I don’t see why anyone would ever fly from Liverpool to Belfast. Liverpool is literally set on the banks of the Mersey River and it makes no sense to bus 30-minutes out to the international airport when it takes little more than 5-minutes by train to Birkenhead for the Liverpool to Belfast Ferry by Stena Line. From the train station (Hamilton Square station) it is just 1-mile from the port and it is just a simple/stress-free option for the Irish Sea Crossing by taking the ferry from England to Northern Ireland.
At the same time, I’d much rather enjoy the comforts of the ferry crossing than endure the hassles and discomfort of airports and budget airlines. It’s even cheaper to travel by ferry, you can bring as much luggage as you desire, cats and dogs, free WiFi…. In short, other than the 8-hour sailing time for the boat from Liverpool to Belfast, I see no reason to fly between these destinations.
Anyway, as above, we prefer to enjoy this Stena Line Liverpool to Belfast crossing, rather than endure it, and so we make the most of the 8-hours on board with free cinemas, standard-priced food/drinks at the cafe, restaurant and bar. It’s a bit like sailing on a cruise ship for the day. Add a premium sea view cabin and a bottle of wine and the 8-hour Irish Sea crossing isn’t enough. There are 2 daily ferry crossings from Liverpool to Belfast with Stena Line (online bookings here), one during the day with Stena Edda, then one through the night with Stena Embla. Both boats are pretty much identical (same lounges cabin options etc.) and here we share the day crossing from Liverpool to Belfast on Stena Edda.
Facilities on Stena Line Liverpool to Belfast Ferry
Stena Edda is one of the 3 new Stena Line ships (2020) with its maiden voyage crossing the Irish Sea between Liverpool Birkenhead and Belfast just back on the 9th March 2020. In short, the boat is new, it’s contemporary, and it’s a bit like sailing on a fancy cruise ship.
Given the length of time for the ferry to Belfast from Birkenhead there are more than enough facilities for a comfortable and entertaining crossing. These amenities include:
- Cabins and seating areas for passengers
- Passenger lounges with entertainment facilities
- Food and beverage services, including a cafe (Barista), restaurant (Taste) and bar (Sky Bar).
- ‘Duty-free’ shopping
- Children’s play area and arcade games
- 2 x cinema rooms
- Free Wi-Fi access
I share more about the better facilities below.
The 8-Hour Ferry to Belfast from Liverpool
It is 8-hours to take the boat from Liverpool to Belfast journey, so those who do not book cabins etc, will likely camp out in the better seating areas of the ferry. This goes more for the later Liverpool to Belfast ferry time (overnight) but even on the daytime crossings people are sprawled out and sleeping on seats. It’s kind of inevitable on any ferry. So a better area for a relaxed/less ‘homeless shelter’ atmosphere would be the downstairs Barista Cafe or the Taste Restaurant. Otherwise, given the inexpensive Liverpool to Belfast ferry prices, I would recommend paying the extra for the comfort of a cabin to escape to during the journey. Again, enjoying the crossing rather than enduring it.
Private Seating and Cabins
There are a number of private seating and cabin options reasonably priced and we recommend them to escape through the 8-hour journey. We have tried a couple and share the experiences below. Otherwise, here is the list of private cabin and lounge seating options on the Stena Liverpool to Belfast ferry by Stena Line.
- Hygge Lounge (Guest over 8 years)
- Stena Plus Lounge (Guest over 8 years)
- 4-berth inside cabin
- Disabled 2-Berth Cabin
- 4-berth outside cabin
- 4-berth Superior cabin outside
- 4-berth pet cabin, no window
- 2 Berth Outside Deluxe
Note, all cabin options above include en-suite facilities including toilet, sink and shower, towels and shower gel, Bazeport Infotainment Television etc.
The Hygge Lounge
Hygge (pronounced “hoo-gah”) is a Danish concept described as a feeling of cosiness, comfort, and contentment. Warm and welcoming atmosphere and a sense of well-being or happiness that comes from feeling safe and at home. And it’s a bit like that. A quiet zone, no windows, no phone calls, reclined (not reclining) seating and a large mute TV with subtitles. It’s good for napping until the next person accidentally slams the door. Each seat has USB, plug sockets, a reading light, and there’s also a complimentary coffee maker for unlimited mochacinos (or coffee/tea of your choice).
2 Berth Outside Deluxe
Also known as the Premium Cabins (at least on our keycards), these fancy boutique-style cabins come with a comfy double bed and balcony access for panoramic sea views. This more or less means (rather than having a private balcony) you can walk directly from the bedroom onto the lower outside decks. Note, these are public decks but it is rare that anyone passes and the windows are opaque from the opposite side so they’re still private. Then there is the en-suite shower and toilet, free snacks, mini fridge drinks, coffees/teas… we brought our own wine, and there’s no real reason to leave for the duration of the crossing.
