25 stunning cruise ports to inspire your next voyage

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<p>Stephen Bridger/Shutterstock</p>

Stephen Bridger/Shutterstock

Nothing beats the thrill of seeing a destination come into view from the water as you travel on board a cruise ship. The first glimpse you'll get of a destination as you come in to dock is its port, and while some can be unattractive, others are simply beautiful and will inspire you to explore the destination further. These ports often offer something special for the visitor, whether it’s their top-notch facilities, stunning and iconic scenery or proximity to the area's hustle and bustle. Here is a look at some of the best cruise ports and ports of call worldwide.

Port of Singapore

<p>Igor Grochev/Shutterstock</p>

Igor Grochev/Shutterstock

The port of Singapore is one of the biggest in the world. There are two berthing facilities at the Singapore Cruise Centre and Marina Bay Cruise Centre, located next to the Marina South Pier. The port is close to attractions such as Sentosa Island, Gardens by the Bay, Chinatown and Marina Bay Sands. Singapore’s strategic location means the destination is often described as the gateway to southeast Asia. Some of the major cruise lines operating from there are Princess, Celebrity, Cunard, Royal Caribbean, Seabourn, Holland American Line (HAL) and Silversea.

Piraeus port, Athens, Greece



This ancient city port has three harbours, making it the largest port in Greece and one of the largest in Europe. Piraeus has religious and historic landmarks of its own, but Athens is only eight miles (13km) to the northeast and is easily accessible via a 30-minute metro ride or a 20- to 30-minute taxi ride. The port connects the peninsula with most Greek islands, and it’s the main stop for cruise ships touring the Aegean Sea. The port is reached by cruise lines such as Royal Caribbean, NCL, Celebrity, Princess, Azamara, Silversea and Virgin Voyages.

Ports of Dubai, UAE

<p>Digital Work/Shutterstock</p>

Digital Work/Shutterstock

The glamorous emirate of Dubai remains a major port of embarkation and a call for cruise travellers on itineraries to destinations in the Middle East and Arabian Gulf. The city has two cruise ports, with two terminals in Port Rashid and two at the new Dubai Harbour, which opened in 2020. The latter have entertainment venues, leisure spaces and premium retail shopping areas. Dubai Harbour is directly linked with the city's transport network and monorail system and is visited by Carnival Corporation cruise line brands, while Port Rashid welcomes other major cruise lines.

Manhattan Cruise Terminal, New York City, New York, USA

<p>John Penney/Shutterstock</p>

John Penney/Shutterstock

Seeing the port of Manhattan from the water is arguably one of the most iconic sights to be had from a cruise ship. Passengers can take in the Manhattan skyline, Statue of Liberty and Governors Island. Manhattan Cruise Terminal is situated on the Hudson River on the city's west side in the Hell's Kitchen area. New York City has been serving cruise passengers longer than any other US city. From the port, it’s a taxi or subway ride into the city. Cruise lines berthing there include NCL, Cunard, Princess, P&O, Carnival, Oceania, Disney Cruise Line, Fred. Olsen and Viking.

Port of San Miguel de Cozumel, Mexico



San Miguel de Cozumel port is at the heart of this Mexican island and is surrounded by beautiful clear water, a coral reef and miles of beaches offering snorkelling and scuba diving opportunities soon after you disembark. The buzzing city of San Miguel is also a short walk away and has many seafront shops and restaurants. Visitors can walk along the sea wall, El Malecon, and head to the main square. If there is time, ancient Mayan ruins can be explored too. Many ships docking at this port head on to the Caribbean and some of the cruise lines stopping here include Carnival, Royal Caribbean, NCL, Marella, MSC and Princess.

Port of Cape Town, South Africa

<p>Grant Duncan-Smith/Shutterstock</p>

Grant Duncan-Smith/Shutterstock

The cruise terminal at the port of Cape Town is operated by the V&A Waterfront, a 304-acre neighbourhood with shops, restaurants, hotels and entertainment options. On the approach to the port, passengers can view the scenic bay and harbour and the mountains beyond. Take the cable car to the top of Table Mountain to get a beautiful vista of the city that's within walking distance of the port. The major cruise lines heading to and from the port include Oceania, Seabourn, NCL, MSC and Regent Seven Seas.

