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overnight ferry - any tips?

(20 Posts)
Tommy Wed 27-Jul-11 17:49:27

we're taking the DSs to France for the first time this week and are booked on an overnight ferry from Plymouth to Roscoff. Any tips on how to survuive that with 3 young boys? Anyone been on that crossing and can tell me what to expect? What are the restaurants like etc?
TIA smile

jamaisjedors Wed 27-Jul-11 18:02:41

Which company is it? If it's Brittany Ferries the boats are really nice but tbh you will just get on the boat and go to bed.

Don't expect to sleep before midnight - and then they get you up mad early the next morning.

You could stop for breakfast the other end at a more human time rather than buy the overpriced breakfast on the boat - or take some orange juice and rolls for the DC to save yourself some money.

Tommy Wed 27-Jul-11 18:09:17

thanks jamaisjedors (like the name!) It is Brittany ferries - I wasn't sure about breakfast but we have cereal bars etc anyway. Any recommendations for where to stop for breakfast then?! (on our way to Quimper)

BecauseImWorthIt Wed 27-Jul-11 18:12:49

Please tell me you've got a cabin ...

Tommy Wed 27-Jul-11 18:14:32

yes! It's only a 4 berth though so DH is on a reclining chair somewhere else...

said Wed 27-Jul-11 18:18:45

Stop at any bar en route for coffee and croissants. I love the overnight boat, love ferries, takes me back to childhood holidays

LowLevelWhiiingeing Wed 27-Jul-11 18:19:59

We got an overnight ferry by accident once having missed an earlier one. We laid out on the chairs and a nice chappie pointed us in the direction of some basic bunks, kind of in a communal little dorm type area. So DH may not have to sleep sitting up.

BecauseImWorthIt Wed 27-Jul-11 18:28:22

Roscoff is a lovely place, from memory, so may be worth going for breakfast somewhere there first (depending on what time you get in).

Is it not possible for your DH to top-and-tail with your youngest? Those reclining seats are seriously uncomfortable!

PrettyCandles Wed 27-Jul-11 18:31:36

Brittany ferries are excellent for travel with dc. They lay on all sorts of entertainment (suitable cabaret, disco, art club, softplay) and the cabins are comfortable. We were 5 in a 4-berth. I shared with dc3, but you might find you could have two dc topping and tailing in one bunk.

The food is OK, and, while more expensive than elsewhere, not extravagantly so. But you could always take a picnic for supper and breakfast, and only buy hot drinks on board.

Try to have your overnight bag/s in the car with you, rather than in the boot, and have a couple of smaller bags rather than one huge bag, as the cars are packed very tightly into the ferry, and you may struggle to get big things out.

Our dc loved the trip. Highlights were probably sitting in our cabin porthole watching our entry into St Malo, and the bridge tour (extra cost and may have been on the return trip in the day, I don't remember exactly).

PrettyCandles Wed 27-Jul-11 18:33:25

Oh, just remembered! You don't even have to buy hot drinks aboard - the cabins have tea-making facilities, just like a hotel.

Tommy Wed 27-Jul-11 18:43:06

that's helpful prettycandles - may think about the top and tailing idea.DH is a bit too fat tall and broad to share a little bunk with anyone......

thanks all smile

MindtheGappp Wed 27-Jul-11 19:04:47

Brittany Ferries is fab.

We did Caen-Portsmouth overnight last time. You get to your cabin very late, so it is straight to bed for children. The cabins have WC and showers, but unless you are a person who simply needs a shower, there isn't any time to use it.

Ours are old enough to be trusted so DH and I had a drink in the bar. The atmosphere was very vibrant.

In the morning, they make you vacate your cabin a good hour before docking. We ate in the posher restaurant, where it was a buffet breakfast. My advice would be not to order a cooked breakfast as there is loads to eat in the buffet, including smoked salmon, ham and eggs.

corblimeymadam Wed 27-Jul-11 19:11:24

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

housemum Wed 27-Jul-11 19:43:12

We're doing the Portsmouth-StMalo crossing this summer forth first time (overnight there, daytime return). We haven't got a long journey the other end, so while we will get the girls (8 and 3) into pjs and read stories we are guessing they'll stay up horrendously late and just fall asleep whenever they flake out (probably same time as us)!

Tommy Wed 27-Jul-11 19:46:00

yes..... guessing I'm not going to get any decent sleep for the next few nights - sharing a cabin with 3 boys then a tent... hmm

belgo Wed 27-Jul-11 19:48:18

Brittany ferries is great. I've done st Malo/Portsmouth and Santander/Portsmouth (24 hours and pool on board). The food is excellent and cheaper then SeaFrance. I have never had a cabin with tea making facilities though!

PommePoire Wed 27-Jul-11 20:11:39

If anyone clicked on this, as I did, thinking it might be about the overnight North Sea services from Harwich to Denmark, The Netherlands etc. operated by DFDS, then your experience may be a bit different to the lovely sounding French route!

Mini-hijack, but I couldn't bear anyone to go through what we did last Summer!

There is little, to no entertainment for young children and the public areas of the ferry are tiny and mostly focussed on getting you to buy expensive gifts and alcohol. You really will spend all your time in your cabin if you have kids, unless you're prepared to pay a fortune for a not very good dinner, or have them sit with you in the bar.

There are no lounge areas, other than some executive area you have to have a loyalty card for. The 'children's play area' is a small area (think the size of a small sitting room) off the cafeteria, with some lego (of course!) and a domestic size television showing cartoons. There is sometimes a man doing balloon animals, limbo, hula hopping and some 70s era 'humour' (mother in law jokes, that type of thing.)

Everything costs a fortune e.g 15 Danish Krone for a small bottle of water. (That's more than £1.50.) Take food, drinks and snacks with you and picnic on the floor of your cabin.

Allow for the possibility that if some, or all of you get sea sickness, you may not leave your cabin until you dock and that 12 hours is a long time with no drinking water! (Or food, for those who are well enough to face it!)

Breakfast is plentiful and mostly of a good standard but much, much cheaper if you book it advance. It's better to go early for breakfast as they stop replenishing the popular items towards the end of the service period. Of course, if you're too ill to eat any you've waved goodbye to the £15 odd quid per head that it costs!

Despite all this, I would do it again! Especially if someone could guarantee me a calm crossing.

Tommy Wed 27-Jul-11 20:53:50

that all sounds very hard work pommepoire! The ferry leaves at 10pm so I'm guessing we'll go straight to bed and i think it gets in at 8am so it shouldn't be too bad (I hope!)

PrettyCandles Wed 27-Jul-11 22:57:28

We had an outside cabin, because there is no way on god's green earth I will travel in an inside cabin with no window. I don't recall exactly, but presumably outside cabins are more expensive, therefore perhaps 'premium', hence tea-making facilities?

BecauseImWorthIt Wed 27-Jul-11 23:17:36

Tommy - we used to go to France every year on the ferry, on various different routes, but usually on the overnight crossing.

We all loved it, and I really miss it and am very envy of you!

It's just so exciting going to bed somewhere so different, being in bunks, seeing the water, etc. It will be fab and you will/should all enjoy it.

(And it will be a lot more comfortable than being in a tent!)

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