Cherbourg is a seaside port on the northern edge of France, it is a common cruise port with many European itineraries stopping here. The Titanic cruised out of Cherbourg on its journey to New York, the ship departed from a cruise terminal building which is now the Cite De La Mer (a museum and aquarium).
Cherbourg is viewed as a gateway to Normandy, most cruise line excursions visit the beaches of Normandy as there isn’t all that much in the city of Cherbourg (sorry Cherbourg). It primarily is a fishing port and marina, with a large artificial harbour. I have to be honest, when I saw Cherbourg on the itinerary (and did some research online) I wasn’t expecting to get off the ship at all. That was until I found the Cite De La Mer, a museum and aquarium that is located just beside the port. It is definitely the best thing to do in Cherbourg and I would thoroughly recommend a visit.
Cite De La Mer
The Cite De La Mer is made up of three parts, a submarine, aquarium and titanic museum. It also has a restaurant and gift shop which you can see here. The building is pretty impressive in itself.
The redoubtable is a large decommissioned submarine that you can walk around and explore. It has a torpedo! I don’t particularly care about the engine room of submarines but it was interested to see inside, I particularly liked seeing the living quarters or the people that lived onboard. Definitely makes me appreciate my cruise ship cabin.
When you enter the submarine you are given an audio guide which takes 35 minutes, it is available in quite a few languages and takes you through all the main areas of the ship. You get to see the engine room, control centre, staff canteen, living quarters and more. It was really cool! You must be physically fit to explore the submarine as there are a couple of steep steps/ladders to climb up and down. If you are tall you may have trouble fitting through some of the doorways too. Submarines aren’t designed for people that are 6ft+!
I loved the aquarium, we actually managed to spend quite a lot of time here. There is a huge tank which has all types of fish that you can imagine, sharks, sting rays etc! As well as quite a few smaller tanks with jellyfish, sea horses and loads more. It wasn’t too busy when we went despite the Independence of the seas being docked right besides the museum. (More about her here!)
There was also one of those pools where you can touch a couple of animals (that always reminds me of the scene in Finding Dory where dory is trying to escape being poked by the humans!)
The Titanic museum was huge, I’ve been to quite a few titanic exhibitions before but this was by far the largest. It is split up into sections which follow the building of the Titanic, it’s first sailing and the sinking of the ship. You can see here how close the cruise ship is to the museum. It is literally next door.
Below is a model of a third class cabin onboard the Titanic. Considered luxurious at the time! I don’t think I’d fancy it.
My favourite part of the museum was this sign, what a job.
There are loads of interactive games and screens to keep children entertained. I tested out a lot of the interactive things for the children (for research purposes I swear) and they were a lot of fun, I even learnt my name is morse code. The only restriction is that children under 5 are not allowed in the submarine which makes sense. You can tell that the museum has really been designed with children in mind.
The entrance fee for adults is €18 with students and children being €13, under 5s are free. The opening times do vary depending on the time of the year but it is usually open around 9.30-6pm.
I would thoroughly recommend a visit to Cite De La Mer if you are in Cherbourg and don’t want to take an excursion to Normandy. When we entered the museum it said that on average people spend 4 hours here, I laughed! However now I’ve visited the museum I do see how you could get lost here. It is by far the best thing to do in Cherbourg. We also had some fun in the gift shop, do you think this suits me? I’ve always wanted an octopus for a face.