When I have a spare moment I like to rummage through those cruise travel agent special offers that land in my inbox with surprising regularity and so it was that on a wet Sunday afternoon in April 2015 I found this little gem. A 2 night mini cruise on Celebrity Eclipse to Le Havre the following month. My husband and I have cruised with Celebrity before and with a wedding anniversary to celebrate thought this was an ideal choice of special treat.
We arrived at City terminal in Southampton at around 2.30, later than we would have liked, but as a result were ushered straight through check in and security without the crowds we would normally have encountered. Forty minutes later we were sipping the complimentary bubbly at the Sunset Bar relaxed and ready for our trip. It’s hard to beat sailing from the UK; there’s no two hour wait at an airport, no cramped flight, your holiday starts as soon as you are on board.
Celebrity Eclipse is stylish without being brash, an example being the lawns on the top deck where you can enjoy a game or simply lounge on the rugs provided listening to the guitarist, or the solarium pool with its easy access stairs and extra comfy sunbeds where you can doze to the sound of the spouting water jets.
A real revelation was the Hot Glass Show on the top deck where glass blowers trained at the Corning Museum of Glass blew and shaped their colourful creations while the ship ploughed across the Channel under a star studded sky. The small audience sat in close proximity to the blowers watching and listening to the fascinating commentary as vases and bowls took shape.
Having done very little research on Le Havre we arrived open minded but slightly worried by the rather austere concrete blocks of flats we could see from the ship, not much charm here we thought. Usually we opt to take the ship’s shuttle to wherever it takes us but with a queue for the coach we opted for the tourist land train and through the commentary as we toured Le Havre, the subtleties of the post war architecture were revealed. The tourist train took a circuitous route via the beach front road to the imposing Town Hall flanked by beautiful gardens and fountains.
Altogether we found Le Havre charming in a clean, modern, utilitarian way; its historical features having been destroyed in WW2 there were few older buildings to see but learning about how the town set about rebuilding itself was just as interesting as ancient architecture.
As short breaks go this was a real hit with us. Hassle free travel, a touch of luxury on board and a destination with more to offer than we had expected.