Britannia rules the waves with a host of Food Heroes

Sailing on Britannia, the newest cruise ship to launch from P & O Cruises promises to be a mouth-watering experience. At the event that I attended I was able to taste some of the delicious food that will be on offer and learn about the Food Heroes who are behind the culinary experience on Britannia and the other cruise ships in the P & O fleet.

Britannia cruise ship from P&O Cruises launching 2015

Britannia cruise ship from P&O Cruises launching 2015

Marco Pierre White, known as The Godfather of UK celebrity chefs will continue his association with P & O cruises in creating signature dishes for guests to enjoy at the gala dinners on board, such as marbled game, pear and pine nut terrine or breast of Gressingham duck with black cherry sauce.

I was also able to watch a demonstration from Michelin Star chef Atul Kochhar known as The Master of Spices, as he prepared one of his Indian inspired dishes that will be served in Sindhu, the fine dining restaurant on board Britannia. We Brits do love our curry, but this takes the spicy experience to a whole new level.

Chef Atul Kochhar demonstrates one of the Indian dishes from his fine dining restaurant Sindhu on board Britannia

Chef Atul Kochhar demonstrates one of the Indian dishes from his fine dining restaurant Sindhu on board Britannia

Britannia will also introduce new Food Heroes such as Eric Lanlard, a master pâtissier  known for his London Cake Boy cookery school and cafe as well as his TV appearances. Eric will be designing the French-style patisserie served in the Market Cafe in Britannia’s Atrium as well as  a champagne afternoon tea experience to be enjoyed in the fine dining restaurant. I was able to taste some of the cakes myself which were delicious as well as being a feast for the eyes.

Another new feature on Britannia is the Cookery Club that has been designed by TV Chef James Martin, with a dedicated space of 12 cookery stations where guests can watch the chef’s demonstration and then try their hand in a two hour cookery lesson, followed by a chance to eat their dishes. James Martin will be travelling on some of the cruises throughout Britannia’s maiden season to teach classes while others will be taught by chefs he has trained.

Patisserie from chef Eric Lanlard will be served on board Britannia

Patisserie from chef Eric Lanlard will be served on board Britannia

For those of you who like to enjoy a glass or two of wine on your cruises, TV wine expert Olly Smith has been brought on board to select the wines that will be served in Britannia’s Glass House restaurant and bar. Over 30 wines will be available by the glass and Olly has written tasting notes to enable guests to make a perfect match between the food dishes and the wine.

One of the great pleasures of cruising is to take a break from the cooking and spoil yourself with delicious new tastes in food and wine, and Britannia is certainly taking the culinary experience to new levels. You can find more about the cruises available in her maiden season and register your interest now on the P & O Cruises website.

More cruise stories

How to enjoy your cruise without piling on the pounds (easier said than done)
Planning the perfect cruise stop on Guernsey
Being Princess for a day – the naming of the Royal Princess Cruise ship

This article by Heather Cowper is originally published at Heatheronhertravels.com – Read the original article here

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Planning the perfect cruise stop on Guernsey

If you are taking a cruise that stops at Guernsey in the Channel islands and are wondering how to spend your time ashore, this article is for you. Here are my suggestions for what you may enjoy, whether you choose to take an organised cruise excursion or explore on your own. At the end of this article you’ll find details of my giveaway of a unique Guernsey souvenir.

The island of Guernsey was the final port of call on the four night European Sampler Cruise on Crown Princess that we took in September with Princess Cruises. As the harbour at St Peter Port is not large enough to accommodate cruise ships, we took the tender (the lifeboats are used) in order to get off the ship and onto Guernsey. If you’re new to cruising like me, you may not be aware that it is something of an organisational feat to get up to 3000 passengers off the ship in small boats, so if you are keen to spend as much time on shore as possible, you need to make sure you go to the tender station as early as possible.  The Crown Princess arrived at Guernsey at 7am, so we made sure to have an early breakfast and by 9am were standing on the quayside.

Tender of Crown Princess Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Taking the tender from Crown Princess

To Excursion or not to Excursion?