Geirangerfjord Port, Norway

<p>Nataliia Budianska/Shutterstock</p>

Nataliia Budianska/Shutterstock

Cruise guests will enjoy magnificent views of the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Geirangerfjord area as they head to the small cruise port. Lined by mountains and waterfalls, the fjord has a magical looking landscape and a very small village. Cruise lines offer excursions from the port, such as kayaking along the waterways, helicopter rides and hiking tours to amazing viewpoints like Eagle Bend and Dalsnibba mountain. Lines including Viking, Hurtigruten, Windstar, Silversea, HAL, Ponant, Celebrity and Cunard all have itineraries to the destination.

Half Moon Cay, Bahamas



Half Moon Cay is a 2,400-acre island retreat in the Bahamas, located 10 miles (16km) southeast of Nassau. The island is owned by Carnival Corporation and is therefore only a port of call for Carnival and Holland America Line, which use the island as part of their Caribbean and Panama Canal itineraries. The paradise island has facilities for families, couples and groups. There are beach cabanas, bars with thatched roofs and hammocks for relaxing days spent swimming and sunbathing. For more active pursuits scuba diving, snorkelling, jet-skiing, parasailing, glass-bottom boating, cycling and hiking are all part of the offering.

Port of Valletta, Malta

<p>Leonid Andronov/Shutterstock</p>

Leonid Andronov/Shutterstock

Cruise ships enter the Port of Valletta via the impressive and historic Grand Harbour, which extends for about two miles (3.6km) inland on the island of Malta. Passengers disembarking the ships at Valletta Cruise Port can head to the neighbouring historic Valletta harbour. The waterfront venue offers food, shopping and entertainment and some of the island's most impressive views and iconic ancient buildings. Malta is strategically positioned in the centre of the Mediterranean offering eastern and western itineraries and is visited by cruise lines such as Celebrity, Marella, P&O, Oceania, Fred. Olsen, Princess and HAL.

Port of Skala, Santorini, Greece



The journey to the Greek island of Santorini offers some of the most beautiful views from the Mediterranean Sea. On the approach to the old port, passengers are met with scenes of whitewashed villages with cobalt-blue cupolas set high on the cliffs. Santorini's capital, Fira, can be reached from the port by tender dock and then by cable car, or by walking up 580 or so steps. Santorini is often the most popular cruising destination of all the Greek isles and is visited by lines including Marella, Celestyal, HAL, Royal Caribbean, MSC, Celebrity, Princess Cruises and Seabourn.

Port of Jeju, South Korea

<p>Stock for you/Shutterstock</p>

Stock for you/Shutterstock

Cruise passengers arriving at the port on the UNESCO-listed Jeju Island in South Korea have the opportunity to explore secluded beaches, underground lava tunnels, caves and waterfalls. Jeju city is one mile (2km) from the port. The island was once a honeymoon destination for South Korean couples and is also home to an adults-only theme park called Love Land, which features more than a hundred erotic sculptures. Quirky cruise itinerary excursions also take in the Teddy Bear Museum. Among the cruise lines stopping at the island are Celebrity, Princess, HAL, Regent Seven Seas, Silversea, Oceania and Seabourn.

Port of Haifa, Israel

<p>Oleg Lopatkin/Shutterstock</p>

Oleg Lopatkin/Shutterstock

The Port of Haifa is directly linked with downtown Haifa and it only takes a few minutes to walk to the railway station, or around 15 minutes to walk to the city centre. Haifa is the third largest city in Israel and its main attraction is the Bahá’í World Centre and surrounding Bahá’í gardens. The National Museum, Mount Carmel national park, Israel National Museum of Science, Technology, and Space and the Haifa Museum of Art are also worth a visit. The port welcomes HAL, Royal Caribbean, MSC, Azamara, Princess Cruises and NCL, among other cruise lines.

