Just back from a week in Europe having crossed the North Sea outbound on the Stena Hollandica, returning on the Stena Britannica.
Both ships are identical, the only superficial difference is the Hollandica is Dutch crewed, the Britannica English crewed. In practice though the crew is international on both ships.
Both sailings were the overnight crossings - giving at least 8 hours onboard.
Check in and boarding opens around 2.5 hours prior to sailing at its the only part of the service that lets Stena Line down. At Harwich there was total chaos with one marshall trying to direct four lanes of cars into the two open check in desks. It all descended into a free for all. When finally reached the check in kiosk the check in agent was more interested in arguing with her fellow check in agent about who was to blame for the chaos than serving customers.
On the return in Holland things were slightly better thanks to a quieter sailing but still chaotic as four lanes of cars fought to get through two check in desks.
Once onboard the ships are impressive. Passenger facilities are located all on one deck (deck 9) with cabins on decks above. Car decks are on deck 3 or 4 so there is some way to go but lifts are available (though busy)
There are a choice of bars and restaurants we used The Metropolitan restaurant serving a high quality three course evening meal and the Taste restaurant for a self service breakfast. There is a choice of food available though for all tastes.
The cabins are a great improvement on those normally found on ferries. Our outside Comfort Class (Business Class) cabin on deck 10 was surprisingly spacious, spotlessly clean and well equipped. This class of cabin includes a complimentary mini bar and large window. The room is quiet compared with other ferries with no engine hum audible (something that afflicts many other ferries).
The return sailing was during a force seven gale so was a rough crossing but the ships stabilisers limit pitch and roll and a comfortable nights sleep was had.
A much more pleasurable way to journey to Europe than the hassle of flying
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