We had visited Guernsey before in the spring of 2012, when we hired a car and so we had seen many of the main attractions on the island. For this reason, we decided not to book any shore excursions, but to use our time to meander at our own pace and explore a bit more of St Peter Port. The bookable cruise excursions would typically take you on a scenic drive of this beautiful island, stopping at The Little Chapel, Sausmarez Manor and sometimes the Gold and Silver Workshops, and I think that it is worth considering these if you prefer everything to be organised or are not very mobile. I probably wouldn’t take the excursion covering Castle Cornet as this is easy to see on your own and a short walk from where the tender drops you. If you are keen to see the smaller islands of Herm and Sark, excursions could be good options, due to the logistics involved in arriving onshore and then taking another ferry to these islands, and getting back in time for the 4pm cruise departure.

If you prefer to make your own arrangements, there is a reliable network of buses to get around Guernsey which is quite a small island, and most places are a 20-30 minute ride from St Peter Port. The bus station is just along the quayside, opposite Castle Cornet, and you can find information about buses and timetables on the HCT Guernsey Bus website. There is a flat fare of £2 per single journey or £4.50 for a 1 day bus pass, which is excellent value. The No 91 “Guernsey Vaeux” bus service runs 4 times a day on a continuous loop around the island, which makes an inexpensive sightseeing tour, although if you get off you’ll probably have to use one of the other buses to get back to St Peter Port. If you’re an active traveller you could consider hiring a bike from just behind the Tourism Office, or just walk around St Peter Port and along the coastal path as we did.

A wander around St Peter Port and the Candie Gardens

One thing we hadn’t appreciated was that on Sundays most of the shops in St Peter Port are closed, so the atmosphere was very quiet. After having a look around the Tourist Office on the harbor front, we decided to walk up the hill to the Candie Gardens, dominated by the statue of Victor Hugo looking out towards France. We had a coffee in the small café in the Candie Gardens and then took a look around the Guernsey Museum, with an exhibition all about the Beatles and life in the 1960s, as well as artworks and archaeological objects telling the history of Guernsey through the ages. The Candie Gardens had some colourful floral displays and in summer this would also be a lovely place to come and sit with a picnic and a great view over the bay.

For More Information: The Candie Gardens is free to visit and open daily until dusk. The Guernsey Museum and Art Gallery  cost £6 open April-October, the Cafe Victoria in the gardens is open daily.

Candie Gardens on Guernsey Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Candie Gardens on Guernsey

Hauteville House – the Victor Hugo House

Had it not been closed on Sundays, we would have loved to have a look around Hauteville House, the home of the celebrated French poet and writer, Victor Hugo. If you love art and culture this is one thing I would not miss on Guernsey, and although I had seen it on my previous visit, I wanted to show Guy, who had not. If you are not booked to see the Victor Hugo House as part of an excursion, you need to be aware that you will be shown around the house with a guide by timed entry, which can be booked by ringing or e-mailing the museum in advance or by simply arriving and then booking yourself on the next available tour.

Victor Hugo arrived on Guernsey in 1855, as an exile from France because of his political views. He purchased this former corsair’s house set on the hill with views over the harbour and set about transforming it into a richly decorated showcase for his ideas and exotic tastes in antiques and gorgeous textiles. The tour will take you from room to room, with explanations of how Hugo found the old oak chests, Aubusson tapestries and Chinese silks that he collected like a magpie. On the first floor are the magnificent rooms that the family used for entertaining, while on the top floor is a glass conservatory, where the author worked in private, with views across to Castle Cornet. Once the tour is complete, you can wander around the lovely, country style walled garden with roses, fountains and herbaceous borders. Read my article about Victor Hugo – decorateur extrordinaire at Hauteville House on Guernsey

For more information – Guernsey’s Victor Hugo Website. Cost £7, open April-September

Hauteville House, Victor Hugo, Guernsey Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Hauteville House, Victor Hugo, Guernsey

Castle Cornet

Another major attraction in St Peter Port is Castle Cornet, the military fortress at one end of the harbour, that now houses five different museums under one entry ticket. The earliest parts of the castle date back to the 13th century and it came under siege in the 17th century during the English Civil war with a large garrison being maintained throughout the 18th century. We didn’t have time to pay a visit on this trip but had previously seen the “Story of Castle Cornet” Museum, with different roomsets showing how the soldiers lived in the barracks and the history of the castle. Other parts of the castle house the RAF Museum, the Maritime Museum and gallery, Royal Guernsey Light Infantry Museum and Royal Guernsey Militia Museum. There is also a cafe and a walled garden that’s planted in 18th century style. It’s worth being at Castle Cornet at mid-day to see and hear the firing of the noon-day gun which is very loud!

