Cherbourg-Octeville is an important cruise and ferry port located at the northern end of the Cotentin Peninsula, in the French region of Normandy. It is a town with a long seafaring tradition that played an important role in the history of Normandy. Today, Cherbourg is a popular seaport thanks to its close distance to some of the major historical sites in Normandy, such as Mont Saint-Michel and D-Day beaches, as well as some natural attractions such as Cap de la Hague, boasting exceptional views of the Atlantic Ocean and Normandy countryside. You can visit these places with cruise ship shore excursions, but you can also do it on your own.
The cruise terminal in Cherbourg is located only a 15-minute walking distance from the city center. It has two major docking places: Quai de France and Quai de Normandie, from where you can either walk into the town (a very pleasant walk by the promenade, overlooking a charming Cherbourg marina), or take a shuttle bus that is normally provided by the port authorities or cruise companies.
The cruise terminal is famous for its beautiful terminal building dating from the early 20th century, built in the Art-Deco architectural style, today housing La Cité de la Mer – one of the most impressive maritime museums in France.
The museum consists of several areas, and one of them is dedicated to Titanic, as Cherbourg was one of the ports where Titanic docked before crossing. Another part is home to La Redoutable, a French nuclear submarine and the largest submarine in the world open to the public. La Cité de la Mer also houses an aquarium and an ocean museum, a very nice, family-friendly place well worth visiting.
Besides La Cité de la Mer, you should definitely explore the city center of Cherbourg where you’ll find several places of interest: Cherbourg Theater, built in end of the 19th century; Basilica of Sainte-Trinité, whose origins date from the 11th century; Thomas Henry Museum, a small museum boasting an interesting collection of Jean-François Millet, a famous French painter who was born in the nearby countryside. However, if you just want to relax, have a coffee or go shopping, you’ll be delighted as the pedestrian zone boasts numerous shops, cafes and restaurants serving delicious food and Normandy’s specialties, such as Calvados – a typical Norman alcoholic drink made from apple cider. For more detailed information on what to visit in Normandy, check out the article: 12 Gorgeous Places To Visit In Normandy On A Cruise