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.