A famous line from the ITV series ‘Airline’ that focussed on Easyjet… however I really felt that was what I was going to have to contemplate. My flight from Cardiff was delayed and threatening to ruin my entire day, though thankfully we departed only around 1h40m late in the end.
During the frantic hour of checking options at Cardiff I’d managed to enlist the help of my brother who – in between doing work (I hope!) – was helping me out with checking things. Once boarding was announced it was all so much of a rush I hadn’t thought about onward transport on landing.
Thankfully in the middle of the chaos my brother had booked me a taxi to pick me up at the Airport to take me to the Ferry terminal in Holyhead. The driver met me right outside arrivals and we were soon enroute towards the town centre. Unfortunately this was at like 1007, just three minutes before check in closed for the ferry. My driver told me it would take 10-15 minutes to get to the ferry but he would do his best. We pulled up outside the terminal at 1018 and I grabbed my bags and ran inside straight to the Irish ferries desk.
Now I hadn’t noticed the rather large crowd of people in the terminal reception area, but on speaking to the girl at the desk she assured me I was ok, the ferry was delayed and check in hadn’t actually even opened yet. Phew! There was an estimated delay of just under an hour with revised departure time of 1130.
Sure enough check in didn’t actually start until around 1045. There was around 80-90 people boarding as foot passengers like myself, although the ferries also take cars and commercial vehicles. We were held in another lounge until someone saw a bus go past, and everyone rushed for the doors. I went outside to see what the fuss was about, nothing as it turned out. Eventually a bus did come down from the ship, dropped presumably inbound people off and then came round to pick us up.
It was interesting to note that the internal port shuttles were worked by a local coach company rather than Irish Ferries themselves. A battered old Optare Excel pulled up to take half of us to the ship, and as I’d noted a brand new Enviro 200 go past (the bus everyone rushed outside for thinking it was ours…) I took the opportunity to ride on something almost extinct now. It wasn’t until we got to the ramp of the ship (where they dropped us off to walk the last few metres!) that I saw what the second bus was… a ‘G’ reg ancient Optare Delta! There’s precious few of those left in the UK, never mind the more modern Excels… what a treat I’d missed out on!
I don’t think I’ve ever travelled on a UK ferry route – or certainly not that I can remember – so this was going to be a whole new experience. I was not instilled with confidence when my taxi driver said “Which ferry are you on? Is it the Swift… they call that the Vomit Comet” !
The passenger deck seemed a rather nice place to be, with lots of comfy looking seats, big windows and lots of tables. There was lots of TV’s dotted around the ship to watch different channels, even a ‘TV chill’ room with a huge screen playing cartoons for the kids, games machines to keep people entertained alongside a shop and not one but two restaurants!
We eventually got under way around 1145, an hour late, with the captain coming on to apologise for the late departure – telling us the ship was running on slightly less power and the crossing today would take slightly longer. I guess that this had therefore caused the late arrival of the inbound service, knocking on to ours.
Everyone soon settled into their chosen seats and enjoying whatever their chosen activity was. After an early breakfast at the hotel I decided to go choose a few items for a brunch from one of the restaurants, and to my surprise was only charged for a children’s breakfast at the till. The ship had started noticeably rolling at this point, however I couldn’t help but wonder what it would be like in the winter!
The ship offered free WiFi so I was able to keep in touch with everyone all the way across, though it was very slow out at sea! The journey time today was going to be about 2h45 and thankfully the rolling soon calmed down.
It was a very smooth ride after around the first half hour and the time passed quickly and eventually land came into sight, with our arrival in Dublin being around 1430. We were soon docking and with everyone in cars asked to go back to their vehicles the passenger deck cleared just leaving the 80 or so foot passengers – though we too were soon cleared downstairs and walked down the ramp, the terminal at Dublin being much closer than that at Holyhead.
We were quickly through the customs line and bags were already on the carousel, ready to be picked up and straight outside the front to the waiting shuttle buses. They’re operated by Morton’s Coaches and offer a single to the city centre for €3.50 and slightly more to Heuston station. They run a schedule meeting all Ferries in Dublin both inbound and outbound. The journey takes around 25-30 minutes to the city centre, dropping off on Westmoreland Street at the bottom of O’Connell Street.