On Saturday we had a wonderful family day out thanks to Stena Line UK on their Pirates and Princesses Cruise.
The day cruise on the huge, swish Stena Superfast costs £10 per person, £5 for under threes, which is a decent price for an exciting activity packed adventure at sea. We left Belfast at 11.30am on a cold but sparklingly sunny morning, and started by checking into our Superfast Cabin on Deck 10.
Cabins are priced at £35 per leg of the journey (outward bound to Scotland, and homeward bound) but are completely optional, as the ship has many comfortable lounges to relax in during the entire day trip. We found the cabin a fabulous extra touch, as you can enjoy complimentary tea, coffee, chilled water and biscuits in your room when your little ones get tired from all the excitement.
We then hit the Sun Deck to see if we could spot our house on the journey out of Belfast Lough. The Superfast is massive, with so much to explore on each deck.
We also explored the various lounges. The Pod Lounge was a hive of activity, with Playstation Kinnect games to try out, free use of ipads, and for younger children entertainers were balloon modelling and face painting. This is also where the onboard cinema is located.
There are quieter lounges to relax in too, and much to my excitement, retro and kitsch art objects decorating the ship.
Part of your day of free entertainment is a magic show. Northern Irish Magic Man Trevor Price has the kids in the palm of his hand, with classic magic tricks and jokes including a pink dove act. My son loved the show so much he insisted we saw it again on the return journey, and I can recommend going twice if your children do love it, as Trevor mixes up the act and you see different tricks in each show.
There is a small soft play area, probably more suitable for under 4 year olds, which was surprisingly quiet given the amount of children on board. There is so much to do elsewhere that it was never overcrowded.
By this point we had almost reached Scotland, so we took time out to get some lunch in the Superfast's Taste Restaurant. For quick meals it was absolutely delicious. My son had fish and chips and my husand had steak. I chose the Maple ribs which were so tender the meat just fell off the bone. It was like Bubbacue at sea. My husband was so jealous he hadn't ordered them too.
We had arrived at Cairnryan. At this point passengers who were onboard for just the journey across disembarked. You have a 90 minute stop but you stay aboard the Stena Superfast during this time.
I went back up to our cabin and had a cuppa and some Scottish Shortbread, when in Rome style.
Now there's a little known secret deck on the Superfast that made the trip extra special for me. The Nordic Spa is an oasis of calm with massages available from £10. I was treated to a gel nail manicure, then took some time in the Jacuzzi. It was my intention to spend five minutes there, then rejoin the boys on the lower decks, but it was just too nice and I ended up staying in paradise for about half an hour, until I noticed we were moving again and on our way back toward Belfast.
I hurried back to meet the boys who were busy taking part in the organised treasure hunt.
We caught the magic show again and then spent some time having coffee in our cabin. All too quickly we saw the familar coast of Larne and by 5.45pm we were docked in Belfast once more.
Thank you, Stena for a great day out. There are Pirate and Princess Cruises sailing all spring and summer. Check dates and get more info on the Stena UK site. Keep up to date with news and offers on the Stena Facebook and Twitter.