This was a trip in 2010 and I have re published for archiving one this project.
Journey: Hook of Holland to Harwich via Stena Lines – Hollandica Superferry
This ferry was launched this year (April 2010) and will join another Superferry in Autumn. These cost £375 million pounds. Shame they didn’t spend much on thinking about the overall experience for disabled people. Granted the ship had some nice touches but compared to our first crossing, the staff support was very poor.
Again, we pre booked a cabin with wheelchair access. We had our tickets printed at the car booth which they told us also acts as your room key. This was the same as our first journey.
On locating the cabin (which had us wandering the isles of cabins to work out the number system) we found the door had a small low touch pad with a slot to insert the room key card. It also had a normal handle on the door. I believe the door was supposed to open automatically. I say supposed, because it didn’t work.
My husband tried several times and the light flashed but nothing opened. Eventually a member of staff said we had to have a normal key to put in the door. What use is that! The automated door was not working and when we got in we could see why – the opening door arm was not fitted but the electronics were there. It was also kind of … orange!
The bathroom featured a level entry (roll in) shower area with seat and lots of grab rails. The toilet had two grab rails either side and room to side transfer to one side. I’m not that fat but due to scoliosis, lean to the right side. When the grab rails come down they basically wedged me onto the toilet and are closer than what you would find in your average UK accessible toilet. The floor surface is very soft, with good grip but like the previous ferry, the sink is not suitable for hair washing and difficult to reach for me personally.
The bathroom is rather nice but the flat push panel to open the bathroom automatic door is situated above the side unit of the bed on the left of the cabin. So if you have to sleep on the right bed (which I do because of my spine) you can’t press the button from bed. However, if you are a wheelchair user, how someone could sit on the bed, press the button, transfer into their chair and then get through the door before it closed again in about 10 seconds is beyond me anyway! The bathroom door swings back and because it is wide, there is only a few set places your wheelchair can go or it hits you and closes again. If you are standing in the way of the door the force would knock you off your feet – my wheelchair would rock with the force and it’s a weighty machine. The location of the switch hasn’t really been thought through in the overall design I felt and the close mechanism is rather violent (but possibly needed to close a large heavy door).
The cabins were nice though putting these problems to the side even if they did vibrate something chronic.
I was a bit miffed that the free wifi was only for 3 hours and the ‘reception all over the boat’ meant one bar if you’re lucky. We also got an incredibly poor service when purchasing food as what we wanted from the menu wasn’t actually available and my husband ended up with a microwave meal and I ended up with a chicken burger that makes McDonalds look like a 5 star restaurant. The guy who ‘cooked’ our meal was more interested in the football on the plasma tv installed in the food court than customer service. We had no offer of help to carry the tray and no ‘quiet area’ as in my previous blog. Too much money spent on umpteen plasma screen tvs and bars than on customer care I think.