Reviewed by Debbie Lowndes
We were so excited to be given the opportunity to conduct a review for the Stena Line Nordica Ferry crossing (Holyhead to Dublin) on 6th December 2014.
My family, which consists of four adults (two in their 40’s, one is in their 60’s and one in their 70’s) plus a 13 year old child arrived at the Holyhead port.
Stena Line recommend that you arrive 30 minutes prior to the crossing time. When we arrived at the port we followed the clearly marked signs to the terminal check-in point. The Stena Line employee responsible for checking the cars in preparation for boarding was very pleasant, welcoming, helpful and cheerful. You could not fault his customer service skills in any way. He provided clear and concise instructions/information to assist us with our onward journey. I felt this would be very beneficial to any passengers who maybe feeling anxious about the journey ahead. He advised that we had been upgraded for our outbound journey to Stena Plus. We were informed which line to follow in order to board the ferry. Upon approaching the ferry Stena Line staff directed us onto the bottom deck and instructed us on parking. The parking space onboard was very well organised, logistically planned and secure. We vacated our vehicle (lower deck) we proceeded to follow the clearly marked signs upon the passage deck. Access to deck was via stairs or lift. We took the stairs, these were steep but there was adequate light and space for proceeding up or down.
There was a clearly marked customer service desk. This was manned throughout the whole journey (3.5 hours). The staff on this desk were very professional, polite and helpful.
We proceeded to Stena Plus, this was a private room which was separated from the main public areas of the ferry. Upon arrival in Stena Plus we were greeted and welcomed by a pleasant hostess. She advised that we could take a seat anywhere we wished. She informed that we could help ourselves to drinks (red wine, water, hot and cold drinks), light breakfast, yogurts, cereal, snacks (biscuits, crisps and fruit), newspapers and magazines. She advised that if we wished to have the channel changed on the television to let her know and she would attend to this.
The seating in the Stena Plus lounge was high quality leather. There was a mixture of plush chairs with tables and settees. Computer access was available for passengers wishing to take advantage of this facility. We took a seat and made ourselves comfortable and obtained a drink. The hostess asked if we wished to see the breakfast menu. We ordered some hot English breakfasts. These arrived quickly after placing our order. They were reasonably priced, well presented, adequate in size and very tasty.
We took the opportunity to visit the duty free shop, it would have been rude not to take advantage of the bargains on offer. The shop was well stocked with a wide range of perfumes, Christmas gift sets, chocolates, alcohol, small electronic products, toys, jewellery and many other offers. The discounts on offer were great compared with the high street prices. However, this is purely dependent upon your preference. I purchased some Marco Jacobs perfume and made a significant saving. There were also some small quirky portable mobile speakers which were reasonably priced and I thought they would be an ideal Christmas gift. My husband and I were talking about whether we thought the quality would be any good. The store assistant overheard us and offered to open one in order for us to listen to the quality. Once again the staff have exceedingly good customer services. Every member of staff encountered so far along our journey had been remarkable in relation to being helpful and accommodating. The duty free shop also stocked Irish goods, these were generally cheaper in Ireland itself. However, it is great that you have the opportunity to purchase these items. If you have forgot that special gift whilst in Ireland you can grab it on your return journey and no-one will be aware that they were initially overlooked.
As our crossing was smooth we also took the opportunity to take a wander, we spent some time on the outside deck area, again this was very clean, tidy and well signposted.
The ferry also had an intercom system, which could be heard from all areas of the ferry. The intercom system was utilised as soon as the ferry departed. Firstly they welcomed everyone onboard and advised when we would depart and the expected length of the journey. They also informed whether they were expecting a smooth crossing and the wind direction. Passengers were informed of procedures to adopt in an emergency situation. Announcements followed throughout the journey to advise when the hot food was being served and when the duty free shop was open. Special announcements could be made to assist in finding a family member should you lose someone. This was a very informative manner of communication and assisted to ensure you had a pleasant journey.
