DFDS Seaways Dana Sirena Review
Dana Sirena is operated by DFDS Seaways and currently services the Harwich to Esbjerg route .
MS Dana Sirena was built in 2002 by Stocznia Szczecinska im. A. Warskiego, Stettin, Poland. In recent years she has undergone redevelopment to extend the passenger accommodation to reflect changing cruising habits.
The MS Dana Sirena is known as a ROPAX ferry, which is essentially a roll-on, roll-off freight operation combined with passenger accommodation. The Harwich to Esbjerg route is popular with freight operators and mainly tourists taking cars and caravans over to Denmark and beyond, for which accommodation on-board is required. In recent years, mini cruise holidays (passengers sailing without taking their vehicle) have become increasingly popular and so facilities on-board are changing to adapt to this evolving market.
MS Dana Sirena is an unusual looking vessel but that has much to do with the type of route she sails between Harwich in South East England and Esbjerg in Denmark.
Space on the vessel is shared by DFDS Seaways with DFDS Tor Line, their freight transportation division. As such, she is used to carry cargo and trailers between the two countries alongside passengers and their vehicles. Two decks on board are reserved for haulage, including an open platform at the rear of the ship, whilst cars and stored on separate decks according to the deck plans.
Due to the location of Harwich and the fact that this particular line is synonymous with LEGOLAND Billund holidays , the majority of passengers take their cars, campervans or caravans on holiday with them.
The passenger space is located in the front half of the vessel, which is where the cabins, bar, restaurants and café are located. From the side the vessel looks front heavy and perhaps less 'ferry like' than MS King Seaways or MS Princess Seaways but as you'll find out this smaller feel offers a much warmer atmosphere.
Dana Sirena has a homely feel about it
Despite the lack of floor space in comparison to sister ships such as King Seaways or Princess Seaways, the Dana Sirena has a homely feel about it. It never felt cramped or confined. We used the word "cosy" to describe it which we still believe, just not in the same sense as estate agents use the term. The Dana Sirena has an unusual look and from the outset it looks like a vessel you'd find it hard to love but inside it's a love affair you cannot escape from. It's cosy, charming and relaxed.
In the future, MS Dana Sirena is expected to undergo maintenance which involves renaming the vessel to Sirena Seaways in light of renaming of other vessels in the fleet. She is expected also to be rebranded as "DFDS Seaways" instead of "DFDS Tor Line"
There are three different grades of cabin available on the MS Dana Sirena to suit all budgets. The cabins are priced based on supply and demand so the closer you get to a departure date (when the majority of cabins tend to have been booked by then), the cabins will be more expensive.
As such, bookings are made quite early on to secure a good value price so our top tip here would be to book online and as early as possible so as to secure the best price.
Book online and as early as possible so as to secure the best price
Flexibility is key on a smaller vessel and from talking to the crew on-board, they are flexible in accommodation. There are specially adapted cabins for larger families or group trips, adjoining cabins for families with older children as well as cabins suitable for disabled passengers and their carers. Specialist rooms need to be reserved in advance so if this is something you are interested in then get in touch with DFDS Seaways who will gladly help.
The three grades of accommodation are Seaways Class, Sirena Class and Commodore Class. These are placed in price order starting with the most economical first. Each grade of cabin offers more extras and creature comforts .
The Seaways Class offers the best value for money and is popular with guests who are travelling on a budget, who are travelling with young children or who prefer spending time outside of their cabin and thus only require somewhere to sleep.
Sleeping up to 6 people, these cabins tend to offer bunk bed sleeping with an en-suite shower and toilet. Air conditioning is standard and the cabin comes supplied with bedding and towels. A table and wardrobe offers some additional storage.
These cabins are available either as an inside cabin with no window or a sea view outside cabin.
Sirena Class cabins are a half-way house and offer everything the Seaways Class does but with a few extras.
A television is supplied making this grade of cabin popular for those that like to keep up to date with world news, as well as those with children as it can help keep the little ones quiet!
A small mini-bar is included in the room and complimentary breakfast is also included in the fare, meaning less to worry about on-board.
The most luxurious range of cabins are the Commodore Class grade, offering everything the previous two grades offer plus a little more.
