MSC Preziosa Cruise Photos
Day 6: Zeebrugge, Belgium
BELOW: Our arrival in 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.
BELOW: MSC Preziosa passed the harbor breakwater about 9:15 a.m.
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.
BELOW: Across the way, a sign next to the smallstation invited citizens to download the navy's official app.
BELOW: Coaches for shore excursions were lined up on the pier, and awas waiting near the gangway as passengers began leaving the ship before 10:30 a.m.
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).
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.
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.)
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, a.k.a. Zeebrugge Village. A road sign showed distances to Ostend, Bruges, and Blankenberge.
BELOW: The older neighborhoods of Zeebrugge were quiet, with hardly anyone in the streets. (Maybe everyone was in church?)
BELOW: The liveliest spot in town was the, where a train was preparing to depart.
BELOW: We continued on to, 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.
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.
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.)
BELOW: At the south end of Zeebrugge Strand, a walking path took us into awith sand dunes.
BELOW: This photo evokes memories of a 1964 film, Woman in the Dunes (although the woman here looks happier than her movie counterpart did.)
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).
BELOW: Unlike Zeebrugge, Blankenberge was still attracting a late-summer tourist trade (both human and furred).
BELOW: We were hungry after a long walk on a chilly beach, so we decided to lunch with the. (The Vlaamse Frites, or Belgian Fries, were excellent.)
BELOW: We finished lunch and took a flight of stairs to Blankenberge's main business district.
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.
BELOW: Next, we headed into the dog-friendly shopping district, which was was a lively retail hub for Blankenberge and surrounding towns.
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.
BELOW: Within a few minutes a tram arrived. (We were traveling north, toward, and our destination was the stop in Zeebrugge.)
BELOW: Our travel time to Kerk was only 11 minutes.
BELOW: From the Kerk tram stop, it was only a short walk to Zeebrugge CruiseTerminal and MSC Preziosa.
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.
Next page: Arrival in Rotterdam
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