For More Information: Castle Cornet Museum Website Cost £9.75 Open March-October

Castle Cornet, St Peter's Port, Guernsey Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Castle Cornet, St Peter’s Port, Guernsey

La Valette Military Museum

On our last visit to Guernsey, we had visited the German Occupation Museum which is found in the parish of Les Houards, close to the airport and houses a collection of artefacts from the German Occupation during World War Two. This time we stopped at the La Valette Underground Military Museum which you can easily reach on foot if you walk along the seafront to the furthest end. The La Valette museum is housed in underground tunnels built by the German Army using forced labour during the Second World War and contains memorabilia such as uniforms, equipment, medals and posters as well as giving an opportunity to see the tunnels.

Both museums have an old-fashioned and slightly home-made feel compared to the multi-media hands-on experiences that many larger museums in Europe have become. The memorabilia from the period of the occupation is in glass cases although there are some models dressed in uniform from the era. Of the two museums I prefered the German Occupation Museum as it did a better job of telling the story of the occupation for real people on Guernsey through videos and audio recording. If you’d like to visit you can get there on the No 93 or 11 bus from St Peter Port bus station. The German Occupation also had a nice little tea-room downstairs although there was an outdoor refreshment kiosk overlooking the bay just opposite the entrance of La Valette Underground Military Museum.

For More Information:  German Occupation Museum Cost £5  Open April-October, La Valette Underground Military Museum Cost £5 Open March-November. Read my article about Guernsey, the German Occupation and Potato Peel Pie

La Vallette Military Museum on Guernsey Photo: Heaatheronhertravels.com

La Vallette Military Museum on Guernsey

A walk to Fermain Bay

If you’d like to stretch your legs and see something of Guernsey’s rugged coastal scenery, you can take a walk to Fermain Bay along the cliff path from St Peter Port. We had visited Fermain Bay on our previous visit, so we knew there was a delightful cafe set above the beach, where we might try some Guernsey Gâche, the local fruit bread. After passing the fortress of Castle Cornet and some outdoor bathing pools, the path took us past the Clarence Battery, an 18th century military garrison where some canons were on display among the fortifications. We continued through woodland, with glimpses of the sea, until an hour later we arrived at Fermain Bay where we stopped for refreshments at the Fermain Bay Café, next to a defensive Martello tower.

On our previous visit to Guernsey we had also visited the gardens and sculpture trail at nearby Sausmarez manor and walked further along the cliff path to the German WW2 fortifications at Jerbourg Point. If we had more time, these would have been additional things to do during our shore excursion, with perhaps a bus ride back to St Peter Port in time for our 4pm cruise departure. In summer, Fermain Bay is a lovely place to swim, so it would be worth bringing your bathers and a towel from the ship.

For More information: You can take the bus to Fermain Bay from the St Peter Port bus station on Routes 11 and 91/93  which runs every 30 mins,  and takes 10 mins.

Fermain Bay on Guernsey Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Fermain Bay on Guernsey

Sausmarez Manor

On our previous visit to Guernsey, we stopped at Sausmarez Manor, a beautiful Queen Anne manor house surrounded by gardens and a woodland sculpture trail around a lake. The house was not open when we visited, although there are guided tours on certain days, and if you wish to book one of the cruise excursions I would certainly look for one that includes a tour of the house and gardens. At the front of the manor is a formal lawned garden, with a smaller garden with herbaceous borders to one side.

Sausmarez Manor on Guernsey Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Sausmarez Manor on Guernsey

These gardens around the house are free and for an extra charge I enjoyed the sculpture trail which is like an outdoor art gallery, with sculptures in a woodland setting beside the lake. There is also a charming small tea room in a conservatory beside the house. Although we didn’t visit Sausmarez Manor on this occasion, it would be easy to visit independently by bus from St Peter Port, or in a combined visit walking or cycling to Fermain Bay.

