Trip Review: the Stena Line Ferry between Liverpool and Dublin

The Stena Superfast X Ferry was a fantastic way to get from the UK to Ireland

After our flight on Singapore Airlines Business class and our first 48 Hours in Liverpool, it was time to head to the second destination of our trip: lovely Dublin, Ireland. Being of Irish heritage myself, I’ve always wanted to visit Ireland and was thrilled to finally have the opportunity.

Of course, first we had to get there. And being that Ireland is an island, all manner of ground transportation was out. That left two options: by air or by sea.

Looking at the airline options, there were multiple airlines flying the route from Liverpool to Dublin, but most were priced around $150-300 per person, per direction. (Even RyanAir, once you add in all the extra “surprise” fees, was pricey.) I didn’t particularly feel like adding an additional $600 – $1,200 to the cost of our trip.

So I looked to the ferries: and I saw that as “foot passengers” with no automobile in tow we could book a crossing for as little as £5.50 per person, per route. That’s a pretty impressive difference. In the end, given that we were traveling over a bank holiday weekend, our ferry tickets were a bit more expensive: it ended up costing about £140 for the two of us, round trip. However, that still represents a savings of at least a $400 over flying.

Two ferry companies make the trip to Dublin: Irish Ferries and Stena Line. We ended up booking with the Stena Line, which offered a very comfortable experience.

Check-in, boarding, and luggage check were all very easy and seamless and quick. Once onboard, we had a wide variety of areas to explore. The public decks offered many areas, including one for families with a significant play area, the “quiet area” for passengers who wished to sleep, a bar area, and a cafeteria area. For those who wished to be more active, passengers could explore the “theater” (where they showed a recent superhero movie), an arcade area, a few online duty-free shops, or simply venture up to the open top deck to watch as the sea passed by. Some ships even offer barebones cabins that you can book for additional privacy.

The upper decks of the ferry were open to public viewing.

The upper decks of the ferry were open to public viewing.

The arcade area for the Stena Adventurer, next to the "teen lounge"

The arcade area for the Stena Adventurer, next to the “teen lounge”

2-person "outside" cabins can be reserved for an extra fee. Photo courtesy of Stena.

2-person “outside” cabins can be reserved for an extra fee. Photo courtesy of Stena.

The buffet-style cafeteria area for regular Stena Line passengers. Food isn't included in the price of the ticket.

The buffet-style cafeteria area for regular Stena Line passengers. Food isn’t included in the price of the ticket.

We also sprung for the upgrade to “Stena Plus,” which gives you access to the premium passenger lounge onboard. And in the end, this was a great option for us. The Stena Plus lounge offered free wine, premium coffees, snacks, and plenty of comfortable seats. There was also a tv-viewing area, and waiter service throughout the lounge for anyone wanting more than a snack. I ended up ordering a steak sandwich with sweet potato fries, and it was very tasty.

 

The Stena Plus lounge offered a much quieter, less crowded, more relaxed ferry experience.

The Stena Plus lounge offered a much quieter, less crowded, more relaxed ferry experience.

The "self-service" area in the Stena Plus lounge featured water, soft drinks, a fancy coffee machine, wines, fruit, and snacks like crackers, cookies, and chips.

The “self-service” area in the Stena Plus lounge featured water, soft drinks, a fancy coffee machine, wines, fruit, and snacks like crackers, cookies, and chips.

Steak sandwich from the Stena Plus Lounge

Steak sandwich from the Stena Plus Lounge, with sweet potato fries, horseradish sauce, and cole slaw. 

While it’s true taking the ferry did likely take us a couple more hours than flying would have, the ability to be comfortable, well-attended, and relaxed while we traveled was totally worth it in my view. I can now say without reservation that I am officially a ferry fan!

Have you ever taken a ferry? Did you enjoy it? Tell us in the comments!

Whitney

  • Jonalyn Macandili-Mendoza

    I have never tried going on a cruise. It’s pretty expensive for us but still I am trying to check and save so that we can experience this together with my hubby.

    • Absolutely – you can find some fairly inexpensive 3- and 4- night cruises out of Florida and New York if it’s something you want to try. This was just a ferry, not a true cruise, but we still enjoyed it! If you want to see a full cruise review, just search the site for Alaska 🙂

  • I recently moved back to the UK and would love to get out of London. I’ll keep this in mind when planning my next trips in the country. Thanks for the review!

    • Absoultely! They sail to several other destinations, including Scandanavia. I think I’d definitely be a frequent “ferrier” if I lived in the UK!

  • Raghav

    I still have to make my way across to Ireland, and taking the ferry could be a great idea especially since I travel with my kids. The amenities really look nice and clean and enough to keep all ages busy during the transit. And not too expensive either, so that’s a bonus really.

    • Absolutely, Raghav! They had several programs for kids as well, from the movies and video games onboard, to a craft house where kids got to make a souvenir for themselves.

  • If I remember correctly my family and I took a Stena Line ship from Fishguard to Rosslare when I was a kid. Although we’re talking a good 14/15 years ago now, I remember being absolutely in awe at the size of the ship and the fact that they had TVs and beds and arcade games on board. I can only imagine how much fancier they’ve gotten over time!
    Had no idea ferry crossings could be as cheap as £5.50!!! Definitely going to have a look into a possible Irish rendezvous later on in the year.

  • I love taking ferries even if the journey is longer than a flight. I especially like to go outside to feel the wind and sea on my face. It’s the most refreshing thing!

    • I agree, Suzanne. I think that might be my default whenever a ferry is available in the future…flights are just so impersonal these days.

  • Emily Louisa

    For that price difference I’d have taken the ferry for sure. A couple of extra hours is worth it, and it’s more pleasant to be able to walk around rather than being cooped up in a sardine can. I’ll have to try a ferry trip myself!

    • Yes – there was even free wifi too. I was able to get a blog up and enjoy the voyage all at the same time 🙂

  • Clare Connelly

    Really interesting article. I never think of taking the ferry rather than flying, but that is a massive price difference! And good tip about upgrading your ticket, definitely sounds worthwhile 🙂

  • Deni Verklan

    I’m actually fairly certain I took this ferry line from Dublin to Wales a few years ago! It’s such a great price and a surprisingly decadent experience! We also had a movie playing when I went- it was Valentine’s Day. I didn’t realize that there were cabins available though! That would’ve been great to catch a bit of sleep before stopping off in Dublin! Can’t wait to read your posts about your time in Ireland!!

  • The post was very detailed and you almost missed no point that crosses a traveller’s mind while making transport bookings. Now I wonder how these airlines thrive? Why will someone pay so much more for a to and fro trip when they can get all these luxuries at less than half the price? The ferry ride may take a couple of hours more but unless one is in an absolute emergency situation what’s the point of paying so much more to save 2 hours? Anyways, thank you LOADS for letting me know of all this so I can take a better decision while travelling in that route. You officially turned me into a ferry fan too! 🙂

  • Jean

    Looks like an amazing way to get over to Ireland. I can’t believe how affordable it was and the extra upgrade was well worth it. Better then pay a small fortune for Ryanair and being squished in a teeny tiny chair.

  • Marissa Abao

    The £140 was an awesome deal. The Stena Line looks like a small cruise ship. It is like Norwegian Sky. I like the amenities that you got in Stena Plus. The steak sandwich with fries look really delicious. I like sweet potato fries. Food is one of the biggest factor when you want to feel more comfortable when traveling by air or sea. This was definitely a good review and experience for you.