If you’re travelling between continental Europe and the UK with a dog, there’s not many transport options available, in particular if you’re travelling on foot without a car.
I’ve previously written about the only ferry option available to foot passengers with a dog between France and England. Another alternative for foot passengers heading to Europe with a dog is the Stena Line ferry between Harwich and Hook of Holland in the Netherlands.
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Why We Choose the Stena Line Ferry
The Stena Line Ferry to Hook of Holland in the Netherlands has always been a popular option with dog owners, travelling both in car and on foot. The ferry that we travelled on had a least 25 kennels, and many of them were occupied on our crossing.
While this crossing is longer than the crossing from Dieppe to Newhaven (from 6.5hr to 9.5hr instead of 4hr), the quality of the kennel facilities are higher. Dogs stay in one of two kennel rooms (not directly on the car deck). It’s possible to visit the kennels during the journey or just monitor them from your room on a special TV channel. Plus there are now pet-friendly cabins available.
When we returned from the UK to Europe with our dog in July 2017, the Stena Line ferry to Hook of Holland was the perfect option for us to continue our travels through the Netherlands and Belgium. It’s also a good option for people travelling onwards to Germany.
The New Pet-Friendly Cabins on Stena Line
Since we took the Stena Line Ferry from Harwich to Hook of Holland with our dog, these ferries now have pet-friendly cabins available, which is sure to increase their popularity with dog owners even more.
There are three types of pet-friendly cabins. There are two-berth inside and outside cabins, both with bunk beds. There are also five-berth cabins that can accommodate up to four adults and one child, with a window. All cabins have an ensuite.
Each of these cabins can accommodate up to three small pets, up to 15kg each, two medium-size dogs up to 30kg, or one larger dog over 30kg. Pets are only permitted inside the cabin, plus the nearby designated pet area out on deck.
While there are no additional fees for pets if they travel in a pet-friendly cabin, the cabins are more expensive. It’s possible to book these cabins online, plus still book kennels for pets online.
Our Experience in 2017
We caught the Stena Line ferry from Harwich to Hook of Holland in July 2017, departing London and continuing on to Amsterdam. Although some details have since changed, my review of our experience can give you a good idea of what to expect.
Catching the Train to Harwich
Leaving from London at the end of our holiday in the UK, we were meant to catch a train to connect with our ferry about 7pm from Liverpool St station, with a connection along the way.
Ideally, we would have caught a later express train from Liverpool St station that lined up with the nightly ferry departure. However, if you’re travelling with a dog, it was recommended to us to arrive at least 2 hours before our ferry’s departure time of 11pm.
We ended up having a lot of dramas, due to a signal failure along the line, which meant none of the trains were leaving from Liverpool St station. There was a lot of confusion all around and panic (at least for us), but we finally made it onto the first train to depart, and arrived around 9:30pm.
Even if you aren’t required to arrive earlier due to travelling with a dog, I recommend arriving and boarding as early as possible. For starters, once you board the ship the clock are set to Central European time and it’s already an hour later. Additionally, it’s nice to have some time to enjoy the ship’s facilities.
Boarding the Stena Line Ferry
The train station at Harwich International is right next to the ferry terminal, meaning it doesn’t take long from the train arrival until you board the ship. Our late arrival with a dog didn’t end up causing a problem.
In fact, we don’t recall that Schnitzel’s pet passport was checked at all, unlike when travelling the other direction. (Of course, post-Brexit, this has now changed.) Once onboard, we headed to the reception, were assigned a kennel number and took him down to settle in for the night.
The kennels on board our Stena Line ship (Stena Hollandica, but presumably also the second ship operating the route) were split into two rooms, each of them accessed only upon entering a code. Schnitzel was in a small kennel on the top in the larger room.
The row of kennels reminded me of the cages for dogs at our local vet’s. A duvet per dog was provided, for optional use. We folded it up in the kennel, then added Schnitzel’s bed and his water bowl. He had already eaten before leaving London. Then we headed upstairs to our cabin.
Our Cabin Onboard the Stena Line Ferry
As we didn’t book that far in advance, the mid-range cabins were already sold out and we ended up splurging on a Captain’s Class cabin, complete with window, double bed and complementary mini bar. The cabins were quite nice, better than I expected, and we were very comfortable.
