I have often considered booking a mini cruise for myself but have to admit I have been put off as I imagined extortionate prices, boozed up brits and microwaved food - none of which is my cup of tea. So when we were invited aboard KING SEAWAYS this week to spend the afternoon with the ship's head chef and bar manager I was not exactly sure what to expect. I have to say though, my eyes were truly opened as we were invited to cook our own lunch alongside the chef in the ship's kitchen, make cocktails with the experienced bar team and ask the staff any burning questions we wanted answering. Here are five facts I was thrilled to discover whilst on board:-
They have a dedicated baker on board
The baker starts work at 1am every day to ensure everybody has fresh bread for breakfast and then again for dinner in the evening. I expected all of the bread to be bought in so this is very impressive. You can't beat fresh bread! We made our own and sampled some with our lunch and it was delicious.
A Passionate Head Chef
Their head chef is passionate and designs the menu himself. Brian has worked for DFDS Seaways for over 15 years and it is lovely to hear him still talk with passion - he clearly enjoys his job and managing his team of 18 on board. He works a shift pattern of 14 days on, 14 days off and as he changes the restaurant menus every 3 months, there is always something new to discover and try.
Here I am being put through my paces in the ship's kitchen and learning to make trout mousse.
Fine Dining is an Option
There is of course a buffet restaurant on board. Featuring over 80 freshly cooked dishes from around the world - all tastes are catered for. There are however a number of fine dining options available too. The Blue Riband restaurant serves elegant and contemporary cuisine such as veal carpaccio with aioli and black pepper and butter fried fillets of seabass. The Explorer's Steakhouse offers families a lovely dining option too. With only the best aged steaks sourced from the USA (that have never been frozen), it is the ship's go-to restaurant for steak-lovers. We sampled the steak whilst on board and I have to say it was spot on.
^I made this^ (with a little help)
Prices are not as expensive as you'd think
I had it in my mind that DFDS have you trapped on their ship so are going to charge extortionate prices - I was pleasantly surprised to find this wasn't the case. The Blue Ribband a la carte restaurant is just over £30 for three courses if booked in advance and a table at the ship's all you can eat buffet including half a bottle of wine (not just house - there are four varieties to choose from) is only £27.99. It's also nice to see that under 3's eat free.
A variety of Cocktails and wine tasting classes are available
There are 7 bars aboard KING SEAWAYS and they all offer something different. Whether it be watching the sun set over the sea with al fresco drinks in the Sky bar, enjoying live entertainment in the Columbus bar or simply sitting back to relax with friends and family - there is an area for everyone to enjoy. For something a bit different, there is even the chance to pre-book a wine, beer and whiskey tasting session for your trip back from Holland. This is something that I would definitely book and try.
So overall, I was very impressed. My perception has been completely changed. A la carte fine dining, gourmet steaks, wine tasting and al fresco cocktails. Seriously - what's not to love? If I can somehow persuade the grandparents to take our children for 3 days, there will be nothing stopping me booking a mini cruise for myself and hubby now. I was also pleased to see that there are now refurbished 5 birth cabins available too and therefore taking the children on a weekend break to Amsterdam could also be an option.
Thanks to DFDS Seaways for a wonderful day aboard.