Welcome to Harwich.

Having recently sailed on Celebrity Infinity from the port of Harwich I thought it may be useful for readers of this blog, and especially the many non UK readers, to have an insight into the port and cruise terminal arrangements at Harwich.

Harwich lies on the eastern coast of England and gives direct access into the North Sea. It is therefore an ideal base and position for cruise ships heading out to Northern Europe, the Baltic and outer islands such as Iceland.

 

Harwich is the smallest of the three main cruise ports that serve London, (Harwich, Southampton and Dover). It is is a single berth, single terminal affair which even at the height of the summer season will only have a cruise ship every other day at its busiest time.

Neither is Harwich a busy cruise port: it generally handles just the one cruise ship at a time. The port is accessible by both road and rail though both means of transport lack direct motorway infrastructure or direct rail lines…

 

 

Facilities within the cruise terminal are fairly basic though purpose built and spacious. There is a café and a local tourist stand within the cruise terminal, but little else: it’s functional.

Next door in the ferry terminal, (accessed by going along the rail platform), is another restaurant an exchange bureaux, more toilets and telephones.

 

 

 

 

During the summer months when a major cruise ship is in port a ‘cruise ship bus’ shuttle and a special cruise train are put on specifically for cruise passengers. The train runs non-stop between the cruise terminal and Liverpool Street, the cruise bus is a door to door service doing pickups and drops at Central London hotels as well as Heathrow Airport.

There is a broadly hourly train service between Harwich International Station and London’s Liverpool Street Station. The Harwich line is a branch line and for nearly all train journeys between Harwich and London you will have to change trains at Manningtree Station. Journey time is around 75 minutes.

In the London to Harwich direction the bus picks up from hotels in all of the major hotel districts of Central London and also from Heathrow Airport where it will pick-up from a selection of Heathrow Airport hotels (but not passenger terminals) before going onto Harwich arriving around midday with a brief comfort stop at a large supermarket.

For further information this website is very useful…

http://www.londontoolkit.com/travel/harwich_fromlondon_shuttle.html

The Port of Harwich also operate long term car parking facilities. Bookings currently cannot be made online. Discounted parking are available by booking in advance. For further information…

http://www.harwich.co.uk/passenger_parking.asp

The long stay car park opens at 11.00 am, for directions see the map above.

 

*****

 

For the 2014 cruising season pre booked rates were £7.50 per day. Rates for pay on arrival, as indicated at the pay booth, are £10.50 per day…

 

 

Luggage is dropped off at the car park and transferred to the ship. Under normal circumstances the next occasion passengers see their luggage should be when it is delivered to their cabin. As with other cruise terminals luggage is scanned for security purposes though at Harwich this is a little rudimentary…

 

 

Ah, what’s that chap doing in the corner?

 

Well a word of warning to potential smugglers of alcohol and other prohibited items, thanks to a zoom lens…

 

…and more zoom…

 

Those notices read “SECURITY, Flagged luggage, DO NOT REMOVE” and the right hand one “PROHIBITED ITEMS, DO NOT LOAD!!!”

 

So there you have it. Celebrity and Harwich Port Authority are ‘on your case’.

 

Once inside the terminal building facilities are pretty basic. Check-in is efficient and of course, there is the usual gauntlet of ship’s photographers to run …

 

 

The actual sail away is singularly unspectacular, the nearby container port dominating the skyline…

 

 

…though there are good views to be had momentarily as ship’s sail past historical Harwich…

 

…and a bit more zoom…

 

 

Returning post cruise to Harwich was certainly uneventful on the cruise we were on. Celebrity infinity berthed early, around 4.00 am. Unloading luggage takes considerable time due to the lack of modern handling facilities…

 

…though eventual collection of luggage on dis-embarkation is pretty standard no matter which terminal one arrives at…

 

 

Coaches and the rail link are close at hand for those choosing this method of transport…

 

 

A word of warning though. For those passengers using their own transport and the long term parking facility. Shuttle buses were fine though it was noted that had the weather been inclement there was no protection for baggage against the elements…

 

Porters were available and plentiful at both the terminal building and at the car park.

 

In summary we found embarking at Harwich relatively easy and certainly quite efficient. It is worth remembering to pre book the car park, particularly if, like some, you watch the pennies.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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