Sitka, on the Pacific Coast of Barenof Island in Alaska, is one of the more unusual Cruise ports to visit featured on an Alaskan itinerary. Originally built by Russian traders in the early 1800’s, when it was known as the city of ‘New Archangel’, Sitka has a very different feel to the wild west, gold rush, mining towns that form most of the other ports of call in Alaska. It is definitely worth a visit if you get the chance!!
Stornoway, on the east coast of Lewis, is a busy port and a popular stop on Round Britain cruise itineraries. A new cruise terminal with deep water berth is under construction but at present only smaller vessels can moor alongside, larger ships tender passengers ashore to the CalMac pier. Cruisers are met by a team of Cruise Ambassadors, local volunteers, who are on hand to offer information and assistance. The currency here is the Scottish £ and, whilst Gaelic is a frequently used language on the islands, locals also speak English. The Sabbath is strictly observed here so most shops are closed on a Sunday.
Juneau, the capital of Alaska since 1906, was our first port of call. It is the only American State Capital not accessible by road – everything and everyone arrives by boat or air! Named after one of the two men -Joe Juneau and Richard Harris – who discovered gold in the area back in 1880, the town quickly grew up as mines flourished in the hills above and by 1906 Juneau was centre of the worlds gold mining trade. Unfortunately it was a short lived title and by the 1940s labour shortages due to WW2 meant that the mines closed. Today the cruise industry is the main source of income and employment history of Juneau for the town and the Mendenhall Glacier is its most promoted attraction.
I am going to preface this Havana Port Profile with an explanation and a warning. Whilst Cuba is an amazing place to visit, unfortunately it was listed as a ” State Sponsor of Terrorism” by President Trump as he left office in 2021. This means that tourists from the USA are NOT able to visit and no American cruise lines visit the port. However three European companies (Marella, Ambassador and Fred Olsen) have added Cuba on itineraries from January 2023 onwards so we thought that a bit of information might be useful to those passengers. The main point to consider if you are booking a cruise to Cuba is that you should keep up to date with the latest situation in relation to subsequent ESTA applications to the United States.
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!
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!