Amsterdam Canal

For those among us who are new to cruising, myself included, the thought of jumping straight onto a 40+ night cruise to the likes of South America or Canada can leave you with many questions and worries as the unknown world of cruising opens up to you. Whilst most people these days have experienced trips abroad that entail flights, airports, transfers, hotels, etc. which when trying to plan can culminate in an almighty headache, cruising allows for the unknown to be removed as a cruise line takes all the responsibility and hassle from planning your perfect trip. Modern cruising allows passengers to pick their theme or destination and then provides a full itinerary and schedule based on that selection. It takes the stress of multi-destination trips from travel, accommodation to visas and finding restaurants and harks back to the heyday of the travel agencies where the passenger need only to describe their perfect trip and the agent would produce it.

When I was first asked if I wanted to go on a cruise I was, as I always am at the thought of travelling, raring to go. Having never cruised before I was relishing the sense of a new adventure. As time went on the questions and doubts started to creep in, I began to doubt whether a cruise would be for me. I like to travel with a sense of wanderlust, I love to explore cities without a map to just discover and see what is around the next corner. I often make up day plans based on mood and what I discovered on the previous day so the thought of a confirmed itinerary with set stops worried me, would a cruise remove all the spontaneity of a short trip. I soon found that all those unprecedented fears were in vain the second I stepped aboard Magellan on a short cruise to Amsterdam and Antwerp. I was amazed at the smooth transition and thorough security checks at London Tilbury Port it was 30 minutes from arrival to being in my cabin. This is a far cry from the norm of airport queues, long flights, transfers and hotel check-in. It felt slightly novel to know that once I was in the cabin I would be travelling to two separate countries and could call the cabin my base with no need to worry about repacking or moving in order to visit these cities.

Short Break cruises can be a great way for those who are looking to dip their toes into the cruising world without going all out on booking a two week trip. Most short cruises are either an overnight hop from one port to another or a short trip to the continent with stops in the Netherlands and Belgium. Normally included in an overnight short cruise is a five course dinner, big show entertainment, cabaret, late night music, with a cabin and breakfast. This allows for you to get a taste of what days on board would be like , be sure to read our ‘8 tips for first time cruisers’ blog to make sure that if it is your first cruise that you know what to keep an eye out for.

For those among you who love to cruise, and do so regularly, going slightly further afield being at sea allows you the chance to discover hidden quiet corners which can be one of the most rewarding respites, activities as well can be great ways to bond with other passengers as you all learn new skills and discover hidden talents.  With short cruises the purpose of the trip can become more about getting to, and discovering, the port and city without spending time to appreciate and discover the ship which you call home. Whilst no one can argue with the ease of arriving in ports such as Antwerp on a short cruise were the city is literally on the other side of the road to the cruise terminal, longer cruising can allow for you to rediscover the glamour of cruising.

Amsterdam will always be a city which can be done in any time frame however when on a short cruise the city suits itself to those who want to self-explore. Since upgrading its cruise port terminal recently, Amsterdam cruise port is now only a short 15 minute walk from the ship right into the heart of Amsterdam and Dam Square. The city is best seen on foot or bike and with the short cruises on both Magellan and Columbus you gain a whole day in the city that makes it well worth wandering the network of canals across the city. A definite highlight for those who are only in the city for the day is a stop at De Laatste Kruimel café (literally translating as The Last Crumb). Nestled in small street (Langebrugsteeg) near to Dam Square this small shop offers a wide range of hot and cold sandwiches which are a complete delight. There are a few small tables inside and a small terrace on top of the canal. It really is one of the best small finds in Amsterdam and I can assure you that you will be hungry just from peering into their delightful windows.  

When on board and arriving at Antwerp Cruise Terminal the city is literally a stone’s throw from the ship. One of CMV’s unique treats for passengers on a short cruise is that the ships are perfectly sized to be able to use the Antwerp city cruise terminal and passengers on board and locals watching from the quayside are able to watch the ships as they perform the perfect three point turn in the river to dock, and our new flagship Columbus will be one of the largest ships to dock at the city. Within 5 minutes of leaving the ship you can be in the main Grote Markt exploring the city’s main square with the beautiful Cathedral of Our Lady which currently is host to a wide collection of Paul Peter Rubens paintings including ‘The Raising of the Cross’ (1609-1610), ‘The Descent from the Cross’ (1611 – 1614) and ‘The Assumption of the Virgin’ (1625 – 1626). Now counted as one of the greatest artists in the world it is a rare spectacle to enjoy some of his most famous works in the splendour of the 16th century gothic cathedral. 

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