After a speedy boarding, myself and my partner Paul embarked the ship earlier than we were expected. This was our third P&O cruise, this time on the Arcadia. The ship looked like new as had a recent refit for two weeks. The bars, restaurants and public areas were adorned with new furniture, wall design and carpets fitting in with the nautical theme.
Sailing down Southampton Water after dusk we caught a glimpse of Cunard’s Queen Victoria in dock, before cruising towards the Solent and the Channel.
Our inside cabin on C Deck was very comfortable, and our steward welcoming. The food at the Meridian Restaurant was delicious with a great choice on the menu.
Waking up in Zeebrugge to a crisp morning we had the buffet breakfast before heading out into Belgium. The bus tour of Scenic Villages and Chocolates took us to the quaint village of Damme, Roose’s Chocolate World on the edge of Bruges and Loppem Castle. Driving through beautiful scenery with our expert tour guide Bert made it thoroughly engaging. Bert even threw in a few jokes about Ernie not being here and the most famous Belgian’s seeming to be the fictional Tintin and Hercule Poirot. I would recommend this tour to get a flavour of the area outside of Bruges , especially if you are fan of chocolate.
The second morning brought us right into Amsterdam. We also had longer until early the next morning due to a forecast of strong winds. Packing a full day into the city gave us time to see the main sights while walking around and on a canal boat trip.
I would recommend Gassan Diamonds for a free tour to see how diamonds are cut and a chance to see some close up with a small exhibition. There is also a large shop full of watches and if you feel the urge can have diamonds set how you like.
As cats are one of my favourite animals also took a moment to stop by the poezenboot, being a canal boat for stray cats. In mid afternoon also stopped by a museum showing the more seedier side Amsterdam is known for, which does give a few giggles.
In the evening after a filling and fantastic meal on board at Sindhu, a select restaurant with Indian inspired dishes, we need the chance to walk it off back into the city. This took us to a nice bar for a drink called the Cat in the Vineyard when translated. It was quiet as a slightly windy Monday evening with the barman friendly and welcoming.
The third day gave us some time to relax at sea on the voyage back towards the Channel and Southampton. There is something about cruising I enjoy. There is much to do in board with the entertainment and venued to socialise or just take a book to read by the covered pool area. The Arcadia has a different show each night with British movie theme songs and a Queen tribute with the band’s songs worth seeing. I have already booked on to the next for December 2018 aboard the Aurora heading to Hamburg, Copenhagen, Oslo and back to Amsterdam.