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Escape and explore

24/03/2017

Take some well-earned time out and discover exciting new destinations on a Taster Cruise holiday

The tree-lined Groenerei Canal in Bruges, Belgium

The tree-lined Groenerei Canal in Bruges

Whether you’re recharging your batteries after a gruelling deadline or simply escaping the grey skies, a long weekend or a few days away is ideal if you need to take some time out and indulge a little. But it’s also a great opportunity to try something new.

 

For first-timers, our collection of three to five-night Taster Cruises provides a perfect introduction to cruise life, while those who have sailed before can try out a different ship for a few days before committing to a longer cruise holiday.

 

Of course, on board you can expect the same fabulous food, sparkling entertainment and indulgent R&R that you’ll find on all cruise holidays, blended with the opportunity to explore some fantastic doorstop destinations…

 

St Peter Port, Guernsey

Aside from stunning scenery, superb seafood and duty-free shopping, highlights in this pretty town include Victor Hugo’s former home, Hauteville House, and Castle Cornet, which houses five museums and four period gardens. Or you can head off into the Ruette Tranquilles, quiet country lanes dedicated to walkers, cyclists and horse riders.

Top shore excursions: Gin-lovers can enjoy a scenic drive followed by a tasting masterclass of gins from around the world, including those made locally in the Wheadon’s Distillery (3 hours). Or you can don your helmet and cycle along the west coast, taking in nature reserves, stunning coastlines and the charming working harbour of Portelet (3.5 hours).

 

Bruges, Belgium (tours from Zeebrugge)

Zeebrugge, which literally means Bruges-on-Sea, is just 10 miles from the fairy-tale centre with its cobbled lanes, twinkling Christmas markets and criss-crossing canals offering romantic boat rides. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Bruges is an outstanding example of a medieval settlement, and many of its shops, restaurants, bars and hotels are found behind beautiful historic facades. In these, you can sample the velvety chocolate and local beers that the city is famous for.

Top shore excursions: A Taste of Bruges will give first-timers exactly that: a guided walk through the picturesque city taking in all the sites, complete with a canal boat ride (4.75 hours). Alternatively, you can take the opportunity to visit nearby Ghent or the historic battlefields at Ypres.

 

Cherbourg, France

This port town boasts a rich seafaring history, which can be explored in two outstanding museums: Cité de la Mer (City of the Sea) and Musée de la Libération (Liberation Museum). It’s also a great place to sample some of the tastes of Normandy, a region famous for its seafood, rich butter and cheeses, and apples, from which delicious cider, Calvados brandy and the aperitif Pommeau are made.

Top shore excursions: From Cherbourg, take a scenic drive to Bayeux, home of the famous tapestry depicting the Norman Conquest of England (5.5 hours). Or if you fancy going further afield, discover the history and stunning architecture of Mont Saint Michel, a UNESCO World Heritage Site (9 hours).

 

Le Havre, France

Pretty much obliterated during the Second World War, the city was rebuilt by the Belgian modernist architect Auguste Perret. Highlights include the stunning views over the harbour from Les Jardins Suspendus (The Hanging Gardens), an extensive collection of impressionist paintings in the Musée d'art moderne André Malraux (MuMa) and Perret’s soaring St Joseph’s Church (Église St-Joseph), which was built from bare concrete and some 13,000 panels of coloured glass. You won’t be bored as there’s also a beach, shopping centres and attractive docksides to explore.

Top shore excursions: Take the opportunity to visit the house and gardens of Claude Monet on the banks of the River Seine in Giverny (8 hours), or choose one of several sightseeing excursions to Paris.

Alster river, coffee shop and town hall in Hamburg, Germany

Hamburg’s town hall on the banks of the Alster river

Hamburg, Germany

Nicknamed the ‘gateway to the world’, this scenic city on the banks of the Elbe River is infused with maritime spirit thanks to its two giant lakes and hundreds of canals – you’re never too far from water here. Explore the city’s striking architecture and indulge in cosmopolitan shopping, dining and nightlife. Or simply sit back and relax with coffee and a Kopenhagener (pastry), filled with jam or marzipan.

Top shore excursions: Take in the highlights of this bustling city on a Snapshot of Hamburg tour (3 hours). Or follow in the footsteps of the Fab Four on The Beatles, Beer and Bratwurst excursion and discover where the band first found fame in the early 1960s (3 hours).

 

Amsterdam, Netherlands

This city’s winding streets, cosy cafés and bustling boutiques are best explored by foot or bike – or even by boat, along its 60 miles of historic canals. The Rijksmuseum (Museum of the Netherlands), Van Gogh Museum, Anne Frank House museum and Heineken brewery are all also worth a visit.

Top shore excursions: Get a feel for Amsterdam’s history on a guided walking tour and canal cruise in a glass-topped boat (3 hours), or enjoy a special visit to one of its museums accompanied by a specialist guide.

 

Find and book your short break now >

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