Taking short breaks as oppose to a fortnight away is becoming increasingly popular. Why wait 6 months to let your hair down?
I prefer frequent mini breaks rather than letting the stress of work and routine and general everyday life wind me up into that much of a frazzle that it takes me four days to unwind when I eventually get around to getting away – and it seems there a lot of like minded individuals out there as the rise in people heading off for long weekends and quick midweek breaks is on the up.
Whilst the UK offers literally hundreds of tried and tested locations for a short break, there is nothing quite like exploring different cultures to feed the imagination. With that in mind, I was over the moon to be invited by DFDS to enjoy one of their mini cruises sailing from Newcastle overnight to Amsterdam. I’m not a huge fan of flying so this offered a stress free experience for me along with a couple of girlfriends and given your accommodation is aboard the ship this type of trip offers a cost-effective alternative to a flight and expensive hotels.
Parking is plentiful at the terminal in Newcastle and check in is a well oiled machine, it wasn’t long before we were freshening up in our cabin. There are a range of cabins available onboard and if you feel like pushing the boat out slightly (pardon the pun) you could opt to upgrade to one of the Commodore De Luxe cabins offering sea views and all the extras to make your trip that bit more special.
Once aboard, there are plenty of facilities to enjoy – whether you’re looking to relax , dance the night away, or spend some time with friends and family over a great dinner, there is something for everybody. We had Friday night reservations at the North Sea Bistro, the ships fine dining restaurant. From prime steak cuts to classic dishes with a twist, top chefs have created a fantastic menu based on local and seasonal ingredients, all with exquisite wine pairings. Enjoy a taste of luxury, with modern surroundings and sea views as you sail to the continent.
The food here certainly exceeded our expectations – definitely worth trying if you are looking for a rather sophisticated experience during your crossing. Choose between delicious antipasti platters of Serrano and bresaola meats, succulent grilled steaks, grilled fillets of seabass, vegetarian dishes and more on the à la carte menu. It’s a good idea to reserve your table in the North Sea Bistro when you book your mini cruise – it’s simple to do and saves disappointment.
We headed for Columbus Club after dinner where there was live entertainment from bands playing classic and chart hits followed by the resident DJ who plays until the early hours – sadly we couldn’t last until 2am so we headed to bed in preparation for a fun Saturday in Amsterdam.
Coach travel from the ship into Amsterdam itself is provided by DFDS and is included in the price of your cruise. Although well organised, it can be a slightly lengthy process disembarking – the more organised you are – ie early breakfast and ready to leave, the more time you will have in the city.
Amsterdam, is home to a trio of historic art museums, like the Rijksmuseum, the Stedelijk and the Van Gogh museum. Plus, a host of other attractions that range from Anne Frank’s House, to the Rembrandt House Museum, to the lovely floating flower market. There are oodles of inviting cafés offering delicious coffee, boutiques, galleries and street markets. Don’t miss the famous Albert Cuypmarket, where you will find accessories, clothes and shoes (don’t forget your clogs), food, spices, furniture and more.
We thoroughly enjoyed the shopping – particularly the tourist souvenir stores, very entertaining given the cheeky nature of this city. There are of course lots of more ‘adult’ themed activities if you so wish, however, we stuck to the mainstream and enjoyed some street food, a drink or two and of course a potter around the eclectic boutiques and bars.
I certainly could have spent longer in the city, but with last coach due to leave we hot footed it back to the bus just in time and headed back to the ship.
Back onboard we enjoyed a more casual dining experience in the buffet restaurant which has something for everybody. The food is a really high standard and the service is great, happy staff keeping on top of the service and making sure the restaurant was clean and enjoyable. Again, this exceeded our expectations. More lively entertainment and casino fun followed until we gave in to our cabin and slept our way peacefully home. We loved our DFDS mini cruise, great fun and superb value – book you break today – tell them I sent you.
DFDS – the World’s Leading Ferry Operator – offers multiple ferry routes with crossings from popular European ports in Europe to the UK, as well as routes in Scandinavia and across the Baltic Sea.