At just shy of a week, this five-night mini cruise is ideal for exploring Northern Europe.

Hop aboard Royal Caribbean’s Independence of the Seas and head to the Netherlands, Belgium, and France in one fell swoop.

Your five-night adventure begins in Southampton on a Tuesday afternoon where you will board this large beast of a cruise ship. It has everything you could want or need on a cruise holiday. If you want a lazy, relaxing holiday, you will appreciate the loungers, quiet spaces, indoor promenade, and spa. Unless we are blessed with unusual late sunshine in October, the outdoor pools might be a bit chilly. There’ll be plenty to see and do inside though, although on this particular itinerary, there will be little time to spend onboard if you explore each destination to the max.

The first stop on this no-sea-day itinerary is Rotterdam. This Dutch city is like Amsterdam’s shy little brother. Sure, they share the same DNA but each has a completely different atmosphere. Rotterdam is trendy, arty, and full of a great range of shops, restaurants, and museums. It is built around the waterways, but in October, head to the massive Markthal indoor market, up the Euromast observation tower, or step back in time and explore ss Rotterdam. The scheduled departure time is quite late, so you could enjoy dinner in one of Rotterdam’s fine restaurants.

Spend a brief night onboard the ship and you will be ready to tackle Bruges. The ship docks in Zeebrugge, a short distance away, so you will need to book a shore excursion or catch the train from Blankenberge to the medieval city. Check out the countless chocolate shops, the many bars and restaurants, and the variety of museums.

Having ticked the Netherlands and Belgium off your sightseeing list, the holiday turns to France. This itinerary boasts two French ports of call – Cherbourg and Le Havre (for Paris). Cherbourg is easy to walk around in and is lined with restaurants and cafés. Save some shoe leather and head to the La Cité de la Mer Maritime Museum next to the cruise port (it even has a full-size submarine on display outside). In Le Havre, you could spend the day exploring the local sights, but you may wish to endure the two hour bus ride to the country’s capital, Paris. You will never see everything in this vibrant metropolis, but the shore excursion would give you a brief taste meaning of the French way of life.

All good things have to come to an end, and sadly, after Le Havre, the final call is Southampton on Sunday morning where you will disembark.

The Route

The map above shows point-to-point lines which may cross land. Do not worry, your cruise ship will stay on water all the way! Mapping is approximate and the markers are based on city locations and not necessarily the ports. The itinerary for this mini cruise is:

DayDatePortWhen
1Tuesday 24th October 2017Southampton4.30pm
2Wednesday 25th October 2017Rotterdam10am to 10pm
3Thursday 26th October 2017Zeebrugge7am to 5pm
4Friday 27th October 2017Cherbourg9am to 7pm
5Saturday 28th October 2017Le Havre7am to 9pm
6Sunday 29th October 2017Southampton5.30am

Times are estimates, and itineraries are subject to change. Occasionally, cruise lines alter itineraries based on the weather or prevailing events at the time of the cruise.

The Price

When I last checked, prices for this cruise started from £479 per person, based on two sharing an inside cabin. This price excludes gratuities, shore excursions, and any applicable flights and transfers (if needed). As prices change far too quickly for me to keep up-to-date by hand, please use the link below to get the latest prices.

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Last updated on 16th May 2017 by David Fiske

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