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Arriving by Cruise Ship in Amsterdam and going to Belgium for 4 nights

We are arriving by Cruise Ship into Amsterdam this summer and then going to Belgium for 4 nights. We are flying home from Brussels.

  1. We want to choose one city as our home base in Belgium and then take a few day trips from there. Originally we were going to stay in Brussels but after some research, I feel Brugge may be nicer in the summer. We're now thinking of doing one night in Brussels before our flight home. Does it make more sense to make Brugge or Brussels our home base?

  2. If possible we'd also like to visit Antwerp and/or Ghent on our day trips. Any suggestions which place is nicer to see? My husband is an art enthusiast so I'm feeling Antwerp is best. I'm thinking that trying to do a day trip to both Antwerp and then Ghent may be too much.

  3. Which train should we take to get to Brugge or Brussels from Amsterdam and is there a train station near the cruise port?

Any suggestions would be much appreciated!

Posted by
15573 posts
  1. Ghent might be the best city to base in as it is easy train to Bruges, Antwerp, and Brussels airport.

  2. There are direct trains Gent to Bruges every 15 minutes or so, taking 22 to 41 minutes. To Antwerp every 20 minutes, taking 1 hour. Direct train to Brussels airport on the hour taking 1 hour. Other trains at other times taking longer or requiring changes along the way.

  3. The Amsterdam cruise port is one tram stop from Amsterdam Centraal station. You can buy tickets there to Gent, Antwerp, Brussels, or Bruges. You will have the option of taking a high speed train for all or part of the way, or Intercity trains taking longer with more changes but for less money.

Posted by
3 posts

So I think Ghent it is for our home base. Should I buy tickets in advance for trains since it's summer and busy season? Depending on price, we may want to purchase the fast train. Are there websites I should look at?

Posted by
15573 posts

The only one would be to go from Amsterdam Central to Ghent. Look at www.Thalys.com. That would be the Thalys train to Antwerp then change to an IC train to Gent St Pieters. Make sure you allow enough time to get off the ship and get to the station. Discount tickets are nonrefundable, so miss the train and you have to buy new full fare tickets.

The rest of the trains are Belgian IC trains. Frequent with no reservations. Just buy tickets when you want to go.

Posted by
2487 posts

Consider the somewhat slower Intercity Brussel train from Amsterdam to Belgium. It comes without a compulsory reservation, meaning your ticket is valid for any train running that day. It is a pleasant peace of mind to know that if you can't make a planned train, you can take the next one.

Posted by
306 posts

The Centraal station in Amsterdam is a comfortable walk away from the docks.
You can actually see it from where the cruise ships dock,

After our river cruise last year, we took the train to Ghent and used it as a base to visit Bruges.
We used Thalys from Amsterdam to Antwerp, but you can also use the intercity trains also.

I would stay in Ghent and day trip to Bruges and Antwerp before going to Brussels to catch your plane. Depending on your departure time, you may want to consider a hotel in Brussels with easy access to the airport. Bruges is nice, but smaller and romantic; Ghent is a little livelier but centrally located between Bruges, and Antwerp.
If your husband is interested in art, St. Baaf's in Ghent is a treasure in itself, not to mention the Adoration of the Lambs

Can recommend the Hotel Carlton in Ghent; close to the train station and the proprietors are excellent guides. they gave us great suggestions for things to see in Ghent and Bruges and also were able to provide us with bus tickets which were good in both cities.

Enjoy!