With Irish Ferries to Cherbourg
Updated: Jun 19, 2022
W.B. Yeats delights from Dublin to France
The W.B. Yeats is perhaps one of the most eagerly awaited new ships in the Irish ferry sector in recent times, but the opportunity to sail to France in the Irish Ferries flagship cruise ferry has eluded me since she made her debut in February 2019; a small matter of a pandemic and living between the UK and Australia.
Since the easing of travel restrictions, my travel by sea has been limited to small ferries on short crossings and a sea trial or two. So it was with eager anticipation that I was looking forward to finally joining the W.B. Yeats at Dublin and to once more feeling a deck beneath my feet on a decent sea passage.
Our afternoon check-in at Dublin for an overnight sailing to Cherbourg was prompt and we drove straight onto the 51,288 tonne ship's Deck 7 without delay. Located between the freight decks 5 and 6 and the passenger decks, 8, 9 10 and 11, passengers enjoy a separate big and wide car deck with no trucks to negotiate - bliss! From here there is also direct access to the Innisfree Club Class Lounge located forward on Deck 10.
So, what can W.B. Yeats accommodate? Total passenger capacity is 1,850 in 5,500m2 of public space. On decks 8, 9 and 10 there are 435 passenger cabin providing 1,774 beds. Below, on the vehicle decks there is space for 450 cars, and 180 trucks.
From the car deck we made our way straight to our deck 8 Deluxe suite cabin - 8102 - located right below the starboard bridge wing. The cabin was most welcoming, boasting a king size bed and lounge area area separated by a low partition into each side of which is recessed a flat-screen TV with on-demand movies. Being welcomed to the cabin by a concierge, we were very quickly able to make ourselves at home before heading out to explore the ship's facilities.
First impressions of the ship? The W.B. Yeats is very light and airy - the clever use of greys, soft blues and purples, together with large windows and soft lighting works wonders for the seagoing experience. She has a very calming air and nowhere was there a sense of claustrophobia and for all the best reasons we both knew we were at sea and indeed, on a cruise.
First port of call was the Innisfree Club Class lounge and some “light” refreshment. A most inviting venue to which to just sit and relax and we must admit that it was only the ship breaking away from the berth that dragged me away and up onto the outside deck for the transit of Dublin Bay! Actually, we would not have known the ship had left the berth had we not looked out a window - absolutely no vibration thanks to state-of-the-art engineering which serves to deliver exception levels of quietness.
We stood for a while around the reception area, observing the comings and goings. It really is such a great space, with Yeats’ quotations, vivid carpeting and sympathetic lighting. Adjacent to the curving counters of the reception are large cut-out letters reading ‘I HAVE SAILED THE SEAS’ from Yeats' 1926 poem ‘Sailing to Byzantium’. Back-lit in colour-changing LEDs the whole effect provided for an air of relaxation even for such a busy central location.
A Fine Dining Experience
Seating adjacent to the reception area is of various different forms in what is a large mixed-use space opposite to the buffet-style Boylan’s Brasserie servery which offers a good range of hot and cold freshly made food. Dining options onboard the W.B. Yeats range from Boylan's Brasserie to the higher-end experience of the Lady Gregory restaurant. We opted for the latter and were not disappointed.
The Lady Gregory oozes style. On entering the restaurant, one is struck by the room's mirror panels embedded in black surroundings and reflecting the windows to create a really atmospheric dining space. One wall is covered entirely with dark glazed wine cabinets. Table service was exceptional and we enjoyed a truly fine dining experience, which is remarkable on a ferry. Our waiter Augustin was a consummate professional and the food was all perfectly cooked - divine scallops and a beautifully cooked rare-medium Fillet of Black Angus Beef! All washed down with a 2019 Beaune Cru Les Grèves.
In particular, we loved the style of the restaurant - we didn’t want to leave the space and neither were we hurried to do so! Indeed, we could not help but compare with the previous fine dining experience we enjoyed afloat - the Britannia Restaurant onboard Cunard's Queen Mary 2. We cannot give a higher compliment than that!
After dinner we retired to the Maud Gonne bar and lounge for a nightcap. This area, forward on Deck 11, is finished with a mix of blues, bronze and tan leather on a chevron patterned carpet The pale oak bar is underlit and the wall features Yeats’ words: “I have spread my dreams under your feet; tread softly because you tread on my dreams.” The lounge continues the relaxing and airy ambiance so evident throughout the ship, aided by large windows affording panoramic sea views. The bar is incredibly well stocked with an assortment of Irish gins and with glasses in hand we were enticed out on deck to enjoy evening's last light.
Next morning, having rounded Land's End during the early hours, we were in the English Channel heading eastwards for Cherbourg. How nice it was not to have to jump out of bed, take a ridiculously rushed shower before dragging oneself to the car deck for an 06.30 arrival in port. W.B. Yeats offers a late morning arrival in both Cherbourg and Dublin allowing ample time for a relaxed breakfast and some purchases from the Duty Free shop. All incredibly civilised. By 11.30 we were all fast alongside in Cherbourg and in no time at all we were heading south along the Contentin Peninsula after a wonderful cruise experience.