Guest post by Lindsey Birch
As June approached, me and my husband decided we needed a weekend break to celebrate his birthday – so we decided to take a leap of faith and try something different, so we booked a 3 night Bruges mini-cruise. We’ve both never taken a mini cruise before, and have never visited Bruges, so we didn’t really know what to expect but we were excited none the less.
Not knowing what to expect, we arrived in plenty of time and we were through customs in no time, which was a lovely stress-free start for our weekend. On boarding the ship, I was surprised by the sheer size and array of entertainment facilities on offer – I was starting to warm to this method of transport, beats waiting in the airport for 2 hours!
Once we had been allocated our cabin, which was a little on the small size but fully functional, we decided to grab a reasonably priced glass of wine at one of the ship’s many bars, we opted for the blue deck which had a relaxed atmosphere & piano lounge.
We then decided to check out the food options on board, we received a 10% voucher with our SuperBreak booking confirmation which was a lovely added bonus, it was also clear that meals were not included with mini cruise bookings. We were also very pleased to find out that if we paid for our food on the night, we also received another discount via P&O, so we opted for breakfast & evening meals.
The restaurant was buffet-style dining and had a tremendous amount of choice, I must admit the starters and desserts were fabulous, and everything looked so appetising. I definitely over-indulged, but that’s what holidays are for, right? With full stomach’s we decided to call it an early night so we could make the most of Bruges the following day, I was a little apprehensive about sleeping on a bunk bed – but I fell asleep in no time!
When we arrived in Bruges, we caught our complimentary transfer no problem, followed by about a 10 minute walk to the NH Brugge hotel. We were a little too early for check in, but the hotel staff were very helpful and allowed us to leave our luggage & give us a map so we could go out and explore Bruges. We noticed immediately that Bruges is such a beautiful city, and we were surrounded by Panorama everywhere we looked!
After having a brief look around, I decided to browse the shops – where I spent more money than my husband would have liked, but there were a great array of handbags and I just couldn’t resist. We then stopped at the 2Be bar (which we’d seen on trip advisor) which overlooked the canal & stocked hundred of local beers, so we thought it’d be rude not to get a taste of the local culture! I would definitely recommend this bar to anybody visiting Bruges, particularly the cherry beer’s (Boon Kriek & Brugse Zot) – which we developed quite a taste for.
After a few drinks, we went to explore Bruges a little further afield, we particularly enjoyed the museum gardens, where there were local bands playing and was a great place to enjoy the prominent sunshine. Once we’d had a few hours of relaxation, we went back to check-in to the hotel – and it was definitely worth waiting for! The bedroom was very spacious & comfortable, and was a really pleasant surpise.
After freshening up, we went on our next trip advisor venture to find the’ Gruuthuse Hof’ restaurant, which looked like a must-do in Bruges. We’d read that to avoid disappointment you should book in advance, so we’d called in earlier that day and booked ourselves a table, which was needed – as the restaurant turned down around 20 people whilst we were there! We opted for the tourist menu, which was only €17 for three courses, I must admit I had tremendous food envy when my husband’s steak arrived – it was incredible value for money. We had a delicious meal, I had the spinach soup for starter which was a true stand out. We then decided to call it a night, but not before stopping for one more cheery beer!
The next morning, we decided to go on the canal boats which I felt were reasonably priced (€7 for about 35 minutes), this was a great opportunity to to see a different view of the city and every direction we looked, we were greeted with a breath taking view.
When we got off the boat I spotted a delicious looking waffle with strawberries, and just couldn’t resist – after all I was in Belgium, who can blame me? After a couple of envious looks form my Husband we decided to move on and purchase some Belgium chocolates, which my daughter had nagged at me for! Bruges is full of so many chocolate shops, with so much choice – it’s a dream for chocaholics!
We headed back to the bar overlooking the canal for more cherry beer.
After that we decided to explore the Minnewater Lake area cutting through the grounds of Monastery which was extremely peaceful area, we then spent the majority of the afternoon in the park, before stopping for one last Cherry Beer and catching our return transfer.
Again boarding was easy and quick, after dropping off our luggage in our cabin we went to book our dinner, although we felt we’d eaten enough so opted out of breakfast! After another mouth watering meal, we went for a quick nap – however, after a busy weekend we didn’t get up until the morning! I have to say I enjoyed the trip a lot more than I thought I would, and can’t express enough how easy the mini-cruise experience was for me and my husband. Not only is a mini cruise incredible value for money but both SuperBreak & P&O staff made the booking process easy, stress-free & enjoyable. It’s an alternative European break I can’t wait to try again!