When an invite popped into my inbox inviting me to go on a foodie tour to Saint Malo with Brittany Ferries, I had a stereotyped vision of the ferry in my mind. Growing up in Kenya where ferries only transported cars and pedestrians, I was wondering what kind of experience I was putting myself forward for but boy was I wrong! My perception of taking a ferry for an overseas trip has changed drastically after this trip.
The Brittany Ferries sail from three UK ports, Portsmouth, Poole and Plymouth, that go to 7 destinations in Spain and France, Le Havre, Caen, Cherbourg, St Malo, Roscoff, Bilbao and Santander.
We were sailing from Portsmouth Harbour to St Malo, so we decided to spend a day in Portsmouth touring the city before boarding the ferry later that evening. If you are looking for a fun weekend away, it is a great idea to spend some time in Portsmouth as there is so much to see in terms of naval history, as well as lovely spots near the harbour to eat and drink. There is also a massive shopping centre.
We met fellow bloggers and representatives from Brittany Ferries and Brittany Tourism at the port in the early evening where we checked in. Unlike airport check in, you haven’t got the three hour wait and hardly any queues. Big positive for me.
The on boarding was quick and we were amazed with the size of the ferry we were going on. It looked like a mini ship!
We toured a little of the ferry on our way to our cabin and it was magnificent.
There are lovely (extremely comfortable) spots where you can relax and stare out at the sea. My friend Sandra and I almost semi-napped here as it was so nice to sit there and unwind. There is wifi available in the main communal areas so it is a great place to sit and stay in touch with your family and friends, or catch up on social media.
Our cabin was lovely with comfortable beds, a spacious shower and toilet area and even coffee and tea making facilities. Everything you need!
We also had a window so you can day dream and gaze out at the sea and take in the breathtaking views as you pass different countries.
Once we had freshened up we headed out through the Yacht club wine bar on to the deck to socialise and have some wine.
This is such a major plus point of travelling by ferry vs taking a flight as you can wander around, leisurely enjoying a glass of wine or just relaxing. You are not stuck in one seat for hours with a limited choice of what to eat and drink. You can actually get some fresh air! If you are a smoker, there are areas on board the ferry where you can go have a smoke too.
On board the ferry there is a restaurant, which serves buffet and A La Carte food on its menu, a separate restaurant which is self serve, and a cafe. We were dining in the main restaurant and apart from the fact that you could see the sea when you looked out of the windows, you would never imagine you were eating on board a ferry! The decor and luxe feel of the restaurant was fantastic.
This is where my first experience of French bread on the trip started and it was every bit as delicious as I expected it to be, combined with amazing butter!
Looking at the plates which followed, for our starters, mains and dessert, it was 5 star quality food and the presentation was exquisite. A really enjoyable dining experience!
Breakfast was an equally amazing experience and I went with a croissant of course, some yoghurt and cold meats.
Breakfast, however, was like a hotel breakfast in terms of selection and there were lots of different pastries, freshly cut fruit, cereals, cold meats, eggs and cooked food to choose from! A great way to start the morning before arriving at St Malo, so you are full and raring to go.
Having had a good night’s sleep, delicious food and lots of leisurely walking around, we arrived in St Malo refreshed and ready for the day ahead of touring and eating lots of crepes and galettes and salted caramel everything!
On our return, the ferry left St Malo in the morning, so after a breakfast at the hotel, we onboarded again for our return trip to Portsmouth.
On board are also lots of shops, similar to duty free shops in airports, with good value and prices. They even had a section where you could try the whisky!
You can also purchase sea inspired souvenirs and items to remind you of your trip.
What is even more impressive is there are Cinema screens on board the ferry and you have a choice of different movies to watch!
During the day we had time to explore the ferry and took some pictures of the different restaurants and food on offer. Below is La Baule, the self service restaurant.
So much to choose from! I was a bit jealous of all the eclairs!
There is also a cafe pictured below, where you can have coffees, teas, drinks and lighter food like sandwiches, pastries and cakes. They had eclairs too!
We had a superb lunch at the A La Carte restaurant and it was surreal hearing the occasional sound of the sea whenever the door to the deck was opened.
For lunch you could do either a combination of starters and dessert from the buffet and mains from the menu, or starters from the buffet and mains from the menu. I went for the starters and dessert from the buffet and mains from the menu.
There was so much choice for starters ranging from salads, sea food, cold meats and pastas.
For my mains I went for a Focaccia burger and I just loved the presentation with the cute jar of spicy tomato sauce and basket of chips on the side. The burger was delicious and I had gone for it well done.
Dessert was so hard to choose from because everything looked divine!
The food on board the ferry was just ridiculously good and it made the travel that bit more enjoyable as you could eat from such a varied choice and indulge on some 5 star quality food! A far cry from airplane food!
After this experience, I would definitely travel to France or Spain on the Brittany Ferry again as while it seems to takes longer than flying, it really isn’t after you have considered time to get to an airport, the 3 hours before wait, the security check, time in duty free, the flight itself, border control when you arrive and transport to wherever you need to get to.
By travelling by ferry there are many advantages as you get amazing food, a decent night’s sleep and there is plenty to do on board the ferry to pass your time. The staff on board the ferry are very lovely and helpful too. You don’t experience cabin fever as you can walk around, get some fresh air and just relax.
It actually works out perfectly for a weekend break as you arrive Saturday morning refreshed, have the whole day to explore St Malo, and you leave Sunday morning and arrive just after 6pm in Portsmouth Harbour, which gives you plenty of time to get home. You would only need to book a hotel for Saturday night.
You can of course go longer than a weekend if you wish as Brittany Ferries has daily ferries except for Tuesdays.
The package prices to St Malo from Brittany Ferries range from £76pp for a two night break (one night on the ferry) to a luxurious break to £289pp for a 3 night break.
For more information visit: http://www.brittany-ferries.co.uk
Disclaimer: I was a guest of Brittany Ferrries and my trip was complimentary. However, all photos and opinions are my own.