11 Top Tips for taking the Newcastle-Holland DFDS Ferry with Kids

I've taken two return ferry trips to Holland from Newcastle with the kids in tow and a handful of shorter trips (eg Sunderland Airshow) with DFDS Seaways over the years and thought it might be helpful to share a couple of tips I've picked up along the way.

11 Top Tips for taking the Newcastle-Holland DFDS Ferry with Kids

Buy Travel Sickness Tablets 

Obviously, always follow medical advice/speak to your pharmacist before purchasing but we always take a travel sickness tablet before crossing.

We've been lucky that we've never travelled in really rough seas but in all of the trips we've made, none of us has suffered from sickness and I'm sure using this preventative measure is part of the reason why.

You can buy travel sickness tablets over the counter at most pharmacies for a few pounds. Well worth the investment!

Ice Lollies Are WAY Cheaper Than Drinks 

Bar prices are steep. We paid 22 euros for 2 beers and 3 soft drinks. We soon discovered that ice lollies at the Sky Bar were way cheaper - it was 1.3 euros for a Calippo during our most recent trip to Duinrell in May 2019 which seems like a bit of a bargain.

Take A Picnic 

DFDS state that you are allowed to take your own food and soft drinks on board to be consumed in your cabin (no alcohol). I do like the DFDS Seaways evening buffet but it was going to work out at around 110 euros (each way) including one drink for each for us to dine here.

I'm not always a massive fan of buffets with kids and don't find them particularly relaxing as you are constantly up and down supervising and never get to eat all together so on this occasion, we decided to take our own picnic instead.

We popped to Greggs en-route and spent £20 on treats for us all and on our return journey we bought cheeses and baguettes from a local shop for around 13 euro. 220 euro for 2 x buffets vs 30 euros for 2 x DIY buffets is a no-brainer if you're looking to save a bit of cash.

You Can Buy Snacks Onboard 

I think there's a bit of a misconception that if you don't book an onboard restaurant, there's nowhere else to buy food. This isn't the case at all.

Granted there isn't a huge choice but you can buy nachos, crisps, nuts and sharing platters from the bar, a few treats from the coffee shop and chocolates/sweets/biscuits/drinks in the main shop on-board.

I'd always advise taking your own snacks but it's good to know that you won't starve or run out of food options too.

Choose King Seaways over Princess Seaways 

There's an onboard entertainer for younger kids on both ships in their kids club on departure but I think the children's area onboard King Seaways is much more spacious and has better facilities.

You'll also find an ORCA wildlife lounge onboard King Seaways (there isn't one on Princess Seaways) which gives you something a little extra to see and do (without spending and extra money). Both ships have a games room/arcades for older kids and teens and a cinema too (8.5 euro per ticket or 12.5 euro to include popcorn and a drink).

Plan An Early Night 

My kids go to sleep pretty late. They're usually still awake when Steve and I go to bed between 10pm-11pm at home. There's something about being onboard a ship that changed all that though.

The gentle swaying of the ship seemed to create a wave of tiredness amongst us all. We climbed into bed to read at 8pm on our most recent outgoing trip and couldn't keep our eyes open and on the return trip it was even worse with us falling asleep at 6pm!

We have never ever done this at home or on holiday. We always have a brilliant night's sleep and have never experienced any noise or disturbances (even when sailing over Bank Holiday Weekend). We didn't awake from our slumber until the morning wake-up call was piped into our room.

Maximise Luggage Allowance 

If you're travelling in your car, the car deck will be locked during sailing and you won't be able to access it. You can pack as much as you like into your car and are allowed to bring 50kg per adult and 25kg per child into your cabin with you (so long as you can comfortably carry it) which is loads!

Travelling by plane sometimes feels very restrictive with all of their hand luggage rules and regulations so I say make the most of it when you travel by ferry - you can take extra pillows, plenty of snacks, the kids' favourite cuddly toys, board games, dressing gowns, slippers.......

