Near the start of a new year you might be sitting and thinking about where you’ll be spending your holidays in the next 12-24 months… We know we sit day dreaming about that a lot! But have you thought about where you will be visiting?
Every year, destinations that cruise ships visit change. New attractions are added, traditionally hard to reach beauty spots become more accessible, and little known stops on an itinerary can become somewhere not to miss!
So where should you be heading in 2017? Which ports have something new and exciting for you to explore?
Read on to find out our 17 top picks of 2017!
Puerto Vallarta lies on the west coast of Mexico and is known for its beaches, nightlife and water sports, and it was also named the “friendliest city” in 2011. As well as enjoying the waterfront and games on the sand, you can take a tour of the city to discover the old town with its quaint buildings or explore the botanical gardens before going to the shopping mall… which is surprisingly called “Liverpool” shopping centre!
Our specialist cruise consultant Betsy told us why you should visit Puerto Vallarta this year: “The Malecon boardwalk along the beach front has recently been remodelled to include jumping fountains, even more shops and more local restaurants. You should definitely visit to stroll along the front and soak up the local atmosphere!”
You can read more about Betsy and her travels here.
This Cuban hot spot has become a wildly popular destination in the last year since American tourism to Cuba has started to properly begin. With more and more cruises putting Havana on their itineraries, (such as MSC – which you can read about here!) you’ve got an even greater chance to visit the candy coloured town of Havana with its museums, UNESCO protected buildings, cobbled streets, unique shops and lively bars.
Our specialist cruise consultant Jo told us: “When I was in Cuba I found out that Ernest Hemmingway spent a lot of time in Havana in the 20s and 30s and you can still visit his bar today! Make sure you head over to La Bodeguita Del Medio for a mojito before you get back on your ship.”
The bustling port of Singapore is home to both skyscrapers and beautiful gardens, the likes of which are found at few other ports. Whilst you can visit the busy markets, take a boat ride along one of the several rivers and explore China town, you can also see the botanical gardens, National Orchid Gardens and Cloud Forest indoor gardens. You’re spoilt for choice when it comes to spots to see an exotic tropical paradise!
Our specialist cruise consultant Ruth told us her top tip for visiting Singapore: “Most tourists won’t Venture very far inland but you should take the trip to Sungei Buloh Nature reserve which has recently been expanded. You can explore the natural mangrove habitat with new observation platforms to get you even closer to the wildlife.”
Find out more about what Ruth got up to on her trip to Singapore here.
The overwhelming city of Tokyo has to be seen to be believed. A few minutes spent at Shibuya crossing (the world’s biggest intersection) will leave you feel hypnotised at the floods of people surrounded by skyscrapers, flashing billboards and a hubbub of noise.
Try out the maze of shops in Shinjuku or see the latest styles and pop culture in the Harajuku district of Shibuya before venturing to Edo Castle which has stood tall in the city since 1457.
Our specialist cruise consultant Wayne told us: “You should visit the new Tokyo Skytree (the tallest structure in Japan) and go to the restaurant at the top for breath-taking views of the city over cocktails and dinner.”
You can learn more about Wayne and his travels here.
Osaka is often overlooked in favour of Tokyo, but this city is still a bright, modern hive that’s worth your visit. Its known for its nightlife and street food – in fact, it’s food is so good that the city is actually nicknamed “The Nation’s Kitchen.” Spend your day trip trying local dishes, visiting Midosuji Street to see the street lights show for a fantastic photo opportunity or simply pick a direction and explore – you’re bound to stumble across something surprising!
Our specialist cruise consultant Ruby told us: “You should head to Osaka Castle Park to visit the traditional Japanese buildings lined in cherry blossom trees. It’s a beautiful way to spend the afternoon looking at stunning views, shrines and exploring one of Japan’s most famous landmarks!”
Learn more about Ruby here.
