Harwich is a small town with a large port. Its positioning where England’s east coast juts out towards Europe makes it an excellent travel and goods hub and it has a large container terminal, a busy ferry terminal, a small cruise ship terminal and an even smaller but pretty historic center.
Three lines used the cruise ship terminal: Holland America, Celebrity and Royal Caribbean and they use it for embarkation and disembarkation. This results in Harwich being a place people tend to travel through rather than a place to linger. Nearby Colchester and Ipswich offer more sightseeing opportunities although none of them really the peak sites people travel to England to see.
How to Get to London
Harwich is well-served by transport links to London and the cruise lines themselves organize transfers from many of the airports: Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted which is the closest. The trip is around two hours from Heathrow and Gatwick so the transfer is the simplest and quickest way. The train is the best way to travel from London to Harwich and back and they run about every hour taking around an hour to reach London Liverpool Street Station.
The port station at Harwich is called Harwich International and is very close to where the ships tie up. The cruise lines often organize a special rail service also. Taxis are readily available but expensive. There is no private car hire office in Harwich so these must be booked ahead. The ferry terminal is also close to the cruise dock and from here ferries go to The Netherlands and Scandinavia.
One Day in London
London has so much to see it’s good to have a list of priorities before you set out. London Liverpool Street Station is in the East End and connects you with many parts of the city by Underground train (Tube). If you have one day, buy a Day Travel Card which means you can use all train and bus routes. Pick up a tube map at the station. Bus routes can be more of a mystery although the view from the top of a double decker bus is wonderful.
For a good overview of London’s iconic sights head for the Thames River’s Victoria Embankment (Embankment Station) and walk across one of the bridges. Waterloo Bridge gives wonderful views from Big Ben to the Tower Bridge. The London Eye also gives great views.
There are open top bus tours you can do and if you like walking you can head from the river, past the Houses of Parliament, Westminster Abbey, across to The Mall and St James’s Palace, to Buckingham Palace and on to Hyde Park. Or reverse this order (start from Green Park tube station) to see the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace, which happens every other day (check the schedule) at 11.30am.
The language is English and the currency is the British Pound (or quid in local slang). There is a currency exchange at Harwich Port and ATMs (which take only 4 digit numeric PINs). Some shops in the West End of London accept euros but very few so it’s best to change your money. Harwich itself is small and has no internet points or tourist facilities outside the port area.