Popular Ports in Belgium
Zeebrugge (for Bruges)
If you’re after some really fresh seafood, Zeebrugge is the fish capital so make sure you try some of the local cuisine. Although Zeebrugge is the port for visits to Bruges, it also has some attractions of its own so take an hour to visit the Seafront Maritime Theme Park where you can check out the Foxtrot, an old Russian submarine, and the bright-red lightship, the West-Hinder. Zeebrugge also has a wide beach, perfect for long walks, relaxation and bathing.
The medieval city of Antwerp is the biggest port in Belgium and boats a riverside fortress and excellent shopping opportunities. Top of the attractions list is the Cathedral of Our Lady, an awe-inspiring building with 10th-century chapel and a tower stretching some 123 metres into the Belgium skyline.
History buffs will be in their element with more than 20 museums to explore, including the Royal Museum of Fine Arts which is dedicated to the work of Rubens and other Flemish masters. The Museum aan de Stroom is also worthy of your attention – it’s the largest in Antwerp and offers an exciting look at the city through exhibitions of some 500,000 pieces.
Along with Bruges and Antwerp, Ghent is one of the three great cities in the northern Flanders region. The Gothic Cathedral is a top attraction and features a priceless art work by Jan and Hubrecht van Eyck called The Adoration of the Mystic Lamb. Other points of interest include a folk museum and the Design Museum Gent, an intriguing space which has collections spanning from the 15th century to the present day.
The long beach and promenade at Ostend makes this cosmopolitan coastal city a breath of fresh air. Get around town on foot or enjoy a romantic horse-drawn carriage ride, available throughout the summer months. The beach, divided from the town by a wide promenade, offers a decent stretch of sands ideal for walking, bathing and relaxing. Those with an interest in art should head to Mu.Zee, a modernist space which houses a collection of Belgian art dating to the 1830s.
What are the best cruise ships for a Belgium Cruise?
Stop off in Zeebrugge during the Electric Sunsets – The 80’s Cruise Weekender onboard the Marella Discovery. This entertainment-packed ship features a jogging track, mini golf course and bar for starters. Add to the nine (yes, nine!) restaurants, two bars and dazzling evening entertainment and you’re sure to enjoy this adults-only mini-cruise.
You could also visit Bruges with Cunard on the Queen Mary 2. This mini-cruise will give you the chance to enjoy this grand ship in all its glory. Expect a wide choice of dining options, from the classic Britannia Restaurants to the more intimate Grill dining areas. Enjoy afternoon tea where you’ll get the chance to sample sweet treats such as cakes and scones with a refreshing cup of your favourite brew. During the day, research your upcoming destination in the large library or rejuvenate in the Canyon Ranch SpaClub.
Cruise and Maritime Voyages stop off in Antwerp during the European Cities Break itinerary onboard the Columbus. This new addition to the fleet offers a mix of traditional and modern cruise style and features a top-class gym, spa and Crafter’s Studio, which runs regular arts workshops. There’s also a fabulous pool, choice of restaurants and bars and well-equipped cabins to ensure you’re relaxed and refreshed during your cruise experience.
Shore Excursions Ideas
The port of Zeebrugge is gateway to the fabulous city of Bruges. This romantic destination, often referred to at the Venice of the North is a delight to explore and sample the local wares including its famous beer and, of course, chocolate. Spend a leisurely few hours exploring the medieval old town with its cobblestone alleyways branching out onto shady café-lined squares. The Church of Our Lady & Sint-Janshospitaal is worth a look, it houses a museum which features a marble statue by Michelangelo of Madonna and Child. The Historium Brugge is another popular museum. Situated in the Grote Markt, it offers and interactive and immersive experience about the history of Bruges.
From Zeebrugge, it’s also possible to visit Brussels, so check if this is an option with your chosen cruise line. Once there, a variety of options await, with The Grand Place offering an awe-inspiring sight for those interested in architecture. The square directly in front is a hive of activity and some days hosts a colourful flower market. There’s also a spectacular Gothic cathedral, Notre Dame Du Sablon, to check out and Le Botanique, Brussels’ fine botanical gardens which features a 19th-century greenhouse. The Royal Palace, official residence of the Belgium Royal family, is open for visitors during the summer months.
If your cruise stops in Ghent, you could take the opportunity to visit Ypres in West Flanders, which is around an hour’s drive away. Here you’ll find a host of poignant monuments, museums and tributes to those who lost their lives on the Western Front. In Flanders Fields is one of the best-known museum and offers visitors the chance to immerse themselves in a multisensory experience of videos, exhibits and soundscapes.
Canals of Bruges and Ghent
During your Belgium cruise, don’t miss the opportunity to explore the waterways of Bruges or Ghent. It’s the ideal way to see the sights of these fascinating cities and also catch a glimpse of hidden gardens, charming views and picturesque bridges. Belgium’s network of waterways offers the chance for relaxation and contemplation as you watch the world go by.