Posted on 11-Feb-2022 by Deesha Jhaveri - avid traveler and cruise-lover
History stands as witness that most of the world’s greatest civilizations mushroomed close to the sea. What started as small trading ports, today some of these destinations are sprawling, complex cities pivotal to their country’s economy and tourism potential. And most of these cities now have state-of-the- art ports that welcome cruise ships of all sizes to their shores.
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 world’s best cruise ports like Barcelona, Venice, Copenhagen, Vancouver and Singapore are either starting or ending points (or both) for many cruise liners 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 can consider exploring before or after their cruise holiday.
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 away from the city centre. 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.
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 sip freshly brewed coffee houses 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 the 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.
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, and although its named after the Russian Tsar Peter the Great, one of the city’s greatest heritage are the remnants of the Bolshevik Revolution.
The key attractions of St Petersburg
The key tourist destinations in St Petersburg include The Bolshoi Zal (Grand Hall), Neva River, Hermitage Museum and The Kunstkamera. The Hermitage Museum has a huge collection of Russian Art. 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.
Tallinn is the capital of Estonia and one of the most beautiful cities in this country. It is situated on the southern coast of the Gulf of Finland, in north-western 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.
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.
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.
This state is a hot favourite for cruise services. Its scenery, particularly its magnificent glacier- and wildlife-viewing opportunities, is unparalleled and huge attraction for tourists.
The key attractions of Juneau
With hiking trails and a stone labyrinth garden, the Shrine of St. Therese, Juneau showcases 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.
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.
Cozumel, an island off the coast of the Yucatan Peninsula, offers countless snorkeling 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 the sea, Cozumel is moderately hot in summer and moderately cold in winter. If you want to avoid rains, visit Cozumel between November and April.
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
Popular tourist spots in Shanghai include Yu Garden, Oriental Pearl Tower, Shanghai Museum, Xintandi, Jade Buddha temple, Jin Mao Tower, Longhua temple, Lu Xun Park and Shanghai Zoo.
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.
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, Hong Kong’s very own Disneyland, Sik Sik Yuen Wong Tai Sin Temple, Clock Tower, Victoria Peak – a stellar sky gallery that gives a breathtaking view of the entire city, and Ocean Park – an amusement cum adventure park for the adrenaline junkies.
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.
The big apple has been the envy and fascination of the world for decades. The fourth most populous and the most famous American city, New York is a densely populated city located on the banks of the Hudson river on the East Coast of USA. Skyscrapers, museums, an underground metro-rail network, countless restaurants, nooks and cafes and 843 acres of endless greenery in the heart of this metropolis – New York will keep surprising you at every turn.
The Key Attractions in New York
New York has so much to offer it is almost impossible to unearth all of its treasures in a single visit – no matter how long. For those wanting to explore this city during visits on your cruise, some of NYCs greatest attractions are the indomitable Statue of Liberty on Liberty Island, Central Park in the heart of Manhattan, Rockefeller Centre, the Broadway and Theatre district, the Empire State Building, Brooklyn Bridge and the hip-n-happening New York Times Square.
Port Facilities in New York
New York City has been serving cruise passengers longer than any city in the United States, and port facilities in this city certainly cater to your every need. With separate cruise terminals in Manhattan and Brooklyn, the port has amenities plenty enough to keep you occupied.
Best time to visit New York
Every season in this city shows you a different side and different aspect of its personality, each equally fascinating as the other. If one were to put a finger on the best time to visit NYC, it would be between June to September, when the receding dregs to spring give way to glorious months of summer, the days are long – with all the more time for you to explore this wonder of a city.
Dubai is a city of superlatives. The world’s tallest building – the Burj Khalifa , largest mall – the Dubai Mall, largest performing fountain – the Dubai Fountain and most luxurious hotel – the Atlantis are all to be found in this city. A true oasis in the desert, this dynamic metropolis exudes panache and luxury while being firmly rooted in its culture.
Key attractions in Dubai
Apart from the world famous Burj Khalifa, a major attraction is the Palm Jumeirah – a palm shaped luxury island (with available aerial rides to relish the view), the Dubai Creek – where a serene boat ride will take you back in time, the stunning city skyline, the Desert Safari, and the Madinat Jumeirah – a complex designed like an ancient citadel entirely on the sea. Dubai is also famous of the abundant shopping opportunities in the multiple high-end malls.
Port Facilities in Dubai
Dubai is considered to be one of the world’s top 5 most luxurious ports to dock at. Located at Port Rashid, the Dubai Cruise Terminal hosts over 500,000 passengers annually. Facilities and amenities on the port include restaurants, coffee shops, a currency exchange center, a free Wi-Fi and business centre and easy transportation availability for transit to the city and the Dubai airport.
Best time to visit Dubai
Due to its arid desert climate, Dubai has plenty of sunshine and humid climate throughout the year. If you wish to avoid most of the scorching heat, the winter months from November to February are the best time to travel, the daylight hours are undiminished while blissful, cool temperatures persist.
Miami brings to mind the image of shining golden light on rolling waves of the ocean and lazy days spent on the beach with an excellent martini in hand. Miami is all of this, and a thousand things more. Apart from stretches of sand and nightclubs, Miami has a rich cultural history, excursions fit for those travelling with young families, vintage vineyards and abundant wildlife attractions.
