Just before Christmas, I purchased a two-for-one-deal with P&O Cruises to take a weekend mini-cruise from the UK to Amsterdam.
The idea is that you board the boat one evening, travel across the North Sea whilst you’re sleeping, and awake in the Netherlands.
You have the day (or two days) to spend as you please, and then repeat the above, sailing back to the UK as you sleep.
It helps to make the journey very efficient.
Can a P&O mini cruise be better than flying?
The main plus point is that you are not confined to a small seat. You have a whole ship to explore!
You can chill out in your room, sit at the bar, enjoy the evening’s entertainment, grab a bite to eat, do a bit of shopping, or even test your luck in the casino.
But please bear in mind that these boats are not luxury liners. In essence, they’re just dolled up cargo ships traveling back and forward.
An obvious point to make is that it does take longer for you to get to your destination compared to flying. However, you can sleep through that time, so I wouldn’t really class that as a downside.
But a real negative to note is that you must be prepared for some mammoth queues!
Getting onto the boat is no problem, as people will board over the space of a few hours and therefore passport control can keep things moving. However, getting off the boat is another matter altogether. Although this is a mini-cruise, these boats can hold over 900 passengers, and they all want to get off and get through passport control at the exact same time – so be prepared to queue and wait.
Do you get seasick?
When I traveled via boat, it was the middle of December and the weather wasn’t too pleasant. There were high winds making the journey a bit turbulent. (Not sure if you can call it turbulence when traveling via sea, but I’m going with that word anyway.)
The rough sea did make the boat sway from side to side. When I was walking around the boat, it was difficult for me to put one foot in front of the other and walk in a straight line. This did make me feel quite seasick.
However, I rather enjoyed the motion when laying down in my bed – it was like someone was rocking me to sleep.
In the summer months, I assume the sailing would be much calmer, with the option of enjoying the sunset and/or sunrise from one of the viewing decks. I’ll let you know and update this part should I ever take a mini summer cruise, but if you have experienced this, please do let us know about it in the comments below.
I was in a double en-suite room (actually, it was more of a twin room since the beds were separate).
I had no complaints because it was clean and had everything I needed, but please bear in mind that these are not big luxury hotel rooms.
They are designed for space-saving.
The toilet makes you feel as though you’re peeing in someone’s cupboard and the beds fold up against the walls.
Speaking of beds, be aware that they are small and narrow.
I’m 5’7’’ and a dress size UK10, and I fitted in one with no problems at all, but if you are particularly long or wide, you may struggle a little bit to get comfy.
I would say that they are two-thirds the size of a standard single bed. (Not sure if the ‘single bed size’ is a standard measurement worldwide, if not, I mean the standard size of a UK single bed.)
Also, no rolling over – you’ll definitely fall out!
(…although this picture makes it look as though I have loads of room!)
When booking my ticket, I opted to add on the standard dining package. This was served in a large restaurant and was a buffet-style meal.
Basically, get up, grab a plate, and help yourself.
It has everything you could want from pasta, to rice, to curry, to fish, and a huge selection of desserts. Nothing fancy, but I left satisfied and it was good value.
Off to Amsterdam
The next morning you disembark from the boat and you are guided straight onto a coach. From here you will be taken straight into the city center.
It is super convenient.
If you are sailing back to the UK that evening, you can leave all your luggage in your room back on the boat, so you don’t have to traipse it around with it all day.
If you are staying the night in Amsterdam, then you will need to take your luggage with you. But I assume that you will be making your way straight to your hotel anyway.
Once you’re in the city, the day is yours to do as you please. You will be given a pick-up time by your coach driver, make a note of this and make sure you’re back in time for your lift back to the boat.
“I am Amsterdam”
You will have no problem filling a day in this capital city. Whilst I was there I took a river cruise, as pictured…
…visited Anne Frank’s house, visited Dam Square, had a general wander around with a bit of shopping, and visited Amsterdam’s public library which is the largest in Europe – and not as geeky as it sounds!
Other options on your adventure include visiting the Van Gogh Museum, taking a tour of the famous Red Light District, and sampling the Heineken Experience which is an interactive beer and museum tour.
With world-class museums, laid-back bars, and delightful restaurants, you’ll never be short of things to do in Amsterdam!
…oh, and look out for some rather large Christmas trees if you go in December.
This wasn’t the most luxurious mode of transport that I have ever taken, but it did the job.
I had no real complaints as all my needs were met and the rooms were clean. Overall, it was a very cheap and convenient way to get to and from Amsterdam – and a little bit more of an adventure compared to flying.
Would I do it again?
Yes, I think I would. 🙂
P.S. If you have been on a P&O mini cruise please let me know of your experience in the comments below.
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