Photo shows a happy Bike Tours customer, safe in the knowledge he has a cabin to run to if it all gets a bit too lively.
Many moons ago, when my teenage daughter was newborn and every penny counted, myself and my ex- girlfirend went for the reclining seat option on a long ferry crossing back from Spain. NEVER, ever, again.
What's so bad about reclining seats?
When I took one, they were in big rooms like mini-cinemas, with about 100 seats in the room. No privacy whatseover, crammed quite close together, and like at the cinema, you have to make your way along the rows if you wanted to go to the loo.
We didn't like it one bit. (Actually they are not much different to being on an aircraft. But, on a plane, you don't have much option. On a boat, you do.) We left the "dormitory", and found a quiet corner of the restaurant, where we slept soundly on the floor after everyone else had gone to bed. We were distrurbed early in the morning by the cleaners, but at least we had a good night's sleep.
Also - where do you put all your stuff?
OK - you shouldn't need to carry vast amounts of kit with you, but you still have to lug it round with you all the time. This is particularly relevant with bike kit. You can remove the heavy bike jacket etc. and maybe leave some riding gear and helmets on the bike, but then before leaving, there's the clumsy dressing ritual again, on the car deck, while everyone is getting back into their cars.
(my wife has just entered the room - I said "read this". Her reply was, "I remember having reclining seats once on a school trip - NEVER AGAIN" So, there's another like-minded opinion for you!)
Reclining seats? I'd rather eat worms for dinner then swim home.
It's a cabin every time for me now. It's even worth considering for the sake of a tenner or so, on short channnel crossings. Just the chance of a bit of peace and an escape from the crowds.
Get on the boat, go straight to the cabin and dump your stuff. Get out of your bike gear and relax. Lay down & rest if you're tired. Take a shower, read a book in your own peace and quiet. Even crack open the bottle of the duty free you've just bought to avoid paying bar prices. Even basic cabins have a bathroom, and a seection od radio channels if you want some music. Really posh cabins even have windows, a sea view and TV.
You have your privacy, you have your own space, you have choice.
If not, you're milling around in your bike kit, struggling to find a seat anywhere if the ferry is full, and you may have to share the bar with a truly dire DJ or caberet performer and a horrendous coach party of screeching Bingo teams on some kind of jolly, 3-day booze cruise to Belgium.
This is pretty bad, but it's far from a worst case scenario.
It can get much worse.
What if the sea is very rough and you have the misfortune to get seasick? What if you're just generally feeling a bit poorly? With a cabin, you can go an have a quiet lie down.
Without a cabin, you stagger and sway your way to a crowded, hot, stuffy toilet room, with floors running in vomit, and endure your humiliating honking experience with dozens of others.
Are you convinced yet?