Back in January, NI Ferry Site documented the arrival of the AURA SEAWAYS onto the DFDS Karlshamn – Klaipeda route. Newly-built sister ship, LUNA SEAWAYS followed into service on 29 April.
I took a trip on the LUNA SEAWAYS during May to see first-hand the enhanced experience for both freight and tourist customers.
Lots of space for vehicles and passengers
Whether you are a freight passenger, driving your own car or a foot passenger boarding by bus, you can’t fail to be impressed by the huge vehicle decks. With a 4,500 lane metre capacity, there is space for vehicles in the fully enclosed decks 3 and 5 and partially open deck on Deck 7. There is additional mezzanine car capacity forward on Deck 8.
Lifts are available to avoid a long stair climb to the main accommodation deck on Deck 9.
Passenger cabins are located on Decks 9 and 10. Deck 9 has 74 cabins and Deck 10 a further 176 cabins. There are 10 De Luxe Commodore cabins onboard and the rest are 2 and 4-berth cabins. There are seven pet cabins, two wheelchair friendly cabins and twelve cabins with connecting doors, suitable for family groups.
Unlike previous ships on the Klaipeda routes, the new ferries have cabins for all passengers, with no accommodation in reclining seats.
My cabin was an outside two-berth cabin on Deck 10. As one would expect from a newbuild, it was modern and spacious with two lower level, decently sized beds. The bathroom was a welcome relief from older ferries with sufficient space that you aren’t “showering in the toilet”.
Deck 9 overview
The majority of the passenger accommodation is on this deck.
There is an outside deck area aft, overlooking the open vehicle deck area of Deck 7. This includes smoking cabinets for those wishing to smoke on an otherwise smoke-free ship. The same exists above on Deck 10. There is also significant outdoor space on Deck 11.
The 74 cabins mentioned above are located aft.
This leads into the Lighthouse Café area. The décor of this area shows a nod to the DFDS concept of the same name on the English Channel. The Lighthouse Café serves light snacks, ice cream, quality coffees and a range of alcoholic refreshments, including craft beers. There is also a free to use library for those wanting to relax over a book.
Open plan on the port side of the ship is the Pirate’s Island by Curiocity children’s room. This has been designed in collaboration with the biggest children’s educational entertainment centre in Lithuania, Curiocity.
Also on the port side is the Sea Shop. Three times bigger than on predecessor ships, the shop has the space and layout to offer a full contemporary travel retail experience.
The main Deck 9 hallway follows, including a large Guest Services Desk towards the port side.
On the starboard side is the entrance to the Mare Balticum à la carte restaurant, more on which later.
Moving forward, on the port side is the large Navigator’s bar. With a variety of seating types, the area is the perfect place for a departure or post-dinner drink. The lighting changes colour during the evening to give added atmosphere. There is a snack menu available too. Unfortunately, I enjoyed my dinner too much and wasn’t able to sample. The Navigator’s Bar menu includes Fish n Chips, chicken wings, nachos and Fried bread with smoked cheese and pig ears.
The staff are happy to interact with passengers and make drinks suggestions. A good range of beers are available, including Lithuanian brands and craft beers.
At the forward end of Deck 9 is the Seven Seas Buffet. For a fixed price, this area offers a breakfast and dinner buffet. I had Breakfast here and found a decent range of options in line with what you would expect in the region. With staff serving the hot items, the effect was a less chaotic atmosphere than is found in some ferry buffets.
On the starboard side there is a small flexible area situated between the Seven Seas Buffet and Mare Balticum. Retractable walls allow the area to be added to either facility or used separately for a group.
Deck 10 overview
The majority of accommodation on this deck consists of cabins – 176 in total.
However, forward on this deck is an innovation for DFDS’ Baltic fleet in the form of a dedicated “Road Kings” freight driver restaurant and bar.
A servery is provided, offering buffet dinner and breakfast. As well as restaurant style seating, there is also a “club area” where drivers can relax with a coffee or beer and catch up with colleagues in front of the TV.
Mare Balticum Restaurant
Undoubtedly the highlight of the customer experience onboard the LUNA SEAWAYS is a visit to the Mare Balticum Restaurant.
DFDS now has this à la carte concept on all six Baltic passenger ferries. That is the AURA SEAWAYS and LUNA SEAWAYS on Klaipeda – Karlshamn, ATHENA SEAWAYS and VICTORIA SEAWAYS on Klaipeda – Kiel and the SIRENA SEAWAYS and PATRIA SEAWAYS on Paldiski – Kapellskär.
The menu offered has been made in cooperation with one of the best known chefs in Lithuania, Deivydas Praspaliauskas.
Deivydas Praspaliauskas, has twice won the title of the best chef in Lithuania. The menu created pays special attention to regional cuisine, focuses on seasonal products of local producers and is rich in fish dishes
The ambiance of the restaurant on LUNA SEAWAYS is excellent. Being a distinct area, directly accessed, it feels exclusive and removed from the rest of the life of the ship. Tables are fully dressed with additional decorations and music plays from a retro style record player.
The menu offers a sufficient choice for most tastes but as is normal with higher end dining options, there are only four main courses to choose from. The wine list offers a good range to match dishes. I simply opted for 500 ml of the house red. Served in a nice carafe, it was very pleasant.
A very enjoyable bread appetizer is served as you wait for your meal to arrive.
I opted for the Asian inspired seafood soup for starter. It was packed with subtle flavours and offered a great “comfort food” option.
For my main course I had the Duck Thigh Confit. Served with potatoes, asparagus and carrots, I was very happy with my choice. A plentiful portion, the duck was cooked perfectly.
To finish I had chocolate cake.
The quality of the food was far beyond what you would normally expect from a Ropax ferry and served at a pace that helps while away the evening. I was travelling alone, but in company it would be a most convivial experience. Whilst more expensive than the buffet, the price of around 30 Euro for a 3-course meal is very reasonable for the quality offered.
A great customer experience
I had a very pleasant night aboard the LUNA SEAWAYS. My cabin was comfortable, I enjoyed some fine food and I was able to enjoy a few drinks in both of the bars onboard. This is certainly more than a simple trailer ferry that takes passengers and should prove very popular with both tourist and commercial passengers.
The author received complimentary travel and breakfast from DFDS. All other meals and drinks were paid for by the author.