There are countless benefits to cruising, including the very desirable fact you only have to unpack and repack once. And, while there are far worse ways to arrive at a destination than by cruise ship, some places are better than others to approach by water.
Here are five European destinations worth cruising into:
Perhaps the most obvious choice, arriving into Venice by cruise ship is something you will remember for the rest of your life. It’s a great way to take in the lay of the land and canals, and if you’ve ever wanted to know what it feels like to be a celebrity, this comes pretty close. Despite what you may expect, people in surrounding boats and gondolas are more than happy to give cruisers a warm welcome with incessant waving. Definitely a journey best experienced from your balcony or deck.
Monte Carlo, Monaco
The closest most of us will come to being on a boat in Port Hercules. While cruise ships can’t dock at a port in Monaco, they can drop anchor off-shore which is almost better in this instance. Using tenders to get into town, there’s nothing quite like seeing the pretty port city of Monte Carlo with its lights twinkling at night. If you have a balcony facing this spectacular view, there isn’t a better time to use it.
One of the few ports where cruises can dock close to the destination, Barcelona is another great stop for your itinerary. Just a hop, skip and jump from the port, make the most of the beach, hit Las Ramblas and fill up on tapas before retiring to your cabin for a well-deserved siesta. If you’re one of those travellers who likes to maximise time enjoying a destination rather than in transit, Barcelona won’t disappoint.
Literally where East meets West, there’s something magical about entering the Golden Horn on a ship. The city that simultaneously splits and combines two worlds, Istanbul captivates all your senses with its contrast of natural and man-made beauty, vibrant and bustling atmosphere and air thick with the smell of spices. Between the stunning views of the Blue Mosque, Haggia Sophia and Topkapi Palace and the sparkling waters of Bosporus it’s hard not to be blinded by Istanbul’s beauty.
With an entrance best done by sea, Croatia’s Dalmatian Coast is aptly named for its numerous stony mountains populated with circles of trees. At the end of the passage is the ancient walled city of Dubrovnik, sitting like a queen on her throne. The city is even more majestic up close, with its labyrinth of narrow marble-paved passageways so perfectly persevered it has to be seen to be believed. And then there are the spectacular views of the sparkling sea and landscape below, which burst through gaps in the city walls when you least expect it.