It is not often that you decide to go away with your elderly mother so you need to choose the right method of doing so. A cruise from Southampton is the obvious choice although selecting an itinerary and a cruise line is the challenge.
I have cruised in the past with Royal Caribbean and Celebrity, which have always been great. Last year my wife and I went with P&O which we thought was awful. That left me a little nervous of my selection of another English cruise company.
Thankfully my fears were not to be compounded. I have never sailed with such fantastic staff before. Every single member of the team was happy, pleased to see you and went out of their way to say hello. The fact that they weren't reliant on gratuities seems to relax them. There is no big push trying to flog cocktails, trips or anything else and this makes for a great atmosphere.
An amazingly large space - as big as a suite, with a bathroom/wet room which is about 8 foot by 6 foot. Huge window and absolutely mid ship.
Surprisingly nice. A wealth of shops - two shopping malls and a very long High Street. Lots to see including a U Boat, the Emigration Museum and the Climate Museum which others all raved about
Fab. Ship docks about 10 minutes by foot (wheelchair!) to town. Loads to see and do. The streets aren't great for wheelchairs is the only problem
Zeebrugge is a horrid industrial port where you get a free shuttle to the port gates. Ours was driven by a miserable old sod who wouldn't get out and help wheelchair passengers. I had to put the ramp up and down myself. The security girl at the port gate was embarrassed by him.
Brugge trips aren't suitable for the infirm. You can get the tram to Blankenburg where the shops all shut for 90 minutes over lunch. The tram stop is, bizarrely, about 400m from the port gate. Not sure why that is as it seems to only be used by ship passengers.
The gateway to Paris (although a train from London is quicker!). In other words get out of here as soon as you can. No discerning features!
A really nice French Port Town. Visit Parc de Liais if you can (10 minute walk from the ship, just passed Napoleon's statue then left). It is really lovely. Very modern shopping mall with a huge Carrefour at the end of it; a great town square and a proper French feel to the place