There are 3 ferry services running across the North Sea from the UK to Netherlands - Harwich to Hook of Holland, Newcastle to Amsterdam Ijmuiden and Hull to Rotterdam.
If you are not keen on flying or just enjoy travelling by ship then these could be good alternatives to get to Netherlands - especially if you live in north-east UK or east Anglia. Don't forget the added cost of food on board and possible transfers from the ferry terminal.
1. Stena Line "Rail & Sail" Dutch Flyer Service
Stena Line runs a daily and nightly ferry service both ways between Harwich and Hoek van Holland (Hook of Holland). The large sister ships Stena Britannica and Stena Hollandica ply the route over the North Sea and the trip takes roughly 7 hours. The ships are very comfortable akin to a small floating hotel with bar/restaurant and lounge facilities.
The sailing times are as follows:
Harwich-Hoek van Holland
Departs 0900, arrives 1715 (7 hours 15 minutes)
Departs 2300, arrives 0800 (8 hours)
Hoek van Holland-Harwich
Departs 1415, arrives 1945 (6 hours 30 minutes)
Departs 2200, arrives 0630 (9 hours 30 minutes - although will likely arrive earlier)
Fares (2017) are priced in pounds or euros depending on whether you book from UK or Netherlands.
Car + driver starts from £59 (€69) one-way with each additional passengers priced from £15 (€18). Foot pasengers fares start from £36 (€43) one-way.
Note, on overnight sailings you are obliged to pay extra for a cabin. Prices of the cabins vary between £32-96 or €41-125 - from single and 2-berth cabins, family berth, Comfort Class and Captain's Class. Cabin prices are half-price on day sailings.
"Rail & Sail" Dutch Flyer Service
This is a combination ferry ticket that can also include rail tickets in UK and Netherlands. From the UK you travel from any of the Abellio Greater Anglia Station (AGA) stations including: London Liverpool Street, Ipswich, Colchester, Norwich and Cambridge. The trip between London Liverpool Street and Harwich International ferry terminal is about 1 hour 20 minutes.
Transport on the Dutch side is changing - the NS rail line (half-hourly Sprinter trains to Schiedam and Rotterdam Central) will cease operations from 31 March 2017. It will be replaced by RET Metro Line B which is due to open on 1 September 2017. Replacement bus services (direct or stopping) will run temporarily from Hoek van Holland to Scheidam whilst the rail track is modified.
Passengers going to Amsterdam can connect onto Intercity trains at Schiedam.
The Metro Line B will run from Hoek van Holland Strand (Beach) and
Haven to Nesselande via Schiedam. From 2019, a new Strand station will
open much closer to the beach. Passengers going to Rotterdam Central
will have to connect at Beurs station to line D or E.
From the UK, tickets including [AGA rail+ferry+NS rail] are priced from £49 each way for day sailings and from £79 each way for overnight sailings. Fares should be booked at least 7 days in advance. Bookings from Harwich without the AGA rail ticket are about £7 cheaper each way.
From Netherlands you can currently only book the [ferry+AGA rail] ticket from €49 single (day sailing) and €76 (night sailing). NS tickets are currently not sold online by Stena ex-Netherlands, so you need to buy your own ticket to Hoek van Holland. NS day tickets are available on board for €18 for passengers travelling to the Netherlands.
If you have the time this is an excellent way to travel between the south-east UK and the Netherlands.
2. DFDS Seaways Service from Newcastle to Amsterdam
Daily overnight ferry service each way between Newcastle-North Shields and Amsterdam-Ijmuiden. Sailings over the North Sea take approximately 15 hours - each evening a ship departs Newcastle at 1700 and Amsterdam at 1730. They arrive the following morning at 0900 (Newcastle) and 0930 (Amsterdam).
Ijmuiden is a seaside port about 20 km west of Amsterdam - don't be put off by the large steel works close by! It has a marina with a Holiday Inn hotel and the start of a good (blue-flag) beach running south.
Ijmuiden to Amsterdam: DFDS has contracted Dutch company Brouwer's Tours to provide a bus service to Amsterdam centre for Newcastle passengers - this meets the ship shortly after arrival and takes 30-45 mins. For the return leg, the bus picks up passengers going back to Ijmuiden outside the Hotel Victoria on Damrak, near Amsterdam Central station, between 1500 and 1600. Tickets can be reserved for €6 each way, or pay €10 on board.
Public transport options are available but not so convenient. First walk from the ferry terminal to Kromhoutstraat in Ijmuiden (10-15mins) and then take Connexxion bus 82 to Amsterdam Marnixstraat. (A taxi to Amsterdam centre would cost around €60).
There is a bus service from North Shields to Newcastle city centre which costs £3.80 each way which takes 20-30 minutes.
Prices for the ferry vary considerably depending on season. 3-day "minicruise" return sailings which allow a day trip to either Amsterdam or Newcastle cost from about £79 or €88 per person - although special offers can be cheaper. For a standard ferry crossing, prices for foot passengers start from around £20 or €20 per person each way for an inside shared cabin.
3. P&O Ferry from Hull to Rotterdam
Daily overnight ferry service between Hull and Rotterdam Europoort terminal. Departure times are: Hull 2030; Rotterdam 2100 (Mon-Fri) and 2030 (Sat-Sun). Arrival times are: Hull 0800; Rotterdam 0815 (Mon-Fri) and 0900 (Sat-Sun).
Be aware that the Europoort terminal is some 38km from Rotterdam centre. A special bus service can be pre-booked with P&O that runs from Europoort Rotterdam to central Rotterdam (Eurolines bus stop at Conradstraat) and on to Amsterdam (bus stop H3, Prins Hendrikkade - near central station).
At the UK end, buses run from Hull port (King George Dock) to the interchange next to St Stephens shopping centre in Hull, priced at £3.25 or €5 each way.
Standard ferry prices from about £100 / €130 return, minicruises (returning the next day) can be priced significantly cheaper.
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