Seven stunning cruise ports to visit

Cruising into a picturesque port as the sun rises over the horizon is one of the most magnificent parts of any cruise. Every port has its own distinct blend of scenery, culture, and history. From the ancient streets of Europe to the tropical paradises of the South Pacific, there’s no shortage of stunning destinations to discover. Here are some of the most captivating ports around the world.

Santorini, Greece

Santorini’s cruise port – called the port of Skala, or the old port – is located at the base of the Caldera Cliffs in Fira, the capital of Santorini.

Once docked, you have three options for reaching the top of the island: take the cable car available from the pier, take a mule ride for about €8, or, for a little exercise, hike up around 600 steps to the top. Whichever one you decide to do will give you incredible views of the azure waters and the island’s charming villages.

With its iconic whitewashed buildings cascading down the cliff sides overlooking the Aegean Sea, Santorini is a vision of Mediterranean paradise. Explore the narrow cobblestone streets of Oia, savour traditional Greek cuisine in seaside tavernas, or unwind on the island’s volcanic beaches for a truly unforgettable experience.

Flåm, Norway 

Flåm, nestled deep within the majestic fjords, is a gem of Scandinavian beauty. Passengers are treated to a breathtaking panorama as cruise ships glide through the serene waters surrounded by towering cliffs adorned with cascading waterfalls.

Flåm itself is a charming, picturesque village with traditional Norwegian architecture, colourful houses, and a peaceful atmosphere. Visitors can stroll through the village, visit local shops and cafes, and soak in the idyllic setting.

With a population of just 500, this village is not only surrounded by awe-inspiring mountains but also boasts the world’s steepest railway, the Flåmsbana. It’s a port where the grandeur of nature meets eco-friendly innovation.

Tauranga, New Zealand 

Tauranga offers a breathtaking introduction to the stunning landscapes of New Zealand’s North Island. Cruising into this picturesque harbour surrounded by azure waters and rolling green hills is an unforgettable experience. As cruise ships approach the port, the sight of the towering Mount Maunganui provides a dramatic backdrop for your arrival.

The Bay of Plenty lives up to its name, with Tauranga’s cruise port offering mountain vistas, golden beaches, and scenic walks. Mount Maunganui’s inviting beach and summit are just a short walk away, while Rotorua’s hot springs are within reach for a day trip.

Dubrovnik, Croatia

Ships dock at Gruz, in the modern part of Dubrovnik, just a couple of kilometres from the Old Town. Shuttles are available or you can hail a taxi from the pier. The charming, well-preserved, and traffic-free Old Town is truly a visitor’s delight. 

Known as the Pearl of the Adriatic, Dubrovnik’s medieval walls and red-roofed buildings create a striking silhouette against the sparkling waters of the Adriatic Sea. From walking the ancient city walls to strolling along the marble paved Stradun, every corner of Dubrovnik exudes history and charm.

During your visit, try to embrace fjaka, a Croatian concept of doing very little in a pleasurable way and living in the moment.

Skagway, USA 

Nestled amidst the rugged grandeur of Alaska’s Inside Passage, the port of Skagway offers a breathtaking welcome to cruise passengers. 

Surrounded by snow-capped mountains and lush forests, Skagway presents a postcard-perfect setting that showcases the untamed beauty of the Last Frontier. 

Alaska’s charm is encapsulated in the port of Skagway, where the spirit of the gold rush era is alive and well. Ships dock just a stone’s throw from the town’s historic main street, inviting you to explore its quaint boardwalks and museums or embark on a scenic train journey through the mountains.

Hong Kong, China

Cruise ships navigate the waters of Victoria Harbour, providing passengers with breathtaking views of the city’s futuristic skyline punctuated by towering skyscrapers. Whether you dock at the Kai Tak Cruise Terminal or the centrally located Ocean Terminal, the city’s cultural and shopping hotspots are at your fingertips.

Dive into the vibrant street markets, sample dim sum delicacies, or take a tram ride to Victoria Peak for panoramic vistas that showcase Hong Kong’s dynamic energy.

Kotor, Montenegro 

The approach to Kotor through Boka Bay is like entering a scene from a fantasy novel. Passengers are treated to panoramic views of the rugged mountains and historic architecture that line the coastline.

The World Heritage-listed medieval town is a labyrinth of cobblestone streets and charming squares, guarded by the imposing San Giovanni Fortress. Local lore celebrates the town’s cats as bearers of good fortune, adding to Kotor’s enchanting atmosphere.

Have you visited any of these ports? What other ports would you add to the list? Let us know in the comments section below.

Also read: Luxury cruise line announces Australian ports for its iconic ‘queens’

Ellie Baxter
Ellie Baxter
Writer and editor with interests in travel, health, wellbeing and food. Has knowledge of marketing psychology, social media management and is a keen observer and commentator on issues facing older Australians.
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