Zeebrugge Cruise Terminal
The Port of Zeebrugge is Belgium's maritime gateway to Bruges, Brussels, and the seaside resorts of West Flanders. Its modern cruise terminal serves passengers from nearly 150 ships a year.
Zeebrugge, on the North Sea coast of Belgium, is one of Europe's leading ports. It handles more than 10,000 ship moorings per year, serving vessels that range from giant containerships to RoRo ("roll on, roll off" ) carriers and passenger ferries.
Cruise ships are also in the mix: For years, cruise itineraries in Western Europe have used Zeebrugge as a jumping-off point for provide excursions to Bruges, Ostend, Brussels, and other nearby cities.
Now, in the second decade of the 21st Century, Zeebrugge has declared its ambitions to become a "turnaround port" and not just a "transit port" or port of call. You can see evidence of this in the new (photo at top of page), which is equipped to process arriving and departing passengers and their baggage.
About the Zeebrugge Cruise Terminal:
For the moment, Zeebrugge remains a transit port for most of the 150 cruise ships that visit every year. Ships typically arrive in the morning and depart in late afternoon or early evening, giving passengers a chance to go touring independently or by coach. Here's what to expect:
After your ship is moored, you'll either board a tour bus (if you've booked a shore excursion) or take a free shuttle bus to the cruise terminal just outside the port's security gates.
The terminal (located in a building called the ABC-Tower) has a variety of services, including transportation desks, a souvenir and gift shop, public toilets, and a security checkpoint that you'll go through if you're returning to the ship on your own.
In theory, the top floor has a bistro and passenger lounge, but only the main terminal hall on the ground floor was open during our visit in September, 2019.
For more information about the port, see the captioned photos below and visit the Port of Zeebrugge's Cruisehaven page. A page at Zeebrugge.net also has some useful information about local transportation.
BELOW: This map from the port shows the location of the Zeebrugge Cruise Terminal (marked by the red circle). The road below the terminal leads to the Kerk tram stop, a residential area, and other districts of Zeebrugge.
Look carefully, and you'll see that Zeebrugge has two railroad stations: One in Zeebrugge Dorp (Zeebrugge Village), roughly in the center of the map, and the other in the beach resort of Zeebrugge Strand on the left.
For a larger and more readable version of the map, click here (454 Kb).
BELOW: The Port of Zeebrugge has several piers for cruise ships. Here, MSC Preziosa is moored at the Swedisch Quay, not far from the cruise terminal.
BELOW: You'll disembark onto an unprepossessing quay. Tour buses wait just beyond the gangway, and a free port shuttle bus offers continuous service between the ship and the cruise terminal.
BELOW: The Belgian Navy has a small base near the Swedisch Quay. (Its sign invites passersby to download an app.)
BELOW: Are you going ashore independently? Take the free shuttle bus, which will drop you off at the cruise terminal just beyond the port gates. Inside the terminal, you'll find a shop and other services.
BELOW: If you didn't arrange for a shore excursion or local ground transportation on your ship, you can book tours, taxis to Bruges, etc. at counters within the terminal.
BELOW: In the shop, you can buy day passes for the Kusttram, or Coastal Tram (see our illustrated article), which runs along the coast of West Flanders with 67 stops over a distance of 68 km or 42 miles.
The Kusttram is said to be the world's longest tram line, and you can use it to reach Oostende (Ostend) and dozens of popular seaside resorts. The stop closest to the cruise terminal is at, only a few minutes on foot from the port entrance.
BELOW: Later in the day, when you return to your ship, you'll notice an historic vessel of the Seafront Zeebrugge maritime theme park just before the cruise terminal.
BELOW: Go inside the cruise terminal, where you'll find a security checkpoint and a door leading to the free port shuttle bus.
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