When my grandmother set forth in the 1920s on a journey that would take her quite literally around the world it is amazing to think that P&O Ferries were already 90 years old.
To this day there is still something romantic about travelling by ship. While for my recent visit to Lille I may have only been hopping across the Channel for a long weekend in northern France, rather than embarking on an epic adventure, I still enjoyed travelling in style.
The perfect start to my journey
I had opted to stay in Dover the night before as, although I could have caught the train to Dover in the morning, the schedule was very tight and ‘planned engineering works’ sounded very ominous. Neither did I fancy a long drive at the start and end of my weekend. By staying at the charming Dover Marina Hotel and Spa I was able to have a good night’s sleep without getting up at the crack of dawn and a lovely breakfast on the terrace with a view of the sea. There was even time for a short walk on the beach and a massage!
The ferry terminal is just a few minutes drive or a short walk away and the crossing to Calais takes just 90 minutes.
The Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company
P&O Ferries, originally known as the ‘Peninsular Steam Navigation Company’ was founded in 1837 initially taking mail from the United kingdom to Spain and Portugal. This contract was later extended to Egypt, then India and further east to Ceylon, Penang, Singapore and Hong Kong, giving us ‘Peninsular and Oriental Ferries’ or as we know it today P&O Ferries.
As I stood on the deck leaving the white cliffs of Dover behind me, my mind wandered back to my grandmother’s voyage when she travelled alone from England to Hong Kong by boat at just 23 years old. I wonder what was going through her mind as she set off on her great adventure. It’s a quite a tale and if you’d like to know more start here…. Shanghai Part One.
Travel in Style with P&O Ferries
I travelled on P&O Ferries’ latest addition to their fleet, the Spirit of Britain. It’s just a short crossing from Dover to Calais but there was still plenty of time for a delicious meal in the Brasserie followed by a complimentary glass of champagne on the Club Lounge deck.
On my way back from France I travelled on the Pride of Canterbury and enjoyed another complimentary glass of bubbly followed by a cream tea with strawberry jam, clotted cream and one of the largest scones I’ve ever seen. As on my outbound journey, the Club Lounge staff were extremely helpful and attentive.
The Club Lounge, as well as priority boarding and departing, are both available for a small supplement enabling you to enjoy the journey to the fullest as part of your holiday and not just a means of getting there.
Thank you to Lille Metropole, Nord Tourism and P&O Ferries for a really wonderful weekend and the Dover Marina Hotel and Spa for providing the perfect start. All opinions expressed are my own. More from my weekend in Lille Metropole coming soon.
Photographs: Spirit of Britain exterior and Club Lounge courtesy of P&O Ferries, other photography copyright Kathryn Burrington