Cruises to Ghent

17 Reviews
Ghent (Photo:Dmitry Rukhlenko/Shutterstock)

About Cruising to Ghent

Brugge (Bruges) may be the better known -- and possibly better looking -- of Belgium's medieval cities, but Ghent (Gent) is a viable alternative, as it is larger (twice the population), more authentic and less crowded, especially during the busy summer months. Its central location puts it almost equidistant from Brugge, Brussels and Antwerp. Ghent's accessibility makes it a popular stop on many Belgium cruise itineraries.

In medieval times, Ghent was second only to Paris in power and population. The source of its wealth was the making of cloth, using imported English wool. Ghent was also once a major trading port, due to its ideal location at the intersection of two rivers (Schelde and Leie) and along a network of connecting canals. Today, the waterways are used mostly for pleasure barges and sightseeing launches -- the latter recommended as an alternative to walking -- and the city's heady past is reflected in the richness of its civic, commercial, religious and residential architecture.

Ghent is reached via the cruise ports of Antwerp or Zeebrugge. (River boat passengers arrive just outside the city center.) No need to be cooped up in a bus there -- the best methods of transportation are two feet, two wheels or a boat. In fact, most of Ghent's historic center is car-free, and its narrow lanes are inviting to explore. And, when you're not walking, feel free to stare at the city's eclectic architecture -- whether it be the three towers of Ghent (the belfry, St. Bavo's Cathedral and St. Nicholas' Church), the foreboding Gravensteen Castle, the schizophrenic Stadhuis or the elegant facades along the Graslei and Korenlei Rivers.

  • More about Ghent

  • Why Cruise to Ghent?

  • Ghent Cruise Port Facilities?

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Avalon Passion
Avalon Passion

7 Night
Tulip Time Cruise For Garden & Nature Lovers

66 Reviews
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River Princess
River Princess

9 Night
Tulips & Windmills

51 Reviews
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Avalon Panorama
Avalon Panorama (Photo: Avalon Waterways)

7 Night
Tulip Time Cruise For Garden & Nature Lovers

93 Reviews
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AmaLucia
AmaLucia (Photo: Jeri Clausing)

7 Night
Tulip Time

11 Reviews
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Nachi Cocom Beach Club

Cruise Critic Favorite

7 Night
Best Of Holland & Belgium

114 Reviews
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Cruise Critic Favorite

7 Night
Best Of Holland & Belgium

87 Reviews
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7 Night
Tulip Time Cruise For Garden & Nature Lovers

91 Reviews
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7 Night
Active & Discovery In Holland & Belgium

95 Reviews
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7 Night
Best Of Holland & Belgium

77 Reviews
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7 Night
Tulip Time

18 Reviews
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7 Night
Tulip Time

77 Reviews
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7 Night
Tulip Time

114 Reviews
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14 Night
Grand Rhine & Dutch Canals

39 Reviews
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7 Night
Active & Discovery In Holland & Belgium

66 Reviews
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7 Night
Best Of Holland & Belgium

39 Reviews
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More about Ghent

Why Cruise to Ghent?

Pros:

It's easy to explore the sights of this medieval city on foot and, in fact, cars aren't permitted in many areas

Cons:

Though street crime isn't particularly common, you should still be on guard in heavy crowds

Bottom Line:

Ghent offers an authentic experience with lots to see and do amid easily walkable streets

Ghent Cruise Port Facilities?

There is nothing in the immediate vicinity of the Zeebrugge docks, except other cruise vessels and container ships. Don't expect to be able to walk from the ship to anywhere interesting. At Antwerp, the walk into the city is just a few minutes.

Good to Know?

Be careful of your belongings when in crowds of people; otherwise, there is virtually no street crime.

Getting Around?

From the fortress-style Ghent Sint-Pieters railway station, take trams 1, 10 or 11 into the city center. Note the hundreds of bicycles lined up in the forecourt -- they're intended for commuters, but anyone can use them, free of charge, as long as they're returned to the station. The half-hour walk (about two kilometers -- less than a mile and a half) into the center is also recommended, as the pleasant route follows a commercial shopping street (same as the tram route) and passes through the university quarter. By going one block left, you can also parallel one of the city's many canals, which are lined with barge-type houseboats. Once in the city center, everything is within easy strolling distance. The tourist bureau is located in the vaulted basement of the 14th century belfort (belfry) on Botermarkt. You will find maps and booklet of restaurants. Free toilet facilities are located adjacent.

Currency & Best Way to Get Money?

Belgium uses the euro, and ATM machines are available in several locations throughout Ghent. Money exchange facilities are found in the train station, and an ATM is located next door at the post office. Kiosks, small stores and some transportation providers may not accept credit cards, so you should keep a stash of euros with you.

Language?

The official languages are Flemish and French, but many people speak some English. You should have no problems in locations that are geared toward tourists. In general, if you speak both English and French, use English when talking to Flemish speakers. Belgium experiences considerable tension between the Flemish (similar to Dutch) and Walloons (French), so you don't want to unknowingly offend someone.

Where You're Docked?

Large ships dock at Zeebrugge or Antwerp. At Zeebrugge, a large commercial port, most lines provide shuttle buses to Blankenberg railway station. Hourly trains run, via Brugge, to Ghent Sint-Pieters and on to Brussels. The fare to Ghent is about 14.60 euros, roundtrip, for the 45-minute ride. Seniors, except on summer weekends, pay only 4 euros, roundtrip, to any station in Belgium. The fare doubles on weekends but is still a bargain. The Belgian Coastal Tramway runs from Zeebrugge to Blankenberg and to the seaside resort of Ostend every 10 to 20 minutes, depending on the time of the year.

If you're docked at Antwerp, catch a train every half hour from Central Station to Ghent. The ride takes 50 minutes.

Ghent is also a stop on some river cruise itineraries, especially tulip season cruises. River boats dock less than a mile and a half (about two kilometers) from the city, and the transfer to the city center takes about 5 to 10 minutes. (Transportation is usually provided -- if not, a taxi is about 15 euros each way.)


Ghent Cruise Reviews
So much medieval architecture, fine art, sculpture, religious art, and flowers...and CHOCOLATE! Could have stayed here for a month and still not seen/experienced everything.Read More
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Tia Loco
visited St Bravo's Cathedral on our own and saw Adoration of the Mystic Lamb by Jan van Eyck - a mustRead More
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gregmmm
The city was beautiful and the history so rich.Read More
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CCopp
We loved this city and enjoyed the walking tour.Read More
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florestan

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