Bruges on the ferry - so much easier than you think
PUBLISHED: 15:11 29 November 2018 | UPDATED: 15:39 29 November 2018
ARCHANT EASTERN DAILY PRESS (01603) 772434
Sonya Duncan went to Bruges on the ferry and had a wonderful trip despite force 9 gales.
My first independent trip abroad was to Bruges. I sailed with friends from Felixstowe overnight on a ferry, tight funds meant no luxury of a cabin just a rather uncomfortable seat in one of the lounges but it was an adventure and it was fun.
As an aspiring photographer, the city beckoned me with promise of beautiful architecture and scenery and pictures from that trip graced my portfolio for a long time.
Fast forward several more years than I would like to remember and this time I am returning with my own family.
Unlike the last trip I am promised a cabin with a bed on the ferry, onboard entertainment, restaurants and ultimately lots more comfort.
When you have kids in tow it’s best to be prepared so we treated ourselves and upgraded to a club cabin.
We decided against the pricey wifi and opted for an unplugged trip across the North Sea, well, as unplugged as an iPad loaded with boredom beating games will allow but it was our minibreak too.
Unlike those heady days of the early 90s, it’s no longer a hop skip and jump from Felixstowe but a rather long journey up the A47 to Hull.
Easy parking directly opposite our ferry terminal and the huge P & O Ferries’ Pride of York waiting in the dock as we walked through the doors got us very excited for this special adventure.
We soon found ourselves on board and heading to our cabin.
The benefits of upgrading mean a large comfy room with luxury toiletries in the ensuite, portholes, a fully stocked mini bar, snacks and hot drinks.
I felt a world away from 17 year old me all those years ago.
With only gale force winds on my mind for our crossing, we went to explore the ferry.
Two restaurants, one buffet style and one a la carte, a coffee house and bar with live entertainment throughout the journey means you really are spoilt for choice. After a wander round the duty free and a quick drink in the bar where we took advantage of free wifi, we opted for the child friendly buffet restaurant for both dinner and breakfast, we did try to get a table in the a la carte restaurant but found they were fully booked. The buffet didn’t disappoint though, every dish you can imagine from roast dinners to sushi and curries, salad, pasta, cakes and ice cream. Alcoholic drinks are extra but soft drinks, tea and coffee are all included in the price. Aware we were travelling in force 9 gales, I was apprehensive but once we were settled back in the cabin we all had a great night’s sleep. A wake up tannoy announcement at 6.30am welcomes you to Belgium. Once up and breakfasted we disembarked to our coach for the stress-free transfer to Bruges.
The coach drops visitors off at the main bus station and it’s a leisurely walk though the park. First stop was the canal boat tour, these boat stations are scattered at various locations along the canals and are a great way to see Bruges and its magnificent buildings.
Also on our list of things to do were Belgian beer, waffles and The Belfort Bell Tower. After a wander round the touristy shops, all of which are themed around lace and chocolate, we attempted to join the queue for the climb up the tower but crowds had already built up and with over an hour to wait, we decided to admire it from the Markt whilst eating frites. A short walk through the back streets and we found ice cream waffles which cost much less than if we’d bought them nearer the main square, so it’s well worth exploring to find the hidden gems. We also discovered a brewery and tried the local Belgian beers.
Rain had started but with pick up time looming it amazed us how quickly our few short hours in the beautiful place had whizzed by. But with this adventure as much about the journey than the destination, we were all looking forward to getting back on board the ferry and heading home.
Do you remember as a child when travelling to the holiday was sometimes as exciting as the holiday itself? Our mini break was a time of card games, reading books, watching sunsets and new adventures. Friendly staff, comfortable cabins and a very relaxed pace makes this an
easy and great value family adventure.
3 top tips
1. UPGRADE, if you can upgrade your cabin do it, worth every penny.
2. GET THERE EARLY, plan your stops, we managed to get on a boat trip but the queues beat us at the other tourist spots. Not really a problem without kids but over an hour in a queue with them isn’t fun.
3. BELGIAN WAFFLES AND BEER, go into the back streets and find the little breweries and waffles shops that aren’t around the main square and don’t charge as much so treat yourself!
How to get there:
Parking at Hull Ferry Terminal is £7 per 24 hours, it wasn’t busy when we went and there was loads of parking but could be busy at peak times.
P & O ferry crossing leaves at 6.30pm from Hull and arrives at 8.45am the next morning local time.
Crossing time: 12 hours
Check-in for vehicles: check in closes 90 minutes before departure
Check-in for foot passengers: check in 90 minutes before departure
Prices start at £169 each way and include a comfy cabin accommodation. Upgrades and meal booking options are available.
Visit www.poferries.com for more information