Stena Plus Lounge
I haven’t really experienced this first-hand but I did sneak a peek at the end of one crossing when the Stena Plus lounge doors were left open as passengers disembarked. So it is a bit like a business/privilege lounge located just above the Taste Restaurant with great views out the back of the ferry. Most importantly there is a selection of free coffees, fine teas, soft drinks, wine and tasty snacks as well as complimentary daily newspapers and magazines. There’s also a waiter service for a special menu (extra charge) that’s exclusive to the Lounge. Free WiFi, power points etc. You can see it in the video at the top.
Food and Drink On-Board
Ignoring the truckers lounge (for truckers) on the Stena Line Liverpool to Belfast Ferry there are 3 main eating/drinking options on board for normal passengers. These are:
- Barista Cafe: Light snacks/coffees etc.
- Taste Restaurant: Proper cooked food
- The Sky Bar: Alcohol and Bar Snacks
We normally board after breakfast along with our usual travel snacks of Polish sausage (me) and spicy Doritos (Fanfan) so we don’t need a whole lot more for the 8-hour journey. As well, in the cabins or Stena Plus lounges, we will have free coffees, snacks, and drinks etc. Otherwise the onboard prices are surprisingly fair and I did call for a quick portion of chips at Taste costing just £2.45 (2023).
When it comes to food and drink we normally care more about where we’re sitting. So we would grab drinks from the Sky Bar, which again are standard drinks prices with doubles for an extra £1 on the most recent crossing (Fanfan enjoyed her gins). Then we would maybe grab bits from Barista before finding seats at the Taste Restaurant with better views of the wild Irish Sea Crossing. An attraction in itself.
How to get to the Birkenhead Ferry Port from Liverpool?
The Stena Line Liverpool Port is on the Birkenhead side of the river so you will need to cross the Mersey Tunnel from to Liverpool City Centre to find the Birkenhead Port (map here). There are a handful of options as below.
Taxis from Liverpool City Centre to the Stena Line Liverpool Port?
The quickest but also the most expensive way to travel from Liverpool to the Stena Line Liverpool Port is by taxi. So far the cheapest option we have is with the Alpha Cars App where taxis were half the price of Uber. Expect to pay between £15 – £25 from Liverpool to the Birkenhead Ferry Port depending on traffic at the time.
Train from Liverpool City Centre to Birkenhead Ferry Port?
Liverpool to Birkenhead by Train (Hamilton Square Station): The cheapest route would be to take the metro (Merseyrail website here) from Liverpool to Hamilton Square railway station in Birkenhead. From Hamilton Square station it is then roughly 1-mile to the Birkenhead Ferry Port.
Birkenhead (Hamilton Square) Station to Birkenhead Ferry Port: It is roughly 1-mile from Birkenhead (Hamilton Square) Station to the Birkenhead Ferry Port (map here) meaning it is possible to walk which we did recently with one small cabin bag but it is not advised with larger luggage. There’s a number of road crossings etc. Otherwise it takes roughly 20-minutes on foot.
If lucky there (maybe) a shuttle bus service from Hamilton Square Station to Birkenhead Ferry Port which we missed on our previous crossing (hence walking). Apparently it is the same shuttle from the morning arrival from Belfast that then takes passengers for the crossing from Liverpool (it’s best to check Stena Line directly). There will also be a number of taxis waiting outside the station charging around £5 (I guess) to the Birkenhead Ferry Port.
Where is the Liverpool Ferry Port (Stena Line)?
Address: Stena Line, 12 Quays Terminal, Tower Road, Birkenhead, CH41 1FE, United Kingdom. (map here)
How to get to Belfast from the Stena Ferry Port?
This is probably the trickiest part of the journey if there are no bus services operating between Stena Belfast Ferry Port and Belfast City Centre. This may be a seasonal service depending on demand etc. so it is best to check with Stena Line directly before travelling.
However, on a recent arrival, we asked on arrival at the Stena help desk and they seemed uncertain as well. In the end they booked us a taxi (Value Cabs) and the fare came to under £10 from the Stena Belfast Ferry Port to Belfast City Centre. The same I’m guessing goes the opposite. Alternatively, try Uber etc.
Where is the Belfast Ferry Port (Stena Line)?
Address: Victoria Terminal, 2 W Bank Rd, Belfast BT3 9JN (map here)