Key attractions in Miami
Although the beaches shall surely capture your fancy, Miami has a lot more to offer. Key attractions include the Patricia and Philip Frost Museum of Science, the Everglades Safari Park, Jungle Island, the Lummus Park Beach and Miami’s authentic markets.
Port Facilities in Miami
Miami Port’s Terminal A is the largest cruise terminal in the U.S. and is the point of harbor for most Royal Caribbean ships. Whether it is a small vessel or a giant luxury cruise, Miami Port has ten terminals (and several more in the line-up) equipped with amenities to facilitate smooth passage. The port has state of the art infrastructure and facilities engaging enough to justify its title of ‘Cargo Gateway of the Americas’.
Best time to Visit Miami
Miami is blessed with gorgeous weather all-year long. However, if you want to escape the tourists and the high winter tariffs, the months from March to May prove to be a lucrative period to visit.
Rome is not only the capital of Italy, it is the nucleus of human civilization with a rich, varied cultural history going back three millennia. The relics of the Ancient Roman Empire – a force that ruled over most of Europe for the better part of the millennium are still visible throughout the city in the form of the Forum and the Colosseum. Rome is also the centre of religion across the continent, with the Roman Catholic Church headquartered in the Vatican City.
Key attractions in Rome
For lovers of history and heritage, Rome is heaven on Earth. The Trevi Fountain, a world famous baroque fountain, the shrine of all Roman Gods – the Pantheon, St. Peter’s Basilica, the Vatican Museum and the Piazza Navona are places that pull people from all over the globe to Rome. For those looking for places other than monuments and museums, Rome does not disappoint. You’re not just at the birthplace of ancient civilization, but also at the birthplace of Pizzas! Learn to make a traditional Italian pizza, visit Rome’s version of a the Central Park – the Villa Borghese. Also, if you ever dreamed of being a gladiator as a kid, Rome has it’s very own Gladiator school!
Port facilities in Rome
Rome’s cruise port lies about 80 kilometers north of the main city in Civitavecchia. Major cruises dock at the Rome Cruise Terminal while smaller ferries and cruises dock a second smaller terminal. Civitavecchia itself is a blissful town with a number of historical monuments like the Forte Michelangelo located at a walking distance from the port. Private taxis, public transport, buses and train services to Rome are easily available from the port, as well as bookings for translators, tour guides and tickets for some of the major tourist attractions in the city.
Best time to visit Rome
Tourists flock to Rome in the summer months, with the weather being pleasant with longer daylight hours. The spring months from March to May are also a lucrative time to explore, but if you wish to completely escape crowds (and are ready to brave the cold), a winter cruise to the Mediterranean might be just perfect for you.
A departure port for many cruises, Copenhagen, for the lack of a better descriptor, is a cool city. Often named the ‘the best city to live in’, exploring the capital of Denmark will make you realize how well deserved this title is indeed. Also, Copenhagen is the dining capital of the world, with more than 15 Michelin star restaurants in the city.
Key attractions in Copenhagen
Copenhagen’s Viking heritage is very visible in its architecture and culture, albeit subtly. The main attractions are the Trivoli Gardens, the Frederiksberg Palace, the magnificent Copenhagen Opera House, the Nyhaven, one of the most picturesque harbours in the world, with a row of multi-colored row houses fringing along the Danish coastline, the Deer Park and the majestic ruins beneath the Christiansborg Palace.
Port facilities in Copenhagen
Seen as the premier cruise port in Northern Europe, the port at Copenhagen is the most popular departure port for most cruises in the Baltic Sea. Three primary cruise quays on the port are Nordre Toldbod, Langelinie Pier and Ocean Quay. Setting an example for the rest of the world, the port here can be called a ‘green port’, with 9,900 square-meter green roofs, live vegetation and sustainable growth plans for waste management and solar energy.
Best time to visit
The charm of Copenhagen is perennial, whether it is the warmth of the summer, or the music induced headiness that takes over the streets from May through September. If you are a sucker for Christmas, December in Denmark is like stepping into a living, walking Christmas card!
Seattle is quite unlike a quintessential American city. It’s certainly got the hustle and bustle, but once you look past the concrete jungle, Seattle sits in nature’s lap. It is surrounded by water, mountains and greenery, with endless hiking trails leading into places seemingly untouched by human civilization.
Key attractions in Seattle
Seattle is most known for the Space Needle – a 184-meter-tall observation tower. The city also has its own Museum of Pop Culture (MoPop), a giant 360-degree Ferris Wheel and a renowned Art Museum. The Pike Place Market is a over 100 year old continuously operating farmer’s market, with cafes, bookshops, apothecaries and the world’s first ever Starbucks. Other attractions are the Seattle Aquarium, the Grand Illusion Cinema and the serene Green lake.
Port Facilities in Seattle
Seattle is the busiest cruise port on the U.S. West Coast, breaking the million-passenger mark in 2017. What’s more, Seattle is soon going to get an exclusive cruise terminal as its Terminal 46. The port has easy access to the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, as well as recreational facilities in the form of multiple waterfront parks and multiple pre-planned events throughout the year.
Best time to visit Seattle
Seattle is notoriously rainy, with damp skies prevalent in three quarters of the year. If you dock on the port on a sunny day, count yourself blessed! Nonetheless, the most popular time to visit Seattle is during the summer months of July and August, while Fall provides a nice opportunity and almost perfect weather to explore the outdoors.