I have been very fortunate in my choices of transportation carriers. So far, I’ve had very little to complain about, and after seeing several passenger events online that could best be described as unsatisfactory, I truly know how lucky I’ve been. At home, my preferred mode of transportation is to drive. My second favorite mode would probably be by train. I really loved my long distance train trip a few years ago with Amtrak.
We recently traveled overseas and back, and to say we were very happy with our transportation choices would not give the full picture of how lucky we were.
On the way over and for the first week, we were a party of six, and for the second week and the return trip we were a party of five; my brother-in-law opting to return home sooner than the rest of us.
To get us all on the same page and geography to travel together, my brother-in-law took Trailways to the state capital. From there, we drove to the Stewart International Airport, the nearest airport that our airline of choice flew out of.
Norwegian Air is new to the NY market, offering direct flights from the US to Europe. It was perfect for us to travel to Belfast in Northern Ireland. I was actually surprised that we could get a direct flight. On all the big concerns, Norwegian was great, and I would absolutely fly with them again. We had previously contacted them concerning traveling with my mother-in-law’s ashes, the primary reason for our trip, and they couldn’t have been more helpful and kind. While I’m on the subject of traveling with the ashes, I also have to say that the TSA at Stewart took extreme care in the examining of the box even when they had to do a recheck. They waited for my husband from the other security line and kept all of the family together while they did what they needed to do, talking us through their procedures.
Back to Norwegian: Their ticket prices are set on a scale based on what accommodations you want or need. As we were traveling with children, we wanted to be able to choose our seats together. In order to do that, we needed to purchase the middle fare – Low-Fare +. This fare also included one checked bag in addition to the one carry-on and one personal bag per person/ticket. There was also an inflight meal. On our next trip overseas, I might choose the next lowest fare, and pack a lunch/dinner. I would probably bring less clothes although I wore everything I brought. I would consider trying to manage without a checked bag.
I have only one, very minor complaint about the return trip. For my meal, I was not given a choice between beef or chicken. When I requested chicken, I was told by the flight attendant that there was no more chicken. Okay, fair enough. That happens, and I didn’t mind. I thought it was a little odd considering where we were sitting (in the middle of the plane) and how many more people needed to be fed, but still, as I said, that sort of thing happens. Not five minutes later, my son who was sitting in my same group of seats was given a chicken dinner. I found that really irritating.
Two suggestions: 1. Prepay the gas, and return the car with an empty tank. 2. Take the insurance. Take all of the insurance.
Other than that bit of sage advice (which we ourselves followed), I would definitely use Enterprise UK again, and I would recommend them. We’ve used Enterprise in the United States for a number of years, and that was one of the reasons that I went with them without shopping around for prices.
I do have two peeves, however. For me to drive, even as the spouse of the driver, we would have had to pay an extra £10/day. We couldn’t afford that, so my husband drove the entire time. This is probably not the best option for the rental car company because that meant he was driving on unfamiliar roads, on the wrong side of the road, and by mid-week, he was very, very tired. I also hadn’t realized that there would be a £20 addition to bring the car into Ireland from Northern Ireland (UK). I didn’t mind it as much as I would have preferred to know this before, like when we made our reservation.
Other than that, the car was wonderful. It was f Ford Tourneo. it was the perfect size for all of us (five adult sized people, one child plus luggage), easy to handle, and comfortable all around. We wanted air conditioning because it was August, and the car had it, but I don’t believe we ever turned it on. Northern Ireland is quite comfortable with the window open at an average of 65-70 degrees.
Our trip was based in Belfast, so in order to get to Wales directly we needed to drive down to Dublin and take the ferry. When I booked with Irish Ferries, I hadn’t realized that there were other ferry options, but I was very happy with the voyage. We also booked late in relation to our trip, and so we were required to buy Club Class tickets for an additional €18 per person. This was quite a lot, but as I’ve said, it was mandatory for the outgoing trip. On the way back, we could get regular tickets (and we decided to keep them and not to upgrade).
If you can afford it, I would highly recommend Club Class. Easy to access wifi, free refreshments, table service and other food for a fee, good views out the large windows. There was also a discount for the onboard shop. In addition, you’re close to the bathrooms and the access to the deck, which my family enjoyed. The amenities vary with the ship. Ours was the Dublin Swift, one of the faster ones.
I was feeling a little seasick and headachy, so I spent my time resting with my eyes closed and never did get out on the deck despite my kids beckoning. I also have a phobia in regards to water and boats, so my wanting to take the ferry in the first place showed my family how important my visiting Wales was to me.
If you’ve traveled to the UK, what modes of transport would you recommend?