We joined the ship on December 30th for a New Year Mini Cruise. We were surprised that the sailing went ahead, as the ship had suffered fire damage on the previous day. This may have explained the lack of cabin air conditioning, which was very uncomfortable. It would be very unfair to offer criticism under the circumstances, though. The cabin had bunk beds, and we found out the hard way that this isn't an option at 70 anymore! Not much storage space either, but it's easy to forget that this is essentially a very posh ferry, designed for single night routes. The standard and choice of food, and the level of service were all excellent. The five piece band, and singer/guitarists who provided the live entertainment, were of cruise line standard. This made for a most enjoyable trip. Now for the not so good bits. The North Sea in December is not for everyone, but there are many excellent remedies on the market.
The parking at the Newcastle end is very pricey at £36 for the mini-cruise. DFDS say that the charges are set by the port authority. Check in and boarding were very slow, and unlike a flight, you lug all your luggage with you all the time. The ship had to change berths before disembarking on New Years day, and this cost us nearly an hour ashore. The system of pre-booked meals being accessed by a combination of boarding cards and vouchers is chaotic, made life more difficult for the staff, and allowed some passengers for whom being rude is second nature, to really let rip. I don't think that any praise could be too high for DFDS. Anyone who had somehow missed all the news footage of the fire would have been completely unaware that anything untoward had happened. We would use DFDS again, but would pay a little more for a cabin upgrade. An enjoyable start to 2014.
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