Antwerp – 1211
Looking though the Fred Olsen Cruise Brochure, as I so soften do, or did depending on when this is being read, I notice that the Boudicca was sailing to Antwerp on a short 3-night cruise to Antwerp. The fact that I had neither visited Antwerp or sailed on the Boudicca was enough for me to become interested. Better still, the Boudicca sailed out of Portsmouth from which I’de never sailed (except on a ferry of course). So that was that: decision made and I booked Debbie and me a cabin for along weekend to Antwerp. And, as it was just before Christmas, we would have the added pleasure of visiting the Christmas Market.
Driving down to Portsmouth on a Saturday just before Christmas, I suddenly remembered the old days when I would try to go to Portsmouth for some Christmas Shopping only to turn back in frustration as the traffic was queued for the lat two to three miles. This time however, it wasn’t so bad and we had a straight run into the ferry port where we were directed to the new Passenger Terminal. Our luggage was taken from the car for us, the car was taken away for us and all we had to do was check in and wait in the terminal, suitably close to the bar until our cabins were ready. No sooner had we finished drinks, we called on board and settle into what would be our home from home for the three nights.
Once settled, I checked out what was in fact a very nicely appointed cabin, actually it was a suite as we had been upgraded. Wow, a Suite is definitely the way to travel with a separate living area and bedroom and our very own balcony looking out onto the dockyard.
Makes a change from the view of the incinerator at Southampton port
As we set sail, following the obligatory lifeboat drill, the Ships Master (Captain Robert Bamberg) introduced himself (over the ships PA system, not personally) to let us know that we would be sailing overnight toward the estuary Westerschelde where we would picking up the local pilot (at 05:00) who would then guide us up the River Scheldt arriving at Antwerp at around 12 noon. Crikey I thought, 7-hours up river! There must be some good photo opportunities from our nice private balcony.
Now I have to say that the river approach to Antwerp isn’t quite as picturesque as that of sailing up the Seine and into Rouen.
Having finally docked in Antwerp and been given clearance to go ashore, Debbie and wrapped up nice and warm and went to explore. And wrap up we needed to go cos it was blooming cold, even for me.
I have to say that after the Christmas markets of last year, this one was so much better: even more so as it was literally 300 metres from the Ship. The market itself was atmospheric and friendly. Naturally we paused on the way though to sample some of the mulled wine (L U V E R L E Y) before we reached the Town Square.
Having raided the local Chocolate Shops and bought all we could carry, we made our way back to the ship, passing the ferris wheel on the way, for a well earned drink or three.
As we relaxed int he Observatory Lounge, we noticed a few flakes of snow falling, glistening and dancing in the lights of the ship and the port. Before long, it wasn’t a few flaws of snow, it was a ‘blizzard’. Well maybe not quite a blizzard but to us it was pretty heavy.
The following Morning
As the ship stayed in port overnight, we were able to ashore once more to see the market in the full of the day, and it was just as I wanted it – SHUT.
What is it with Bikes?
As we wondered around the town it was evident to us that Anterwpians (Podge speak for people who live in Antwert ) liked two wheel vehicles. So often outside whops we would spot a bike or two simply placed as an ornament or decoration for th shop that so often had nothing to do with bikes. There was even a Pinerello fixie that didn’t look as though it had ever been ridden (brings back sad memories of unridden Colnago fixie).
And I suppose all in all, that’s about it.
Antwerp, a lovely place and one that we’ll most likely revisit.
Boudicca, a lovely ship and one that we’ll most likely revisit.
Portsmouth, always special to me and even more so now that they have a cruise terminal. Will definitely revisit.