We were invited by our supplier and cruise giant P&O to spend a weekend with them, sailing from Southampton to Bruges on their iconic ship, Azura, to experience everything that a mini-cruise had to offer. Accompanied by a host of ocean and river cruise suppliers, we boarded the ship excited to see what the weekend had in store, and ready to learn much more about cruising.
Team Footprint shared a twin ocean-view cabin (balconies also available for a supplement) and were pleased to find the cabin space very roomy and well-equipped. The ship itself has 8 restaurants including poolside barbecues, on-board spa and wellness facilities, outdoor pool and more entertainment than you can shake an oar at. As we settled down in the bright September sunshine with an Aperol Spritz in hand, the pool bar was buzzing with groups of revellers enjoying the live music. We could tell that this would be a fun and lively weekend aboard the good ship Azura!
After a day exploring the ship’s facilities, we enjoyed a hosted 3-course dinner in one of the ship’s main restaurants, Oriental. Guests can choose between Freedom dining (with no fixed seating or dining times) or Club Dining (at the same table, at the same time each evening). Dress code for the first night was smart-casual, with an opportunity to dress-up to smarter attire for Saturday night’s optional black-tie evening.
As we awoke on Saturday morning, we had arrived in Zeebrugge, Bruge’s port, just a 30-minute coach ride into the historic town centre. After a morning learning more about cruise from the on-board suppliers (including Celebrity, Royal Caribbean, Ama Waterways, Cruise & Maritime, Seabourn, Holland & America, Regent and many more) we disembarked, ready for an afternoon of waffles, beer and fairytale scenes around the city. Guests can book their excursions onboard, and with such close proximity there is plenty of time to really enjoy a day out in Bruges without feeling rushed.
Boarding the ship again at 4pm, we spent a few hours soaking up some sunshine at the pool bar, where the barbecue was still going strong, before enjoying a formal evening onboard with our travel agent colleagues, followed by cocktails at the Glass House bar. As we awoke the following morning, we were back at Southampton and able to disembark by around 7am.
If you’re looking for a different weekend away with a group, we can’t recommend this enough. It offers incredible value for money (at around £250pp based on 2 people sharing a twin cabin with an ocean view), which includes all your food…and you don’t have to go far on board to find something to entertain you. With the city visit on the second day, it’s the perfect blend of cruise and city-break, and a gentle introduction to cruise-life. Or simply a thoroughly enjoyable weekend jaunt!
To find out more about the many mini-cruise itineraries available, get in touch with our team on 0161 772 0149.