Overnight ferry to Europe harks back to golden age of travel

Crossing the channel can be an extremely speedy affair to the ports of Calais and Dunkirk. No sooner has one boarded the ship and ascended to the upper decks than it seems to be docking at the other end.

Regular services ensure that the continent seems only a mere pebble skim away and for functionality and practicality it can be an attractive option.

However, there is a more genteel alternative for those wishing to hark back to a less hurried way of hopping across the water.

The Hull to Zeebrugge ferry operated by P&O runs just once a day at 6.30pm. The port is nearly half the time to reach from the Midlands which maximises the sailing portion of the journey even further.

Once aboard it’s evident that there is no hurry to hurtle seawards and the onboard bar is full of travellers eager to toast the start of our journey. And why not - after all we have around 14 hours to gaze happily out at a disappearing Blighty and admire the sun setting as we plough steadily into the blue beyond.

As it’s an overnight sailing there is also the cabin to explore. We have plumped for the standard option and with its bunk beds and mini wet room incorporating shower and toilet it’s compact but is well designed enough to ensure we have more than adequate space to lay our heads and conduct some efficient ablutions before arrival.

It’s time to enjoy the on board entertainment and we’re greeted by a full pop band deftly making their way through a catalogue of modern hits to the enjoyment of those assembled. The restaurants and casino are also buzzing and offer a delectable and well prepared plethora of gourmet dishes to accommodate most tastes. A reflective gaze at the ocean and it’s time to retire for some surprising uninterrupted shut eye before waking refreshed for the 20 minute drive into Bruges.

It’s been a pleasant journey and one that certainly turned the crossing into more of an event rather than a means to an end and I get the feeling we have had a holiday inside a holiday. It would be marvellous if all modes of travel were more like this - making the journey a real part of the experience. Now if there was only something we could do about the M1...

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