Winchester Magazine Christmas Issue 2017 Winchester Magazine Christmas Issue 2017 - Page 77

T R AV E L A MINI BREAK WITH A DIFFERENCE Liz Kavanagh enjoys a cruise to Bruges from Southampton I f you’ve ever fancied sampling a cruise without committing to a full week away, a short break might be just the thing. And with cruises starting and ending at Southampton on P&O Cruises’ luxury fleet, you can be on board sipping a glass of champagne and ready to set off, with none of the hassle of travelling by plane. Sometimes called the Venice of the North because of the picturesque criss- crossing canals, Bruges has all the facilities of a modern city – smart shops, restaurants, bars and hotels – while also offering a wealth of picturesque medieval buildings. Famous for its lacework, chocolate and local beers, it’s easily manageable by foot too. Cruises from Southampton dock at Zeebrugge, from where you can also visit Ghent and Brussels, the capital, and historic battlefield sites such as Waterloo and Ypres. We booked a two-night cruise on Ventura, one of the largest cruise ships in the P&O Cruises fleet, with facilities including children’s clubs, four pools, a sports court, a spa, theatre and casino. The ship’s interiors were impeccably maintained, with each area leading on to the next in style. Dining on board was very good indeed, with a choice of restaurants as well as Sindhu, the first restaurant at sea from master of spices Atul Kochhar, and The Glass House, a wine bar and restaurant created in partnership with wine guru Olly Smith, which could be enjoyed for a supplement. On formal nights guests were encouraged to dress up, adding to the sense of occasion, with an à la carte three-course dinner served in style. Accommodation on board offers something for everyone – whether you’re booking an inside cabin or want to splash out on a suite, which offers luxury accommodation and the services of a butler throughout your stay. Evening entertainment for adults included a West End-quality show, cabaret artists, live music and dancing. During the day there were sporting activities, talks and films as well as demonstrations to take part in. But the most pleasurable part of our cruise was simply sitting back and watching Southampton disappear behind us as we left and waking the next morning in Belgium, ready for a day’s exploration. Cruising on Ventura allows everyone to enjoy themselves, with the variety of activities combined with flexible dining, luxurious accommodation and the ease of travel offering much more than a standard holiday. P&O Mini Cruises cost from £229 per person, subject to availability, and can be booked through the Independent Holiday Shop. 01962 877327 | 77