Any advice on booking ferries?

Cycle-touring, Expeditions, Adventures, Major cycle routes NOT LeJoG (see other special board)
Tangled Metal
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Any advice on booking ferries?

Postby Tangled Metal » 22 May 2017, 8:49am

We're looking at travelling to the Netherlands from Newcastle this summer. We've never booked ferries before so what's the best way of getting a good deal? We're travelling with bikes (2 adult bikes plus one child's bike with an axle hitch tagalong).

What are the cabins like? How can you get past the one bike per booking thing on DFDS's online booking system? Is it cheaper to book through a specialist travel agency or club like the camping & caravanning club? What are the windows like on the outside cabins? Are they worth the extra? What's the crossing like?

Any advice will be most helpful.

Bez
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Re: Any advice on booking ferries?

Postby Bez » 22 May 2017, 9:01am

I've only experienced DFDS on the Newhaven route, but booking multiple bikes is absolute misery. It's one per booking, there's a limit for the crossing as a whole, and if someone else books the last space before you finish booking all yours, you're stuffed because they won't refund you for the ones you've booked but now don't want. Maybe they've changed it (I used them in 2014 after they took over the route from Transmanche Ferries) and maybe it's different on their other routes, I don't know. All I can suggest is phone them up and see what they say. I'd be interested to hear it it's improved.

eileithyia
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Re: Any advice on booking ferries?

Postby eileithyia » 22 May 2017, 9:11am

Can't comment on the booking but with the cabin I don't see how an outside cabin with window is worth it... you get on, probably have a meal, go to bed, get up, have breakfast so you are ready for disembarkation....
Not sure if it still works this way, but have booked a meal in the restaurant rather than the self service ... by the time you've clocked up every single item, butter, jam, side orders etc.,you can spend as much as sitting down in the restaurant for an all in price, and often the restaurant is half empty, with no queueing....
But it is quite sometime since i used a ferry so may have changed.
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Tangled Metal
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Re: Any advice on booking ferries?

Postby Tangled Metal » 22 May 2017, 1:20pm

Young child so window is nice for him. Plus other half insists so I obey. I did try arguing that point. I'm now in the dog house!

Tangled Metal
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Re: Any advice on booking ferries?

Postby Tangled Metal » 22 May 2017, 1:25pm

Live chat online seems ok but they keep closing it down. They really make it hard to actually speak to someone. Takes a bit of searching to find a. 0870 number. I bet that'll cost on a mobile!

BTW cheaper to book direct than get a 10% discount by booking through camping & caravanning club.

BTW costs £3 extra to sail on the Sunday than the saturday it seems.

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Re: Any advice on booking ferries?

Postby eileithyia » 22 May 2017, 1:26pm

But most of these ferries are over night, all you will see is blackness or if light, a large expanse of featureless water.. when awake... surely you would get a better view by being on deck, if not tucked up in bed.
I stand and rejoice everytime I see a woman ride by on a wheel the picture of free, untrammeled womanhood. HG Wells

Tangled Metal
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Re: Any advice on booking ferries?

Postby Tangled Metal » 22 May 2017, 1:34pm

Got a number from live chat. 0344 number. Is that like a normal landline number for charges?

Bez
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Re: Any advice on booking ferries?

Postby Bez » 22 May 2017, 1:39pm

eileithyia wrote:But most of these ferries are over night, all you will see is blackness or if light, a large expanse of featureless water.. when awake... surely you would get a better view by being on deck, if not tucked up in bed.


Depends what time you're sailing, but a window does give you the opportunity to be woken up by natural daylight. And if you're cycling straight off the ferry it can give you an indication of what the weather's like before you decide what gear to put on. And I guess it's probably more pleasant if you have a touch of seasickness or claustrophobia.

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mjr
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Re: Any advice on booking ferries?

Postby mjr » 22 May 2017, 1:49pm

Bez wrote:I've only experienced DFDS on the Newhaven route, but booking multiple bikes is absolute misery. It's one per booking, there's a limit for the crossing as a whole, and if someone else books the last space before you finish booking all yours, you're stuffed because they won't refund you for the ones you've booked but now don't want. Maybe they've changed it (I used them in 2014 after they took over the route from Transmanche Ferries) and maybe it's different on their other routes, I don't know. All I can suggest is phone them up and see what they say. I'd be interested to hear it it's improved.

