London to Amsterdam on a Floating Hotel
Our trip to Amsterdam began via plane from SFO to London. Yes, we could have flown straight to Amsterdam, but I found a flight to London for half the price, and that’s just how we roll. We arrived in London fairly early as it was a long overnight flight and they are 8 hours ahead of San Francisco. I should mention here that we also planned a quick trip to Paris, then Germany to see the kids, then back to Paris. We took the Eurostar back to London to spend a couple days before catching our flight back to SFO and we didn’t have time to backtrack through Amsterdam.
Tip on timing: When scheduling and booking, do not forget that you are usually arriving the next day – we have come across many people traveling from the USA to Europe that forgot to take that into account, and have missed their connection, had a hotel booked for the wrong night, missed a tour time, etc.
We booked a rail and sail package (online) from Liverpool Street Station to Amsterdam through the Stena Ferry Line. Check them out, they are awesome, seriously! Out of all the things we have done in Europe, this portion of this particular trip remains one of my husband’s all-time favorites. With the rail and sail package – we could have gotten off at any Dutch train station, we chose Amsterdam.
Tip: Booking the overnight ferry, even booking a comfort class outside cabin, was less expensive than booking two airline tickets and a hotel room, and the trip was much more pleasant and less harried.
We took the train from the airport to Liverpool Street Station. Most of the airports in the London area have a train/tube connection that will spirit you to anywhere in the London vicinity, and it will be cheaper, and take less time than a taxi. Every time, honest. We had traveled rather lightly this trip with only carry-ons. 1. We didn’t want to take a chance of missing our train and/or ferry waiting for a missing bag. 2. We didn’t want to deal with TSA over things like toothpaste and disposable razors. Since we had traveled so lightly, we needed to get a few personal items. Yes, trains stations in Europe are different than ours, they can be a great place to shop, the big ones are well stocked, and are not overly expensive. You can find €1 snacks and drinks, €3 combo meals, inexpensive toiletries, scarves, batteries, phone chargers, clothing, umbrellas, reading material…you name it.
After filling a reusable, insulated M&S grocery bag with drinks, sandwiches, and a few other goodies, we got on the train towards Harwich. I should point out here that the ferry has several restaurants and a bar, but we were beat from the flight, and just wanted our floating hotel room with the ability to stretch out in a real bed. If you know you want dinner at one of their restaurants, purchasing one before sailing can save you money.
We arrived at Harwich train station a little after 7:00 pm and the embarkation point for the ferry was right there, we didn’t even leave the building. They started loading the ferry at about 8-8:30 and we were in our room by 9 pm. We booked a comfort class cabin with a window, and we found the extras to be worth it, but if you just want transportation, a bed and a shower, and to save a few bucks, go for a standard.
The ferry was just awesome and to be honest the cabins offered much more than most American cruise line cabins. There was a FREE stocked mini bar all set up for us. There was a coffeepot, coffee packets, tea bags, sugar, mugs, and wine glasses. The fridge contained a variety of ice-cold spirits, Dutch beer, Italian wine, sparkling water, club soda, juice, and an assortment of tiny bottles of liquor. The counter above the fridge was stocked with fruits, nuts, chips, and a few other snacks. The beds had premium bedding, fluffy pillows, and were uber comfy. The bathroom was immaculate, roomy, and well stocked with towels, shampoo, and other incidentals. There was even a tv with several channels that was to be available all night and free wifi. After showers, we ate our combo meals we brought from the train station. We put our heads to our pillows and barely felt the ship leave the dock.
We didn’t wake until we felt the ship docking in the morning about 6:30 or so. The docking was so smooth that I doubt we would have even been awakened had it not been for the great night’s rest. We took our time getting up, had some muffins we had purchased at the train station, and some fruit from the mini-bar. There seemed to be no rush to get you out quickly, like on an American cruise ship…loved that! As we made our way down the gangplank, and out of the ferry building …the platform was right there. Yay! We had to change trains at Rotterdam and the trip took a little more than an hour.
Tip: You can even book one of those cabins if you take the ferry crossing during the day. The time of a day trip is much shorter, so it is much cheaper. If you want/need a quiet restful place for you to work or little ones to nap, I’d suggest looking into it.
We didn’t have Honey yet, when we took this trip, but they do allow pets on board for a small fee. They must travel in your car, or stay in an on board kennel if you book a cabin.
There is a post about Amsterdam you may want to check out ~ if you haven’t done so already 😉