It is quite convenient to arrive by train as the station is right next to the
cruise terminal, however as we arrived by car I can not confirm how this would go.
I have since been told that this requires a change at Manningtree, departure is from
Liverpool Street terminus in London. Perhaps the easiest is by coach from
Victoria although, unless you arrive there by taxi, it can be a long convoluted walk
from the tube or main station. Arrival by car was a little
disconcerting. Initially our instructions had been "follow the signs",
but later paper work indicated there was a car park next to the terminal which would
avoid going through the barriers. However we followed the signs, as
originally instructed, although it looked empty and deserted. We went
through an open gate, and followed a lane marked off with cones, we could eventually
make out a kiosk at the far end with a man beckoning. This was in fact
correct. We checked in and were directed to the baggage loaders who took
our luggage and they then directed us to the parking just round the corner and the
awaiting shuttle bus. They have two buses running, and when one arrives
back, the waiting one that had been filling up sets off; so the service is about every
ten minutes. We were lucky, we were the last but one to board, and had
just sat down when we set off. The trip only lasted a couple of minutes
and we alighted right outside the cruise terminal.
The cruise terminal is not the original Victorian brick building which is perhaps the
railway station and maybe offices now, but a long shed like building which was quite
spartan inside, like a big hall. There were several check-in desks
operating, so although being last off the bus and there was a bit of a queue, it
progressed very quickly. We then had to queue for the security screening.
This went up a long ramp to the second floor and it did not move so quickly.
There was only one x-ray machine operating, but the delay seemed to be after the
machine; though I don't know why, I just showed my card and went straight through.
There is quite a long walk through the covered gangway connecting the terminal to the
ship. All in all it is perhaps 200 to 300 meters from the entrance to the
cruise terminal to boarding the ship. Wheel chairs can be made available
but they take a while to arrive, so if needed perhaps should be arranged in advance.
There is a lift to the second floor. Fortunately we were on the Voyager
of Voyages of Discovery and so, being a small ship, there was not far to get to the
It is quite a short journey from the terminal past the town and out to sea. The view is
of the Pier Hotel where we have had pleasant meals when Lay & Wheeler had part shares in
it. As we go out, Harwich is on the right and Felixstowe on the left and within a short time we
are at sea.
On return it was even easier than going. According to our Sat Nav we should have been
there by 2:00 a.m. but he must have slowed down as he got nearer, probably a booked time for the pilot.
When we woke up at 6:00 we were in the river and just turning round to dock. When we were cleared
to go it was just back through the covered gangway and down the ramp into the terminal. At the
top of the ramp it splits into "car parking" on the right and "non car parking" on the left. They
were only running one shuttle bus, but it was only a 5 minute wait for it to return. Our luggage
was waiting in the car park; it was just load and go. I never saw customs or immigration, but then
they have the whole cruise to check you out.