Antwerp and Amsterdam on the Marco Polo

The Marco Polo was a very different cruise ship to the Serenade of the Seas I went on in May – it was much older, smaller, noisier and it rocked much more. Cruising to Antwerp and Amsterdam on the Marco Polo in Autumn was also very different in terms of leisure facilities required on the ship than the Mediterranean in late Spring and I missed being able to swim and laze in the sun during our time on the ship.

We left the London Tilbury cruise terminal on a dreary Thursday evening arriving in Antwerp bright and early on a Friday morning. The ships speaker was turned up loud in all cabins (The Serenade broadcast announcements in public areas and only in state rooms in the event of a drill or I imagine in an emergency) so anyone not awake at 7.55am soon found they were.

So I found myself off the ship by 9am with nothing open in Antwerp before 10am. I hung out in the squares taking photos and using the free wifi to touch base with the world while the small market set up.

Antwerp Town Hall
Antwerp Town Hall
Antwerp Belgium
Statue of the giant’s hand being thrown into the Scheldt River
16th-century Guildhouses at the Grote Markt
16th-century Guildhouses at the Grote Markt

The Cathedral of Our Lady was beautiful (and too tall to fit in my photo!) but I didn’t want to pay the €5.50 entry fee to go inside so simply enjoyed it from the outside.

Then nearby Church of Carolus Borromeus was free to enter however. I lit candles in memory of both my paternal grandparents who have now had candles lit for them all over the world in many a place they were unable to travel to during their lifetimes.

I liked the mix of old and modern in Antwerp. And the statues, murals and building decorations around the city.


Steen Castle was near where our ship docked so was my final point of call before downing a beer and buying some chocolates to eat later.

Steen Castle

After a night back on the cruise ship which included a formal evening and a 5 course meal (!) I again woke up to my friend on the loud speaker announcing to the world we’d arrived in Amsterdam.I spent hours walking the canals, avoiding cyclists and seeing the famed floating flower markets, I AMSTERDAM sign, museums, iconic buildings and monuments and fresh produce markets.

I did walk through the Red Light District go into a Coffee Shop in Amsterdam just to see what these famed attractions were about. I felt much more comfortable in a Starbucks later in the day!

I got myself completely lost and up the wrong end of the map so experienced the Amsterdam metro back to Central Station.

The cruise ended back in London on Sunday morning in the rain. Summer in London is over come September, there is no denying it.