Hayley and the team Cruise to Bruges
We freshened up and headed to the Havana Lounge to meet with the other members of the Advantage partnership cruise conference. We had some tea and coffee with a light lunch ready for our introduction and to have a catch up on what’s new and developing in the industry. After our catch up we headed off to get our life jackets ready for the compulsory muster before we set sail. This is probably the first time I remember I was on a ship. With the size of the ship and how well balanced it is you forget quite quickly that you’re on the sea! Once the compulsory muster was done we headed up to the sun deck for the sail away party at Breakers bar. With a Pina colada in hand we waved goodbye to Southampton.
Once at sea we got ready for our evening meal in the Bay tree restaurant. We opted for the 20.30 sitting at the restaurant When booking a select fare you get the option of choosing 18.30 or 20.30. With this club dining you get to choose your table size; it’s one of the reasons that make cruising such a sociable holiday choice. This style of dining is a wonderful way to share your holiday experiences and meet new friends. If you wanted a more casual dining choice then you can head to the waterside self-service restaurant. With late night options available until 6am! You also have your poolside snack bars for burgers, pizza, chips and ice cream. Or you can enjoy room service in your comfy cabin. We then headed on to the Havana Lounge where a Take That tribute was performing. This was just one of the many things we could do on board this evening. There was a 2 tier theatre performing a musical, Fortunes Casino if you’re feeling lucky, The Red bar had a pianist, Tamarind club had a live band, and you could also go to Glass house for some wine tasting and a relaxing evening.
After our journey to Southampton we were parked up and ready for check in for The Advantage Cruise Conference on P&O Ventura. The ship is family friendly. It’s one of P&O’s larger ships and holds 3078 guests. With 12 places to dine including Sindu from the master of spices (Atul Kotcher) and The Epicurean with Eric Lanlards afternoon tea we were looking forward to our weekend away!
Upon boarding we were greeted by members of staff who took our memory boarding photo and helped us with directions to our cabin. Two of us stayed in an inside cabin and two in an outside cabin. Both cabins were large with plenty of space. The cabin space is utilised well so you can put your suitcases away and not be tripping over them! Both cabins are the same size but an outside has a window so you can watch the open sea from the comfort of your cabin When I go again I will definitely pay for an outside or a balcony. Waking up and looking out at your destination from your window is part of the experience.
Once ready for our formal evening at the Bay tree restaurant we went to Havana Lounge for a couple of drinks whilst deciding what entertainment to go to this evening. There was a cover band in Havana Lounge and also an Adele tribute in the main theatre. Our evening meal consisted of 6 courses with a Marco Pierre White optional menu available. The restaurant is so efficient that once you are seated it takes about 10 minutes for waiters to bring the food out; they can’t do enough for you. After our meal we wandered down to the theatre. Its spread over two decks so you can always find a seat. We watched the act which was sensational and headed for bed ready to disembark for 8am.
These mini cruises are perfect for groups of friends, big birthday celebrations, families and couples. They’re a perfect way to experience cruising. Whether it be testing out a larger ship or a different grade of cabin. It gives you an insight of what cruising is like and what would make it perfect for you whilst also having the time of your life.
We have arrived in Bruges! After a good night’s sleep we were up and ready to talk to the cruise lines which were on board. We spoke to various companies including Uniworld, Emerald and Scenic, Royal Caribbean, Cruise and Maritime, Hurtigruten, Saga, Holland and America, Silver Seas, MSC and Regent seven seas.
We spent the morning on board and got ready for our excursion at 1330. You’re able to get off at around 09:30am and back on at around 17.00pm. With a 20 minute bus ride we set foot in Bruges. Bruges is a compact city, densely built with a wealth of art treasures. The streets are lined with medieval gable houses and cobbles roads. Horse and carts are still used for tourism purposes, brass bands are playing, small boats sailing up and down the canals, the streets smell of Belgian waffles, Christmas shops with wooden hand crafted train sets, nutcrackers and rocking horses. It’s like stepping into a fairy tale. We stopped for some lunch – Belgian fries and Belgian waffles (when in Bruges!) and then took a canal boat tour, which lasted approx 30 minutes and cost us 8 Euros each. It’s a good way of learning some history and sitting back and taking in the scenery. I would recommend doing a walking/segway tour of Bruges first to get your bearings and then exploring for yourself. The tour leaders are normally local residents and they know all the hidden gems. We headed back to the ship for 17:00pm.