If you want to make the most of your next cruise, make no mistake – the service provider you choose can make or break your experience. As you’ll be spending the majority of your time on deck, availing yourself of the on-board facilities, travelling by sea is truly one of those ‘It’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey’ type of experiences.
That said, visiting the right ports of call can make an excellent holiday even better. With that in mind, consider the following cruise destinations that you do not want to miss on your next holiday at sea.
Stronghold of the Grimaldi family, this modern-day city state is unlike any other cruise destination in the world. Ships dock in the harbor at Monte Carlo, where the lights of the Grand Casino glimmer in the early-morning light. Monte Carlo is the embodiment of opulence – and the cost of hotel rooms alone is enough to break the average travelers’ budget. However, if you arrive on a cruise ship, the Casino Royale style glitz and glamour are yours by day.
This East-meets-West city presents a fascinating blend of cultures, and it gives cruisers the opportunity to visit two continents in a single shore excursion. Once part of the Roman Empire, Istanbul passed to the Byzantines and eventually to the Ottomans, and this has produced a fantastic mosaic of architecture. Topping the list of must-see attractions is the Aya Sofya, which made its debut in the 6th century and remained the largest enclosed space in the world for about 1,000 years.
Barcelona is one of the most distinct-looking cities in the world. It boasts the largest concentration of Gothic architecture in Europe, and this is expanded with surreal – some would say dreamlike – structural feats of Antoni Gaudi. Barcelona is no stranger to long-haul cruising, either. This is where Christopher Columbus embarked from on his voyage for the Americas. Barcelona’s cosmopolitan charms are of greatest interest to modern-day seafarers. Arrive on a Princess Cruise and prepare for a shore excursion complete with dancing, tapas and a pitcher of sangria.
The ‘Pearl of the Adriatic’ boasts one of – if not the – finest historic medieval cities in the world. The city center is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, leaving ample incentive for restoration projects. There are no automobiles in the historic district. This combines with marble streets, baroque architecture and a breezy café culture to foster one of the finest shore excursions an ocean liner could offer.
Even if you have seen Athens before, do yourself a favor and pay this historic city another visit. Best of all, arrive by ocean liner, and you’ll have an inkling of what it would have been like to drop anchor in this thriving port city some 2,000 years ago. On the ground, substantial changes have gone into effect since the city hosted the Olympics a few years ago. Cars have been outlawed in the historic city center transforming it into one of the world’s most impressive pedestrian promenades.
Imogen Marsh is a freelance writer from Cruise Worldwide Travel, an online booking agency, where travelers can book holiday cruises with any of the major cruise liners around the world, including Carnival Cruises, Princess Cruise, Disney Cruise Line, and many others.