For more information: Sausmarez Manor , admissions to gardens and sculpture park £6 Guided House Tours £7. You can take the bus to Sausmarez Manor from the St Peter Port bus station on Routes 11 and 91/93  which runs every 30 mins and takes 15 mins

Sculpture at Sausmarez Manor on Guernsey Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Sculpture at Sausmarez Manor on Guernsey

The Little Chapel

One stop on almost every cruise excursion is the Little Chapel, a tiny chapel just a few paces long covered with broken crockery, shells and mosaic. The chapel was built by a local religious brother modelled on the grotto at Lourdes and the first couple of versions didn’t make the grade so this one was built in the 1940s. This labour of love was decorated over some years but it’s quite small and so you’ll probably only be there half an hour. If you want to visit the Little Chapel independently you can take the bus which runs hourly from St Peter Port.

For more information: The Little Chapel, the bus from St Peter Port Bus station to The Little Chapel on Route 71 runs every hour and takes 15-20 mins. The Little Chapel is free but relies on donations. 

The Little Chapel in Guernsey Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

The Little Chapel in Guernsey

Visiting Sark and Herm

The smaller islands of Sark and Herm can be reached by ferry from Guernsey and visited as a day trip, although you’d need to plan your timings carefully to be sure to get back in time for the cruise departure. As the Sark crossing is longer, and can be cancelled in case of rough seas, this is one that I would probably do as an organised cruise excursion to take any pressure off you in case things go wrong. The island of Herm is smaller and the crossing only takes 20 minutes so this is more feasible to visit independently, when you can enjoy the unspoilt beaches and walking paths as there are no cars on the islands.

On our previous visit to Guernsey, we visited Sark and would highly recommend it, especially if you have already visited St Peter Port before and want to experience a place where time seems to have stood still since the 1950s. As no cars are allowed on Sark, the main ways to get around are on foot, by bike or by horse-drawn carriage and on arrival you will have the opportunity sit in a cart with bench seats known as the toast rack and be dragged up the hill by tractor.

At the top of the hill is the main village with a few shops, bank, pub and places where you can hire bikes or a horse-drawn carriage to take you around the island. We hired bikes at Avenue Cycle Hire and headed in the direction of Little Sark which is joined to the main island by a narrow, fenced causeway with a sheer drop on either side, known as La Coupee. We took a detour to the beautiful beach at Dixart Bay which is reached down a narrow, wooded lane, before continuing to have lunch at La Sablonnerie Hotel hotel on Little Sark where we dined on fresh lobster with a butter sauce at a table set in the rose garden.

After lunch we cycled back to the other end of the island to visit La Seigneurie Gardens, the residence of the Seigneur or Lord of the island. The house is not open but the gardens are open on most days through the summer and there’s also a nice cafe for lunch with a cost of about £3.50 to look around the gardens. A stroll in the sunshine around the walled garden with lovely herbaceous borders, fountains and a maze to get lost in was most enjoyable.

For more information: Isle of Sark website: the ferry crossing is run by the Isle of Sark Shipping Company, costs £27.80 return (at time of writing), running 4 times daily in peak season and the journey is 55 minutes.  Herm website: the ferry crossing is run by Trident Ferry Company which has a kiosk on the harbour front close to where the tender drops you and the ferry runs several times daily and the journey takes 20 minutes. Please consult the ferry timetable when booking and be sure to book your return crossing in good time, as if you are late, the ship won’t wait!

Cafe on Sark Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Cafe on Sark

There are plenty of things to enjoy in your cruise stop on Guernsey and my tip is to have an early breakfast and disembark your cruise ship as early as possible, so you have time to enjoy it all. If you decide to take one of the cruise excursions, you will be able to visit a number of the places I’ve mentioned in this article and have the convenience of easy transport and a guide. However, don’t be afraid to take the reliable bus service to explore on your own or just visit the many interesting things in and around St Peter Port on foot.

MonopolyMy Giveaway

As a fun souvenir of Guernsey, I have a Guernsey Monopoly Game to give away, which I was kindly sent by the makers as they used some of my photos on the board. This giveaway, is for subscribers to my monthly newsletter which includes details of future reader offers. Unfortunately, due to the cost of postage I am only able to send the Guernsey Monopoly to a UK address. All you need to do, if you’d like to enter the draw for the  Guernsey Monopoly set is to;

1. subscribe to my newsletter below
and
2. Let me know in the comments that you’d like to be entered for this draw.