As soon as you sail into Kobe port you’ll be greeted by the brightly lit Kobe Port Tower that surveys the surrounding waterways. Venture into the city and you’ll find the Minatogawa Shrines which look like they haven’t changed at all in the hundreds of years since they were built. Explore even further and you’ll be able to hike or take a cable car to the top of Mt Maya to see the twinkling lights below and the surrounding wildlife. Alternatively, go shopping in Motomachi Street and try some deliciously fresh local seafood whilst you’re at it.
Our specialist cruise consultant Delia told us: “If you’re feeling tired and don’t fancy venturing too far out of the port then you can visit Meriken Park, right along the water front. There are ferris wheels, restaurants and shops that all open fairly early to cater to tourists wandering from the waters.”
Find out more about Delia here.
As well as the beautiful beaches, there is a huge amount of things to do in Dubrovnik. See the sights such as the clock tower, St Blaise Church, Dubrovnik Cathedral, Orlando’s Column and Rector’s Palace. For something a little more special, head off the beaten track and walk to St Jakov Beach which is much quieter than the other beaches nearby and is a real beauty spot.
Our specialist cruise consultant Nicola advised us: “The fans of Game of Thrones amongst you will recognise parts of Dubrovnik as part of the popular TV show is set here. You can now go on tours of these locations that are used for filming! Tours last about 3 hours and are worth it for the diehard fans out there.”
Read more about Nicola and her adventures here.
Copenhagen has a whole load of history for you to immerse yourself in. Whilst you’ll want to avoid seeing the statue of the little mermaid (read more about that here) you should take a step back in time as you visit the Tivoli Amusement Gardens as you try out the 19th century attractions and take a picnic between the flowerbeds. You could also visit the Renaissance Rosenburg Castle, the National Museum of Denmark or go all out and visit the Copenhagen Opera House.
Our specialist cruise consultant Edward recently visited Copenhagen: “The city’s botanical gardens have recently been given a makeover but the cities real gem is Nyhavn – an area with a postcard pretty series of canals with boats and colourful buildings.”
You can learn more about Edward here.
Palma de Mallorca
Best known for its lovely beaches and relaxed seaside feel, this port is your gateway into a peaceful Spanish island. The best sand spots are arguably Playa de Palma El Arenal and Playa de Cala Mayor, and other attractions include the Cathedral, aquarium, Aqualand Water Park and the shopping centres. For something a little more decadent, visit the Arab Baths for a pamper and a dip in the saunas and pools…
Our specialist cruise consultant Sam Smith actually used to live in Mallorca: “My tip is to visit the village of Estellencs, which is hidden in the UNESCO protected mountains. Its only 15 minutes away from a beach and you’ll be able to learn about the “real” Mallorca away from the tourist traps!”
You can find out more about Sam’s recommendations here.
This tranquil French corner is home to a busy harbour and plenty of cultural delights to explore and sunny spots to relax in. Spend your day in port visiting the Basillique Notre-Dame De La Garde and its crypt or take a ferry to Chateau D’lf to see the white cliffs and imposing 16th century fortress. Head to the harbour to see the boats belonging to the super rich and try some of the local Bouillabaisse (fish stew) as you sit and watch the locals pass you by.
Our specialist consultant Judy told us what she thought of Marseille: “It was beautiful… as were the yachts! My tip is to visit Calanque de Sormiou for an incredibly beautiful walk down to a little hidden bay. If you don’t fancy the walk there – take a boat!”
You can learn more about Judy here.
This part of the French Riviera is loved by holiday makers the world over for its glamour and old world charm – but there is more to Cannes than just the film festival! Head to Forville market for colourful food and wares or have a look at the bars, casinos and expensive boutiques that make Cannes so glamourous. If you visit La Croisette beach promenade you might even be in a sun lounger next to a celebrity!
Our specialist consultant Camilla told us: “Try the food in restaurants away from the harbour to find cuisine that is a true reflection of Cannes or take a picnic on the beach to simply enjoy the beauty of your setting!”
Find out more about what Camilla thought of Cannes here.