Inside our cabin, we switched on the TV and changed to the channel showing the kennels, while having a glass of champagne. The TV channel is a security-type set-up that alternates between about 6 cameras.
Unfortunately (or luckily?) no sound is broadcast, but it’s still fairly easy to tell if the dogs are barking or settled. We had planned to return downstairs to check up on Schnitzel again, but realising from the TV channel that we would disturb both him and all of the other dogs upon entering the room, we decided against it.
We fell asleep quite awhile after the ship departed at midnight (Central European time).
Morning on the Ferry
The morning on the ferry before we docked was quite rushed. After a short night’s sleep, my alarm went off at 6:30am. This was almost immediately followed by an announcement over the ship’s speaker system – a way to ensure everyone was up and had breakfasted before the ship docked at 8am!
As we also wanted to head downstairs and check on Schnitzel, we rushed through having showers and then the buffet breakfast we had paid for in advance.
Arriving downstairs at the kennels, Schnitzel seemed quite fine. We’re not sure whether having the other dogs around him helped (or hindered, if they barked or fretted).
We packed up his stuff and then headed downstairs to the dog exercise area for his morning business. Unfortunately though, at least at the time of our crossing, it was just a small section of bare deck, with no artificial grass, and there was no way he was doing anything unless he really needed to.
So, we headed back upstairs with Schnitzel to await the time to disembark. A tip – only do this after you’re fully packed up and ready with your luggage, as no, you can’t take your dog along to your cabin!
Disembarkation at Hook of Holland
As we were travelling with a dog, we disembarked before all the other foot passengers, meaning that there were no queues for the immigration desk. Schnitzel was able to work straight out into and through the arrival hall.
It was a short walk to the waiting bus, included in our ticket, which transport us to Schiedam train station, just outside of Rotterdam. From Schiedam train station, we then took two further trains, arriving at Amsterdam train station around 10am.
Everything went smoothly and quickly, and we were ready to explore Amsterdam with our pup. If like us it’s not possible for you to check into your accommodation early, it’s possible to leave luggage at the station for €10 for a large locker.
Overall Cost of Our Journey
If travelling via this route, you could previously buy a convenient single ticket for all the transport (the train from London, the ferry, then all transport to anywhere in the Netherlands). This has been temporarily suspended, but may become available again.
Our combined ticket for 2 adults was £110 (in 2017), although the fare varied depending on the date. Additionally, the fee for a dog at the time was £16, meaning that the cost of £126 was actually cheaper than our fare on the Dieppe-Newhaven ferry (in the same year).
However, as it was an overnight ferry, it was compulsory to book a cabin. Our Captain’s Class cabin cost an extra £139, meaning the total cost of our journey was £265. However, there are also inside cabins that are far cheaper, and still include the all-important TV to watch your dog.
Alternatively, there is a daytime crossing, which is quicker. The base fare is usually the same for both crossings, but there is no need to book a cabin during the day. You could also visit your dog multiple times during the day, although if all the dog owners did that, it would mean a lot more disturbances for the dogs.
Click here for more information about travelling with a dog on Stena Line
You May Also Like
- How to Travel with a Dog Between the UK and Europe
- DFDS Seaways Ferry with a Dog: Dieppe to Newhaven
- Dog-Friendly Netherlands
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20 thoughts on “Stena Line Ferry With a Dog: Harwich to Hook of Holland”
Thanks very much for such comprehensive information about the ferry! We’re looking forward to taking our terrier Ernie over in the summer!
All the best
Martin, Emma and Ernie
Thanks Martin and Emma! Have a wonderful time with Ernie!
Thank you, this is very interesting and helpful. I’m adopting brother and sister doggies from Turkey and they may be flying them to Amsterdam for me to pick them up. So I may be driving from West London. This is the most comprehensive review I have found, even with photos! They are inseparable and was hoping they may be able to go in the same ‘kennel’.
Maeve – Wishing you all the best for transporting your new pups home! Glad I could be of assistance. I’m pretty sure they’ll allow two siblings to go in the same “kennel”, but just check when boarding.
I can not see how to book the complete cost that included train and bus tickets on the website. Can you give some more information about that please?
