We take a really good look around the “Isle of Innishmore”, the Irish Ferries vessel that serves the Pembroke Dock to Rosslare route.
Reaching Pembroke Dock
It’s unlikely that anyone will get lost while driving to Pembroke Dock, even if they’re just following signs, but it’s worth remembering that there are alternative routes if you happen to hit traffic. You can go via Whitland on the A40 as far as Slebech Forest where you can turn off to go past the Bluestone Holiday Park, or, you can even go as far as Haverfordwest and follow the road from there, which leads you to the toll bridge which will put you back 75p.
Many people like to arrive early, so if you have some time on your hands it’s well worth going over the bridge to Neyland where you can watch the Isle of Innishmore arrive from the Brunel Quay. It’s also a fun place to take the kids for a walk around if you have enough time.
Remember that you really need to be at the ferry port at least one hour before departure, especially in busy periods.
Checking in and boarding
On arrival at the Pembroke Dock Ferry Terminal, you come to a check-in desk where you will be directed to the appropriate land to prepare for embarkation. Irish Ferries usually load lorry trailers first, but as soon as that is over, the Club Class passengers are sent onto the ferry, which may well be as much as an hour before departure. If you have booked a cabin as well as Club Class, then it’s a great chance to get that extra bit of sleep.
The journey from the car to the decks is aided by a lift to the 7th Deck and beyond, but the stairwells are many in number and don’t tend to get crowded at all.
There is acres of space on the Isle of Innishmore, with a large buffet restaurant, a large bar area, and a sizeable Club Class are which is right on the top of the vessel (the 11th Deck) with commanding views of the journey. The Club Class lounge offers a quieter and relaxed atmosphere with complimentary smoked salmon snacks, cakes, cheeses, drinks, newspapers and waiter service.
The kid’s play area is near the Druid’s Delights cafe allowing parents to take a snack while the kids are charging about. For those that need a full menu, go to Boylan’s Brasserie on deck 8 where a wide choice of hot food is served. For something a bit lighter, you have Cafe Lafayette with sandwiches and other snacks.
If you’re travelling to see friends and family there’s a large shopping area where you can all kinds of souvenirs as well as alcoholic beverages and chocolates.
The cabins are on the 9th with a choice of inside and outside cabins, each with four bunk beds, two of which can be folded away according to the number of users. The deluxe cabins are large rooms with double beds and a window facing the bow. This provides dramatic views of the ports on arrival and departure as well as the lighthouses you will see along the way, the Tusker Lighthouse the most notable. All cabins have ultra-clean en-suite toilet and shower facilities.
The staff on the Isle of Innismore could’nt be more helpful. There’s a reception area from where you can book your cabin if you decide you need one while on board, and where you can get answers to any other queries.
The Sun Deck area is on Deck 11 from where you can get brilliant views of the Milford Haven Port on departure from Pembroke Dock, as well as the various islands, inlets and fortresses that line the estuary. On the way out you will pass Thorne Island on the left which has now been turned into an exclusive hotel by Von Essen Hotels.
The Isle of Innishmore is custom-made to fulfil the needs of the ferry traveller, furthermore it is a very robust and powerful craft that can handle everything that the Irish Sea throws at it, which in turn means that cancellations are rare. It offers superb value for money and you get way more than you expect from typical ferry journey.
Irish Ferries official site.