The toilets were conveniently located and clearly marked. They contained plenty of cubicles. The toilets were well stocked with things like toilet paper and soap etc… The ladies toilets contained sanitary disposal bins again clearly marked. One clever thing I spotted within the toilet was an electronic display which informed how often the toilets were checked and when they were next due a check. The cleanliness of the toilets was to a high standard.
The staff onboard ensured that our crossing was relaxing and enjoyable and every member of staff I encountered on the crossing was very pleasant, friendly and helpful.
Our crossing arrived in Dublin at around 12:15 clear communication was passed over to passengers via the intercom system in order to inform them of which direction they should depart in. We departed down the stairs to the lower deck and proceeded to our vehicle. Leaving the ferry in our vehicle could not have been easier and efficient. Within minutes of getting into our vehicle we had driven off the ferry and we on our way.
Our ferry was due to depart at 15:10 and Stena Line recommend that you arrive at the ferry port 30 minutes prior to departure. Unfortunately, we got held up on route to the ferry port. This resulted in us arriving at the check in terminal at 15:05. We were concerned as whether we would be too late. Stena Line were obviously aware of the travel delays being encountered and they had left the check-in terminals open for slightly longer. We queued for a short while in order to allow them to evenly balance the boarding vehicles. We were advised to board the ferry and given clear instructions what lane to follow to board. We drove on to park our vehicle and proceeded up to the public deck in order to make ourselves comfortable for the journey. I went to the customer service desk to see if we would be travelling in Stena Plus again. They advised this area was completely full and then issued me with five complimentary vouchers for a meal of our choice and a drink.
We located some seats in the public seating area, which provided comfortable blue upholstered seating with a range of sofas and easy chairs in the bar area. Within the eating area there were plenty of tables and chairs. There was also a driver’s lounge which I guess was being utilised by lorry drivers. The main differences between Stena Plus and the public area were the high class seating (leather upholstery), magazines available for reading and readily available free of charge drinks and snacks.
We purchased a drink at the bar, there was plenty of choices available. The bar prices were very reasonable and service once again was pleasant and friendly. The bar tariff was displayed close the bar so you were fully aware of what was on offer and the costs.
We sat at a table within the eating area as we were utilising some of the journey time for out evening meal. We perused the menu which was very reasonably and provided a good menu choice. We ordered our food and drinks from the counter. The service from the food counter staff was good. Three of the meals were steak dishes, so the counter staff asked how we required the steak to be cooked. At this point they advised there would be a slight delay due to cooking the steak and informed that they would bring all our meals over once the steak was ready. They prepared our drinks and we took them back to the table. We had only a very slight wait for our meal, about 20 – 30 minutes maximum. When the meals arrived they were all of a high standard. The mash potato was so creamy, I have never had mash of this quality before, wow! I would also recommend the chicken and leek pie it was out of this world. My daughter who is a fussy eater managed most of her meal. The portion sizes were good, in fact I only just managed mine. We ordered one desert to share between two, this was a crumble is arrived quickly and was nice and warm.
On the ferry there was also a children’s play area. This was equipped with soft play and they showed children’s films. There was a room called The Lounge which was dedicated to showing films.
Overall the ferry is very well equipped. The prices for food and drink are reasonable and the quality is excellent. The Duty Free shop is well stocked with clear prices displayed. Every member of staff onboard the ferry was courteous, friendly and had excellent customer service skills. The ferry was very comfortable and relaxing. The journey was completely hassle free. Stena Line had even gone the extra mile by providing festive touches with the Christmas decorations. A huge thank you to Stena Line for a most enjoyable journey. We will definitely be travelling with them again at some point in the future.
I would rate my whole experience with Stena Line as 5/5. They have everything covered to ensure everyone on board the ferry has an enjoyable and relaxing journey.
Prices start from £36 per person as foot passengers or from £140 for car and return.
For more information or to make a booking visit www.stenaline.co.uk.