- WHERE TO STAY
- PUBLIC TRANSPORT
- CRUISE PORTS
Harwich is the smallest of the three main cruise ports that serve London (Harwich, Southampton and Dover). It 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.
However relatively unused by cruise ships it has plenty going for it and is very pleasant to use. Next door to the cruise terminal is a ferry terminal with large ferries going to the Netherlands and Scandinavia. Both ferry and cruise terminals are a small part of a much larger port complex. On the other side of the river from Harwich is Felixstowe, one of the UK's largest container ports.
Facilities within the cruise terminal are fairly basic, but purpose built and spacious. There is a cafe, very reasonably priced and a local tourist stand within the cruise terminal, but little else.
Next door in the ferry terminal, (accessed by going along the rail platform), is another restaurant an exchange bureaux, more toilets and telephones. This is also where you will find the ticket office for the railway.
Immediately outside the front entrance to the cruise terminal is a spacious coach park and a taxi rank, very accessible. If you have a coach or private vehicle waiting you have a short walk. There are two stations at Harwich, Harwich Town and Harwich International, the station for the docks, ferry and cruise terminal.
Harwich International is a few miles from the original port of Harwich and Harwich Town. A local bus service runs from outside Harwich International station to Harwich Town. The hourly scheduled trains that stop at Harwich International go onto Harwich Town also, the terminus of the line.
Harwich is around 90 miles (145 kms) from the centre of London. On a good day, a vehicle will make it in under 2 hours. The only public transport between Harwich and London is train from London's Liverpool Street Station, for most people staying in London, quite a way from their hotel.
Harwich is the other side of London from both Heathrow and Gatwick Airports, London's major airports. The closest London Airport is Stansted Airport which is dominated by European low cost budget airlines. This is about half way between Heathrow and Harwich.
There is a broadly hourly train 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.
Note: Liverpool Street Station is in the City of London in the financial area of London, the other side of town from where most people will have their London hotel. The London Underground or a 15-20 minute taxi ride is a tedious add-on to most people's journey.
When one of the large cruise ships are in port a special cruise train is normally arranged. This runs once each way non-stop between Harwich International and Liverpool Street street. Otherwise it is the same train as the scheduled services.
Direct transfers between Harwich and London by private hire vehicle save a lot of hassle and tedium associated with the public transport alternatives.
It's around a 2-hr journey into London from Harwich. With most cruise ships disembarking between 7am and 9am if you are travelling on a work day, you'll hit a lot of commuter traffic and it can take far longer.
If you are flying out of Heathrow and Gatwick and have a morning or lunch time flight a private car will be the only way you will make it. For both airports you have to go around London's orbital motorway/freeway, Europe's busiest which at commute times routinely comes to a gridlock.
If you are flying into London on the day of the cruise, unless you have a very early arrival you will need to get a private car to Harwich in order to be sure of not missing your cruise departure.