By far the most popular ferry route for motorhomes crossing into Europe is Dover-Calais, followed (I think) by most of the other, longer Channel crossings and the Channel Tunnel.
However, for anyone living in the north of England or Scotland, Dover and the south coast is a long drive – about 290 miles from where I live in Yorkshire, for example. That’s why we’ve started to use P&O’s North Sea crossings from Hull whenever we can.
P&O operates two North Sea routes, Hull-Zeebrugge and Hull-Rotterdam. Both are daily services, sailing in the evening and taking 9-12 hours. This means that you arrive at the other end refreshed after a night’s sleep and with a new day ahead of you for travelling into the continent (or back home in the UK).
Cabins are compulsory, with a range of options available. Cabins can be 2 or 4-berth and inside or outside. All cabins have en-suite bathrooms. There are also a number of suites available if you are feeling flush…
P&O seems to keep these crossings busy by promoting ‘Mini Cruises’ where a coach is provided to take foot passengers into Amsterdam or Bruges (depending on which crossing you use) for the day, returning them to the ship for the return trip in the evening. As a result, these crossings can be very busy on Thursday and Friday nights, with people on weekend trips (especially the Hull-Rotterdam route, thanks to the attractions of Amsterdam…).
Entertainment is mostly cruise ship style – there are two bars to choose from, plus a small casino and video game arcade. The main bar is a large, loud and bright ‘Showbar’, which has cabaret and similar entertainment through the evening. On the top deck, there is a second bar – this is more of a ‘hotel lounge’ type affair with live piano and sea views from the panoramic windows.
There are plenty of food choices too, ranging from coffee/snack bar type food through to an a la carte restaurant. It isn’t especially cheap, but there are plenty of choices and you can take your own food on board if you want (although P&O doesn’t encourage this and doesn’t provide any indoor seating other than in bars and restaurant areas).
The whole ship is fairly modern and generally a pleasant enough place to spend twelve hours. The opportunity to travel while you sleep is very useful and for many continental destinations, Rotterdam and Zeebrugge are no further away than Calais. If your travelling in your own vehicle, you can board from around 4pm-5pm and access your cabin straight away – ideal after a long day’s drive.