Many of the world’s ancient civilizations developed near the sea. Some of these destinations that started as small trading ports have now grown into large cities which are pivotal to their country’s economy, both from tourism as well from a trade perspective. And these cities have state-of-the- art cruise ports that welcome leisure cruise ships of all sizes to their shores and for cruisers, this means getting a glimpse into the city’s cathedrals, temples, fortresses, and other antiquities in a short period of time. While some historic sites in Rome, Florence, and Bangkok are more than an hour from the actual port, other sites take 30 minutes or less to reach from the cruise terminal — an important convenience if your ship only docks for a few hours.
Luckily, some of the these cruise ports like Barcelona, Venice, Vancouver and Singapore are either starting or ending points (or both) of many cruiseliners sailing itineraries which gives cruisers the opportunity to extend their stay in these magnificent cities either before or after the cruise. We present a list of the world’s most exciting cruise ports that cruisers must experience on their cruise holiday
1: Barcelona (Spain)
Barcelona is Spain‘s second-largest city and the capital of the Catalonia region. It was developed as a port by the Romans and has long been a Mediterranean centre of commerce and passenger shipping. Its docks are packed daily with the cruise lines’ largest megaships.
The key attractions of Barcelona:
The city‘s prime location on the Iberian Peninsula; its wealth of historical, cultural, and artistic offerings; and docks within walking distance of the city centre, attract tourists here. Park Güell, Palau Güell, Casa Milà, Casa Vicens, Casa Batlló, Palau de la Música Catalana and Hospital de Sant Pau are among the monuments in Barcelona that have been declared as World Heritage Sites by UNESCO.
Pretty much every major cruise line visits here on regular basis, and many use the port as a port of embarkation/debarkation.
Port facilities in Barcelona:
The cruise port of Barcelona is among the largest in Europe and has good infrastructure and facilities for cruise passengers. Terminals A, B, C, and D lie at Moll Adossat, about 15 minutes walk from the city centre and its highlights. Most cruise ships dock here. The Port de Barcelona has 7 international passenger terminals. It is one of the most important European cruise ports and a Mediterranean turnaround base.
Best time to visit Barcelona:
In some way, Barcelona caters to all seasons. The weather is pleasant most of the year. However, the ideal time to visit is anytime between May to October when rain, humidity and heat are moderate. During September, the beaches are also less crowded.
2: Venice (Italy)
Given the unique architecture of Venice, you would be stunned by the sheer beauty of the city‘s architecture and its immeasurable wealth of art. Look at any building in Venice and you will be mesmerized by the design as well as colours of that building.
Sometimes, it seems that this city had grown rather than been built. The inventive ways Venetians have found both to adapt their city to the modern world and to ensure that the city does not sink into the lagoon.
The key attractions of Venice:
From monuments to tourist hangouts, Venice has a lot to offer. On one side, you can enjoy in coffee house like Caffè Florian. On the other side, you can see tourist destinations like St Mark‘s Basilica, Grand Canal, Piazza San Marco and Lido di Venezia.
Venice is also the host to many events that attract tourists. Such events include Venice Film Festival and Carnival of Venice.
Port facilities in Venice:
The Port of Venice is the leading Mediterranean homeport for cruise ships. It has several passenger terminals and it can diversify its port services to cater for cruise ships, ferries, fast ships sailing to the coast of Istria, yachts and mega yachts. Venice‘s Passenger Port counts on four main facilities: Marittima, San Basilio and Santa Marta, Riva delle Zattere and Riva degli Schiavoni.
Best time to visit Venice:
If you plan to attend Film Festival or Carnival, you need to check the schedule and plan your trip accordingly to visit. However, if you are planning to go to Venice for sightseeing, the best time to visit Venice is late spring and early summer. The climate is most pleasant during October to January but this is also the time when acqua alta (meaning “high water” or flooding) can occur most. Though, flooding can occur anytime around the year, these winter months are when Venice is more likely to witness it.
3: St Petersburg (Russia)
St. Petersburg is located on the Neva River at the head of the Gulf of Finland on the Baltic Sea. This city is the home of various symbols and monuments related to Russian History, especially, Bolshevik Revolution.
The key attractions of St Petersburg:
St Petersburg has 221 museums, 2000 libraries, more than 80 theatres, 100 concert organizations, 45 galleries and exhibition halls, 62 cinemas and around 80 other cultural establishments. Ballet dances are a huge attraction here. Various palaces in this city and its suburbs showcase the unique Russian architecture.
Port facilities in St Petersburg:
Big port Saint Petersburg is the state enterprise providing the organisation of trading navigation in sea port Saint Petersburg and behind its limits in established zones of responsibility of the Russian Federation.
Best time to visit St Petersburg:
Though, the best time to visit any place in Russia is the summer months between June and August, it is usually very crowded everywhere as most tourists prefer this visit Russia during this period. Spring season in Russia is wet and icy but the crowds are fewer during this time.
