Wednesday, June 29, 2011
Hull to Rotterdam Ferry
We took the train from York to Hull. When we told people in the UK that Hull was one of our destinations, we met with looks of stunned incredulity. But two ferries to the continent leave from there, one going to Zeebrugge, Belgium, and the other to Rotterdam, Netherlands.
In an earlier blog post, I mentioned the difficulties we had in getting confirmation of the reservation that we had made on line. Penny called the customer service number for P&O Lines and got an agent in Luxembourg. When our taxi from Hull Station arrived at the ferry terminal, we checked in without any problem. So that worked out.
The MV Pride of Hull is quite large, and handles both cars and long haul trucks. We had a private cabin with twin bunks. We had earlier decided against a less expensive option of booking two bunks in a four-bunk cabin and hoping that the company didn't need to sell the remaining two bunks that particular night. There is a dinner and breakfast buffet option which we had booked in advance. The food was edible, but very British. Nothing to write home about.
The ship arrived at the Europoort terminal at the mouth of the Rhine. We had booked the transfer to Rotterdam Centraal Station that P&O offered, and that was a good decision. The terminal is a huge facility, and arriving passengers will need some way to get out of there and to some other place. Rotterdam is about 45 minutes away.
The terminal has a passport control station to be used by immigration police and customs, but this was left unstaffed. So we have no passport stamp noting our arrival on the continent. The Schengen Treaty allows for free movement for citizens of all signatories to all other signatory countries. Those who are not signatory citizens need long-stay visas to stay within the Schengen area for more than 90 out of the preceding 180 days. So that is a rolling window. Ireland and the UK are NOT signatories, and neither is any non-European country.
We are rather surprised that we were able to enter the Schengen area without any passport check. We have gone before from the UK. The French Police Nationale are at St. Pancras Station in London, and they do the passport check right there.
We booked the trains to Maastricht and to Paris right there at Rotterdam. We got quite a surprise because of the high prices for travel that is close the purchase date. Book your tickets on-line and early whenever you can.