Top 5 Cruising Cities
When you think of cruising, most people have a fairly similar idea of blue waters, warm sunshine and on-board activities in their heads.
If you've never taken much consideration into the shore excursions you might take on your cruise, take a look below at our pick of top 5 cruising cities for something a little bit different on your trip, and really get the most out of your cruise holiday!
With a population of over five million people, Osaka is Japan's second largest city. With its longstanding reputation as "the kitchen of Japan", a culinary hub known for its hearty cuisine, it’s a good thing that so many Asia cruises choose to stop overnight here.
It would be easy to spend a full day in Tempozan Harbor Village - the area around the port. Just steps from the pier, the terrific Osaka Kaiyukan Aquarium is home to nearly 600 species and 30,000 marine animals that come from the Pacific Rim. The aquarium's headliner is a whale shark that presides over the planet's largest fish tank. Also nearby is the stylish Suntory Museum, which features a 3D IMAX theatre and rotating exhibits of art and design based on everyday life. Tempozan Marketplace is also nearby and loaded with souvenir shops, restaurants and a food court offering Osaka specialties.
The 2004 Olympic Games sparked the transformation of central Athens and encouraged enhancements to transportation and infrastructure that have improved the city immensely. Many Mediterranean cruise passengers flying in to board ships in Athens, once a tortuous process of driving through dreary, traffic-clogged streets, will notice how speedy the transit from airport to port is now.
The most spectacular sites, including but not limited to the Parthenon, Acropolis, Odeon and Temple of Athena, are now more easily accessible thanks to an Olympics-linked project that created a network of pedestrian-friendly streets linking the city's major monuments and sites of historic interest. Many of these monuments also have received facelifts, and some fine neoclassical architecture in the city's Plaka and Thissio districts was restored.
Athens, once one of the most hectic and traffic-polluted cities in the world, now owns a real buzz and is well worth spending a few days in if your cruise starts or ends there.
You'd be forgiven if you'd never before heard of Whittier. Although it's a gateway to the glacier and wildlife-filled Prince William Sound, most people have had no reason to go there. This being said, it is now becoming an increasingly popular alternative Alaskan port.
What visitors will find today, however, is an eccentric, snow-covered city, where children use underground tunnels to get to school, as the average amount of snow on the ground on any given day between December and April is 85cm!
Getting into town is, however, one of the highlights of a visit; The Anton Anderson Memorial Tunnel is like no other. The ride is 4 kilometres on a railroad track through the narrow pass cut into a mountain. The tunnel itself is actually shared by rail and vehicle traffic - when one is inside, the other is not; they switch every half hour. Whittier makes a great day-trip on your Alaskan cruise – just don’t forget some boots and a very warm coat!
Prague, Czech Republic
Romantic, historic, mysterious; it's impossible to put a single label on Prague, because it's a city that truly is the sum of its parts. Prague serves as a transfer destination for Danube River cruises and passengers frequently overnight for one day or more in Prague before journeying by bus to meet their ships. There’s plenty to do and see in Prague, so if you’re lucky enough to have some time there, make sure you soak up as much as you can.
If Prague has a visual signature, it has to be the Prague Castle, a hilltop fortress that has dominated the city since the ninth century - there is no place better to view the so-called "City of 100 Spires". As any local will tell you, no visit to Prague would be complete without a stroll across Charles Bridge. Armies, monarchs and now tourists have all trooped across the bridge, completed in the early 1400's.
Also worth a visit is Old Town, with a colourful collection of restaurants, shops and a stunning hodgepodge of architecture that includes Gothic towers, a premier Art Nouveau exhibition hall and Cubist houses. Vendors, sausage stands and, seasonally, a Christmas market enliven the town square, which is also home to Prague's famous Astronomical Clock.
Brilliant blue lagoons, seemingly-infinite sunshine, stunning jagged peaks and a hint of gardenia in the air - everything you've ever imagined about Papeete is true.
You’ll find no shortage of South Pacific cruises that pass through Tahiti, so make sure you visit Papeete's vibrant waterfront and colourful market, brimming with everything from fresh fruit to artisan treasures. If you're an art aficionado or a lover of supreme scenery, a trip to the Paul Gauguin Museum is in order. There's a small collection of work that chronicles Gauguin's fascinating life. Plus, its seaside location and gardens are spectacular.
Those searching for arts and crafts should visit the Papeete Market. Polynesian treasures such as drums, shark tooth pendants, traditional music and iconic hand carved tikis are here for the buying. And don't forget the fresh vanilla - a great way to savour island life back home. And finally, don’t leave without trying some of the local flavours. From French cafés to Italian pizzerias, Papeete has something to satisfy everyone's cravings.
For cruises to these destinations and more, contact a Cruise Specialist or call 0800 22 11 00.