This picturesque island is a hotspot for honeymooners and those looking to get away from it all. Spend your visit at the endless list of perfect beaches – our favourite being Bluebeard’s beach which is less busy than others with plenty of white sand! Further inland you can enjoy duty free shopping, visit Blackbeard’s castle and visit the small town of Red Hook.
Our specialist consultant Amy advised us: “Whilst there are endless beaches – there are still places to cool down! Magic Ice bar is (as you might guess) sculpted from ice and you can sip on rum from ice tumblers. This could be the perfect antidote if you’ve got sunburnt during the day!”
Find out more about Amy and her trips to the island here.
The Caribbean island of St Kitts has mountains covered in rainforest and beaches covered in white sand. Whether you want to climb its dormant volcano, zip line across the island or take a train around the coast to see the scenery, you’re sure to find something to do. As you would expect of a Caribbean island there are plenty of water sports to get involved in and you can try your hand at snorkelling, scuba diving, kayaking and boating in the warm waters.
Our specialist cruise consultant Nik said: “One thing a lot of people miss on their visit is the Petroglyphs carved onto rocks in the Wingfield manor Estate. Local experts think they are authentic ancient drawings of gods and fertility symbols.”
Find out more about Nik and the places he has been to here.
The largest island in the Bahamas is somewhat of a paradise. For you thrill seekers, the Atlantis water park has a slide that drops 60 feet through a shark tank, and for you shopaholics, Downtown and Bay Street have an assortment of quirky boutiques as well as a straw market. Cultural sites include the likes of the National Art Gallery of the Bahamas and the brightly covered Government house. But surely the highlight of the island is its beaches – with the relaxed sands and tidal pools of Jaws beach being our favourite!
Our specialist cruise consultant Steve told us: “Head to Via Caffe (which is just a short walk from the cruise terminal) and order French toast dipped in Pina Colada mix. Trust me – you’ll enjoy it more than you think!”
You can read about Steve and his many travels in his blog here.
The white sands of Bali beaches is all most people think of when they hear the name, but it’s actually a spiritual destination covered in forests and lush vegetation. Many guests visit the Besakih temple and the Tanah temple to see how locals worship at these iconic destinations. Further inland is a sacred monkey forest sanctuary and the Sekumpul waterfalls and a popular city spot includes the Ubud Art Market where art, fabrics and jewellery are all sold.
Our specialist consultant Cara told us: “You should make time to go and see Mount Kawi and the amazing temples and rock carvings. It’s now a lot more accessible than it used to be (although there are still many stairs to climb) and it isn’t too expensive either!”
Find out more about Cara and where she has travelled to here.
Okay, we’ll admit that this stop isn’t quite a port, but it’s only a short hop in an aeroplane away from one! These falls on the edge of Argentina and Brazil are a must see destination for thrill seekers and those after a spectacular day trip. Stand in awe and watch the gallons of water rushing past, on walkways and boat tours which have recently become much more accessible.
Our specialist cruise consultant Stacey told us about her recent visit to South America and Iguazu Falls: “We walked for two miles around the falls, stopping to take pictures along the way. With each step it would bring a new angle and new amazing photographs. The tour guide told us that Autumn is a perfect time to visit as the weather is a little milder and the water levels drop.”
You can read Stacy’s blog about South America here!
Mexico’s largest island is the perfect spot to go diving and explore the sea creatures along Palancar Reef. Nearby Molas Point Lighthouse offers picturesque scenery and El Cedral holds the oldest Mayan ruins for miles around and gives you a glimpse into Cozumel’s past. One of Cozumel’s best kept secrets is Cozumel Cielo which is a beach only accessible by boat. The sand is white and the beach deserted – you won’t regret it if you make a trip here!
Our specialist consultant Kirsty said: “A short walk from the port is “Wet Wendy’s Margarita House’! You should visit for some authentic Mexican Margaritas and live music before you board your ship home!”
Find out more about Kirsty and her adventures here.
You can look at deals for all of these different destinations here!
What do you think of our consultants’ recommendations?
Will you be visiting any of these ports in 2016 or beyond? Have you been to any before?
Let us know in the comments below!