How do we get from home to Scotland without having to spend the entire 14 days off driving? The answer: ferry to Scotland. More precisely from Amsterdam to Newcastle upon Tyne. But once we boarded the ferry with kids, what was meant to only be a means of making the journey easier, proved to be the highlight of the whole trip.
Why do we have to drive to Scotland?
I sit on the couch in only a T-shirt, yet I am still hot. The balcony doors are wide open, but the heat seems stuck in the air and no breeze is making it move. The kid has finally manged to fall asleep, hours after the usual bedtime, but who could blame her. In the beginning of August, our routine is completely distorted.
I yawn, but don’t contemplate heading to bed. Irritated I yank the shirt that has plastered itself on me, like second skin. Husband swivels on his chair and turns to me.
‘5.000 kilometers,’ he states and shows me the map on Google.
It seems that almost all of our vacation in barely three weeks time we’ll be spent driving to and from Scotland.
We knew we’d have the last two weeks of August off before the Summer started. The beginning of August came and we were yet to make a reservation. We just couldn’t figure out what we wanted. Days passed, and we had nothing except the destination. Scotland. No doubt about it.
I’d spend all my vacations in Scotland. Especially the Summer ones.
That hot Summer night I wished we already were in Scotland.
But booking things two weeks before you have to go, in Scotland, in Summer, takes courage. And there’s a thin line between courage and crazy. Everything and I am not exaggerating (I wish I was) was either booked or too expensive to take into consideration.
Our only option, because we wanted to go to Scotland, was driving and camping. That sounded right up our alley. Being spontaneous, throwing caution to the wind, screw plans…
However, when hubbs mentioned the number of kilometers, I quickly sobered up and despite the heat, I broke out in a cold sweat.
He swiveled back and we turned to the magic of Google for a solution.
We discovered DFDS ferry from Amsterdam to Newcastle upon Tyne.
It would still mean driving but a lot less, so we booked it without any hesitation. Finally, Scotland was within reach and we could start making a list of things we wanted to see. I could release that breath I didn’t know I was holding.
Boarding the ferry
As we turned right onto the road that ends in the harbor, a Fish and Chips joint was the first to greet us, making us feel we were almost in the UK. On the edge of our seat we slowly pulled up behind a white camping van and gazed at the docked colossal white and blue ship. It was the only one around, it had to be ours. Yet it resembled a cruise ship more than it did a simple ferry.
I could feel the excitement in the car when the kids took in the sight of a large hotel on the water. The only question was, how long do we have to wait to get on board?
Because we missed our ferry from Spain to Morocco – and yet we call ourselves travelers – we were extra careful and extra early. Lesson learned forever. I sure didn’t want to miss going to Scotland.
It meant we were in the harbor with other nerds almost three hours before departure. Mix in our anxiousness to get on board and explore the perks of the ship, to start sailing and get to our final destination, you can’t really take our word on how long we needed to wait for granted. It felt like hours, but in truth it wasn’t.
Besides you have to admire the workers, who so meticulously make sure that every car is in the right place on the ferry. Not an easy task to do.
Anyway, the wait was quickly forgotten as we snaked into the belly of the ship, squeezed our car among many others and were welcomed on board by the friendly crew.
The adventure BEGINS
Without the kids, we’d just leave our things in a small but tidy and efficient cabin and head to the deck to watch the ship leave the Dutch harbor. With kids every step of the way was an adventure.
‘Look at this!’ was heard as we moved along the long corridor in search of our room.
Then they fought who will open the door. Once inside they jumped around as much as the space allowed and were on to fighting who will sleep where.
Bunk beds with Mum and Dad, it apparently doesn’t get better than that.
It wouldn’t be our choice of ideal accommodation, but their sheer enthusiasm was contagious and we couldn’t help but smile. Nodding my head, I too thought, ‘FUN’. My husband agreed and whispered: ‘This was such a good idea.’
Yes, it sure was. After leaving our things in the room and settling the dispute on who sleeps where, the kids wanted the playroom, the two of us wanted the deck. Off we went.
Exploring the ferry to Scotland
The playroom, conveniently located next to a café and restaurant, has a small playground and a space filled with balls. Kids can play with Lego’s or watch cartoons… They can do tons of DIY, … Every time I came to check they were doing something else, and didn’t yet want to leave.
Meanwhile we walked and explored the whole ship. Our starting point was the Sky Bar filled with chairs and people enjoying the gentle sun rays of the eve. Temperature was perfect, Summer heat of home long behind us. The music coming from the speakers complimented the whole relaxed atmosphere, with passengers enjoying the staple drink of the Dutch – Heineken beer.
We too couldn’t resist. Soon we leaned our elbows on the fence of the ferry, cradling the green bottle between us and watched the ship slowly leave the confines of the harbor. What a fantastic start of our holiday.
On the way back, the pending journey on board this ship, made the farewell from the great Scotland and the end of our holiday a little easier to bare.
Dinner helped as well
Can you believe there are four differentt restaurants and one café to chose from when it comes to food on the ship?
Tip: It is best to book your meals when you are booking the accommodation as it will be more affordable.
The food we tried was delicious. On our outward journey we ate in the Explorer’s Steakhouse, where we had delicious steaks. The girls could choose among all kids’ favorite meals – they went for spaghetti Bolognes, which were very tasty.
On our way back we had burgers at the Pop Up restaurant. We were seated next to the windows and ate our dinner while enjoying the warm colors of the sunset. The best thing – our munching was interrupted by whales we spotted in the distance. No wonder this will be one of those meals we will remember forever.
After our meals we headed slowly towards our cabin, but had to check where all the singing was coming from. We found ourselves in a bar with live music and five minutes later I was on the disco floor with the girls swaying my hips to Abba. It took half an hour to make the girls move on.
When fell asleep almost the second our weary heads touched the pillows. What felt like seconds later, an announcement woke us up. They were letting us know we’ll soon be arriving. It seemed so effortlessly and we were at our destination. Great way to travel.
When we closed our cabin on our way home, the girls said: ‘Let’s do this again, soon.’
We whole heartedly agreed, especially because the ship was big enough to pack a bit of Scottish weather and take it home with us :).