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From: MSC Preziosa cruise review: North Sea

Day 6: Zeebrugge, Belgium


Port of Zeebrugge logoAlso see:


BELOW: Our arrival in Zeebrugge, Belgium was later than our earlier port visits, with a scheduled 10 a.m. arrival time.

This gave us plenty of time to watch sea traffic--and there was plenty of that, since Zeebrugge is a major European port with ferries, fishing trawlers, roll-on/roll-off cargo vessels, car carriers, LNG tankers, and other types of ships coming and going throughout the day.

Ships on North Sea near Zeebrugge

MS DELPHINE cargo vessel in North Sea


BELOW: MSC Preziosa passed the harbor breakwater about 9:15 a.m.

Zeebrugge harbor breakwater


BELOW: By 10 a.m., we were moored at a nondescript industrial pier. Dockworkers were setting up a gangway, and a water hose was connected to the ship.

MSC PREZIOSA with gangway in Zeebrugge

Water hose connected to MSC PREZIOSA in Zeebrugge, Belgium


BELOW: Across the way, a sign next to the small Belgian Navy station invited citizens to download the navy's official app.

Belgian Navy sign in Zeebrugge


BELOW: Coaches for shore excursions were lined up on the pier, and a Port Shuttle bus was waiting near the gangway as passengers began leaving the ship before 10:30 a.m.

Zeebrugge port shuttle bus


BELOW: Passengers weren't allowed to walk on the pier, but the free Port Shuttle buses ran almost constantly between our ship and the Zeebrugge Cruise Terminal outside the port entrance (which was only a short distance from our berth).

Port of Zeebrugge entrance and shuttle bus

Zeebrugge Cruise Terminal


BELOW: A shop inside the terminal sold tickets for the Kusttram (Coastal Tram), chocolates, and souvenirs.

The terminal also had counters where you could buy shore excursions and transfers if you hadn't already made arrangements on the ship.

Inside of Zeebrugge Cruise Terminal

Interior of Zeebrugge Cruise Terminal


BELOW: A map outside the cruise terminal showed the main areas of Zeebrugge. (The cruise terminal itself ismarked by the red circle in the upper right-section of the map.)

Map of Zeebrugge, Belgium

Click for larger map (220 Kb)


BELOW: As usual, we were in a mood for walking, so we left the Zeebrugge Cruise Terminal and walked to the main road, where we turned right (or left, if you're looking at the map) and headed toward Zeebrugge Dorp, a.k.a. Zeebrugge Village. A road sign showed distances to Ostend, Bruges, and Blankenberge.

Signpost with distances to Ostend, Bruges, and Blankenberge from Zeebrugge, Belgium


BELOW: The older neighborhoods of Zeebrugge were quiet, with hardly anyone in the streets. (Maybe everyone was in church?)

Zeebrugge street

Zeebrugge Kerk (Church)


BELOW: The liveliest spot in town was the Zeebrugge Dorp railroad station, where a train was preparing to depart.

Zeebrugge Dorp train station (Belgian Railways)


BELOW: We continued on to Zeebrugge Strand, a stretch of beach that is lined with apartment houses, restaurants, and beach clubs. Zeebrugge Strand is a popular summer resort with its own railroad station.

Apartment houses on Zeebrugge Strand, Belgium 

Apartments in Zeebrugge, Belgium beach resort


BELOW: Even in mid-September, most tourist services had closed for the season, but a few brave souls were sunbathing amid shuttered beach huts or parasailing in the chilly water of the North Sea.

Sunbather in Zeebrugge Strand beach club


BELOW:  As we continued south, we could look back and see MSC Preziosa and the industrial port of Zeebrugge behind us in the distance. (We should note that this extreme telephoto shot compresses perspective.)

MSC PREZIOSA in Zeebrugge, Belgium 


BELOW: At the south end of Zeebrugge Strand, a walking path took us into a nature perserve with sand dunes. 

Cheryl Imboden in sand dunes by Zeebrugge Strand

Cheryl Imboden in nature preserve by Zeebrugge Strand


BELOW: This photo evokes memories of a 1964 film, Woman in the Dunes (although the woman here looks happier than her movie counterpart did.)

Woman resting in sand dunes, Belgium 


BELOW:  After leaving the nature preserve and continuing along the beach, we reached the seaside resort town of Blankenberge and its famous pier (which opened in 1933 and extends 350 meters or nearly 1/4 mile into the North Sea).

Blankenberge Pier


BELOW: Unlike Zeebrugge, Blankenberge was still attracting a late-summer tourist trade (both human and furred).

Dogs in Blankenberge, Belgium

B.E.A.C.H. club in Blankenberge, Belgium 


BELOW: We were hungry after a long walk on a chilly beach, so we decided to lunch with the Jet Set. (The Vlaamse Frites, or Belgian Fries, were excellent.)

Jet Set snack bar in Blankenberge, Belgium 

Vlaamse Frites at Jet Set snack bar in Blankenberge, Belgium


BELOW: We finished lunch and took a flight of stairs to Blankenberge's main business district.

Steps to Blankenberge Hoogstraat


BELOW: The first thing we saw was the Blankenberge Tourist Office, which occupied an historic building in the Hoogstraat or High Street.

We visited the tourist office, where we picked up local brochures, got advice from an extremely helpful clerk, and took advantage of the free WCs and drinking water.

Blankenberge Tourist Office in Hoogstraat


BELOW: Next, we headed into the dog-friendly shopping district, which was was a lively retail hub for Blankenberge and surrounding towns.

Shopper with two dogs in Blankenberge, Belgium

Blankenberge shopping district with dog


BELOW: After exploring the downtown--and doing a bit of shopping ourselves, zonder hunden--we headed for the Kusttram, which is next to the Blankenberge railroad station.

Tip: You can buy single- and multi-day passes at press shops or newsstands, but if you just want a point-to-point ticket, use the station's ticket window.

Kusttram station, Blankenberge


BELOW: Within a few minutes a tram arrived. (We were traveling north, toward Knokke, and our destination was the Kerk stop in Zeebrugge.)

Kusttram to Knokke arriving in Blankenberge


BELOW: Our travel time to Kerk was only 11 minutes.

Flanders Coastal Tram to Knokke in Kerk station


BELOW: From the Kerk tram stop, it was only a short walk to Zeebrugge CruiseTerminal and MSC Preziosa.

Zeebrugge Cruise Terminal

MSC PREZIOSA in Zeebrugge, Belgium


BELOW: Departure time was 8 p.m. Zeebrugge's harbor is compact, with easy access to the North Sea, so MSC Preziosa passed the breakwater less than 15 minutes after leaving the pier.

Departure from Zeebrugge, Belgium

Next page: Arrival in Rotterdam


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MSC Preziosa day-by-day photo diary:
Embarkation in Rotterdam
Departure, Sea Day 1
Hamburg
Sea Day 2
Le Havre
Southampton
Zeebrugge
Arrival in Rotterdam

Also see:
MSC Preziosa cruise review: North Sea