That’s it! As a subscriber you’ll be sent my monthly newsletter plus occasional details of other reader travel offers and giveaways, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

Princess cruises logoMy 4 night European Sampler Cruise with my husband was hosted by Princess Cruises who offer cruises to European and Worldwide cruises to allow you to explore fascinating destinations and escape completely on board their elegant and spacious ships. Our cruise took us from Southampton to Rotterdam to Guernsey before returning to Southampton. You can keep up with latest updates for Princess Cruises on their Twitter page @PrincessCruises and on the Princess Cruises Facebook Page.

This article by Heather Cowper is originally published at Heatheronhertravels.com – Read the original article here

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You’ll also find our sister blog with tips on how to build a successful travel blog at My Blogging Journey

9 cool things to see if you only have one day in Rotterdam

Our visit to Rotterdam as part of our 4 day European Sampler Cruise on board Crown Princess was one of the most enjoyable days of the cruise. The sun shone as we stood on deck and the ship glided through the canal that led to the port of Rotterdam, the second city of the Netherlands and one of the largest ports in the world. On the skyline were rows of windmills – the modern white kind rather than the picturesque old ones you get on every postcard, and the canal was lined with industrial buildings. We only had one day in Rotterdam, arriving mid morning and departing late in the evening but we managed to pack in plenty of interesting things, all within easy walking distance of the cruise terminal. So if you only have one day in Rotterdam, here are some of the things that we enjoyed on our cruise day ashore.

Rotterdam harbour seen from the Spido Harbour tour Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Rotterdam harbour seen from the Spido Harbour tour

1. Spido Harbour Tour

From the cruise terminal we walked across the Erasmus bridge, known locally as the Swan for the sculptural effect of its supports, and from the jetty on the other side we took the Spido Harbour Tour, lasting 75 minutes. We were lucky to have bright and sunny weather, but the large boat would be suitable for all weathers with indoor and outdoor seating areas, and a café to buy coffee and snacks.

Rotterdam harbour seen from the Spido Harbour tour Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Rotterdam harbour seen from the Spido Harbour tour

We settled on the open, upper deck from where we got a great view of all the interesting buildings alongside the Maas River. The commentary in English and other languages informed us about the modern buildings, many by notable architects, as most of the older buildings of Rotterdam were destroyed by bombing during the Second World War. We toured up one side of the harbour, past the Euromast tower and around the working shipyards where cranes were loading goods and colourful containers were stacked along the quay. Returning along the other side of the harbour we made a detour to pass the old cruise liner SS Rotterdam, the Hotel New York and the Crown Princess moored on Wilhelmina Pier, before being dropped off beside the Erasmus bridge again. Need to know: Spido Harbour tour lasts 75 minutes and cost €10.75 per adult €6.60 for children. The tours run all year round and in the summer there are around 10 sailings a day, with less in winter.

Rotterdam harbour seen from the Spido Harbour tour Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Rotterdam harbour seen from the Spido Harbour tour

2. SS Rotterdam

We passed the SS Rotterdam on our harbour tour, but unfortunately we didn’t have time for a proper visit. This steam ship was the biggest passenger ship ever built in the Netherlands under the Holland America line and is now a hotel and museum. In her heyday she welcomed celebrities like Frank Sinatra and European Royalty like Crown Princess Beatrix of the Netherlands and Princess Margaret of England, but now anyone can eat in one of the restaurants and cafes or have a cocktail in the bar. You can take a 1 hour audio tour around the ship to see behind the scenes in the charts room, bridge and captain’s cabin. Need to know:  SS Rotterdam, Katendrecht. Audio tour costs €16 Adults, €9.50 children 10am-5pm, free entry for the restaurants and bars

SS Rotterdam seen from the Spido Harbour tour Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

