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From November, each year cities, towns and villages across Europe take on a new set of clothes turning them into Christmas Wonderlands and Bruges is no exception and there is no better way to see this than incorporating it with a mini cruise.  

 

Stepping aboard Cunard’s Queen Victoria at Ocean Terminal, Southampton you arrive in the Grand Lobby, the lower level of a 3 deck high atrium with double sweeping staircase, dominated by artwork depicting a ship bow upon a globe. Beautifully polished wood adorned with Christmas decorations and a large Christmas Tree as the focal point. Immediately the spirit of Christmas is upon you. Up to deck 6 and stateroom 6108. A cabin designed for those who need use of a wheelchair. Very spacious with a bathroom that is in reality a large wet room with containers of body lotion, bath & shower gel, conditioner and shampoo from Penhaligon’s Quercus range together with cotton wool balls, soaps and cosseting soft fluffy towels. All cabins have hair dryers, safe, mini bar, bathrobes, slippers, television with a great choice of programmes and electrical sockets for plugs from USA, UK and the continent. The balcony is huge, enough for a party but unfortunately the wrong time of year.  

Dinner that night does not disappoint with a menu to satisfy the most discerning diner.

 

Next morning waking refreshed we are docked in Zeebrugge. Breakfast taken care of its off the ship and onto the shuttle bus for the short journey to the railway station about 1 mile away. From here a 15 minute train ride to Bruges where on arrival, follow the crowd, it’s a 10 minute walk into the town centre. Although the temperature has only risen to 2c the town is alive with tourists and locals alike. The famous chocolate shops have model Santa’s, Elves, Reindeer and much more available in dark, milk and white chocolate with every shop enjoying a brisk trade. Wrap up warm, take a tour of the town in an open horse drawn carriage or select one of the open tourist boats along the canals, view the buildings and scenery as a winter wonderland with decorated stalls along the canal banks. Its then time to try one of the beers Belgium is renowned for. Belgium beer is known the world over and there is no shortage of shops selling it, the beer list is vast. It is said the 180 breweries in Belgium produce nearly 1,200 different types of beer. The Beer Wall in Wollestraat displays many beers and its bar makes an ideal stop to rest the legs. Beware though, some of the beers can be as high as 9% and can cause the legs to stop working!! If you want a souvenir that is a little different try Belgium Lace. Bruges has been famous for its lace as long as anyone can remember and is known throughout the world for its beauty and quality. Everything from a small bookmark or handkerchief up to a large table cloth or even a dress. Sadly the days passes quickly and soon it is time to board the train and return to the ship.

 

Tonight is formal night on the ship so its out with the dinner jacket and off to the dining room for another excellent meal washed down with a delightful Zinfandel Rose. After dinner its entertainment time in the Royal Court Theatre and the delights of Roy Walker. Yes, I mean delights. How nice to hear jokes that make people laugh without smut or innuendo, speaking of his old colleagues from ‘The Comedians’ for those old enough to remember the TV show back in the 70’s. At 76 years of age he can certainly still make an audience laugh.

 

One cannot travel with Cunard and not sample afternoon tea in the Queens Room at 3.30pm prompt, served by white gloved waiters this is something to savour and put into the memory banks. Sandwiches of cucumber, prawn, tomato, and cheese, warm scones, dishes with lashings of cream and jam, Battenberg, fruit tarts, Swiss Roll, macaroons it just keeps coming and washed down by a delightful tea poured by the waiters. All this whilst a string quartet plays for yourenjoyment.

 

When the opportunity arises explore this beautiful ship. Hemispheres the ships night club, Commodore Club with panoramic views over the bow, walls boasting pictures and models of Cunard ships, Golden Lion Pub, the magnificent library with wooden spiral staircase, Winter Garden with retractable roof. For something a little more sophisticated try the Veuve Clicquot Champagne Bar, select from 7 different Veuve Clicquot Champagnes, ordered by the glass or bottle, and of course, the Royal Court Theatre with tiered seating and private boxes. Add to this the varied dining venue, spa, gym, self-service laundrettes on 5 of the accommodation decks, magnificent ballroom, attentive service and much, much more it surely cannot fail to please even the most discerning passenger.

 

Alan Fairfax

 

Fact box:

 

www.cunard.co.uk

 

Similar cruises to Alan's:

 

Bruges Short Break 8 Dec - 11 Dec 2017

 

Bruges and Amsterdam 12 Dec - 17 Dec 2017

 

Cruising with Alan:-  Bruges on Queen Victoria

Alan Fairfax -

is a travel writer for

YOUR HOLIDAY TV

Alan also writes for the

Ashford Advertiser Media Group with regional papers across Kent with regular holiday & travel sections in all editions

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