Cruise from Southampton to Bruges on board Ventura review -P&O Cruises

October 14th, 2016 by Francesca Bandini

October 14th, 2016 by Francesca Bandini

Going on a weekend cruise is the ideal way to break from the routine – especially if you live in Southampton where the port is literally at your door step! I recently went for my first mini cruise with P&O cruises and these are my thoughts. Are you settled? This is my cruise from Southampton to Bruges, on board Ventura review.

Ship: Ventura
Sailing date: 10 September 2016
Nights: 2
Cabin type: Interior
Itinerary: Southampton – Zeebrugge – Southampton

Day 1: Southampton to Bruges on board Ventura

We embarked on Saturday at 3.00 pm and I was full of excitement to see what the ship had to offer: The atmosphere, the on board programme and who the other guest are who would be sharing this experience with me. The queue at the terminal was quite long but it didn’t take that long to be checked in. I knew Ventura is a larger ship, so I did expect a bit of wait. [Read  Ventura Ship Review]. When we embarked, we went straight to our cabins to have a look around. The cabin was a double interior and I must say, it was quite spacious. I was especially happy with the walk-in wardrobe!

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You can download the Journal of Day 1 here journal-cover

After our quick look around, we went to the top deck as we heard some music. The sun was shining and there were lots of people there. I was really impressed by the average age of the passengers with many of them being young, there was also a few stag and he do’s. When a ship sets sail it’s always a great celebration and a great atmosphere. This was no different, with people even in the pool!

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After this great start to the cruise, we went back to our cabins to get ready for the evening. The first stop for the evening was The Glass House for a pre-dinner drink. P&O doesn’t provide a drink package, however drinks are reasonably priced with cocktails ranging from £5.50 – £6.67 which I think reflect the high street prices. The Glass House is a special place for wine lovers as there is a wide selection of wines. I however decided on a delicious cocktail with elderflower and gin.

We went for dinner in Saffron Restaurant (Freedom dining 7pm to 10pm), which is one of the main restaurants. There are other dining options on board with a wide choice of eating including Waterside buffet, Bay Tree Restaurant , Cinnamon Restaurant and the Poolside station. There are also some speciality dining venues: The Epicurean at White Room, Sindhu at East, The Glass House and The Beach House. We were quite lucky as we were served very quickly without queuing and also got a table for two. The menu was varied with rather traditional British dishes, and everything was delicious!

I had a cold starter of salmon fillet, my main was a portion of chicken with roast potatoes and garlic butter. The dessert was a orange chocolate souffle which was fantastic! Throughout the dinner there is a sommelier ready to serve you the best glass of wine for your meal.

The after dinner entertainment included jazz music, karaoke, DJ music etc. The main musical, Paradise city, as a standard, was repeated twice at 8.30 and 10.30 to allow everyone to enjoy the show no matter your dining time. We went along to watch “Let There Be Rock!”, a rock musical featuring songs of the past. The show was very entertaining with a lot of guest interaction.

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After this, we went to listen to the performer Portia Emare, who starred in Mama Mia and The Lion King in London’s West End. Her voice was divine, with some great covers of Adele and Beyonce. Another good song choice was “New York” by Alicia Keys which a song close to her heart as it was the city where her career started. Whilst watching Portia I tried another cocktail, However I have to say the service was quite slow. After this we went to the main buffet for a late snack and a fruity tea before bed.

One of the great things about an interior cabin is there is no chance of sun light in the morning, the best way to get a good night sleep!

Day 2: Southampton to Bruges on board Ventura

I was really excited to spend some time in Bruges as I have never visited Belgium before. We woke up quite early and had breakfast at one of the restaurants. I had salmon with scrambled eggs which was nicely presented, with quick service.

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We didn’t book an excursions in Bruges so we had to catch a bus and then a train to Bruges town centre as the ship docks in Zeebrugge. We didn’t expect a complimentary bus from P&O to the train station of Zeebrugge. The journey on the train was very quick, about 15 minutes, and we were in Bruges. We were given a complimentary map of the city before we went to visit Lover’s Lake (Minnewater lake), then on to the town centre. Bruges is really pretty and very picturesque, especially the buildings and canal. The weather really helped with it being a nice day, which we considered being very lucky in September.

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Before leaving, we needed to do one last thing. Guess what? Having a waffle! It was very delicious, I had one with cream and chocolate.

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I have to say that the organisation of the bus from/to the ports was really impressive. It is really nice to walk around Burges for a few hours and wouldn’t suggest to go on an escorted tour unless you want to know more about the history of the city.

We were on the ship just on time for afternoon tea, despite not being hungry I wanted to see what an afternoon tea look like on board P&O Cruises. There was a variety of sandwiches and biscuits including scones, tea cakes etc. with excellent service. Waiters were passing around the table frequently to serve more tea or food when you wanted it.

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After tea we went to the pools and tested out the jacuzzi, however we didn’t stay long as we were excited about the formal night on board. First stop for the evening was a drink in the casino and have a play on the slot machines. It was nice to see smartly dressed people as if we were back on time.

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For dinner, we went to the Saffron restaurant, unfortunately we weren’t able to get a table for 2 as they estimated one hour wait, so we shared the table with a group of ladies. The menu of the evening was amazing, in fact, there was a part of the menu created by the chef Marco Pierre White! I tried the starter suggested which was a duck terrine accompanied by an orange tart, it was delicious, the flavours were so different but mixed up perfectly on a plate.

I was also really happy with my dessert too, an Apple Tarte Tatine, most says it’s really hard to get right!

After dinner, we went to a venue with live music, followed by a quiet drink at the Red Bar. What a I liked most from the wine menu was that there were suggestions by the wine connoisseur Olly Smith.

We wanted to have a rather early night, so we went back to our cabins, but the surprises were not over! We had a slight issue with our toilet and its flushing system. Eventually when we managed to get through to someone for their help we were given another cabin for the night. The staff were extremely helpful and understanding, it was just a shame how long it took to answer our calls. However, the new room was great and finally we could go to sleep.

Day 3: disembarking

On Monday morning, we ate at the Waterside buffet. There was a large selection of food: I had some porridge, bread, biscuits and scrambled eggs, I tried also the vegetarian sausages which were quite good. We were able to disembark earlier than 8.00 am and it was very easy to get off and no long queues.

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I really enjoyed my time on board Ventura and ashore. I would recommend a mini cruise to everyone to get a taste of what cruising looks like. These weekend breaks are short enough to not miss any time off work, but long enough to break from the routine and unwind.

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