) just before you hit Harwich port.
  • However, the breakfast buffet is brilliant - still expensive (c.£25 for all three of us - that's two adults and one child) but all the bread, Danish pastries, cereals, fruit, cheese, pate, ham, cooked breakfast, tea and coffee that you can eat (or smuggle out for lunch, ahem).
  • There's a children's entertainer on board, doing magic, balloon tricks etc etc. Ours was toecurlingly terrible in an unreconstructed 1970s manner. The kids loved it.
  • If you're planning on taking anything that plugs in on board (travel kettle, nightlight etc), you'll need a travel plug. The Dana Sirena is a very Danish ship!
Anyway, we're looking forward to the return leg. And I never thought I'd say that...thanks DFDS!

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