P&O Ferries – Poor and Out of Touch?

Posted by Tina on 24/09/15 in Articles, Life After Retirement, Travel

Tina Fox reports on a recent trip to Bruges with P&O Ferries…
We recently went on a mini-break to Bruges with P&O, travelling via Hull (a mistake on my part, I had no idea Hull was so far and difficult to get to from Moffat!) It was a cheap getaway via Groupon. But as soon as I saw the cabin on the ‘Pride of Bruges’ (tiny bunks inside) I knew I could not live with it. So we paid £65 for a one-way upgrade to Club Class. This was infinitely better: a large cabin with two windows, TV, a king-size bed and two bunks, tea-making facilities, a good bathroom, and even free soft drinks and chocolates. It was let down by the double bed, however, which was squashed against the wall. One of a couple had to climb over the other to get out of bed. Also the mattress was foam-covered with nylon, so altogether too hot. We quickly found that catering on board was limited and not very veggie-friendly. The main restaurant, World Kitchen, was a buffet and cost £21 a shot. We were told there were some vegetarian items on the buffet. But with no further information I was not willing to pay that without knowing what I was going to eat. The other restaurant, The Brasserie, was a la carte but only had one vegetarian option – a soufflé – which appeared to be a permanent item because it was the same coming back as going. The continental cafe sold sandwiches (nothing vegan of course, just egg and cheese) and crisps. It had virtually nothing for breakfast except ham and cheese croissants(!) As a result we went for the breakfast buffet, £11.50 each and very poor in my view. There were around three cereals, a little fruit salad, no real coffee and there were no vegetarian sausages or other veggie options for the cooked part. The waiter looked at me as if I was mad when I asked for them! There were the usual eggs, beans and so on, but I did not think it was worth the money. Because there was no alternative we decided we would do without when we came back and just get a late breakfast on land. The continental cafe did offer a veggie pizza, which was reasonable, and also a soup and a veggie pie… if you could wait until 8.00pm when they started to serve hot food. The prices were not too bad either considering they had a captive audience.
On the way back we upgraded to a room with a window and lower beds. This was only £25 extra and I felt it was not worth paying an extra £40 just so we could make a cup of tea and watch television. There was also a cinema on board and two lounges with entertainment. The piano player in the Moonlit Lounge was okay but I am generally not a fan of any kind of cabaret so the entertainment was not my scene. On the whole the boat was very smart and comfortable and they ran to time, though there could have been a better bus service back from Bruges. We were dropped off at 9.40am and not picked up again until 5.00pm with no seats at the bus stop and many people were pretty whacked out by then. (It is generally 90% older folk who take this trip.) Generally it did not compare favourably with Fred Olson. Now that I have travelled on P&O Ferries I would not be keen to go on one of their cruises, so an own goal I think.


Mary Horton
24 September, 2015

My family and I sailed to Cherbourg on P&O ferries in 1996 the vegetarian catering was poor in those days. Offers of taking the ham out of the salad spring to mind! I would have hoped that in the intervening years things would have improved ,I see from your blog that, sadly, they have not. In recent years we have used Brittany ferries, much better.
We have also gone on several cruises, 2 with Thomson, 1 with Airtours, which I hated and 2 on P&O which we enjoyed. All offered vegetarian choices, I do remember a waiter on the first cruise bending my ear about a vegetarian developing variant C J D.
We have not been on a cruise for 10 years, we may go on one in the future, to see the Northern Lights for instance. I find that they can become rather parochial.There is however a good choice of food and certainly, vegetarian food, I cannot comment on the choice for vegans.

Tina Fox
25 September, 2015

Hi Mary, thanks for your input.
I can recommend Fred Olson for a future cruise, I think they do the Northern Lights. They do cater for vegans and for gluten free and in fact usually the chef has a meeting with anyone with particular dietary requirements and they are very willing to be helpful.

Wendy brigstock
22 September, 2016

Hi I am going to Rotterdamn from Hull and emailed PO as I am vegan my friend vegetarian. She pre paid for the food.The first reply was helpful and second one not so. Almost, turn up and see what’s on offer attitude! Not good. I have been on 2 cruises and was well catered for.


06 August, 2018

P&O Ferries have nothing at all to do with P&O Cruises, totally different companies, so saying you would not cruise with them because of the ferry is ridiculous.
Totally agree with the pick up point in Bruggge, it was changed from the back of the train station where there was seats and a bar for people waiting, a much better place to pick up from, but I guess thats progress (or rather a cheaper spot for P&O to pick up from).

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