The nearest I have ever been to a cruise is the 24 hour Brittany Ferries sailing from Portsmouth to Santander and it is a journey I thoroughly enjoy. There are currently two ships on this route, ‘Cap Finistère’ and ‘Pont Aven’, and to call these attractive ships ‘ferries’ does not do them justice.
I recently experienced a crossing on the Pont Aven, the flagship of Brittany Ferries fleet. Pont Aven is a well-planned ship with a swimming pool, stunning 5 deck high atrium area and 2-storey entertainment lounge.
‘Le Flora’ is the main a’ la Carte dining restaurant serving exceptionally good food in elegant surroundings and reservations are recommended. You can enjoy the beautifully presented hors d’oeuvre buffet with a wonderful selection of cold meats, fish and salads, followed by a main course of your choice served at your table. Then you battle with your waistline at the sumptuous dessert buffet; a delicious array of French patisserie cheeses and fruit. Great value too!
As an alternative you can enjoy classic French and European cuisine in the self-service Restaurant, ‘La Belle Àngele’. Full English breakfasts are popular alongside steak and frites, soup and pasta and of course, the tempting French patisserie.
I was a bit apprehensive travelling in July and August, with concerns that the ship would be full of excitable children off for their summer holidays. But thankfully the ship has plenty of quiet areas where you can sit peacefully with a good book, or log onto Wi-Fi. The larger bars and lounges can be hectic with lots going on to entertain party lovers and families: well organised quizzes and games, live music and children’s activities.
If the weather is good then find a sheltered spot out on deck and watch for dolphin and whales, at certain times of year they are a common sight in the Bay of Biscay. Brittany Ferries offer specialised mini cruises focussing on dolphin and whale watching in conjunction with the conservation charity ORCA.
Cabins vary in size but all are spotless and the beds or bunks very comfortable. If funds allow – I can recommend the Commodore and deluxe cabins, they have extra room and large picture windows, and in some cases, private balconies. A continental breakfast is served in your cabin and you have use of the exclusive Commodore lounge and adjoining private deck.
As a special treat, the Pont Aven has recently added ‘Le Grand Sables’ – a comfortable and relaxing spa area where you can take some time to unwind during the journey. Reclining in a comfy treatment chair, looking out to sea, I laid back and enjoyed a 30-minute Anti Age Remodelant treatment. This Cryolift treatment combined with DNA, collagen and elastin helps to fill wrinkles from the inside to reduce their appearance. Something I was badly in need of! I came away with a glowing complexion and hoping I looked a few years younger.
By the time you reach Santander you feel rested and relaxed and more than ready to continue your journey. An experience that is so much better than the hassle of airports, baggage problems and flight delays.
Check out www.brittany-ferries.co.uk for details of fares and special offers.