Overnight we had sailed to Belgium and docked in Zeebrugge on Sunday the 27th of May. Rather than go to Bruges we went to the beach in nearby Blankenberge.
Our cruise on Sapphire Princess would take us to Belgium, Denmark, Sweden and finally to Norway.
Arriving in Zeebrugge
We woke up to find ourselves docked in Zeebrugge. Our cabin’s window looked out at the centre of the ship and just below us crew members were placing a banner warning of a 50 metre security zone. As we watched they then setup a noise pulse generator to keep anyone from coming to close to the ship.
This was our first breakfast on board and we went to the International Dining Room at the stern for table service. We must have been early as the restaurant was not busy. Then I remembered that this might have been helped by the non-EU passengers having to have a face-to-face meeting with Immigration. Plus there were lots of trips leaving early at 8 am.
For breakfast I had the special breakfast of smoked salmon with scrambled eggs accompanied by American bacon. I did remember to order orange segments as well as an apple juice. I’m guessing that orange segments by themselves is not a common order as I had just six small (fresh) orange segments.
My geography was way off as I asked our waiter if he was from Santiago but he very politely corrected me that he was from Peru. He was from the capital which was Lima and after all Santiago was in Chile.
Princess Cruises had arranged for shuttle buses to take passengers from the quay to Blankenberge but unlike P&O these were 10 Euros return. There was a free bus that took passengers just to the port gates but we stuck with the plan and caught the coach to Blankenberge. Once out of the port area and the canals the coach past through open countryside alongside tram tracks and passing the occasional hotel.
As it was Sunday the trains to and from Bruges were only hourly and we had decided to stay in Blankenberge, which after all was a seaside resort. The railway station there had been rebuilt since out earlier visits and now had a 5 or 6 storey complex of hotels over it.
The beach at Blankenberge
We walked thorough the shops to the beach and the promenade. Already the shops were open and holiday crowds filled the streets,
Once up the steps we crossed the promenade and went onto the beach.
The beach was practically empty or it may have been that the tide was out or everyone else had a better weather App!
There was a lot of plastic rubbish as we walked along.
We avoided where the lifeguard pickup had been making tracks earlier and settled down for our beach day.
The sun was shining bit there were a lot of clouds in the sky along with a strong wind blowing from the direction of the nearby pier. While we watched our grandson paddling in the sea we felt the first drops of rain. The Met Office weather App had promised sunshine til 4 pm so we decided that this was a local weather glitch.
Once the rain came down heavy we ignored the App’s advice and ran to find shelter under the promenade. There we were sheltering with a hen party.
After about 15 minutes we moved back onto the beach. By now the tide had turned and the lifeguard’s flag was showing green rather than red.
The sun came out from behind the clouds and the wind had dropped and the beach rapidly filled up.
I went back to the shops on the promenade and picked up a Coca-Cola Light. The promenade by then was packed with people walking, riding bikes or just sitting outside the many bars and cafes.