After embarking the ship in Dover and spending a relaxing evening at sea, you will call first into Antwerp for a memorable Valentine’s Day. Stopping overnight in Belgium’s charming second city will offer chances to sample delicious Belgian chocolates at the traditional chocolate shops and friendly cafés, indulge in some retail therapy at the fashionable designer stores, or perhaps treat yourself or your loved ones to a very special Valentine’s gift from the world-famous diamond district. Don’t miss the chance to enjoy a romantic stroll around the city in the evening, taking in highlights such as the Grote Markt, neo-Gothic Central Station and the iconic Cathedral of Our Lady under moonlight. Alternatively you could choose to tour to the nearby medieval town of Ghent, home to an array of impressive Gothic monuments, a number of fantastic museums and, of course, more exquisite chocolate shops.
Wed 13 Feb
Dover, United Kingdom
Home of the famous White Cliffs, Dover is one of England's most iconic towns.
Located on the south-east coast of England just 21 miles across the English Channel from France, Dover – home of the world's busiest passenger port – is the first sight for many visitors arriving from around the world.
This historic town is much more than a gateway to Britain, and offers much to discover, including the 12th century Dover Castle – which overlooks the pretty harbour and houses the extensive Secret Wartime Tunnels – Archcliffe Fort, and the Western Heights, where a series of coastal defences and unspoilt nature reserves await exploration.
Thu 14 Feb & Fri 15 Feb
Belgium’s charming, medieval city of Antwerp is the country’s biggest port and often recognised as its capital of cool. It has proved an alluring city for centuries, attracting lovers of art, fashion and, of course, diamonds – over 80% of the world's rough diamonds pass through the city's famous diamond district at some point or other. Renowned for its charm and sparkle, Antwerp was one of Europe’s principle cities in the mid-16th century and has maintained the essence of its medieval past, despite severe bombing during World War II.
A riverside fortress and numerous intriguing cobbled streets are overshadowed by the 123m high tower of the imposing Cathedral of Our Lady, the biggest church in Benelux. Its construction started in 1352 on the site of a 10th century chapel, but like many medieval religious buildings, it took several centuries to complete. The cathedral interior has four altarpieces by Peter Paul Rubens – a true legend of baroque painting. The Royal Museum of Fine Arts is dedicated to Rubens and houses many of his finest works, along with those of other Flemish masters.
There are more than 20 other museums in the city, and other attractions to this cultural gem of a city include a vibrant fashion and entertainment scene, a robust café culture, excellent shops and delightful parks and gardens. Fine dining is also on the menu, and one of Antwerp's most dramatic restaurant, The Jane, brings it all together with a slice of rock and roll.
Sat 16 Feb
Golden Age canals lined with elegant merchant homes is the familiar backdrop for the
Netherlands's historic capital, Amsterdam. Established in the 17th century with the construction of the River Amstel dam, this celebrated port offers everything from treasure-packed museums and antiquarian bookshops to chic boutiques and convivial cafés. Equally, art is never far away in this hub of uber-creative design. One noticeable thing about the city is that, some 150 years after its industrial heyday, Amsterdam is once again awash with producers.
Amsterdam has some 40 museums, and the Museum Quarter boasts three of the most famous: the Rijksmuseum has paintings from Rembrandt, Vermeer and Frans Hals; the Van Gogh Museum; and the Stedelijk Museum of Modern Art, displays work from Manet to Picasso. The Anne Frankhuis where Anne Frank and her family hid from German troops during the World War II, is an experience many visitors seek.
Whether on boat or bike - there are more bikes than permanent residents - exploration of the city is relatively straightforward, and a tour of the Canal Ring district, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is not to be missed. Seemingly stuck in the 17th century, the district has been recognised for its unique cultural and historical values, and is home to many exclusive gabled facades and their celebrity owners.
Sun 17 Feb
Dover, United Kingdom