It was still the same rubbish on Dover sailings about a month ago :-(

Bez wrote:Depends what time you're sailing, but a window does give you the opportunity to be woken up by natural daylight. And if you're cycling straight off the ferry it can give you an indication of what the weather's like before you decide what gear to put on. And I guess it's probably more pleasant if you have a touch of seasickness or claustrophobia.

It is indeed good for waking up and seeing the weather, but the window's too small to be much help with my seasickness or claustrophobia (both mild, fortunately) and there's still the challenge of not falling over or freaking out in the corridor or stairs.
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brynpoeth
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Re: Any advice on booking ferries?

Postby brynpoeth » 22 May 2017, 4:51pm

Modern ferries are huge and stable, not much danger of seasickness. For an overnight crossing it is better and much cheaper to bring ones own food, maybe just spend a couple of quid on a fresh cup of tea

Watching from the deck as the ship leaves and arrives is fun for children too
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Mavis2016
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Re: Any advice on booking ferries?

Postby Mavis2016 » 22 May 2017, 5:18pm

We use ferries a lot, three people, three bikes. Phone them up, their system cannot cope with one bike per person online, they are all the same, DFDS, Brittany etc., etc., none of them can book three bikes on an online reservation for three people.

We have never had any issues.

We are travelling Newcastle to Amsterdam return in August. Three people, three bikes, four person cabin each way £500. I don't think that is too bad.

Early booking gets the cheapest fares generally, we booked ours in January.

eileithyia
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Re: Any advice on booking ferries?

Postby eileithyia » 22 May 2017, 6:19pm

Bez wrote:
eileithyia wrote:But most of these ferries are over night, all you will see is blackness or if light, a large expanse of featureless water.. when awake... surely you would get a better view by being on deck, if not tucked up in bed.


Depends what time you're sailing, but a window does give you the opportunity to be woken up by natural daylight. And if you're cycling straight off the ferry it can give you an indication of what the weather's like before you decide what gear to put on. And I guess it's probably more pleasant if you have a touch of seasickness or claustrophobia.


The couple of times I have done cross channel with a sleeping cabin / overnighting.... there was no danger of not waking as you are woken by a tannoy announcement so you can get breakfast before disembarkation... :lol:
I stand and rejoice everytime I see a woman ride by on a wheel the picture of free, untrammeled womanhood. HG Wells

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mjr
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Re: Any advice on booking ferries?

Postby mjr » 22 May 2017, 6:27pm

brynpoeth wrote:Modern ferries are huge and stable, not much danger of seasickness.

Damn you and the rest of you seafaring adepts! ;-)

eileithyia wrote:The couple of times I have done cross channel with a sleeping cabin / overnighting.... there was no danger of not waking as you are woken by a tannoy announcement so you can get breakfast before disembarkation... :lol:

Don't worry. Be happy.

I feel there's a difference between an alarm going off (whether yours or a tannoy) and actually waking up with the daylight hitting your eyeballs.
MJR, mostly pedalling 3-speed roadsters. KL+West Norfolk BUG incl social easy rides http://www.klwnbug.co.uk
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Bez
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Re: Any advice on booking ferries?

Postby Bez » 22 May 2017, 7:17pm

Yeah, exactly :)

Tangled Metal
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Re: Any advice on booking ferries?

Postby Tangled Metal » 22 May 2017, 9:02pm

Ferry journey lasts from 5:30pm arriving at 9:30am. Our child wakes at 6am. It'll be in a strange place so the benefits of daylight are that he'll be able to work out where he is when he wakes. The gentle and natural way of waking is partly body clock and partly daylight. Tannoy or other artificial method is never good IMHO.

Well booked with breakfast paid for. Ferry alone for 3 with 3 bikes was £513 for end of June sailing. It goes up each new day. If you booked in January for £500, was that 3 adults? We have one young child so perhaps that's why it's not much more.expensive for us but it doesn't sound much of an early bird saving £13. I got a price of £410 a couple of weeks ago but that was with only one bike using their online booking. I got told about £15 per bike so that's still below £500. Sorry for being that annoying person who spoils you sense of a bargain. I got that bike price from dfds indirectly through C&CC booking lady. We went direct in the end because they beat even the 10% discount that the club supposedly offers.

Now is the second hardest thing (after spending £500+ of my hard earned) is waiting just over a month to the sailing.

Any advice on sources of good holiday insurance? Apparently you need it as terms sagged conditions off the ferry ticket. Plus it's common sense. What insurance do I need for cycle touring for 2 adults and 1 young child? Also is it worth getting the EHIC card or whatever the old health card thing you could get from the post office for health service equivalency in European countries?