Dubrovnik Cruise Port, Croatia

<p>Denis Belitsky/Shutterstock</p>

Denis Belitsky/Shutterstock

Dubrovnik's main cruise port is located around two miles (3km) away from the Old Town. Most of the cruise ships dock here although some moor in front of the old port, where visitors can then take a tender boat to shore. The old port has UNESCO World Heritage status and is one of the busiest and most beautiful cruise ports in Europe. Dubrovnik’s medieval walled town can be discovered on foot and offers stunning views of the Adriatic Sea. The port of call is reached by cruise lines including NCL, HAL, Costa, P&O, Marella, Cunard, Celebrity, Emerald, Marella and Viking.

Port of Lisbon, Portugal



The Port of Lisbon is the third-largest port in Portugal. While cruising into it along the Tagus River, the impressive structures of the Belem Tower, Discoveries Monument and Cristo Rei statue of Christ – as well as the Ponte 25 de Abril suspension bridge – are all within sight. Lisbon centre and all its attractions can be reached on a short walk from the cruise port. From Lisbon, it's easy to take day trips to resort towns such as Estoril, Sintra and Fatima. Princess, Virgin Voyages, Cunard, P&O, Royal Caribbean, NCL, Carnival, Windstar and Oceania all include ports of call at the destination.

PortMiami, Florida, USA



The port of Miami is often referred to as the cruise capital of the world, welcoming more cruise passengers to its terminals than any other port. Miami's geographic position makes it easily accessible to the Caribbean and Latin America on cruise itineraries. MSC Cruises recently began work on its new £265 million ($350m) terminal at the port, which is expected to be finished by the end of 2023. It will have three berths for mega cruise ships, making it North America’s largest cruise terminal. Virgin Voyages opened a dedicated cruise terminal there earlier this year. The three-storey Terminal V hosts the line’s first ship, Scarlet Lady, and will be joined by Valiant Lady later this year.

Port St. Maarten, Caribbean

<p>Viktor Hladchenko/Shutterstock</p>

Viktor Hladchenko/Shutterstock

Passengers are immediately welcomed to Harbour Point Village when they arrive ashore on the small island of St. Maarten, affectionately known as "the Friendly Island". The island’s colourful capital, Philipsburg, can be reached in 15 minutes on foot. This town has plenty of Dutch charm, great shopping in the form of duty-free outlets, souvenir shops and market stalls, as well as bars and restaurants. There are plenty of watersports available too. This beautiful island is visited by Carnival, Costa, Disney Cruise Line, Princess,  P&O, NCL and HAL, to name a few.

Port of Barcelona, Spain



The Port of Barcelona is a launching-off point for many Mediterranean cruises and has one of the highest concentrations of cruise passengers in Europe. Within it is the old harbour, Port Vell, and at the foot of the port is the city’s famous boulevard, La Rambla, which stretches through the heart of the city centre. The thoroughfare can be reached on foot or by a cruise shuttle bus from the cruise terminals. The port is a draw for major cruise lines including Viking, Celebrity, Princess, Royal Caribbean, NCL, Marella and Virgin Voyages.

Havana Port, Cuba

<p>Vadim Nefedoff/Shutterstock</p>

Vadim Nefedoff/Shutterstock

Havana Harbour and the cruise terminal at Havana port are located on the eastern edge of this Cuban city, while Old Havana is almost on the doorstep of the cruise terminal. From there, passengers can walk to Plaza San Francisco, one of Old Havana's four main squares, while further south is seaside boulevard the Malecón. The city's central park is also accessible on foot, although a journey in a vintage taxi is a must. If your cruise is coming from Tampa, Key West, Miami or Cozumel, Havana is likely to be on your route, with cruise lines including Viking, Marella, Variety and Royal Caribbean all paying a visit.

