If you’ve been around for a while, you know that my grandma was one of my best friends and travel partners. We saw all of Canada together, mostly by train with a few ferries thrown in (Newfoundland is highly underrated and one of my favorite places).
My grandma was as Irish as they come. Catholic, beer loving, meat and potato eating, St Patrick’s Day celebrating, and named Patricia (my namesake). It was only fitting to honor her memory by taking a train and ferry to Ireland while we were in Europe for the year.
We left on the train via London Euston station. The train went through Wales to Holyhead, about three and a half hours. It stopped a few times, and went through some beautiful countryside. You have the option of booking your seat, or taking one that is available when you get on. Because we had so much stuff and my anxiety couldn’t leave our seats to chance, I booked our seats.
The train was nice, with large bathrooms by train standards and attendants that came through to take garbage every hour or so. There was a snack car, but we didn’t get anything from it.
We arrived in Holyhead on time, and walked with seemingly everyone else from the train to the other side of the station, where the ferry port was. There are two ferry options, the regular ferry and the fast ferry. The reviews of the fast ferry said it was more likely to be canceled and was choppier, so we opted for the regular ferry. It was only 30 minutes longer but more reliable.
We waited in line for our passport and luggage check. The line was long but it was pretty efficient. We checked our large bags, but I kept my carry on suitcase with me, since it had my Nikon Z9 and 500 mm zoom lens in it (my birding camera) and I didn’t want to risk anything happening to it.
After checking our luggage we headed outside to the bus that takes you to the ferry. The men outside said I needed to check my bag, since it had wheels and bags with wheels weren’t allowed. I went back in, and the luggage guys said the men outside were wrong, and I could take it. After much back and forth, I moved my camera and lenses to my overnight bag and carried it on in there.
When booking the ferry, you have the option of regular tickets or cabins. Since the ferry is almost four hours, you can book a room, like on a cruise ship. We waited too long to book and the rooms were all sold out, so we had a regular ticket.
Pro tip: the cabins are cheaper day of on board the ferry, so if it’s not peak travel and you want a cabin without paying full price, book with customer service when you board.
There ended up being plenty of places to sit in the common areas. The boat was 11 floors, mostly consisting of parking, since it is a car ferry, but floors 9 and 10 had plenty of seating. We ended up in the back of the ship, sitting near the bar. We had plenty of room to sprawl out, and I even got a short nap in.
The ferry also had a few restaurants, in addition to the bars. I had fish and chips and it was pretty good. The Husband had chicken tenders that were good, but way too small for being almost €20. There was also a kids play area, a movie theater showing two movies back to back (tickets required), and a duty free area.
The top deck was open and didn’t have any chairs but there were two little smoking huts. It was very cold and very windy, so there wasn’t anyone out there when I checked it out.
We read that there would be taxis at the port in Dublin, but there weren’t any when we arrived. I quickly requested an Uber and after waiting almost ten minutes, a taxi driver (they received requests via Uber) accepted my ride and picked us up about ten minutes later.
Pro tip: schedule a ride from the ferry port, don’t wait until you get there.
At £109 total for both of us for the train and ferry, it was definitely a good deal. While budget airlines are cheap within Europe, when you add our 150 lbs of luggage, it becomes pretty expensive. While this was a longer journey, it was cheaper and much more relaxing.
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