After two years of corona restrictions, traveling to United Kingdom became easier like before the corona pandemic. The British government dropped corona related requirements such as the quarantine hotels, testing requirements like PCR and antigen tests, and passenger location forms, regardless of the vaccination status. For us, this makes travelling to UK very attractive compared to other European countries. When traveling to EU countries, a vaccination certificate (valid for 270 days after the last shots) or a booster shot without expiration is required. If you do not satisfy this requirement, you need to get corona test, which costs money. In our case we travelled to England, so there were no Corona requirements. We had a DFDS travel voucher that we were not able to use two years ago because of the lockdown and corona-related measures in the UK. We decided to use this voucher for a DFDS MiniCruise to Newcastle England. Our previous booking included 2-night’s stay at the DFDS cruise ship for going to and back from England plus two nights stay at Holiday Inn hotel in Newcastle. Unfortunately, for the price we paid before, we now could only book a 3-days DFDS MiniCruise. DFDS offered us buffet breakfasts and a dinner plus an upgraded room with sea view, with a discount. All in all, we can say that they did their best to offer us a pleasant and affordable holiday. But indeed, the inflation related to corona and the war in Ukraine makes travelling more expensive. Nevertheless, we decided to push through with this travel since we felt like it was now or never. As a family of four, the first question that comes to our mind is if this trip will be kid’s friendly? In this blog, I will highlight our experience and evaluation of our MiniCruise.
Going to the DFDS terminal in Ijmuiden is quite easy. There is a free parking place where you can leave your car for several nights (at your own risks) or pay a secured parking for 7 euros per night at the DFDS terminal. We decided to go for a free parking because we saw that there were more cars parked in the free parking space which was just a gravel field in front of the DFDS terminal. Afterwards, we checked in at the check-in counter. This took only a few minutes as there were few passengers in the terminal. Afterwards, we waited for boarding and finally, we were in the Princess Seaways DFDS cruise ship. As expected, the ship is quite big with 9 decks, cabins for passengers and crews, and entertainment areas. Our cabin had 2 beds and 2 bunk beds with private toilet and shower. The room is minimalistic and is good enough for overnight or short stay. As compared to sleep-train, the beds in the cabin are more comfortable. When the ship was about to leave, we were able to enjoy the view of Ijmuiden in decks 8 and 9 before the view vanished and was replaced with an infinite sea horizon.
DFDS MiniCruise Kid’s friendly entertainment
The ship has an entertainment area for children as well as a kids entertainment program. The a kid’s play area contains a small climbing place, a lego table, some games and a TV where children can watch children movies. The play area is next to a café where parents can buy and enjoy a Starbucks coffee, thee, or snacks while enjoying the sea view while monitoring their children. The kids’ entertainment program started with a meet & greet photo session with Jack the Pirate. The program continued with a coloring competition and a treasure hunt for children. Winners got some prizes for these activities. There is also a Duty-Free shop, where we can buy children toys and entertainment. In this case, we ended up buying a plush Gruffalo toy, which is typical English, for my younger son and the Lego pull-back car for my older boy. There is also a cinema, for 8,50 euros per person.
The food inside the ship was in our opinion, good value for money. Since we booked buffet dinner and breakfast at the Explorer’s Kitchen restaurant, we can enjoy unlimited food. Kids aged 3 years old and below are free of food. This was to our advantage because our younger boy is turning four this July. So nice opportunity to save money for this trip. The Explorer’s kitchen restaurant is filled with many intercontinental types of foods, like Asian, English, and European foods. If you go early in the restaurant especially during the breakfast, the higher your chance to sit close to the window and enjoy the Seaview and the sun.
After a long night of stay in the cabin, we were soon going to embark in Newcastle. After the breakfast, we enjoyed the view of the cliffs, old castles, and the buildings and houses at the Newcastle as the ship approached the city. Yes, we were very excited for our next adventure. Once we reached Newcastle, we went through the immigration office for passport screening (or visa in case you need one), then went straight to the DFDS bus that will bring us to the city center. It took around 20-30 minutes for the bus to reach the city center. From there, passengers had four hours (10:30-14:45) to tour around the city. In my Half day city tour Newcastle England, I have written about half day tour of Newcastle by foot. Here you can find places to visit given a short period of time during your DFDS MiniCruise.
After touring the Newcastle, we went back to the terminal and went through short screening before boarding the ship. Afterwards, we enjoyed the remaining time in the ship entertaining the kids and enjoying our dinner. The night journey back to Ijmuiden was quite bumpy, with 1.5 meters wave in front and back of the ship. Luckily, the following morning was a beautiful weather going back to the Netherlands. We enjoyed our breakfast with a sunrise and went to the deck to see the view of Ijmuiden and the beach coasts of North Holland. After embarkation and going through the immigration, we saw that our car was still in one piece and in good condition (no stolen parts or damage). What a smooth experience!
So, after all this experience, is a DFDS MiniCruise a kid’s friendly experience? We would say, definitely yes! At the same time, it also very convenient experience for parents because of the arranged buses for transferring to one place to another and the free car parking. As for next time, we will surely try again a MiniCruise somewhere going to Denmark and Norway, and this time, as a family of five!