When asked what my number 1 fear is, I say boats. Without shadow of a doubt. Does it stop me from experiencing new things? No, I have rode speedboats in Cuba, traversed the Rhine in a boathotel, Gondola’s in the Grand Canal and sailed around Manhattan – and hated every single minute of it. DFDS challenged me on my fear.
Taking the bull by the horns, the Sunderland Air Show sailing would be the perfect time to beat my fear once and for all. At 32 years old, if I can manage a day at sea, imagine the places I could go!
Check in was a smooth process but the nerves certainly built up while waiting to board with the other guests for the special once a year treat that is the Sunderland Air Show. Offering a sailing on both days of the Air Show, an intrepid bunch of brave seafarers are lucky enough to have the best view of all the action, which is in part sponsored by DFDS themselves. On boarding, it was a little scary crossing from the air bridge on to the ship itself – I made the rookie mistake of looking down!
With a prime viewing spot nabbed, we made our way down to the 7 Seas buffet restaurant while the Princess Seaways made her way from North Shields to the coast off Whitburn, Sunderland which took around 45 minutes.
Having sampled the outstanding food on board previously (which you can read HERE ), we knew we were in for a treat. A veritable feast was laid out ahead of us hungry sailors, with an excellent array of food from cured meats and fish through to pasta dishes, Mexican tacos and a dessert section that would make even the sweetest of tooth drool. The piece de résistance for us was the fresh seafood. Crayfish, prawns, roe and mussels sat stacked sky high ready to be devoured – and devoured they were! The friendly staff made the dining experience a pleasure and you really could almost forget you were on board a large ship. I had a few wobbly moments navigating back to our table but I can safely say that this was indeed the last of my fear for the day.
Relaxing back on the outside terrace, husband at the railings and me cowering 6ft behind him, we settled in ready for the spectacular to begin and boy were we in for a show.
In our prime viewing position out at sea, the planes thundered on overhead and every pass they made, my fear ebbed away that little bit more. Performing their loops and aerial stunts directly above us was an exhilarating experience and raised more than a few gasps of glee when the pilots stalled their planes as part of the show. For 2 sunny hours we were entertained from both the skies and the seas, with the RNLI making an appearance alongside our ship. Children were looked after and occupied by the on-board entertainers including the furry mascot – there was even a house band playing in the bar so they could have a boogie!
I was really enjoying my time on-board the Princess Seaways and I was a little disappointed to be heading back to shore. I didn’t want my newly found appreciation of boats to end. We were a little disappointed to have missed the Red Arrows and their infamous red heart but conquering a fear of boats certainly compensated for that.
Disembarkation was a doddle and I will admit I was very jealous of all the customers waiting to board for their sailing to Amsterdam with DFDS. The sailing was a really unique way of watching the Air Show without the hustle and bustle of the crowds and as parking was free and the journey did not require a passport, you cannot find a better view.