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Day 4 - 14.11.22: Zeebrugge? It’s there somewhere…..

Updated: Oct 1, 2023

Well, what a contrast. We sailed into the port of Zeebrugge at 7am and saw nothing. Zilch. De nada. Tipota! A heavy mist hung over the port giving it an eerie, ethereal quality. We could vaguely make out the profile of the sun, hoping it would start to burn off the mist and expose a glorious blue sky like yesterday.

As is routine with us, the night before we’d perused todays daily programme for things to do before and after our ‘Walking tour of Bruges’. Let’s hope no coaches are involved other than to take us to the city itself. We got up, showered, dodged the wardrobe doors as we got ourselves dressed then headed off to the Britannia restaurant for breakfast and then to the Chart Room bar for our daily wake-me-up coffees. My word, how quickly we’ve become creatures of habit! And of course after our cappuccinos we headed next door to the Golden Lion pub to partake once again in the pub quiz. Surely this is the day when we win this quiz? Surveying the opposition, all twenty of them, we knew we were in for a win. Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear. What’s going on with our brains. Seven points. Seven! That’s seven less than yesterday! We hung our heads in shame and embarrassment and made a hasty retreat, fetched our outer wear and headed down the gangplank to the waiting coaches.

The sun had done its job well and had burnt off the mist to expose a very vibrant blue sky. Excellent. It wasn’t as warm as it was yesterday, in fact it was pretty cold but we were all wrapped up in our coats, scarves and bobble hats so we weren’t too concerned. We were sure that all the walking we’d be doing and all the steps we’d be taking would soon warm us up. The coach was supposed to leave at 10.45am but we found ourselves sat on it for thirty minutes, with forty other passengers, sweltering in our seats. The air conditioning wasn’t on because the coach didn’t have its engine running. Apparently our guide was ill so a stand-in guide had to be found and was apparently on his way. Oh dear. This did not bode well….! As soon as the replacement had arrived he told us how to use the electronic guides we’d all been given, introduced himself, explaining to us that he was in the middle of gardening when he’d ‘got the call’ and with that we sped off into the sunlight towards Bruges, some thirty minutes away.

We arrived at the coach park in Bruges to find that the blue sky had disappeared behind a bank of low white cloud, the sun was nowhere to be seen and it was freezing. What a difference half an hour can make. Yan, our guide, that’s not his real name but the three of us couldn’t remember his real name, advised us that due to running half an hour late the itinerary had changed so we were now going to walk to the canal and partake in the boat trip first. Desperate for the loo, hoping there’d be one on the boat we came to the canal and were herded onto the waiting boats. Unfortunately for us these type of boats did not have a loo on board….they were literally just open air motorised rowing boats. With legs crossed we set off on our trip along the canals and waterways. What a beautiful city and what a contrast to Rotterdam. Bruges is a medieval city, its architecture is steeped in history, it’s canal system is beautiful and it was a real delight to meander along the waterways and take it all in. Thirty minutes later we were back on dry land all queuing up to use the two toilets in the ticket office. Feeling very relieved we followed Yan around the cobbled streets of Bruges, taking in the sights and sounds of this historic city and were then given an hour and a half free time. Great. It was so cold we decided to treat ourselves to a glass of Gluwein to warm us up and found a lovely little sweet shop come cafe where we soon warmed up with our hot drink and some nibbles. Yan, very passionately had told us the story of the Michelangelo sculpture of the Madonna and Child, carved from a single piece of marble which is located in the Church of Our Lady. We went to see it and it’s beautiful, very poignant particularly when you understand the story behind it……you can read all about it here.

Our walking tour had come to an end and we were soon back in the warmth of the ship. It had been a fascinating ‘walking’ tour. Yan was a fabulous guide, very knowledgable and very passionate about his city of Bruges. We would most definitely recommend coming to Bruges, its beautifu

It was our last night on the ship so we cracked open our last bottle of champagne, packed our suitcases, placed them outside the room, dolled ourselves up one last time and headed down to the Golden Lion pub for one final time to partake in the Wipeout Trivia Quiz. After our previous performances we knew we didn’t really stand a chance but we were determined to give it our full commitment…..unfortunately the inevitable happened. We were totally wiped out! Ah well, a trip to the Commodore Club for cocktails it was then, to drown our sorrows! We enjoyed our final dinner in the Britannia restaurant then retired to the Royal Court Theatre to watch the variety show including Mick Miller. He wasn’t as funny as the first night…..think he’s coming to the end of his sell-by-date, but at least Jane and Maice managed to stay awake, for some of it anyway. We fancied the Cabaret Showtime in the Queens Room but when we got there is was packed to the rafters, the dance floor was chock-a-bloc and there was nowhere to sit except for three plastic chairs in the aisle. We sat there like three wall-flowers waiting for our ‘dance-cards’ to be filled so took ourselves off to the Chart Room bar for one last cocktail before heading off to our beds for what we hoped was a good nights sleep.

We woke the following morning to the pitter-patter of rain on the balcony window. We were back in the UK and it was wet, windy and grey! No surprise there then! We made our way to the Britannia restaurant for one last breakfast before disembarking the ship. It was sad to leave but wow, we’ve had a fantastic time. We collected our luggage and sat in the very small ‘lounge’ waiting for Mike to come and collect us. We waited, and we waited, and we waited. It transpired that he was waiting at another terminal but we were soon reunited and headed down the M27 back to Dorset.

What can we say about our cruise. It was fantastic and such good value for money. We had a lovely stateroom. We had a balcony. We ate some wonderful food. We drank some amazing cocktails. We learnt about the art industry. We realised we’re rubbish at quizzing. We visited some wonderful cities. We’ve seen an iconic Michelangelo sculpture. We’ve walked around Deck 3 in 5minutes 5seconds (is this a record?). The service was impeccable. The ship is beautiful. Would we do it again……most definitely. Would be recommend it…..most definitely. Did we have a fabulous time……most definitely.

Cunard Queen Victoria……thank you for a fabulous holiday. It’s been wonderful xxx

This is Maice, Jane and Angela saying goodbye and Bon-voyage to those lucky passengers on the next cruise xxx

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