If you live in the North East you will be familiar with DFDS Seaways. Based at the Port of Tyne they depart daily for Amsterdam and can often been seen on the horizon when you are at the coast. Travelling by ferry to Europe allows you to bring your car, giving you freedom to travel when you disembark. If you prefer you can take advantage of of a 2 night mini cruise which allows you to spend a day exploring Amsterdam. The trip is overnight and there is plenty to keep you happy, from fine dining, to bars, a casino, a cinema, shops and a play area for children. When you have had your fill of this you can retire to your cabin for a nights sleep.
I have travelled been on a day trip on DFDS Seaways before when we went on the Sunderland International Air Show sailing. We had a very enjoyable day with lovely food and a great view of the planes. When I was invited aboard the King of Seaways to spend the day behind the scenes with the head chef and bar manager I was delighted. I have always wondered how difficult it is to prepare food for large amounts of people and what goes on in the kitchen to make sure everything runs smoothly. We had an enjoyable day and learnt a lot.
There are a number of different restaurants aboard the King of Seaways giving you a range of dining options for your night on-board. If you pre-book before boarding you will save money as well as being able to choose to eat at a time that suits you. If you are looking for a light meal or just a coffee then the Lighthouse Café or the Latitude Restaurant are ideal. The 7 Seas Restaurant serves an international buffet, which is all you can eat, so you can try a bit of everything. With over 80 dishes from around the world you will be spoiled for choice. In the morning a delicious breakfast buffet is available here as well with hot and cold options.
Finer dining is available as well, steak lovers should try Explorers Steakhouse. The steakhouse serves steaks from the USA which have been aged to perfection. There are plenty of other options including burgers and salads. If you prefer pasta and pizza then Little Italy is the place for you. For elegant and contemporary cuisine the Blue Riband restaurant is the place to be.
With dishes like pan fried sea bass in butter or braised pulled lamb shank served with garlic mash you will not be disappointed. The menus change every three months and include local and seasonal dishes. The prices are actually quite reasonable, the Seven Seas restaurant is £27.99 with half a bottle of wine and three courses at the Blue Riband a la carte restaurant is just over £30. Under threes eat free and children are half price.
The head chef, Brian Jacobsen, is responsible for keeping the kitchens running smoothly. Brain has worked for DFDS Seaways for over 15 years and is obviously passionate about the job. As head chef he is responsible for the menus, making sure his team of 18 are getting everything ready on time and that all the diners are happy. The food for all the restaurants is cooked in one kitchen and I imagine that it can get very busy.
It is hard enough timing a meal for a family and getting everything ready. Brian needs to ensure that all the different dishes that have been ordered are ready at the right time. He does this with a grace and attention to detail that shows his experience. I did wonder how they managed when the seas got rough, but apparently they just batten down and have safety measures like bars around the stove to stop the pots falling off.
We were soon being put though our paces in the kitchen, helping to prepare our lunch which showcased food from each of the restaurants. The ship has its own baker with bread being baked freshly every day. Katy from Lady From A Tramp was soon put to work cutting out loaves. I was in charge of making mini pizzas. I was most impressed with the pizza dough machine that flattened out the dough into a nice round circle. I was soon put to work making the mini pizza bases and topping them with home made tomato sauce and mozzarella.
There are seven bars aboard the King of Seaways, all offering a different vibe. You can sit outside in the Sky Bar and watch the sea go by, enjoy live music in the Navigators Bar or just enjoy a drink with friends in the lounge at the Compass Bar. If you prefer a wine, beer or whisky tasting session on your trip these can also be arranged.
DFDS Seaways seem to be aware of the needs of all their customers, making it possible for families to have a good time alongside hen and stag parties. They keep a close eye on the mood in order to make the trip as enjoyable as possible for everyone. I had a really enjoyable day and am considering booking a mini cruise to Amsterdam. I am sure that my son would love it.
Thanks to DFDS Seaways for a lovely day aboard.