Port of Livorno, Italy



The Port of Livorno is considered a major Italian port and is located on the western coast of the beautiful region of Tuscany. The destination is a popular cruise centre, thanks to its close proximity to Pisa and Florence. Both cities are easy to reach by train after a shuttle bus transfer from the cruise terminal. It's then a 15-minute train journey from Livorno to Pisa, or just over an hour to Florence. The port destination is used by cruise lines including P&O, Marella, Royal Caribbean, HAL, Fred. Olsen, Carnival, MSC, Cunard and Regent Seven Seas.

Port of Stockholm, Sweden



The port of Stockholm is one of the busiest in Europe and shortly after arriving ashore, passengers can visit the stunning city from one of two major cruise terminals: Stadsgarden and Frihamnen. The Millesgården is an art museum and sculpture garden located on the island of Lidingö in front of Frihamnen port. More of the city’s famous museums – such as ABBA The Museum, the Viking Museum and the maritime-focused Vasa Museum – are conveniently located on the city's island oasis of Djurgården. NCL, Royal Caribbean, Viking, Regent and Ponant all include itineraries to Stockholm.

Port of Key West, Florida, USA



At the port of Key West in Florida, the main attractions are all in close proximity as the island city is only four miles long by two miles wide. The old town has historic buildings, art galleries, tropical gardens, shops, vintage saloons, restaurants and bars. Also situated there are The Hemingway Home and Museum and the famous Sloppy Joe's bar, which has been in Key West since 1933. Thanks to its year-round tropical climate, cruise passengers can snorkel or dive in the coral reefs and wrecks surrounding the port. Carnival, Royal Caribbean, Seabourn, Princess, Celebrity, P&O and Virgin Voyages regularly call here.

Port of San Juan, Puerto Rico

<p>Darryl Brooks/Shutterstock</p>

Darryl Brooks/Shutterstock

With its central Caribbean location, San Juan cruise port in Puerto Rico is a modern world cruise capital. San Juan offers old world charm and natural wonders. Old San Juan is a historic landmark, with 16th- and 17th-century Spanish-style buildings and the fortresses of San Cristobal and El Morro. There are also many shops, lively cafés and restaurants to visit. Natural beauty lies in San Juan's beaches and verdant El Yunque National Forest. Cruise lines such as Royal Caribbean, Carnival, P&O, Celebrity, Silversea and Disney Cruise Line all head here.

Port of Sydney, Australia

<p>Stephen Bridger/Shutterstock</p>

Stephen Bridger/Shutterstock

With iconic sights such as the Harbour Bridge and the Opera House, Sydney is one of the world’s great port cities. Cruise ships glide past these iconic structures and through the dramatic sandstone passage cliffs of The Heads that lead to and from the Pacific Ocean. Sydney is the only Australian city to have two dedicated cruise terminals and thanks to its size, visitors will be able to see plenty there in a day or two. Cruise lines docking here include NCL, Cunard, Princess, Celebrity, HAL, Royal Caribbean, Silversea, Oceania and Virgin Voyages.

Port of Venice, Italy



Venice is one of the most stunning cities to cruise into, passing sites such as St Mark’s Square as the ship leaves the Adriatic Sea to enter a narrow entrance called the Porto di Lido, on the way to the piers at the Venetian Lagoon and the Venice Cruise Terminal. However, since 2021, medium and large cruise ships have been banned from Venice's historic centre until further notice, due to environmental concerns. Instead, they currently moor at Marghera, a district of Venice on the Italian mainland. P&O, NCL, Royal Caribbean, Marella, Princess, Azamara, MSC, HAL, Oceania and many others call at the destination.

Port of Kotor, Montenegro

<p>Anatoliy Sadovskiy/Shutterstock</p>

Anatoliy Sadovskiy/Shutterstock

Cruise passengers are in for something special as they enter the port at the Bay of Kotor. The ship wends its way through a 17-mile (27km) waterway offering fjord-like views of mountains and leading to the old walled city of Kotor. The old city dates back to the Middle Ages and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site with attractive buildings, churches, squares and stone streets. It is a short walk from the cruise port and has small shops and restaurants to stop off at. The destination is reached by cruise lines such as Royal Caribbean, Celebrity, MSC and Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL).

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