A steward service is included and your cabin attendant will greet you when you board. Also included is access to the Commodore De Luxe lounge which is restricted to Commodore Class passengers only. This tranquil lounge is located at the rear of the ship overlooking the open cargo deck and the surrounding sea view and is a comfortable place to have a complimentary drink or have some snacks. Breakfast is also served in the lounge if you would rather eat there than in the Commodore and Sirena Class seating area of the main dining room.
Our Commodore class cabin (1016) was comfortable, spacious, light and airy. All cabins are comfortable and have been developed to accommodate the wide array of passengers that use the service. Seaways Class cabins are perfect for the budget conscious offering a blend of great value fares with a basic yet comfortable cabin. Sirena Class cabins are more complete and perfect for families or couples who want a breakfast inclusive cabin but have no need for private lounge access. Finally, the Commodore Class cabins are the best money can buy on-board and are most popular with older couples and those who prefer complimentary hot, cold and alcoholic beverages included in the price.
Food and Drink On-board
Despite the small size of the vessel, there's a good range of choice when it comes to meals. The main dining area is split into two areas being the 7 Seas buffet dining area and the Blue Riband restaurant dining area incorporating the Explorers Steakhouse.
7 Seas Buffet Restaurant
During our sailings the 7 Seas buffet restaurant was by far the most popular area. We dined there on the outbound sailing and dined in the Blue Riband Restaurant on the way back.
The buffet is popular with families thanks to the fact that it's all-you-can-eat which is always a hit with families as it offers great value and you can be sure the children are full!
There were distinct sections to the buffet, with a selection of hot dishes and meats, cold meats and salads, breads and desserts.
The food was varied and delicious. The hot meats were cooked to perfection and the pasta salads were very tasty. Desserts were equally as good, and featured a range of cakes and mousses.
The 7 Seas restaurant, despite being a help-yourself buffet, offers a waiter service for drinks which are at an additional cost to the meal. Speaking of cost, the evening meals can be pre-booked saving you money compared to the on-board price.
Some people prefer prepaying knowing that they needn't worry about money on-board whilst others prefer to pay as you go. Personally, we would opt to pre-book as it would offer the best value but that's just us!
Blue Riband Restaurant / Explorers Steakhouse
These two dining options share the same secluded space in the restaurant and offer a variety of menu choices.
The Blue Riband restaurant offers an a la carte menu with around four choices of start, main course and dessert. You can choose from a two course or three course option depending upon your tastes. Similarly to the buffet choice, dining can be pre-booked and could offer a saving.
We chose from this menu on the return journey and the calibre of food was excellent, presented beautifully. The menu complimented itself and the presentation was similar to that expected at a high end hotel or restaurant.
Kids aren't forgotten though, with a Jack the Pirate themed children's menu available, complete with comic strip to keep them entertained.
The Explorers Steakhouse menu offers a range of juicy steaks cooked to your tastes and served the way you like it. The two course menu can also be pre-booked offering a saving compared to the on-board price.
The steaks are served to your table still sizzling away and together with the aroma it will certainly whet your appetite.
A separate area is the Café Lighthouse which offers light snacks and drinks and offers comfortable seating in a modern décor. This was moderately popular as it was located across from the Sea Shop and always had an aroma of freshly brewed coffee!
When the weather permits, there's a small Sky Bar at the rear of the ship that opens to sell a selection of beverages. It was too windy during our crossings although it did briefly open when the wind calmed down.
The vessel is fairly limited in entertainment mainly due to its size and usage. It lacks some of the on board entertainment that sister ships such as the MS King Seaways offers but makes up for it in other ways.
There's only one bar on-board and that can be found in the Columbus Lounge . On both sailings we found this to be popular with travellers made more so by the live entertainment. Our talented entertainer was a dab hand on the guitar and we caught him singing some soulful classics on the outbound sailing and some upbeat melodies on the return sailing. His repertoire included nostalgic classics as well as more modern tunes.
Most cabins have televisions and to make up for the lack of other entertainment, the ship offers an on-demand movie package priced on our sailing at around £10 per crossing. For that you could choose from a selection of around 20 movies (plus three adult channels if you wish) that have recently been on in the cinema. There's a wide choice of films from action to comedy, suitable for adults and some especially for children.
Guest Services also offer a movie package which includes popcorn to nibble on whilst watching some of the latest films to hit the screens.
