THE many and varied modes of travel have never been more relevant. Climate change, sustainability, cost and the huge interest in travel all vie for our attention.

A trip on a ferry with our car was a good opportunity to compare; DFDS Seaways from Tynemouth to Ijmuidan in Holland the route. We rolled up at 3pm for a 5pm sailing and it was all very easy and friendly, a marked contrast to a trip to Innsbruck from Manchester earlier in the year when we were herded through airport security, shoes off, belts off and barked at to stay in line.

We had a five-bunk berth which was a bit basic, but clean and with an ensuite. The ship was extensive with many seating areas and the chance to wander about at will on deck as we made our way down the Tyne. Catering is largely the upmarket bistro or the more down-to-earth Explorers Kitchen; we tried both and all the food was excellent. After a meal at the bistro we trooped along to the Orca whale watching club to be told we’d missed a passing Minke. Major disappointment.

There’s extensive non-cetacean entertainment on the ship, however, in several bars, as well as a large family area. After a good sleep, we were docking in Holland by 9.30am after an extensive onboard breakfast. We headed for Keukenhof, the centre of the universe for tulips and it was huge, fabulous and colourful. It’s only open for two months of the year, showing off one of Holland’s greatest exports accounting for 77 per cent of the world’s trade in bulbs. The site comprises pavilions, lakes, and acres and acres of glorious vibrant tulip displays.

As our next port of call was The Hague, I had very cleverly looked up interesting surrounding spots and come up with the historic port of Leiden, awash with little canals and ancient streets. What I hadn’t cleverly sorted was a SatNav, so when we got to there we found the outer area was the size of Leeds, got totally lost and ended up in a bus lane surrounded by frowning cyclists. We headed out in a panic. Big tip: get a satnav and head for the nearest car park.

With the help of my mobile phone, we made our way into the centre of The Hague, around 35 miles from Amsterdam. When driving in Holland you do need to be very aware of cyclists, none of whom wear a helmet, and trams, all of which seem to be heading directly at you much of the time. The Hague is lovely, with old cobbled streets, and The Park Hotel was delightful and comfortable, although parking was an issue as they had dug up the road around it.

The Japanese Garden in The Hague’s Clingendael Park was our horticultural next port of call, and while small, it was delightful. Originally created in 1910, it boasted rhododendrons, azaleas and Japanese touches in a delicate microclimate.

Too soon we were heading back to Ijmuiden to get the 5pm ship back to Tynemouth, although, had there been time, there are so many museums and places of interest to explore.

The trip back was complicated as we kept missing the port road; eventually a friendly van driver showed us the way. We were blessed with good weather and probably the most surprising revelation was that the majority of people on the ship, busy in both directions, seemed to be German, Dutch and Belgian.

People were using it for a wide variety of trips from all kinds of holidays to business and family access to and from Europe. The most often expressed advantage was the ability to take your own car. One couple we spoke too were travelling from Antwerp to Dundee to play golf; another passenger was going back to Germany to sort out family business. While it generally won’t be the cheapest way to travel, nor the quickest, I would say it is quite probably the easiest, friendliest and most convenient. Just don't forget the SatNav.

* Janet Gleeson was the guest of DFDS Seaways which operates from The Port of Tyne, South Shields and Hull.