Could this be the perfect weekend away?

So here's the thing.  I truly believe that there are different holiday breaks for different occasions. 

There are so many different factors that come into play when considering how you spend those precious days of holiday - not to mention the world being your oyster.  

So when I was asked, would I like to escape for a couple of days and try out a long weekend on a P&O cruise to Amsterdam AND take one of my best friends with me to see how it panned out as a girls' weekend away, you can imagine it didn't take me long to say yes. 

First up -  I should mention I love a cruise.  I was introduced to the world of the big ships last year and I am well and truly hooked. 

And the idea of a weekend away, with two almost-full days to spend in Amsterdam, as well as two days enjoying the ship, really did seem like an ideal trip - especially considering it as a girls' weekend away. 

Let me first give you an idea of what we did.  We boarded Azura on Friday at around 1pm - car is valet parked at Southampton and your luggage whisked away on arrival at the port and deposited in your room (LOVE this).  Check in, if you've never checked into a cruise is almost identical to checking into a flight but with less queuing at security.

You can then make your way to your room or feel free to explore the ship.  We decided to explore and attempt to find our bearings - admittedly I have the sense of direction of a potato and can't master it even after a week - thank the lord for the amazing signage everywhere!

A little glass of fizz in one of the main bars for the Sail Away.... 

And then it was back to the room for a quick change and then out for dinner. 

The food on board is amazing.  There are a number of restaurants which are included in your fare and for all the others there is a supplement to pay, but it's minimal in comparison to what I would have thought you would be paying.  For example, in the most exclusive fine dining restaurant, which is superb, for a three course meal the supplement is only £28 per person.  Fillet steak, lobster, it's INCREDIBLE. 

First night though, we dined at The Glass House which has a wine menu chosen by the expert Olly Smith.  I should also say that I kept emailing the wine list to my husband (I am an embarrassing luddite when it comes to wine - champagne and cocktails, I'm your girl but a bottle of red and I have NO idea). He was very surprised at how reasonable the wines were in comparison to what you would pay in a supermarket.

Then it was off to see a live music act and then to Manhattan bar for some superb disco dancing.  

Next day was up and off to Amsterdam.  Now there was a teeny issue with the transport to Amsterdam from the ship as changes had been made so it was a longer coach journey than had been anticipated and it was the first time these arrangements had been made.  P&O assured us that on future cruises to Amsterdam, the transfer would involve less queuing and waiting. 

We had a tour arranged for us, courtesy of P&O to try out their new on-shore experiences partner Urban Adventures.  The rather charming Sean was our very patient and knowledgeable guide for a walking tour of Amsterdam on our first day there. 

The tour ended in the Food Hallen in Amsterdam which is an incredible indoor venue of street food stations.  A very happy couple of hours was spent there, eating amazing Japanese and dim sum but you really could have got anything - from Indian to Thai, to Mexican, Spanish, Dutch, Italian and the list went on.  You name it, they had it.   And clearly it was delicious as I *might* have been too quick to hoover it before I remembered to take a photo..!

And a takeaway from here...

A quick tram back to the coach, back onto the ship and a cup of tea in bed watching a movie.  I should point out that in the rooms, there is a TV with a variety of movie channels - lots of up to date releases along with a traditional selection and all included.  OR you could take advantage of the onboard HUGE outdoor screen, grab a glass of something and sit in the hot tubs on deck watching a new release.  If that doesn't take your fancy there are blankets on all the sun beds to snuggle up and watch (my own bed and a nana cuppa were calling though...)

As... the next day it was up and at 'em early for the coach back into Amsterdam to meet Sean and... drum roll... A CYCLE TOUR. 

Which was brilliant.  I did have my concerns, but genuinely it was great fun and not remotely difficult (a cyclist I am not, I should point out...). 

After the three hour cycle fest (I KNOW, RIGHT?!) we went to the incredible Museumfoto where you can dress as your favourite (?!) character from Dutch history.  Oh. Hello.  WHY do we not have this in the UK?  And if there is one in London, could someone please let me know.  Anyone looking for a business idea... look no further. 

Then time for chips in Amsterdam - something you simply can't not indulge in when visiting the city..  

Even if you do end up wearing most of the mayonnaise...

It was then off to a liqueur tasting at the Wynand Fockink Distillery, hidden away in the back streets of Amsterdam.  Definitely worth hunting out.

Then back to the ship and quick change for the Black Tie Evening and we had booked into the Fine Dining Restaurant at The Epicurean at Seventeen.  It was superb - as good as any top London restaurant. 

Lamb Three Ways...

A couple of cocktails in the Planet Bar...

… before heading again to Manhattan and disco-dancing till the wee small hours. 

The next day was a day at sea and so we chose to spend it in the spa.  I was treated to a Swedish Massage which was SUPERB.  We did contemplate a run in the gym which is absolutely massive.  Even as one who isn't a fan of gyms, I was impressed.  It's at the front of the ship and all the running machines face the way you're sailing - a really great way to jog with the most superb view.

Which we could have done... OR we could have had a sauna and a hot tub with a cocktail.  Guess which we chose... 

That night we ate in the Sindhu which again has a small supplement but was divine.  Top-quality Indian food - on a par with Michelin-starred Indian restaurants that I've eaten in. 

Soft shell crab...

It was then time for a cuppa and another movie whilst we packed as you're up and away early on the 5th day.  

So let's sum up what I think the advantages of a cruise for the weekend are:- 

If you're going away with girls - someone has taken away all the thinking.  There are no decisions to make about where to go and eat - you can spread the choice of restaurants over a couple of evenings or if you want to divide and conquer you can . There is definitely something for everyone on board. 

Then there is the evening entertainment.  No deciding which bar to go, which club to go to, who's going to go in which cab, no having to queue, no having to find a seat in a crowded bar, no deciding who's going to have to leave first with Susan as she's got a headache and wants to leave.  And no trying to get a taxi at 3am.  

There's also the safety aspect.  It's so safe.  We danced, abandoning our bags on chairs without a second thought.  Everyone you meet is really lovely, friendly and up for banter.  

By that same note though, there are enough places on the ship for solitude if that's what you're after.  There are quieter lounge bars, there are comedians on board, there are all sorts of shows, there are quizzes, movies - even a casino.  And a library with books and games if that takes your fancy.

Plus you also get the two days in a city that you then get to explore either under your own steam or by booking on one of the shore excursions to make the most of the time you have if you're unfamiliar with the city (or just like someone else to take the lead - that'll be me!). 

As I mentioned, the food is excellent and the drinks on board are reasonably priced - VERY reasonably priced.  Better prices than any bar we have locally and certainly compared to London prices. 

I also love the fact that we just drive to Southampton (which isn't that much further than Heathrow for us) and you're on.  There's no flying and no hanging around either - once you get to the port you can get straight onto the ship.  And at the other end, you can just leave and collect your car.  We were home by 10.30am on the Tuesday morning.

Cost wise - it does depend on which cabin you select but there are often great deals to be had, depending on when you book. 

We are currently looking to go back with the girls for a 50th birthday celebration so I will keep you posted. 

I do hope I've covered everything but ANY questions, do holler and I will try and answer them.

And if you still needed persuading (although I do appreciate, it isn't going to be for everyone..) the sunsets at sea are really super special. 

Take me back!

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7 comentarios:

  1. I just take a peek and saw your post. Your weekend seems really amazing and fantastic. Love your outfit. Thank you for sharing this with us.

    Thank you and keep posting

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