View from the top of Old Man of Coniston hike in Lake District National Park, England.
Where are Kevin and Ruth now? Preston, Lancashire, England.

Where are Kevin and Ruth going next? Wyke, West Yorkshire, England on May 29th!

Monday, May 8, 2023

Reporting to you direct from the ferry!

So, here we are out in the middle of the sea and able to communicate with you all. Amazing! And even more amazing is that we get an hour and a half of satellite internet included in our fare. The internet access is per device so each phone/laptop/tablet gets it's own hour and a half. Plus, it resets at midnight, so you get another hour and a half the next day... per device. And, we figured out that if we only connect with one laptop, you can hotspot off that laptop to the other one, essentially doubling your hour and a half!

The burning question on everyone's mind must be... did we have problems exiting Spain and the Schengen zone?

I wrote a blog post a couple of weeks ago detailing the problem

We arrived at the ferry port early just in case we had an issue. Worst case scenario, we were expecting to hand over our passports and be told "we have a problem". Then, we would be pulled aside and either fined or banned from future entry, or both. We would then have to explain why we believe we are within the law, and of course this would all take time.

We got to the ferry port at 8:30am for our 11:00am departure from Bilbao, Spain to Rosslare, Ireland on Brittany Ferries Ireland. Got checked in no problem, and issued our seat assignment. You have no choice on this crossing but to book either a reclining seat or a cabin. The reclining seat was €18 versus the cabin at €150 or so. Easy choice for us. Book early, because the reclining seats sell out and then you'll have no choice but to book a cabin. Obviously the cabin means more sleeping comfort, but it's a very expensive 8 hours or so.

Max, in line for the ferry.

There is our ferry, the Salamanca.

Eventually, they opened the immigration police booths and each line of vehicles passed through the booths.

Our turn came, and we handed over our passports. He glanced at them, and scanned them. He looked at his computer screen for twenty seconds or so, then stamped our passports, handed them back to us, and wished us a pleasant journey.

Officially, we had overstayed our Schengen time by two and a half weeks or so. Of course we thought we were in fact legal due to the visa waiver agreement, but it's a bit frustrating that we never got a chance to prove it. We really wanted to be able to set a precedent by actually using a law that very few people seem to know about, including the people who work in the system. 

But we also didn't think it was in our best interests to force the issue! So we accepted our passports, said thank you, and headed to the next lineup to wait for boarding.

Boarding the Brittany Ferries Ireland Salamanca.

Ruth took a couple of videos of us boarding... 

Part one.

Part two.

There were between 15 and 20 other motorhomes and campervans. Not really that many cars, and mostly commercial trucks. Not only that, but a lot of commercial trailers were loaded without the truck part. The vehicle section looked pretty full, but there aren't that many people around!

The Salamanca is only a year old, put into service in the spring of 2022. Everything so new and shiny and modern. Really nice.

Max, parked up for the journey.

We found our assigned seats, but it would turn out we wouldn't spend much time in them.

Exercise equipment on the top deck.

Goodbye Spain!

Looking down on the bar area.

The Tapas Bar Restaurant.

We had packed lunch and a lot of snacks with us. We figured we would then buy dinner, and have a late breakfast so that we wouldn't need to buy lunch the next day. 

Dinner in the fancy restaurant was €28 ($41 CAD, $31 USD) per person, and breakfast was €19 ($28 CAD, $21 USD) per person, so we knew we wouldn't be eating there!

We ended up in the tapas bar where we both ate dinner for €25 total. I had a hamburger and fries and a small salad, and Ruth had a bowl of soup and fries and some of my salad. We wouldn't starve, anyhow!

Playing cribbage.

We smuggled a liter of our cheap Spanish wine onboard and had a "stealth" happy hour. Although we didn't see any signs prohibiting the drinking of your own alcohol, we didn't think we should flaunt it!

The announced bingo at 7:00pm with "prizes". We didn't win the first game, but I won the second game. By then they had run out of prizes...I ended up with a Brittany Ferries pin, and some stickit notes! Then at 8:00pm we did a twenty question general trivia game. We did better than we thought we would, getting 10/20 correct. Considering the winner only got 14/20, we thought we did okay.

We ended up sleeping on some lounge benches. The reserved reclining chairs were actually quite comfortable, but they were in an enclosed room with about 24 other chairs. Guaranteed there would have been some snorers, so we wanted to avoid that.

Slept as well as can be expected, and are now just getting ready for breakfast. Only six and a half hours to go and we'll be in Ireland!

Record low deal on this popular WiFi Digital Photo Frame.

And in Canada...


  1. Hello. I too was frustrated by Spain's complete unwillingness to assist with or even acknowledge the validity of the bilateral visa waiver agreement. After months of dead-end communication with several Embassy staff I successfully obtained a freedom of information request which shows communication from the Spanish government to the EU Commission in which they sent the Commission a list of all active bilateral visa waiver agreements which Spain is party to, including with Canada. I would be happy to share it with you.

    1. Glad to hear we're not the only ones who have tried this. That list you talk about is available online, so I already have it. I was actually very happy with the communication and advice from the Spanish Embassy in Canada. They have been great. It's the offices in Spain that have been impossible to deal with.

    2. Yes I know about the list. What I have is the original communication from Spain to the EU which was used to create this list. Unfortunately my experiences with the Spanish Embassies in the US is very poor. Glad to hear it is better in Canada.

    3. Sorry that your experience with the embassy in the US wasn't a good one, the one in Canada was right on the ball and very quick to get back to us which honestly surprised us.

    4. Hi Kevin/Ruth. I'm Canadian, travel a lot in Europe, and have previously used the bilateral waiver agreement Canada has with Germany to stay in Germany beyond my 90 Schengen days. I contacted the German consulate in Canada last year and they provided me with good advice / documentation on what to do. I will be spending some extended time in Spain this coming year and contacted the Spanish consulate in Canada but only got an automated response (not helpful). I'd love to know what area of the Spanish Embassy in Canada you contacted that helped you. If you don't mind, I'd also love to get a copy of the PDF documentation they sent you. Please let me know how we could arrange for this when you can. Thanks, David

    5. Hi David, send me a note at [email protected] and I can forward my files to you.

  2. Beautiful ship. Reminds us of the BC Ferry to Vancouver Island. Let's see what awaits you guys in Ireland!

    1. I was a beautiful ship, it is much bigger and fancier than the BC Ferry to Vancouver Island though. This Ferry was almost like a mini cruise ship. We are looking forward to showing everyone here what Ireland has to offer. :-)


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