Most of the time when I write a blogpost it's about how incredible my trip has been, how much I've loved a country and how I've found the cheapest and most time-efficient method of travel. But I feel that I also want to write about the mistakes I've made, because let's face it, if we don't make mistakes we don't learn right? That being said I'm going to write about my trip to Amsterdam with P&O cruises. This isn't just an opportunity to bad-mouth a company, think of it more as a review for anyone who is curious about these trips/tours, (I didn't find much information before booking and in hindsight maybe this would have been helpful) to give you an insight into whether these cruises will be right for you.
Why book a minicruise?
I booked the Hull to Amsterdam mini-cruise because it seemed to be a good compromise for what we wanted for our trip to Amsterdam:
- It was £101 for both of us, including 2 nights stay on the cruise, transport to Amsterdam, a coach from the ferry port to the city centre without additional fees for bags or other expenses included with flying. £101 was miles cheaper than flights alone and this included accommodation.
- It was a new adventure for us, I'd never tried an overnight ferry anywhere and the facilities offered onboard sounded exciting.
Booking & Itinerary
We actually booked the minicruise which included an extra night in the city, meaning that whilst we had two nights provided on the cruise during travel, we were responsible for organising our own accomodation in Amsterdam. This wasn't an issue as we visited in an off-peak weekend in March and was able to find a lovely hotel via HotelsCombined - we've got a link below!
Booking on the P&O Cruise is easy and they provide plenty of information about the itinerary, rules on board and upgrades you can purchase for your trip. Whilst we opted for the saver booking, you can book different room types, as well as adding on meal plans and internet on-board. In addition to Amsterdam, the also offer mini-cruises to other European cities including Bruges from Hull, Dublin from Liverpool and Calais from Dover.
Our 3 day itinerary on the Pride of Rotterdam
Boarding at Hull
Stupidly I didn't realise how far Hull is from Manchester (my own fault I know), but after driving the 100 miles to the port, we struggled finding suitable car parking and instead left our vehicle in a VERY unsafe spot, convinced that it would not still be there come the end of our trip. There are next to no places to leave a car for free at Hull ferry port, and whilst paying daily this can become a very expensive extra if you are planning a 3 day trip.
Next was the task of boarding the boat, whilst queuing with hen-do-goers, inflatable penises and male blow-up-dolls alike, we were repeatedly warned by security that absolutely no alcohol was to be taken on board, and that we should dispose of this immediately. As a newbie to these cruises, I obeyed and surrendered my £4 aldi wine (gutted) but was disappointed to discover that our bags were never searched and I could have got away with it. I presume this is a way of forcing people to only purchase drinks on board, and not to get away with drinking their own.
Apart from that however, we were given our documents and room key and boarded our boat in around an hour - nothing you can really do about the queues.
Now don't get me wrong. We were on a boat, I'd paid £100, I wasn't expecting The Ritz, but we were both disappointed by the room. It was MINISCULE, I've honestly had wardrobes bigger and although not a claustrophobe, the lack of a window, as well as the inability to complete a whole 360 rotation whilst my other half was in our room made me slightly panic. It actually took us 10 minutes to find the second bed, which, yes you guessed it, pulled down from the wall above the first bed a-la bunk bed style. And while we were struggling to swing a cat in the room, the bathroom was actually quite a decent size (for a wet-room), with a rather powerful shower, toilet and sink, if I could have somehow slept standing up in the shower, I probably would have preferred to spend my night there.
So the size of our room was indefinitely a dissapointment, but perhaps what made our journey and stay on the P&O mini-cruises such a disaster was a) the insistent noise from hen/stag-doers screaming and running up and down the corridors like rowdy school children b) the infuriating endless vibrating and swaying from the boat, convulsing our beds all night.
I'm 23, I know what it's like to have a few drinks and suddenly forget that there are other people in the world that don't want to hear your rendition of the entire Greatest Showman soundtrack, but this was next level noise. I would have never expected that groups of middle-aged men and women could be so ignorant and inconsiderate. We had rooms either side of us, consistently banging their doors, shouting to their mates, chanting and I can say with confidence that there was a period of 'knock-a-door-run' at some point during the early hours. More than that, I felt unsafe. I spent half of my night awake, worrying that 'Steve and the lads' would come bursting into my room, finding me sweating in my panda-print pyjamas, attempting to balance myself in the middle of my bed.
I've also been on boats before, much, much larger ones, cruising around Spain, the Greek Islands, Turkey with companies including Thompson and the Royal Caribbean and never been much phased by the movement of the boat or even remoted felt the vibrations from the engine. Perhaps as this mini-cruise ship was smaller, I felt as though I were navigating every single crashing wave in my ironing-board of a bed, whilst receiving a vibrating massage from the efforts of the ship engine.
The consistent trembling had actually escalated to a level that discomforting on our journey home that I spoke to a night-time attendant at the reception, who gave us the key to a different room. I was relieved, maybe we would finally get some sleep! Incorrect. We found that the second room was just as bad, if not worse than our original room, and instead we just gave up and attempted to sleep in our assigned rooms.
We grabbed the last coach of the day home (they departed hourly from our designated drop off stop) and had to re-board onto this boat receiving new room keys and checking on our bags. Whilst the motion of the beds on our journey home was indefinitely worse, the groups of stag-does had subsided, perhaps as we returned on a Monday night. Tired from our long day in Amsterdam and even longer journey to the boat thanks to Dutch rush hour traffic, we had hoped to retire to our shoe-box and sleep as quickly as we could. Unfortunately this was not the case and it was on this passage back to Hull that we contacted the reception about changing rooms.