We only had a short visit to Muscat on a repositioning cruise from Dubai to Singapore with sunset falling about 4 hours after our planned arrival time so we took the advice of the Cruise Addicted Facebook group on our options and the best spot for a perfect sunset view. As you know, I am a sucker for a sunset and I’m happy to report that the advice was spot on so I am sharing here with you too!
Muscat is the capital city of the Sultanate of Oman and a popular winter cruise destination for Middle East itineraries and repositioning cruises. It has a completely different feel and none of the showiness of its close neighbours Abu Dhabi and Dubai with their massive high rise buildings and glitz. Abu Dhabi is elegant and restrained in comparison, partly because all new buildings are required to be built with traditional features such as a dome. This is largely due to the influence Sultan Qaboos, the countries hereditary absolute monarch since 1970 when he began the “Renaissance for Oman” project. Huge investment on health, education and welfare has transformed the country into a prosperous world economy without losing any of its charm or heritage.
Rosyth Cruise Port in Scotland is a great place to visit. The sail in takes you under the three famous Firth of Forth briges and from here you can visit Edinburgh, Leith, Dunfermline, North Queensferry, the Rosslyn chapel..
Naples is a port that features on many Mediterranean itineraries so you will probably find yourself there more than once. Although Pompeii, Vesuvius and Capri are the more obvious trips I highly recommend that you spend a day in the town at some point, Naples is a special place that deserves a little exploring!
Warnemünde, a popular cruise port on Baltic itineraries I’d often labelled ‘for’ Berlin. Situated on the mouth of the river Warnow, it is a both a busy port and an elegant ‘fin de siecle’ seaside town. Warnemünde increasingly features on the Baltic Cruise circuit and its large modern terminal, which has two berths, is home port for AIDAdiva and AIDAmar. The entrance to the harbour is guarded by a new lighthouse – it is a very deep channel but it does look a dramatically tight entrance, especially from the shore!
Celebrity Cruises’ newest and most luxurious ship, Celebrity BeyondSM, set sail from Fort Lauderdale, kicking off its inaugural Caribbean season. The ship’s official naming ceremony took place onboard, led by 19-time World Champion, seven-time Olympic Medallist and most decorated American gymnast in history: Simone Biles.
Villefranche-sur-Mer is the main cruise anchorage for Nice. Passengers come ashore by tender and head for Monaco, Cannes, Grasse or the mountain villages. Another option is to spend the day in Villefranche itself, which climbs up the steep hill behind the bay. It is a warren of shops, art galleries, museums, bars and restaurants, so there is plenty to see and do without losing sight of the ship! Look for the Rue Obscure, an atmospheric passage behind the seafront, originally a cobbled lane for troops defending the town to move supplies and ammunition, but now covered in and hidden by subsequent buildings!
The iconic image of Nice is its wide sweeping bay and beach, overlooked by large imposing hotels. Although some smaller ships dock nearby at the Port de Nice, most cruise ships will dock further along the coast towards Italy. Villefranche-sur-Mer in the next bay, is the main cruise anchorage, where passengers come ashore by tender. From there the ships tours visit Monaco, Cannes, Grasse or the mountain villages but to be honest you really could spend a lovely day without heading far from the ship at all – there are so many things to see and do in the area that you will probably want to come back on another cruise or maybe four!
The island of Madeira is volcanic and rises sharply out of the sea – making for a good deepwater port close in to the main town, Funchal, and dramatic views of the cliffs, the airport and the mountains above when arriving and departing. The harbour is quite small with only a single cruise ship docking at one time. There is a very small Cruise Terminal with little in the way of facilities except a taxi rank.
We only had a short time in port because we were on a Repositioning Cruise from Civittavechia to Abu Dhabi and this was our last stop in Europe! Celebrity Constellation was leaving for Suez at 15.30 and the next port was Aquaba, Jordan three days away, so this was definitely not the day to get too foolhardy and be late back for the ship!! Constellation berthed in Piraeus the morning at Dock 12. Its a big port and Dock 12 is quite a way out so we took the free port shuttle as far as the Cruise terminal and then walked round to the station which is at the far side of the port. The walk took about forty minutes, and the station is easy to find, it is right by a large pedestrian bridge across the busy road – look for the big M for Metro.