Harwich (Photo:Martin Parratt/Shutterstock)
Harwich (Photo:Martin Parratt/Shutterstock)
3.0 / 5.0
Cruise Critic Editor Rating

Cruise Critic Staff

Port of Harwich

Harwich, on London's east coast, is the quietest of the three main ports of embarkation that service London (and it's never featured as a daylong port-of-call stop). Only Holland America, Celebrity and Royal Caribbean base ships here -- and there's not a whole lot to see and do in the immediate area.

Shore Excursions

About Harwich


Pro

Harwich is primarily an embarkation port, but there are a few off the beaten path sights to explore nearby

Con

There's not much to see or do in Harwich itself, though you'll likely only be there for a few hours anyway

Bottom Line

Harwich is pretty bare, but if you have some extra time you can work in some sightseeing in surrounding cities


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On the other hand, it's a pretty easy 70-mile trip from London, and so most travelers who embark here pass through the area.

Still, the nearby cities of Ipswich and Colchester do offer sights to see, so a trip out of Harwich can be a good excuse to get off England's well-trodden sightseeing path.

Where You're Docked

At Harwich International Port. Services are pretty much limited to money exchange and a cafe. For (forgotten) essentials, there's a huge Morrisons Supermarket about a five-minute drive away. Taxis are readily available outside the terminal to take you there.

Port Facilities

There is a Tourist Information Centre (Monday - Friday, 9 a.m. - 5 p.m., Saturday - Sunday until 6 p.m.; October - March, closed Sunday) not far from the port that sells stamps, phone cards and offers photocopying and fax services.

Getting Around

Heathrow and Gatwick are each more than a two-hour drive to Harwich. This is one of those embarkation ports where it really is useful to purchase cruise lines' own transfers, whether you buy their air or not. Plan to pay about $100 each way.

The best way to get to London airports is by train via London. Options for traveling to/from London include frequent trains to/from Harwich International Station (it's adjacent to the cruise terminal) to/from Liverpool Street Station (?13 one-way/?33 return; up to 1 hour 17 minutes) via www.nationalrail.co.uk. You will then need to either take a taxi or the Tube (not advisable if you have a lot of luggage) to either Paddington Station to catch the Heathrow Express (15 minutes, every 15 minutes; ?20 one-way) to Heathrow; or to Victoria Station for the Gatwick Express (35 minutes every 20 minutes; ?19.90 single). Trains to Stansted Airport run from Liverpool Street on the Stansted Express (40 minutes every 20 minutes; ?23.40).

If you opt to go by taxi it will cost you at least $100 to London or airports and will take up to two hours depending on traffic. Try Harwich Taxis.

Cruise lines also offer transfers (again, not necessary to purchase their air) from various points in London.

Coach Hire Booking offers transfers to and from U.K. airports to ports around the country and passengers are given priority disembarkation and will be picked up and dropped off right at the gangway. Prices range from ?25 for a single transfer to ?40 for a return.

There is one car rental agency in Harwich: Europcar which is based within the port terminal (Tel. 0871 384 1065).

Currency & Best Way to Get Money

The national currency is the sterling pound (quid in slang). Currency exchange can be made in most banks, post offices and train stations (for the current rate exchange, go to www.oanda.com or www.xe.com). Traveler's checks should be exchanged at banks or exchange offices since very few businesses will accept them (ATM's and credit cards make them nearly obsolete). For the best exchange rate, use ATM's.

Note: Some ATM's in England require a PIN to be only four digits long, so plan ahead. Also, many display only numerals on the keypad. For pin codes that include letters, commit to memory or jot down the translation to numbers.

Language

English is understood and spoken everywhere.

Food and Drink

Ha' Penny Pier Bistro: Try the baked haddock. Per-person cost for a three-course meal including wine will run about $31. (The Quay)

Harborside Restaurant: Good seafood and very nice views of the sea. Try the Roast Cod. Per-person cost for a three-course meal including wine will run about $38. (The Quay)


Shore Excursions
Best Choice for London Lovers: London Sightseeing. Duration: 8 hours. Price: $82.

Best Choice for Luxe Living: Full day for two for custom-designed tour by private car. Duration: 8 hours. Price $1,150.

Best Choice for Culture Vultures: The English Countryside & Tea. Duration: 4.5 hours. Price: $59.