Bushra Ghafoor travels to the Emerald Isle on a Ferry and discovers a whole new world waiting to be discovered

My last experience travelling by ferry is a distant memory but this trip on Irish Ferries (to Ireland) and Stena Line (from Ireland) was clearly a league above the utilitarian model I remember.

The atmosphere on board was vibrant and incredibly relaxing.

The journey was smooth and the weather accommodating enough to allow for me to take the cursory selfies on deck as well as with the captain and a kind loan of his hat!

The ferry is modern and comfortable, not only for adults but also for children who had plenty of facilities to keep them occupied.

There are ample food choices and a welcoming shopping choice.

What strikes you most about the approach to Dublin is the tremendous landscape and vast arrays of greenery. It immediately ignites ones passion in natural scenery.

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Dublin in one word can be described as charming.

We arrived at The Trinity City Hotel which really is a slice of luxury.

It is set across four original Georgian houses, a former fire station and a leafy courtyard garden. It is romantic, glamorous and very chic.

The hotel is in the heart of Dublin where the ambience is both lively and intimate simultaneously. I was minutes away from the world renowned Grafton Street, Temple Bar and Dublin Castle.

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It’s easy to see why Dublin has been named Europe's friendliest city twice by TripAdvisor.

After soaking in the sumptuous surroundings, we ventured out for evening dinner at the Cleaver East. This food sanctuary was wonderfully indulgent and the food was exquisite, succulent and generous. The cocktails in particular were impressive

A day out in north County Dublin and The Bay

Malahide Castle is beautiful, majestic and nostalgic. We had a guided tour who kept us thoroughly engaged and entertained. The Castle has just undergone a multimillion euro redevelopment and renovation and is now dubbed the Jewel in the Crown of Irish Tourism.

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The mesmerising tour included a botanical interpretive centre, a museum, an exhibition of Irish and local history and magnificent Secret Walled gardens.

Malahide Castle is so rich in history and we truly admired the portraits from the National Portrait Collection which adorn and decorate many walls of the Castle.

It really is an incredibly rich way to spend a day and Malahide Castle truly cements itself as a treasured part of Irish culture.

We then travelled along North Dublin’s glorious coast line to the picturesque fishing village of Howth with our walking guide, whose enthusiasm for County Dublin resonated.

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We were welcomed by the landlord of the enchanting Abbey Tavern, a 16th century building.

It is said to be one of the oldest taverns in Ireland. It has original stone walls and flagged floors. When you think of your archetypal Irish type tavern then this is it.

Why travel by ferry?

Travelling by ferry is an enriching experience and in this case we were able to see green pastures, deep valleys and abundant waters. The journey was efficient, extremely relaxing and easy. It was as if my holiday started the moment I stepped on board.

Sitting by the window looking out at the sea whilst writing emails courtesy of free Wi-Fi is an unparalleled experience, a delightful treat in the modern digital world.

This trip was unforgettable and full of warm memories.

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Here’s what you need to know

  • 2018 Return fares for a car and 2 adults start at £213.
  • 2018 Return fares for a car and a family of four from £273.
  • Dogs (with appropriate Pet Passport) carried free either in your own car or in a (pre-booked please) kennel onboard.
  • Baggage, buckets and spades, favourite pillow, golf clubs, kitchen sink etc all carried free in the car.
  • Booking at  www.irishferries.com   08717 300 400

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I travelled over to Ireland onboard Ulysses, Irish Ferries and then returned to the UK on board Stena Adventurer with Stena Line.  To find out more about travelling via ferry, visit discoverferries.com 

Irish Ferries

  • Currently 4 ships sailing between the UK and Ireland, including the Dublin Swift, the only fastcraft on the Irish Sea. This high-speed catamaran cuts down the crossing time from Holyhead to Dublin to as little as 1 hour 49 minutes.
  • Until September, the largest ship on the Irish Sea and sailing between Holyhead and Dublin is the Ulysses, at just under 50,000 tonnes, with onboard facilities ranging from a cinema to shops and kids’ play area.
  • A new cruise ferry, the W.B. Yeats comes into service between Holyhead and Ireland in September this year (after a summer spent sailing between Ireland and France). At almost 55,000 tonnes the W.B. Yeats will then be the largest ship on the Irish Sea, with superb on-board facilities.
  • Typical sailing time from Holyhead to Dublin 3hrs 15mins. Drive times to Holyhead from Liverpool or Manchester 2hrs; from Birmingham 3hrs.
  • UK also served by Pembroke/Rosslare service with typical sailing time of 4hrs on the Isle of Inishmore. Drive time to Pembroke from Cardiff 2hrs; from Bristol 2hrs 30mins.
  • Club Class (priority boarding, reserved seating, free refreshments etc) is available on both routes and most ships, at a supplement of £16 per seat per crossing.
  • Ship-wide free WiFi across the fleet.
  • I travelled over to Ireland onboard Ulysses, Irish Ferries and then returned to the UK on board Stena Adventurer with Stena Line

Stena Line

  • Stena Line offer routes from Cairnryan and Liverpool to Belfast; from Holyhead to Dublin; from Rosslare to Fishguard and Cherbourg; and from Harwich to the Hook of Holland