A Family Mini Break
During the half term holidays, we took a trip to Dublin for a few days. I’m not big on flying, but I have a great love of boats, so we chose to travel by ferry with Stena Line. The other obvious perk of travelling by ferry is that it enabled us to take our car with us.
Whilst in Dublin we visited the Guinness Storehouse, Dublin Zoo and a little town called Dun Laoghaire. We stayed at the Fitzpatrick Castle Hotel, where we also went swimming each morning. In the evening, we enjoyed dinner and live music in a local restaurant called the Graduate. We had a thoroughly enjoyable time in Dublin and travelling there was just so easy!
(Check out the vlog we made below)
We were on a different Stena Line ferry each leg of our trip but both were consistent in terms of excellent customer service, clean facilities (very clean) and the type of offerings on board. Both boats had shops, bars, restaurants, a cinema, an arcade, bureau de change, access to the outside deck, TV’s, a children’s play area and a Stena Plus lounge.
Check-In and Boarding
Check-in and boarding with Stena Line was extremely easy and fuss free. All our travel details were stored under our car registration, so when we drove up to the kiosk we didn’t need confirmations or reference numbers. We were given our boarding ticket, Plus lounge door code and rear view mirror card and told which lane to drive in. Once we had parked in the correct lane, we had 15 minutes to take advantage of the toilets and vending machines before boarding. A loud speaker announcement told us when to return to our car and then we simply drove onto the boat, by row, in an orderly fashion. It really was as simple as that.
My daughters loved the children’s play area on Deck 8. The play areas varied by boat and although the girls had fun on both, the one with the climbing wall, soft play area and interactive touchscreens was the biggest hit. Overall there was such a family friendly vibe on board, with complimentary magazines for the children in the Stena Plus lounge and not just free WIFI but free computer access too.
Stena Plus Lounge
We were booked in as Stena Plus passengers, which can be done at the time of booking or you can upgrade for £18 per person. This is the ships version of business class. Inside the Stena Plus lounge is luxurious seating, big screen televisions, a quiet lounge (which we obviously avoided – having four children with us), a selection of complimentary magazines, a restaurant area and a complimentary drinks and snacks buffet.
There was a huge variety of complimentary snacks and drinks on offer. These ranged from cakes, pastries, biscuits, nuts, crisps, fresh fruit and chocolate. The beverage selection was extensive and included wine, soft drinks on tap, fresh juice, bottled soft drinks and hot drinks.
Whilst appreciating the abundance of free snacks and drinks in the Stena Plus lounge, we fancied a proper lunch. I was hoping to avoid arriving at our hotel with four children on a sugar high. So we decided to purchase a meal from the hot food menu. We took a seat in the lounge, studied the menu and a waiter took our order. The children’s meals were a good size and between our girls, they ordered a burger, chicken strips and macaroni cheese. We were told that despite it being on the menu, cucumber and carrot sticks don’t exist as a side order. The girls still thoroughly enjoyed their meals. We ordered vegetable lasagne, but unfortunately it just had a bit too much onion in for our liking.
Whilst there weren’t very many children in the Stena Plus lounge, nobody minded our children being there. The ferry was extremely family friendly and I felt perfectly comfortable breastfeeding my 3 month old son.
Stena Line Overall
I would definitely travel with Stena Line again and am looking at their other routes as we speak. We have previously travelled on their Liverpool to Belfast route and had an equally enjoyable time. I’d highly recommend upgrading to Stena Plus as it made our trip so much more enjoyable.