SS Rotterdam seen from the Spido Harbour tour

3. Schmidt Zeevis

Once we completed the Spido Harbour tour, it was getting close to lunchtime so we asked a local shopkeeper for a recommendation of where we might find some pickled herring, my husband’s favourite. We were directed to Schmidt Zeevis, a fishmonger’s and deli which had apparently won awards for the best in the city and was just a 5 minute walk away from the Erasmus Bridge. The chilled counters were full of fresh seafood as well as ready-to-eat dishes to take out, but there were tables by the window where you could stand and eat your lunch selection. In the open kitchen we could see large pieces of fish being sliced with great precision and the sharpest of knives. Display counters doubled as table tops and groups of local businessmen were eating anything from Japanese raw fish with dipping sauces, to battered fish goujons, all washed down with a glass of chilled white wine. We joined the lunchtime diners standing at a counters and Guy ordered a selection of herring and roll-mops from the deli counter, while I had the lunchtime special, which cost us around €10 per person Need to know: Schmidt Zeevis, Vasteland 60 – 3011 BM Rotterdam

Schmidt Zeevis in Rotterdam Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Schmidt Zeevis in Rotterdam

4. HavenMuseum (Harbour Museum)

Strolling down the Leuvehaven area of the harbour full of old boats, we were invited on board one that was part of the Haven (Harbour) Museum. This Dutch barge named Geertuida or Gertrude, after the wife of the owner, was built in 1906 and was used to transport building materials like stone and gravel to Brussels travelling along the many canals. Even more fascinating, as the volunteer guide explained to us, was that the barge had housed a whole family who lived on board. The children continued to manage the boat until they were too old, when it was given to the musum.

By the Haven Museum in Rotterdam Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

By the Haven Museum in Rotterdam

We were taken into the boat to see the old-fashioned living room, bedroom and kitchen, with the childrens’ bunks down below. The rooms were small but cosy and well fitted, and in days when many people lived in poor housing conditions, would have been a very pleasant place to live. There were also many other boats that you could look at as part of the Havenmuseum, with walkways between them. Need to know:  Havenmuseum, Leuvehaven 50, 3011 EA Rotterdam. Entry is free although donations are welcome. Open Wednesday, Saturday, Sunday  11am to 5pm although you can look at the boats from the quayside at any time.

Dutch Barge in the Haven Museum, Rotterdam Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Dutch Barge in the Haven Museum, Rotterdam

5. Maritiem Museum

Walking further along Leuvehaven we reached the Maritime Museum where we found the Mainport Live spectacle on the ground floor, with a model of the port and a light and sound video presentation to give you the feel of the life and vibrancy of Rotterdam. Upstairs there was the Sea Palaces Exhibition with examples of cruise ship interiors since the 1920s. The exhibition showed how cruise ships had developed from luxury liners that only the very wealthy can afford, to the holiday playgrounds of today that everyone can enjoy. If you want to wallow in the nostalgia of towels folded into animals, dressing up for dinner at the Captain’s table and leather trunks full of finery, you will love this exhibition. Need to Know: Maritiem Museum Rotterdam is open every day except Monday, Adults €7.50, Children €4. Address: Leuvehaven 1, 3011 EA Rotterdam

In the Maritime Museum, Rotterdam Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

In the Maritime Museum, Rotterdam

6. Architecture walking tour

At the tourist information stand in the cruise terminal, we had picked up a leaflet for the Architecture Walking Tour. As Rotterdam was heavily bombed in the Second World War, much of the old centre was destroyed, but the city has more than made up for this with some striking modern architecture. We crossed the Erasmus Bridge with the 139m steel pylon which earn it the nickname of The Swan. The walk along the canal took us past the “Red Apple” residential tower which gets its name from the colour of the exterior and the apple market that once stood here. Further along was the Art Nouveau Witte Huis or White House, an attractive eleven story building which was considered the sky scraper of its day, and one of the few older buildings to survive the bombing. The walking tour continued through the city centre with over 30 buildings of architectural significance to see, although we ran out of time to see them all. Need to know: Pick up a leaflet for the Architecture walking tour or Rondje Rotterdam at the Rotterdam info tourism office or in the cruise terminal. There are also Black street signs marked Rondje Rotterdam to guide you. More information about Rotterdam architecture on Rotterdam.info 