4: Tallinn (Estonia)
The key attractions of Tallinn:
The main attractions of Tallinn are located in Toompea (Upper Town). It houses important monuments like Estonian Parliament, Orthodox Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, various Churches including Estonian Evangelical Lutheran Church.
All-linn (Lower Town) is one of the best preserved medieval towns in Europe and the authorities are continuing its rehabilitation. Major sights that can fascinate tourists include the Town Hall square (called Raekoja plats in Estonian language), the city wall and towers (notably “Fat Margaret” and “Kiek in de Kök”) as well as a number of medieval churches, including St Olaf’s, St. Nicholas’ and the Church of the Holy Ghost.
Kumu, the main building of Art Museum of Estonia features paintings by Carl Timoleon von Neff, Johann Köler, Eduard Ole, Jaan Koort, Konrad Mägi, Eduard Wiiralt, Henn Roode and Adamson-Eric, among others.
Other attractions are Kadriorg Palace, Pirita River, Botanic Gardens and the Tallinn TV Tower.
Port facilities in Tallinn:
The Port of Tallinn has served as a meeting point on the commercial routes between the East and West throughout history. The port also offers crossings to Finnish and Swedish destinations by ferry. The Tallinn passenger terminals handle six million passengers annually. The terminals offer several shops, a coffee shop and comfortable departure lounges. The port is used for both cruise ships, passenger ferries, and during the summer months also for high-speed ferries.
Best time to visit Tallinn:
With summer giving you more daylight time and winters being pleasant, the best time to visit Tallinn is between June and September.
5: Istanbul (Turkey)
Being one of the main cities of Turkey, Istanbul is the point where East literally meets West, sitting at the point where Europe meets Asia. Along with mosques, minarets, sultans’ treasures, crowded bazaars, and holy Christian landmarks you can also see a modern city that co-exists with the religious atmosphere.
The key attractions of Istanbul:
Coming to Istanbul can be a mouth-watering experience that comes from the smell of the spice market and the taste of traditional Turkish dishes. The exotic feel comes from Turkish carpet, and the sound of muezzins chanting the call to prayer. Museums, palaces, and grand mosques and churches attest to the city‘s glorious history.
Important tourist attractions in Istanbul include Walls of Constantinople, Hagia Sophia and Little Hagia Sophia, Stoudios Monastery, Hagia Irene, various palaces including Blachernae Palace, various Churches like Pammakaristos Church, Palazzo del Comune, various towers like Galata Tower, Ortaköy Mosque and the Bosphorus Bridge.
Favourite shopping destinations for tourists include Grand Bazaar, Mahmutpasha Bazaar, Egyptian Bazaar, Galleria Ataköy and Akmerkez mall.
Port facilities in Istanbul:
The Port of Istanbul is a passenger terminal for cruise liners. The Port of Istanbul consists of three passenger halls.
Best time to visit Istanbul:
The best time to visit Istanbul is between June to September when you can be welcomed with the best weather.
6: Vancouver (Canada)
Vancouver is a coastal seaport city on the mainland of British Columbia, Canada. Vegetation, climate, urban planning and architecture are just few of the things that make visitors to this city, fall in love with it.
The key attractions of Vancouver:
Vancouver‘s cityscape and architecture have developed in response to its temperate, scenic, and readily accessible natural setting of ocean, forests, and mountains. Along with natural beauty, visitors can also see the beauty of urbanization as well. Vancouver also has a vibrant theatre industry that showcases art and culture.
Buildings that have the status of heritage buildings in Vancouver are the main draw for tourists. Such building include Brock House (Thorley Park), Bay Theatre (Starlight Theatre), Pantages Theatre, Holy Rosary Cathedral, Orpheum Theatre, Aberthau House (Rear House), St. James Anglican Church, Christ Church Cathedral, Beatty Street Drill Hall, Seaforth Armoury, Chalmers Church and Stanley Theatre.
Port facilities in Vancouver:
Vancouver Fraser Port Authority is the principal authority for shipping and port-related land and sea use in the Metro Vancouver region. It has two terminals namely Ballantyne Pier and Canada Place for cruise ships.
Best time to visit Vancouver:
To ensure a friendly climate and availability of hotels, you should visit Vancouver during March to May and September to November.
7: Juneau (Alaska)
The key attractions of Juneau:
With hiking trails and a stone labyrinth garden, the Shrine of St. Therese, showcase the divine beauty of nature. You cannot afford to miss it.
Port facilities in Juneau:
Aurora Harbour Floats is a United States port facility. It specializes in the Mooring commercial vessels and recreational craft.
Best time to visit Juneau:
Due to latitude, Juneau has long summer days. The best time to visit Juneau is from May to September which is the cruising season for Alaska.
8: Nassau (Bahamas)
The Bahamas are usually the first or last stop on an eastern Caribbean cruise. Its main attraction is its natural beauty, which along with its tropical climate has made its capital Nassau a popular tourist destination. The city has hundreds of colourful townhouses.
