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Cruise Diva Goes Ashore: Sights to see, things to do & where to shop

Ports of Call - Bruge, BelgiumBruges, Belgium

Zeebrugge is the seaside town and port that is sometimes called "Gateway to Bruges." Built on reclaimed land, it took thirty to forty years to replace the port after its destruction in World Wars I & II. As in the rest of Belgium, three languages are all "official" and, depending on where you are, you'll hear Flemish, French, or German. Generally, the residents of West Flanders province speak Flemish. 


A few taxis meet arriving cruise ships at the Zeebrugge port; however, the area is primarily commercial and pre-planned transportation to Bruges is recommended, either through the cruise line or a local tour operator. Fifteen kilometers from Zeebrugge, the medieval city is best explored independently. Get a map and plan to stroll through the narrow cobbled streets and broad squares of the old town and take a canal boat to view the quaint architecture with its stepped gables.

The Grote Markt, or huge market square, is lined with cafes and shops. Towering over the square is the enormous belfry or Belfort. Visitors who climb the 366 steps to the top of the 272 feet high belfry are rewarded with an exceptional view. While in Grote Markt, try a snack of steamed mussels accompanied by frites, or Belgian fried potatoes--never call them French fries.

The nearby Burg is a lovely square where the Stadhuis, Belgium's oldest town hall, displays a fine example of Gothic architecture. Adjacent to the Stadhuis is the Heilig Bloed Basiliek or Basilica of the Holy Blood. The church has possessed a scrap of cloth since 1149 that is said to be soaked with the blood of Christ. During an annual festival it is carried through the city and is displayed only on Fridays in the church, the oldest Roman style building in Flanders. Another major religious site in Bruges is the Church of Our Lady where Michelangelo's beautiful sculpture Madonna and Child is displayed.

Ladies set up displays of lace in doorways where they practice their craft. The Arentshuis contains fine examples of lace work as does the Gruuthuse Museum. The latter was a 15th century palace and a walk through the beautiful gardens is a delight.

Art lovers appreciate the Groeninge Museum with its extensive collection of Flemish art, including that of Jan Van Eyck.


Bruges is known for exquisite lace and divine chocolate. Lace shops flourish in the area surrounding the Grote Markt and are tucked into narrow buildings on many side streets. Chocolate is available everywhere

Brugse Taxi Service - Prearrange your pick up at the Seaport for transportation and sightseeing. Send them an email for fares.

Back to Europe, Baltic Ports of Call

For a Cruise Diva perspective, follow the Baltic Capitals Cruise Diary

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