A Visual Guide to the Most Beautiful Ports in the World

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We all know one of the best reasons to go on holiday is the breathtaking destinations you see along the way. So why not make the most of your time on the seas by choosing a cruise that stops off at beautiful ports, allowing you to drink in the culture and charm of the world’s most stunning locations. With so many wonderful harbours all over the world, picking only a handful is a tall order, but we think this mixture of tried and tested, historic and out-there choices are true jewels of the ocean.

Dubrovnik, Croatia

dubrovnik

Perhaps the most imposing of all historic ports, Dubrovnik harbour is a sight to behold. Berthing against a backdrop of immaculate stone walls, sloping hills and the distinctive hue of terracotta rooftops, you’ll be transported back in time when you experience how much has been preserved – despite the scars of a painful military past. Indeed, the port of Dubrovnik is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and has a rich history of global trade spanning hundreds of years. It remains one of the most popular and serene ports in the Mediterranean, no doubt helped by its appearance in HBO’s Game of Thrones. During your stay, visit the Old Town to stop for a bite, peruse the 15th-century architecture, and scale the city’s vast defensive walls. A guided tour from one of the locals will reveal more about the city’s traditions and customs, as well as its remarkable history – from the Roman Age to the present day.

Vancouver, British Colombia

vancouver port

Vancouver is an unrivalled harbour city for two reasons. One, it has award-winning facilities housing some of the destination’s best attractions and eateries. And two, it is the only port which grants access to the mysterious Inside Passage, Canada’s protected route to Alaska. This coast-traversing course enables hardier adventurers to weave through the islands on smaller excursions, while taking in the snowy mountain peaks, blue skies and crisp Alaskan air. For those that prefer their trips on solid ground, Vancouver’s Stanley Park is just the place. Nature lovers travel in droves to this amazing location, which is home to 27 kilometres of trails, 8.8 kilometres of seawall, sprawling beaches, a rainforest and Canada’s largest aquarium.

Sydney, Australia

sydney port

At the risk of seeming biased, we couldn’t list the world’s most beautiful ports without a nod to home turf. Sydney Harbour is beloved all over the world, not least for its one-of-a-kind skyline. Views of the Opera House and Harbour Bridge make for picture-perfect backgrounds, while the port itself comprises two dedicated facilities; the Overseas Passenger Terminal, located at Circular Quay, and White Bay Cruise Terminal, west of The Bridge at Balmain. On your visit, remember to check out the Royal Botanic Garden, an enchanting ode to the joys of horticulture and cutting-edge plant science. If boarding one ship wasn’t enough, the Tall Ship Discovery Cruise offers a genuine 1920s tall ship experience –  sailing past many of Sydney’s iconic attractions.

Nassau, Bahamas

nassau port

For a taste of pure luxury, it has to be New Providence Island. The renowned capital of the Bahamas, this harbour is punctuated by the pastel delights of seafront properties painted in yellows, lilacs and soft pinks. Nassau is the destination for shopping in the Carribean, with unique malls, markets and stalls to explore on a wander through the centre. But don’t be fooled by the languid pace of life here; there are more than 700 islands to discover, including prime spot, Paradise Island. Swim with dolphins at Dolphin Cay, dig your toes in the white sands of Cabbage Beach, or enter Atlantis resort for a slice of unadulterated island living. Back on the mainland, a walking tour of Nassau lets you learn about the heritage of a city that is much more than white sands and blue seas. 

Venice, Italy

venice port

No shortlist of beautiful ports would be complete without Venice. Known as the ‘floating city’, Venice inspired one of Shakespeare’s most famous plays, and it’s not hard to see why. An epicentre of Renaissance trade, the port is bustling and romantic in equal measure. The Marittima Basin handles large cruise ships, so is most likely the location where you will disembark. It is close to St Mark’s Basilica, a grand relic of Italo-Byzantine architecture, and the first landmark to cross off your checklist. If you should travel the waterways, look out for the Bridge of Sighs, a monument of note within the city, built in 1600. Rumour has it, prisoners who would cross the bridge (which connected interrogation rooms to cells) would sigh as they caught a final glance of Venice through two small windows carved into the stone. Arriving in Venice is especially captivating at dusk, when the lights of the city bounce off the port’s gently undulating waters.

Mo’orea, French Polynesia

moorea port

Known as the ‘magical island’, this intimate setting will take your breath away from the minute you step ashore. Greeted by crystalline lagoons, an epic volcanic range and the warm welcome of the Tahitian people, you will be hard-pressed to find a setting as awe-inspiring as this. Ōpūnohu Bay is a particular delight, where stony peaks rise up out of turquoise waters in which you’re free to snorkel, paddleboard and fish. Amateur scuba divers will be in their element, with more than 3,000 separate reefs to explore, while sun worshippers can sit back on the golden sands and while away the hours. Tiki Village provides a glimpse into authentic Polynesian life, with a showcase of music, food, and unforgettable ceremonial dance. However you choose to spend your time, one thing’s for certain – you won’t want to leave.

From Croatia to the Caribbean, the world’s foremost ports and destinations are yours to discover with our huge collection of cruise deals. To start planning your next holiday at sea, visit the homepage or call our team today on 1300 680 005.

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About Author

Lily Egge

Lily is in her mid 60’s and loves cruising. She and her partner have cruised on at least 40 cruises so far and there is much more to see. They usually travel on a balcony cabin, especially at Christmas where they celebrate on the cruise with the family. She lives in Manifold Heights in Victoria. Lily writes for Cruise 1st on a regular basis.

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