There is one shop on board which combines the same sort of merchandise as found in the three separate shops on-board King Seaways (duty free, clothing and toys). There's a good range of choice here though the lack of space means that they have had to be selective with what they choose to stock. Nevertheless, the ranges continually change and are adapting to the change in passenger types sailing on the Dana Sirena.
Commodore De Luxe passengers have exclusive access to the Commodore Lounge which is located at the rear of the vessel overlooking the cargo area. Only Commodore De Luxe passengers can use this space, which is warm, inviting and relaxing. It's full of comfy chairs and soft sofas to relax on and there are plenty of newspapers to read through. We even found a book documenting the history of DFDS which might sound dry on the face of it but I found this fascinating and am sure ship buffs will too. A read through the visitor log is a must-do task if only to read some of the more hilarious entries.
A computer allows internet access and there's a large TV that was switched off during our crossings.
Drinks (coffee, fizzy drinks, water and alcohol) are all complimentary which seemed to attract a few passengers away from their cabins! Snacks such as authentic Danish pastries are served at selected times throughout the sailing although peanuts and fruit were available throughout. Breakfast is served in the Commodore Lounge for passengers who choose to dine there instead of the buffet with the remainder of the passengers on-board.
Keeping the children entertained on a long journey such as this can on the face of it seem daunting. However DFDS Seaways have tried to ensure that the little ones are well catered for.
Firstly, there's a play area where children can play with each other, make new friends and just mess around. It's a bright and colourful area and was a hit with children on both sailings.
During the Summer months a dedicated children's entertainer is on-board who runs the Kidz' Club , offering fun filled activities to keep children happy and busy. There's plenty to do for girls and boys and it's a great place for your children to make new friends with children from home or away.
The entertainer wasn't on-board during our sailings however whilst we were on-board Guest Services ran a treasure hunt where children and their parents had to follow a series of clues to find answers to questions, with prizes at the end!
Cabins with a TV are a blessing for families from what we heard from other guests. The low cost on-demand movie package unlocks several of the latest movies aimed at children. These play on a loop so it is possible to watch all of them in a sailing. This is a great way to keep the kids entertained on your family holiday.
Thanks to its small size child safety is well enforced. Lost children can go to Guest Services where an announcement can be put out for their parents. The staff are friendly, understanding and very willing to help.
In the summer months the amount of families going on holiday to Denmark, LEGOLAND and beyond rises significantly and as such, the staff are used to dealing with large volumes of children on-board.
Due to the compact nature of the vessel, you'd be mistaken for thinking that the service on board would suffer. The reality is significantly different as we discovered.
We must admit we expected the levels of service to be lower than on King Seaways as the smaller size would generally indicate fewer crew catering for a greater number of passengers in ratio than sister ships.
The reality was a much more intimate and friendly atmosphere. Every staff member we interacted with was happy and smiling. The size of the vessel has led to a family type atmosphere amongst the crew and this is reflected in the service. The small size of the crew means they can gel better together which clearly has an impact on the level of service throughout.
The atmosphere on-board was very comfortable and homely
The atmosphere on-board was very comfortable and homely. The crew were attentive and genuinely interested in you, making you feel more valued.
We have since learned that many people continually rave about the levels of service and customer care on Dana Sirena sailings in customer care surveys, citing helpfulness, happiness and friendliness.
Guest Services is the place to go with questions, problems or for currency and Bureaux de Change services. The staff there are very helpful, particularly when it comes to exchanging currency. They offered genuine advice based on each customer's needs and were also very helpful with directions on getting to their end destinations.
A special mention goes to Henrich of Guest Services. He was one of the most helpful people on-board and always acknowledged us as we walked around the vessel. He was genuine, kind and well respected by fellow staff members and by fellow guests (we've heard he has a cult following by some passengers and we can definitely see why!).
Dana Sirena Vital Statistics
If you're a ferry buff or mechanically minded then check out these vital statistics for Dana Sirena:
Facts and figures care of DFDS Seaways: The m.s. DANA SIRENA
Dana Sirena Deck Plan
This deck plan image for Dana Sirena shows the unusual design in a profile view:
Sailings On-Board Dana Sirena
Dana Sirena exclusively operates on the Harwich to Esbjerg route, connecting the South East of England to Denmark. A range of mini cruises and ferry options are available to book online.