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Planning Retirement Online

Let's Party! A night on the ocean waves.

August 2011 

Let's party in later life article series...

This series looks at some of the more unusual ideas to help you celebrate with style and panache – at affordable price levels, of course!

To see the full list of articles see the main Celebrating in Later Life page

by LaterLife features editor Sally Smith

It is always nice to do something slightly different for that big celebration, something that provides an opportunity for some great pictures to jog wonderful memories.



A friend of mine, Stella, is just back from what she called a “minicruise” and it occurred to me that this could make an ideal celebration activity.

Setting off in a lovely ship for an exciting overnight stay onboard with lots of facilities, and then enjoying a hotel in a foreign city before heading back over the ocean again could be a perfect way to celebrate that special event.

Stella said there were lots of options but she chose a short cruise to Bruges because she had never been there and really wanted to see the city. I mentioned that Bruges as far as I knew wasn’t on the coast, and she told me I was totally out of date and you can get mini cruises to all sorts of places which include sailing to the nearest port and then a coach transfer.

The cruise she chose started when she boarded a P&O Ferry in Hull.

P&O Ferry
“Don’t be mistaken by the word ferry,” she told me. “This was more like a luxury cruise ship. I had a lovely cabin with its own ensuite, and all towels and bed linen was provided; it was just like a little hotel room.”

The choice of activities on board was also surprising, bars, lounges and restaurants of course, but also a cinema with the latest films, lots of fashionable shops and even a casino. It seems Stella didn’t do any of that; instead she headed for the Sunset Show Bar where evidently she danced to her favourite hits until far too late in the evening!

Stella didn’t mention much about breakfast on board, I have a feeling a few strong black coffees were all she managed!

On arrival at Zeebrugge, a coach was waiting to whisk the passengers on the short journey to the centre of Bruges. Some of the passengers were only spending a day there and then catching the late ferry back to the UK that night, but Stella had elected to stay two nights in the city – evidently most mini cruises are really adaptable. Her package included two nights at the Ibis Bruges Centrum Hotel in the centre of the city and she said it was perfect for all the sightseeing she did. She had booked a city tour as an extra for £12.50 and then spent time looking at the canals and waterways, the medieval areas of the city and even taking a ride on a horse drawn carriage.

“I didn’t realize Bruges was full of lovely old cobbled streets,” she admitted. “It was a bit of a bumpy ride, but lovely all the same.” Stella also spent some time at some tiny lace making parlours she found in the city before spending far too much money on chocolate gifts for her family back home. Evidently Bruges is the world’s capital of chocolate! – with chocolate boutiques, a chocolate museum, chocolate trails and even a chocolate fair.

After two days, Stella caught the late afternoon coach back to the boat and enjoyed another night on board, although I understand she just had a simple meal and gave the dancing a miss!

Superbreak mini-cruises
All round it sounds as if a mini cruise could be a great way to celebrate that special event, especially as you can go for just a day or perhaps up to three or four nights. Stella had booked her trip through Superbreak, which covered the ferry and accommodation, coach transfers and two night stay at the hotel for just £109, amazingly affordable.

Superbreak offer short cruises to Amsterdam, Calais and other destinations and there are other operators coming into the mini cruise market as well

If you don’t want to spend a fortune but book a memorable event for that special occasion, a mini cruise seems a perfect answer. You could even take a party of family or friends with you for an even bigger celebration!


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