One of the largest superferries in the world, the Irish Ferries Ulysses is well up to the task of tackling the Irish Sea as well as the needs of travellers.

Arrival and checking in at Holyhead

Allow plenty of time for your journey to Holyhead, as from whichever direction you are coming from, it can take longer than expected, particularly at busy periods. When you reach Holyhead there are plenty of signs to direct you to the ferry terminal, and it’s unlikely you’ll get lost as it’s a very small town. If you arrive very early, then a good option is to continue to the marina area where the parking is free and you can watch the ferry come in around the harbour wall.

Checking in is very straightforward, you either hand over your printed reservation or quote your reference number, and the check-in person will hand over a boarding pass and direct you to the appropriate lane. If you have booked priority boarding, you will be loaded onto the ferry before other cars to a position that will enable you to get off first as well. This often saves you a lot of time, especially with the Ulysses being so big and with so many lorries on board.

On board facilities

There are literally acres of space aboard the Ulysses to choose where to sit out the journey. You have two restaurants, Boylans Brasserie and Cafe Lafayette, an enormous bar area, Leopold Blooms Bar which is right at the front of the ship. The whole ship is lined with different seating options to choose from, including the James Joyce Balcony Lounge which has large seats in front of a TV screen for you to relax in front of or just to read a book.

The Promenade Deck is right at the top of the ship on Deck 11 which offers panoramic views of the journey, but on a windy day it’s sometimes a better idea to stay indoors. On a good day, it’s a must.

The Ulysses has a cinema, the Volta Picture Theatre, which has two screens showing the latest films. Tickets can be bought outside or at the reception desk.

Children can be kept occupied at the Cyclops Family Entertainment Centre, the largest kids play area we have seen on a ferry, with computer games and climbing areas. Note that children must be accompanied.

Club Class

Every ferry company has a Club Class or some other kind of upgrade, most of them are worth taking others are not. We think that Irish Ferries have a particularly strong offer, in that Club Class is always right at the top of the boat, not on the side, or at the back, but on deck 11, right up where you get the best views. On Ulysses, you get a 180 degree view including the direction of travel, which we think is what offers the best value for money. For an extra £14 per person, you also get waiter service, large sofas and chairs to choose from, a much quieter area to sit, and most of all, loads of space. There are also complimentary newspapers, drinks and snacks. We strongly recommend Club Class on Irish Ferries.

Accessibility

The Ulysses is fully adapted to take good care of disabled passengers with adapted public toilets, cabins with specially adapted accessible toilets, dedicated seating areas, and lifts. There are hearing loops at the reception desk. The only downside is that each sailing is limited to just 6 disabled passengers, which we think is quite low for such a large ship.

Cabins

There’s a good choice of cabins on Ulysses, starting with the single inside cabin which is £20 extra per journey, to the 2-bed suite which is £60 per journey or £120 return. They’re immaculately clean, comfortable, with a TV, en-suite toilet and shower, tea and coffee making facilities, and most importantly they guarantee total peace and quiet. See the video above for the various options. When booking online, make sure you click on “add cabins” at the appropriate step, as the booking process forces you to start again if you missed it.

Try not to leave it until you get on board to book a cabin as you’ll invariably find the type you want booked out, so plan ahead and book online.

 Vital Statistics…

– The Ulysses took two years to build at a cost of €100 million!
– It stands 12 decks high and its gross tonnage is 50,938 tonnes and is the largest car ferry in the world!
– It’s 167 feet (51 metres) from keel to mast.
– There are 3 miles of parking space inside.
– It can carry 1342 cars or 240 lorries.
– Ulysses can carry up to 2000 passengers and crew per sailing.
– It operates at 22 knots and travels 186,000 nautical miles a year.

Big, isn’t it!

Summary

Ships as big as the Ulysses are rarely prevented from sailing, as they can tolerate wave heights of up to 10m. This means that you can book all year round without any threat of cancellation or inconvenience. Even though the ship was delivered in 2002, it still has the feel of a new ship, completely clean from top to bottom, it can’t be faulted. The fares are transparent and competitive with reasonable flexibility. Most of all, we believe that Club Class on board Ulysses is excellent and should be considered.

Finally, Irish Ferries have adopted a responsible code for reducing carbon emmissions, and take an active role in local communities.

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