"Bitterballen on the high seas"
Not really a composer of reviews but why not. Its Sunday.
I am not exactly a regular user of ferries, but have used the Harwich to NL service maybe 7 or 8 times over the last few years. Normally I fly budget, so my experiences on boats are really a comparison to this.
Lets be honest, boats are slow. Saline is a pretty viscous solvent and fluid dynamics are a harsh mistress. Pushing a small floating metallic town through any liquid would take a while, especially if the aim is for everyone to survive the experience. A one hour flight to Amsterdam becomes a 7 hour investement. Are there advantages? There are. Let us consider them.
You are probably reading this because you have a mortal fear of flying, or because (like me) you love you car. Possibly too much. You may also be thinking of moving copious amounts of stuff from one country to another. The good news is that fluid dynamics work in your favour here. Bouyancy in particular: your baggage is weightless on the high sea. Almost no extra fuel is burned by how much junk you bring. So your allowance is limited only by your imagination, the amount of stuff you have, plus the carrying capacity of your beloved vehicle.
Usually I book a cabin because the relative cost is very small relative to the sanctuary they impart upon the weary traveller. The ability to finely control exposure to communal spaces and your fellow man is glorious. While having your own shower and porcelain express leaves you feeling like a royal, mastering your own climate with the air conditioning makes you truly feel like a God. Free WiFi is a bit bleh but at least its there. And free. I am a scientist, so too poor to use the paid internet so no comment on that.
There is also something pretty humbing about driving your onto a boat alongside massive cargo trucks. Emasculating some might say, as your pride and joy becomes plankton in a sea of axels. Quite a fascinating glimpse into infrastructure, logistics and the real economy if you ask me. Sometimes I think customs is a pretty cool job, just snooping around shipping containers all day, looking at the weird stuff humans spend their money on.
Not sure why, but I find ferry passengers are just chilled and nice to be around. I think most people stay pretty reasonable while their density stays below a certain threshold. Finally, I love how truckers have VIP status and basically get their own private deck. Presumably this is to minimize their exposure to civilians like me. A shame though, because I would not mind hanging out with them to be honest. They probably have nice stories or annecdotes about machines and life on the road. Reminiscing about fuel prices, epic traffic jams, their favourite junctions, etc. Especially I like seeing the massive Dutch guys and marvelling at their bigness. Honestly after living there for 9 years I never fully got used to how tall the Dutch can get. Apparently its their dairy consumption, but I find it hard to believe there is no genetic component. What I love most is that they are so chilled and laid back depsite their epic proportions.
Sail Stena Line
Reviewed by Scott who travelled with Stena Line on Stena Hollandica