Visiting Bruges in April. Would like to know the best day way to get to city from Cruise port and suggestions on the best things to see with only a short amount of time. (9 a.m. to 5p.m.).
Are you docking at Zeebrugge or Antwerp?
You will probably get more help by asking this on your cruise lines forum on Cruise Critic.
If docking at Zeebrugge and the cruise company doesn’t provide a shuttle service best way is taking the tram (a 10 min. walk from the terminal) to Blankenberge train station and from there one of the frequent trains to Brugge. From the train station in Brugge you can take the bus or walk like most do, the historic centre starts a soon as you cross the main street. Total travel time less than an hour.
Tickets for bus and tram are the same and you can buy them in the Spar supermarket on the way to the tram stop in Zeebrugge. If travelling in group a 10 ride ticket (€15) can be a good investment. The tram driver sells tickets too, but are more expensive. Train tickets are seperate and only to buy at the train station.
Before you scorn the high-cost ship-excursion, remember that the ship will leave without you if you do not return in time from an independent excursion. While it is easy to get the Bruges, you don't have control over late trains or navigation errors by yourself. Another issue is that, while Bruges is nominally walkable, the historic areas are not immediately next door to the rail station. There are city busses right at the rail station, but that introduces another element of waiting, buying a ticket, and knowing where to get off. (The main square is pretty obvious, because of the belfry.)
I have been to Bruges twice from Antwerp, but from a hotel, not from a cruise ship. This train usually goes through Gent, but you will not have time to see Gent as well.
Our ship provided a free shuttle from Zeebrugge to the train station. We found they offered that service at a few ports, which came as a pleasant surprise. The person who gives the port talks had the information. The advice about excursions vs DYI is important to note, and itinerary arrival time doesn’t necessarily mean that’s exactly when you will walk off (and reboarding is usually earlier than the actual departure time). Just important stuff to bear in mind. It is beautiful. We’d spent time in Brugge before. In our short visit, we just roamed around, visited an art museum, and had our mandatory French fries. Safe travels.