White House in Rotterdam Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

White House in Rotterdam

7. The Cube houses

A little way beyond the White House were the famous Cube Houses designed by Piet Blom, looking like a forest of cubes, each on its own trunk, containing the staircase. The houses overlook a small harbour area with a couple of bars which were a pleasant place to have a drink on the quayside and obviously very popular. If you fancy staying in one of the houses there is a hostel in two of the cubes joined together run by StayOkay. As the residents apparently got fed up of curious tourists wanting to have a nose around, one of the houses is now open as the Kijk-Kubus museum and I took a look around. The concept of Piet Blom was to create an urban village that included living space at the top level and small shops, businesses and play areas on the ground level between the houses, with each cube house being one of the trees in the forest. Having looked around the small show house, I decided that the houses are better to look at than to live in, with very small rooms and slanting ceilings tucked into the cube shape, but certainly an interesting insight into modern architecture in Rotterdam. Need to Know: The Kijk-Kubus museum is open every day 11.00-17.00 Adults €2.50, Children €1.50

Cube houses in Rotterdam Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Cube houses in Rotterdam

8. A Water Taxi back to the ship

By the afternoon, we were a little foot weary and so we took one of the yellow and black water-taxis from Leuvehaven, near the Havenmuseum to speed us back to Crown Princess. We’d spotted the water taxis from the deck of the cruise ship in the morning when we docked and thought they looked rather fun – you could imagine yourself in one of those James Bond moments, weaving through the harbour with the baddies in hot pursuit. There was a crowd of people waiting but we all managed to squeeze in and I got the front seat beside the boatman as we left the harbour under the bridge, and then he pulled back the throtttle across the open water. In no time we were passing Crown Princess and Hotel New York on the end of Wilhelmina piers to be dropped off by the little boathouse jetty nearby. Need to know: Water taxis run from Leuvehaven and Veerhaven on one side of the river, to Hotel New York and SS Rotterdam on the other. They are normally running around every 10 minutes from 9am to midnight and our trip from Leuvehaven to Hotel New York cost €3.80 per person one way.

In the water taxi in Rotterdam Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Taking the water taxi in Rotterdam

9. Hotel New York

Our water taxi from Leuvehaven dropped us at Hotel New York, at the end of Wilhelmina Pier, and before we made the short walk back to Crown Princess, we had to stop for coffee at this legendary hotel and cafe. The historic building was once the office of the Holland America cruise lines and the place where emigrants from the Netherlands left for New York to start a new life. Now the building is a buzzing hotel with bar, restaurant and outdoor terrace. Of course there’s plenty of seafood on the menu and a relaxed, brasserie atmosphere. We sat at the reading table, full of books and international magazines, under an enormous crystal chandelier, for a coffee an enormous slice of Dutch apple cake. The whole of Wilhelmina Pier is being redeveloped as a happening place with a photography museum and old warehouses being converted into residential apartments. The terrace café in front of the hotel was also busy and a great place to sit in the afternoon sunshine, with views of the harbour and boats going by. Need to know: Hotel New York, Koninginnenhoofd 1, 3072 AD, Rotterdam – On Wilhelmina pier, a short walk from the cruise terminal. Open from 7am to 1am

Hotel New York in Rotterdam Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

We stopped for coffee at Hotel New York in Rotterdam

There was far more of interest to see in Rotterdam than I had expected, and it was easy to walk to many of the sights from the cruise terminal. Other guests used the free shuttle bus to take them to the central shopping area and the station, and I heard that some just stayed on the bus and used it as a mini-sightseeing tour. Another option that was very popular was to take the free bus to the station and catch the train to Amsterdam which I gather was a quick and inexpensive journey. There were also many excursions available to see various things in Amsterdam if you prefer to have transport and activities arranged for you.

More about our European Sampler Cruise with Princess Cruises

How to enjoy your Princess Cruise without piling on the pounds
Taster Cruise diary series at the Online Travel Journal
I found plenty of useful Rotterdam Tips in this podcast from Tips for Travellers by Gary Bembridge

Princess cruises logoMy 4 night European Sampler Cruise with my husband was hosted by Princess Cruises who offer cruises to European and Worldwide cruises to allow you to explore fascinating destinations and escape completely on board their elegant and spacious ships. Our cruise took us from Southampton to Rotterdam to Guernsey before returning to Southampton. You can keep up with latest updates for Princess Cruises on their Twitter page @PrincessCruises and on the Princess Cruises Facebook Page.

This article by Heather Cowper is originally published at Heatheronhertravels.com – Read the original article here

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