Riding the Waves with P&O Ferries

Welcome onboard! What exactly is it like to spend time on a P&O Ferry crossing? Our seafaring correspondent John Hillman letís you know just what you can get up to whilst youíre riding the waves.

For those of you who have not sailed on board a P&O ferry you may be surprised to learn just how much fun there is to be had on board these days.

Whether you like sipping cocktails at the roulette wheel or quaffing cappuccinos while pretending to be Luis Hamilton in the games room, there really is something for just about everyone aboard P&Oís fleet of ships.

Sailing from Portsmouth to Cherbourg on board The Pride of Bilbao we barely had time to drop our bags off, in our private cabin, before we were summoned by our friends to the bar to say goodbye to England with a cold beer, and look forward to our weekend in a small farmhouse in Normandy.

But be warned, for while I had planned to get some rest on the voyage in preparation for the festivities ahead, what actually happened is that the crossing from Portsmouth to Cherbourg turned out to be the crowning moment of the entire weekend.

After a couple of drinks we headed to Langanís Brasserie for the kind of serious three course supper that Sir Winston Churchill would have been proud of. Having had the perfect steak and far too much excellent wine the casino beckoned, where the atmosphere was charged with the kind of excitement you can only get from being in a room full of people who have just left work and gone on holiday.

We stayed for a while, trying to act like Craig Daniels in Casino Royale, while all the time secretly not having a clue as to what was going on at the table (the rules of blackjack will always remain a mystery to me) before heading to the show bar were live entertainment came in the form of a house band.

I finally made it back to my cabin in the small hours of Saturday morning feeling like Iíd just spent a night out in some kind of futuristic floating city. No sooner had I drifted off to sleep than I was being awoken by my blonde companion to say that we had arrived and that judging by the state of me she would be doing the driving.

It turns out that there is much more to a P&O ferry than restaurants, casinos and show bars, and while I was being lead astray by old friends, she was catching up with hers in a far more measured and sensible manner in the club lounge above the bar area, having already indulged in a bit of late night retail therapy in the tax-free shop. The look of smug self satisfaction said it all.

You donít have to spend your evening on board a P&O ferry living the high life, but if like me you were brought up to believe that this is why going on holiday was invented in the first place, then you will be truly and pleasantly surprised by just how much mischief a couple of should-know-better-thirtysomethings can get up to, or any other age-group for that matter.

The weekend in Cherbourg was spent resting and replenishing, taking long walks along the beaches and plenty of good food. All good holidays live up to the expectations that you set before you head off, but itís the surprises that always stick in the mind, the things least expected that make leaving home so interesting. Crossing the channel has never been so much fun.