When Jewhurst and I decided to go on holiday to Belfast then Donegal, we weighed up flying and hiring a car, with getting the ferry and bringing our own car. The cost was pretty much the same, but the benefits of having our own car and being able to fill it with more luggage meant we went for the ferry.
When I have travelled by car to Belfast I have chosen the Holyhead - Dun Laoghaire route as the crossing is only 2 hours long by the fast craft. However there is quite a bit of driving either side, which I don't mind, but Jewhurst didn't want to do. Instead he wanted the longer 8 hour crossing between Liverpool and Belfast, which would mean a mere 10 minute drive to his mum's when we disembarked. Since he was the one driving he got to make the call! We went for the overnight crossing on the way there, and decided when we booked that it wasn't worth the money to have a cabin........ You know those decisions you make in advance which, when faced with reality, suddenly seem very very stupid?! My memory of ferry crossings is that there was always a lounge area with big seats to stretch out on. Clearly Stena Line saw the £££ signs and got rid of these in order to encourage people to book expensive cabins, because when we arrived the only places to sit/sleep were the cafe or the bar!!! As it happened it was comfy enough, the bar had long bench seats we could stretch out on and I managed a good 3-4 hours sleep, which helped the crossing go quicker. Needless to say when we arrived at my mother in law's at 7am the next morning we went straight to bed for 2 hours!
We chose the day time crossing on the way over to give us another night's holiday. This I wasn't looking forward to. It's one thing to sleep away half the crossing but another to be expected to entertain yourself for 8 hours. We had the laptop with us for movies, and managed to get a seat in the bar near the TV where they were showing Olympics coverage.
Now you may have picked up that I have been eagerly anticipating the Olympics. Had we not been on holiday and WiFi-less last week I would have been writing a post every day about Team GB's achievements. I was really looking forward to sitting there, watching the women's marathon, Ben Ainslie sailing for gold, Andy Murray in the tennis, and perhaps a bit of cycling before we landed in Birkenhead. About half an hour after getting on the boat, an employee (who I later found out was the duty manager) came and switched the channel to Cash in the Attic. Now I am not adverse to a bit of trashy daytime telly but David Dickinson over Ben Ainslie?! I think not!
|Which one would YOU chose!?|
So I went up to the bar staff, who were lovely, and asked to have it changed back. They said it was "company policy" not to have 2 TVs in the same room showing the same thing (there was another TV on the restaurant side of the bar) and while they understood people wanted to watch the Olympics the manager was the only one who could make the decision to change the channel. They were really embarrassed and apologetic and told me to speak to her myself so it could be changed. My search took me to Guest Services, who said that they didn't have the remote control and to just tell the bar staff it's ok to change it. So I passed the message on and the TV was turned back.
However the duty manager returned an hour or so later, and switched the channel again. Thankfully one of the young barmen sneakily went back to turn it back over to the Olympics, but unfortunately pressed the wrong button and ended up re-tuning the whole TV, which took ages. In the course of the re-tuning, the duty manager returned, got huffy with him, and put it back on to ITV: "Not everyone wants to watch the Olympics!" With a bit of encouragement from the 15 or so passengers which had now accumulated round the TV to watch the sailing, the wee barman turned it back again, but by now we were out to sea and the Freeview signal was lost. Doom! When the duty manager passed through again and saw the blank screen, she switched through the channels and managed to get the Olympics again........ however she just kept flicking until she settled on ITV. At this point a few of the passengers spoke up in protest. She gave us the "company policy" line and told us that as the Olympics were on the other TV we could just up sticks and move our stuff over there. Needless to say this was met with much complaint and polite suggestions that maybe the other TV, where no-one was sitting anyway, could be switched to ITV so that the one with all the passengers round it could be showing something they actually wanted to watch. She then rolled out the "other passengers are complaining" line, trying to claim that by changing the channel she was keeping them happy. However one of the passengers called her bluff and stood up to address us all, "Hands up who wants to watch the Olympics?!" and of course all our hands went up. "Who would rather not watch the Olympics?" ..... no response. No complaints here, we pointed out. Clearly this was completely beyond the woman's comprehension and in a real "Computer Says No" moment she just said "You can watch the Olympics over there".... and WALKED OFF with our cries of protest following her. Unbelievable. She might as well have put her fingers in her ears, shouted "LA LA LA LA CAN'T HEAR YOU!"
Stena Line - not so much of the Olympic spirit there!