David and I had been discussing visiting Ireland for a number of years. We both tend to gravitate towards cooler weather climates – and Ireland in late October would be a good break from our warm Malyasian weather.
We arrived into London and rather than continuing via airplane from the UK, we chose to travel by train and fast ferry, in hopes this alternative would create a more memorable travel experience then being crammed into tiny seats inside a budget airline.
The journey to Dublin took almost a third of the day, but nonetheless it was a fun and memorable one. The following are some pictures and illustrations of our rail routes and ferry crossing from Britain to Ireland.
Each ticket costs 44 GBP and covers both the train and ferry ride. Trains originate in the London Euston station and then stop at Crewe. From Crewe, we hopped on another train to Holyhead (the location of the ferry terminal). The train ride between Euston and Crewe was delightful. The coach was clean, not too crammed and we each occupied 2 seats facing each other across a table.
When the train pulled into Crewe, we were informed that the train leaving for Holyhead was about to pull out of the station and we had to run towards the train; breathlessly we both jumped on board just minutes before the door closed.
To our disappointment, the train car was jam packed and some passengers had to stand in the aisles. An announcement was the broadcast throughout the train, explaining that due to the late arrival of a train from Liverpool, the passengers who missed the last train bound for Holyhead were allowed to board the same train we were on. This was the reason for the unusual high number of passengers.
Despite the packed crowd, the scenery across Northern Wales was awesome; the spectacular views helped alleviate the uncomfortably congested situation on the train. When the train passed by a little Welsh town with an unbelievably long name, everyone took out their cameras to capture images of the railway sign board.
The ferry terminal in Holyhead is a nondescript locale of mostly emptiness. There is a convenience store that sells sandwiches and coffee and it has a serene corner where one can unwind and relax. But other than that, there is nothing particularly interesting worth a hang out. Also, with no immigration checkpoint at the terminal – passengers with trolley or large-sized luggage would need to check in their belongings before boarding.
Upon boarding the ferry, David graciously treated me to a first-class cabin upgrade – this was an additional fee of €16 each. We are older than our formative backpacking years and now we both appreciate some luxury while we are on the road and don’t mind spending a bit more money to acquire it.
Our first class cabin included free refreshments while seated on the upper deck. We gorged ourselves with a variety of snacks such as cinnamon rolls, smoked salmon, biscuits, cheese, ham, salad, coffee, tea and soda. We were disappointed to discover that alcoholic drinks were not complimentary. The first class cabin also features comfortable leather seats with a head rest and a better view of the ocean.
A word of caution: if you are prone seasickness, try to remain seated for as long of the journey as possible. Although the ferry is large and looks stable for a smooth cruising, you may fall ill with seasickness if you walk around to much (the waters tend to be more choppy then they originally appear from shore).
The economy class is located on the lower deck and features spacious seats and dining tables, a video arcade and a bar that sells beer and food.
There is a designated smoking area outside on an open deck. We don’t smoke but we caught wafts of cigarette smoke as we walked outside. The open deck area is always filled with people enjoying fresh air or taking photos. Be careful with your belongings especially those small items that are easily blown away by the wind. It can get very windy on this part of the ferry and ladies take note – in these conditions, your hair will become unruly within seconds!
Everything on the cruise was satisfactory to me except one small complaint – The Wifi signal was extremely poor in the cabin! As a result, I was unable to make posts to Facebook to update my friends around the world of my current position between the UK and Ireland.
After about two hours the shore of Dublin was seen from a distance and passengers were asked to remain seated for arrival. As David and I had expected, there was no immigration counter awaiting us on arrival and we swiftly breezed through the terminal (just like traveling domestically).