The key attractions of Nassau:
Mingling with locals, you can join the crowd heading to Senor Frog‘s, where you will find several stands serving up fried seafood. The beautiful beaches and melodious music makes Nassau, everything that an ideal tourist destination should be.
Port facilities in Nassau:
Two of Bahamas’ ports made the list for the top ten most visited ports in 2011, including the capital, Nassau. The town of Nassau developed directly behind the port area. It has an attractive harbour, a colourful blend of old world and colonial architecture, and is a busy port.
Best time to visit Nassau:
To enjoy weather and natural beauty at the optimum level, you should visit Bahamas between September and May.
9: Cozumel (Mexico)
Cozumel, an island off the coast of the Yucatan Peninsula, offers countless snorkelling and water-based activities, as well as gorgeous beaches. That is why; many major cruise liners include it in their sailing itineraries.
The key attractions of Cozumel:
Cozumel is a hot favourite for tourists who have fascination for scuba diving. Other spots frequented by tourists include Chan Santa Cruz, Maya ruins of San Gervasio and San Miguel Church. Cozumel is also a paradise for food lovers due to its delicious cuisines.
Port facilities in Cozumel:
Cruise Port in San Miguel de Cozumel is one of the most beautiful ports in Mexico and is frequented by international cruise ships. It is obvious that tourists enjoy coming here. Being a major cruise port, Cozumel welcomes more than a million cruise passengers each year.
Best time to visit Cozumel:
Being near sea, Cozumel is moderately hot in summer and moderately cold in winter. If you want to avoid rains, visit Cozumel between November and April.
10: Shanghai (China)
Shanghai is the largest Chinese city by population and the largest city proper by population in the world. It sits on the Yangtze River Delta on China‘s eastern coast, and is roughly equidistant from Beijing and Guangzhou. Shanghai has a humid subtropical climate.
The key attractions of Shanghai:
Port facilities in Shanghai:
The Port of Shanghai faces the East China Sea to the east, and Hangzhou Bay to the south. It includes the confluences of the Yangtze River, Huangpu River, and Qiantang River. Shanghai Port International Cruise Terminal, located in the North Bund area close to downtown, can accommodate three midsize cruise ships.
Best time to visit Shanghai:
Most foreign visitors prefer spring and autumn to visit Shanghai. Best time to visit is during June to August. However, October also witnesses visits from a sizable number of tourists.
Tourists are fascinated with Singapore due to its cultural diversity. It is also one of the favourite cruise destinations for cruise lovers as the number of cruise passengers visiting Singapore has been growing annually at an average rate of 6.5 per cent over the past decade, hitting 913,000 last year.
The key attractions of Singapore:
Popular tourist destinations in Singapore are Sentosa, Singapore Zoo, Singapore Flyer, Night Safari, Jurong Bird Park, Marine Life Park, River Safari, National Museum, Fort Siloso, Changi Museum and Sri Mahamariamman Temple.
Port facilities in Singapore:
Marina Bay Cruise Centre Singapore (MBCCS), is a new jewel in the crown of Singapore‘s tourism sector. Aiming to establish the country as the cruise hub of Asia, this terminal cost $500 million to build and offers impressive views of the downtown Singapore skyline.
With MBCCS accommodating the largest cruise ships, you will be able to take great photographs of the Oasis-class cruise liners coming into berth. These are the largest passenger ships in the world at 360 metres long.
Best time to visit Singapore:
Though, tourist come to Singapore round the year, July to September is preferred by many who want to see the festive season of Singapore.
12: Hong Kong
Hong Kong is known for its expansive skyline and deep natural harbour, and with a land mass of 1,104 km2 (426 sq mi) and a population of over seven million people, is one of the most densely populated areas in the world. Hong Kong has a robust tourism industry.
The key attractions of Hong Kong:
Key tourist attractions of Hong Kong include Avenue of Stars, Disneyland Hong Kong, Sik Sik Yuen Wong Tai Sin Temple, Clock Tower, Victoria Peak and Ocean Park.
Port facilities in Hong Kong:
Located at the former Kai Tak Airport runway, this port is one of the world’s foremost cruise terminals. The terminal will be able to accommodate two mega cruise ships with a gross tonnage of up to 220,000 tons when fully commissioned. Above the terminal, you‘ll find the largest rooftop garden in Hong Kong.
Best time to visit Hong Kong:
The best time to visit Hong Kong is between October and December when the climate is tourist-friendly.
With the most exciting cruise ports from North America, Europe and Asia introduced to you, where would you like to sail from? Let us know along with your preferred dates or month of travel and we’ll make recommendations that’s just right for you.
CruiseBay is India’s first and only Cruises-only Holiday Company with a website www.cruisebay.com that features over 1500 cruise itineraries from 30+ cruise liners. In addition, we have pioneered the concept of CruiseBay Lounges in multiple cities in India with professionally trained cruise consultants to help clients plan their cruise vacation.