Book Breakfast 

Breakfast is a little on the pricey side (around £40 pre-booked for the 5 of us) but in my opinion, 100% worth it for your outbound journey.

We didn't want hangry kids when we were driving around Holland for the first time and wanted something on our stomach ourselves.

We pre-booked and ventured down to the restaurant at around 8am. We picked a table with seaviews and enjoyed a lovely long, leisurely breakfast together which was a wonderful way to start our holiday in the Netherlands.

Once you're seated, your table is yours for the morning and it was so lovely being able to stretch out and enjoy a proper meal. There's plenty of choice including hot items, cereal, fruit and pastries.

We were given a cafetiere of coffee and could help ourselves to unlimited juice. I really felt like we got our money's worth! The restaurant doesn't close until you're about to leave the ship and it's far nicer arriving in port with a nice coffee and croissant rather than being cooped up in your cabin.

I once made a DIY breakfast bag with long-life yoghurts, cereal bars, long-life juice, fruit and individually wrapped pain au chocolats which we had in the morning. You could do this if you are on a budget but I would definitely recommend booking breakfast if you can.

Pack A European Adaptor & An Extension Cable 

There is only one (european) plug socket in your cabin which is a bit of a nightmare when there are 5 of you with multiple devices! Pack an adaptor and bring an extension cable from home so everyone can charge their phones/tablets overnight.

Download Movies Before Your Trip

There is no phone signal at sea and the WiFi is pretty pricey/not the best. Make sure your kids don't connect to the Maritime Network whilst at sea as it's SUPER pricey (see below for PAYG prices from EE).

I'd advise switching your devices to airplane mode as soon as you set sail to avoid any expensive mishaps. Download movies onto your device before your trip or use a DUAL USB stick to watch movies onboard instead.

Maritime Network PAYG options

Collect Spare Euro Coins From Friends/Relatives Before Your Trip 

There's an amusement arcade/games room on board so stock up on 1 euro coins before your trip by asking friends/relative if they have any change for the kids when they return from holiday (shy bairns get nowt right!!).

I'd also recommend escaping up to the very top deck on your return trip and spending your spare change trying out a massage chair for 2 euros. Blissful after a week walking around Holland.

Would you consider catching the ferry to Holland with kids? Let me know if you have any tips to share....

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Top Tips for taking the Newcastle-Holland DFDS Ferry with Kids



  1. Great post Sam. I've often thought about the ferry with the kids as think they would enjoy it! good to know there's plenty to keep them occupied, different food/snack options & that the sway of the ship puts them to sleep early ha ha!

  2. We really enjoyed our crossings. Another potential tip: on our trip,if you went to reception on the ship they gave out travel sickness tablets for free.

  3. Thanks for these tips which will come in very handy for our December trip. Cannot wait x

  4. Life's an Adventure10 February 2020 at 14:32

    Great write up, with lots of good tips. We've been considering this trip for over a year (but with the 5 hour drive to Newcastle and some negative reviews) I've never been brave enough to make the leap and book. Great to know we can take food on board, as I'd heard food was expensive and with (sometimes) fussy eaters, I didn't want to waste a huge amount of money!

  5. Enjoyed reading that thanks, and thanks for the tips. 👍👍👍

  6. Great tips thanks. I have done the crossing once before with a friend but will be going with my husband and almost 11 year old son tomorrow. I must admit, I was dubious about whether he would get bored but it sounds like there is plenty to do. I'll update once we are home.

  7. Brilliant, we're about to take the ferry from Newcastle to Amsterdam and you've given me plenty of food for thought for us four. Thank you so much for this post.

  8. Thanks so much for n informative site Sam! I was wondering whether to book the breakfast on the outbound journey or cycle to somewhere suitable in Amsterdam I already know of (we'll be travelling around Holland by bike). So you've convinced me to book the DFDS breakfast.

  9. Thanks so much Sam for the intel. I wondered whether to book the outbound breakfast or cycle to somewhere in Amsterdam I know of (we'll be cycling around Holland next year), so you convinced me to book breakfast.


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