Our trek from west to east across Ireland came to an end all too soon as we pulled in to the Harbour View Hotel in Rosslare. Of course, there was no more land to the east so we had to either end our Irish journey there…or turn!
Our plan was to spend a week in Ireland and then a week in the UK. After looking at a number of options I figured that trying a ferry would be fun for a change, not to mention convenient considering our itinerary in Ireland. Now, my wife and daughter are not big fans of boats…to some extent due to a tendency toward motion sickness on occasion. But my wife also has a dislike of boats for some reason. Still, they agreed to give it a try. The prices for foot passengers were surprisingly reasonable. The total for the three of us with a 4-berth cabin was £117 or about $190 at the time, on Stena Line. Although the crossing was only about four hours, I recall the up-charge for the cabin wasn’t huge and I thought it would be nice to have a private, quiet place to stretch out and take a nap if we wanted. Of course for UK and Ireland residents, this is also a convenient option for transporting one’s own car across the water, and there were plenty of passengers who appeared to be doing just that.
The Stena crossing departed at 9:00 AM so I booked one night at the Harbour View Hotel in Rosslare for €100 or about $140. The property is literally just down the road from the Rosslare Europort where Stena Line, Irish Ferries, and many cargo ships dock. Budget Car Rental has an office at the port so all in all, it was a very convenient arrangement. We arrived at the hotel after having spent the day at the lighthouse and Loftus Hall. The Harbour View Hotel was very comfortable and would have been good for a longer stay as well. Our room with two beds was quiet and clean. It was fun watching the ships docking and the trucks going back and forth to the port loading and unloading their goods.
The Budget office is inside the port terminal building. It wasn’t open yet when we arrived just before 8:00 AM, but there were marked parking spots outside and a key drop-off box inside. Check-in and boarding of the ship was quick and painless. No ridiculous security ordeal or onerous luggage restrictions like the airlines have. The ferry was pretty cool – much more than the utilitarian boats we’ve been on for very short ferry trips. There were a few different food options, a small game room, lounge areas including one with a movie screen (didn’t notice what they were playing), and a convenience store. It turned out to have been a good move to book the cabin. The beds (two bunks on either side) were fairly comfortable, we had a bathroom in the cabin that also included a shower (didn’t have a need to use that). All three of us took a nap. My wife and daughter slept for most of the journey. I woke up after about an hour and spent time wandering around the boat, had some snacks, and people-watched. The nice thing about the Stena Line route is that it lands in Fishguard, Wales where the ferry port and railroad station are in the same building. Thus it’s very convenient to walk off the boat and continue traveling via rail. We had about an hour wait for the train to Cardiff – enough time for a quick lunch from the cafe and then we were off on our way!