Unfortunately, the Dutch railway company has decided not to pre-sell any tickets due to the current situation, until further notice. Check out this page to see if they are available again: https://www.stenaline.co.uk/ferry-to-holland/rail-and-sail
If you are not taking the dog with you, the ferry is a fine experience. The service is really nice, the cabins clean. I just wish we could have traveled alone without our pet.
We took the ferry during the day and our dog went through a trauma. She was placed in one room with all the other dogs on the ferry. They were barking throughout the whole trip, some of them even whining. We couldn’t see much from the video in the cabin as the cameras were very bad quality. We tried to exercise our dog, but taking her to the spot meant that we and our pet will be stepping on other dogs’ urine, as no-one was cleaning this spot during the trip and it was just pure concrete. When we picked her up she was terribly shaking from stress (as some of the other dogs).
I recommend taking your own blanket, which we gladly had, but the ones which are free to use in the room are just old unwashed blankets, which other dogs were sleeping onto. I completely don’t understand why they don’t let dogs into cabins, it’s just not logical. It seems that the night ferry was a better experience for you, but I will never repeat using this service during the day with a pet.
I gave Stena line feedback, but I doubt they will ever change something as they never got back to me.
Hi Natalia, so sorry to hear about your experience. I would definitely take your dog’s own bed or blanket, so they have something familiar. The experience probably also depends on the other dogs on the same trip, and whether any are fretting. I think our night time crossing also helped, with most of the dogs sleeping. Plus it means that less owners are visiting the pets, which can sometimes set off some of the dogs.
On the DFDS ferry from Newcastle to Amsterdam, there are dog-friendly cabins, although it’s best to book well in advance as they book out quickly. I will be trying these cabins next time we cross using a ferry.
What about the other way around?
What if we are traveling from Hook of Holland to Harwich in our own van. Where are the checks expected? Before boarding and after coming off the boat too?
I think we may have to travel before 21 days is over so probably need to hide her, do you think it is possible, or more like ‘mission impossible’?
I haven’t travelled the reverse way on this ferry, but I travelled on another ferry from Dieppe to Newhaven, a couple of years ago (pre-Brexit). In that case my dog’s passport was checked during check-in, at the office in France (no checks after disembarking). The UK border control were very fastidious about checking the rabies vaccine, so if your dog’s vaccine isn’t done at least 21 days in advance, I would expect issues. In this case they won’t let your board the vessel.
Thank you for this, very helpful! I am going to be travelling this line with my cat, and I was wondering if they had separate kennels for cats & dogs? Did you see any cats on your trip?
I can’t recall seeing any cats on the voyage I took. There are two kennel rooms, with separate keys, so it’s possible that cats were in the other room, which makes sense to me. I recommend asking directly.
Hi, thank you so much for sharing your experiences travelling with Schnitzel. Very useful information 🙂 I´m from Argentina and I also have an small dachshund. I need to travel with her to UK, but since I know she should travel as cargo I´m exploring some other alternatives. One could be travelling from Argentina to the Netherlands or France, however I´m wondering if you know if UK Inmigration Dept. will be requiring whatever is needed for the Dog as if we were travelling directly from Argentina (this is the health certificated approved by a Government authority, the vaccination, the microchip and tapeworm treatement) or the requirements for travelling with a Dog between Europe and UK (i.e the European passport). Thank you so much for any advise! Mercedes
It’s not as clear these days, due to Brexit. I would get the UK specific health certificate, unless you want to spend awhile on the continent and want to get an EU pet passport.
This is very very helpful! thank you so much for sharing this!
Glad it helped!
There are “pet friendly” cabins available on the Harwich – Hook ferries and vice versa, if you want to have your dog/cat with you. They have to stay in the cabin while you have dinner or whatever.
It’s great that they’ve now introduced these, I’m looking forward to trying them out next time.
Hi we have a female cavapoo aged 1 year. We want to spend January and February in Spain in 2024. Is it possible to access airport to fly Vueling or other airline with her from Hook of Holland if we take the Stena ferry?
It’s under 2 hours on the light rail and train to Amsterdam Airport, so there definitely will be options to fly to Spain, including Vueling when I just checked.