Written by on Monday February 23, 2015
We continue our countdown of the must-visit ports for cruise travellers in 2015 and provide you with some ideas of things to do during shore excursions. If you missed part one of our guide then you can read it here.
While once Dubai was a port only visited by the rich and famous, it’s become a popular stop for cruise ships and a welcoming tourist destination. This Emirate is a shopper’s paradise with more than 70 malls selling every designer label imaginable. To escape from hot United Arab Emirates sunshine, why not go skiing in the Mall of the Emirates; the first indoor ski resort in the Middle East with more than 22,500 square metres of snow. The Dubai Fountains are a must-see attraction where water comes to life with a spectacular light and music show with the jets shooting up to 50 stories high. For more water-based fun then visit dolphin bay and swim with these fascinating creatures.
With a population in excess of 20 million people, Beijing is one of the world’s megacities. There are a number of spectacular sites to savour from the ancient wonder of the Great Wall of China to the modern architecture of the Bird’s Nest Olympic stadium. It's a city with a rich history. Construction began on the complex known as the Forbidden City in 1406 and it was the imperial palace was almost 500 years. Today it is known as the Palace Museum and visitors can explore the world’s largest palace complex. The Shichahai Lakes were once part of the palace gardens and are a beautiful retreat from city life.
Amsterdam perhaps has a reputation of being a party city where stag and hen groups go to indulge themselves in the cafes and clubs, but there is far more to experience in the Dutch capital. There’s plenty of enrichment to be found in the many museums of the city with masterful paintings in the Rijksmuseum and the Van Gogh and fascinating films in The EYE film museum. There’s nowhere more picturesque than the canal network of Amsterdam so take a stroll along the waters or even a boat trip. You can pick up a bargain in one of the many markets including the famous Flower Market which features a huge variety of bulbs and flowers.
Athens is one of the oldest cities in recorded history and has spectacular sites to match the legends. The Acropolis is an ancient citadel sitting situated above Athens featuring the remains of historical buildings, most notably the Parthenon, the ancient temple of the gods. This site is now enhanced by a new restaurant and museum. Further insights into the Ancient Greek way of life can be discovered in The Ancient Agora, once the marketplace in the heart of Athens, now an extensive excavation. For some more contemporary treats be sure to visit the Benaki Museum which features modern art and design.
Sydney is a city full of iconic views and the views of the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Opera House do not disappoint. From here, the excellent and extensive Taronga Zoo is just a short boat trip away or alternatively, visit the close-by Botanic Gardens and enjoy the plants and the sun. There’s more nature of the aquatic variety at the Manly Sea Life Sanctuary which is home to fish, rays and turtles and the more adventurous can even enjoy diving with the sharks. Sydney is a cosmopolitan city and there’s fantastic food to enjoy with influences from Greece, Italy and China.
Honolulu is the most populous city on Hawaii and is found on the island of Oahu. Waikiki is the main tourist area of the town where high rise hotels line the extensive beach. There are plenty of restaurants offering delicious local cuisine as well as the gigantic Ala Moana Center shopping mall. For some historical enrichment then take a guided tour of Iolani Palace which was originally built by King Kalakaua in 1879 in order to make Hawaii more prestigious. For those who can’t keep away from the water then there’s plenty of water sports to enjoy with surfing, paddleboarding and snorkelling all readily available. To learn more about the local wildlife then take a trip to Honolulu Zoo or the small but informative Waikiki Aquarium.
Vancouver is a city for all seasons. In summer, tourists can take in the sun on the beaches (at least when it isn’t raining) and in winter, it’s just a short trip to the majestic mountains for some skiing. Stanley Park the largest urban park in North America with 400 acres of beautiful scenery to stroll through or perhaps treat yourself to a tour in a horse drawn carriage. There’s an extensive Chinatown in the city and the restaurants serve some of the finest cuisine available outside of China. The Yaletown neighbourhood was once a warehouse district but in recent years it has been transformed into a vibrant area which is must-visit for anyone who loves night life.
The Capital of Argentina has plenty to offer on a shore excursion. A cemetery might be the most natural tourist destination but the Cementerio de la Recoleta attracts many with its incredible array of statues and ornate sarcophagi. It would be fair to say that the city is football mad, with two of the most supported teams on the planet – Boca Juniors and River Plate. If the timing is right then you can experience a unique atmosphere at a big game. A trip of Buenos Aires isn’t complete without experience the Tango, national dance of Argentina. Milongas (tango nights) are easy to find, whether you want to find your rhythm or just observe the experts.
Orlando is perhaps most famous for its many theme parks and there’s plenty of pleasure to be found in the many parks of Disney World, the movie inspired wonder of Universal Studios and the oceanic delights of SeaWorld, but there’s more to enjoy this Floridian city. Why not check out some of the lesser known attractions like the Orlando Science Museum which combines education and entertainment or Gatorland which showcases a range of alligators and crocodile. For some more adult-orientated entertainment, there are a number of excellent bars, restaurants and clubs found in Downtown Orlando.
The sprawling metropolis of Shanghai is situated at the estuary of the Yangtze River. You can find a mix of the ancient and the modern as massive skyscrapers meet traditional markets. Located on people’s square, The Shanghai Museum is one of the finest in the country and features multiple galleries each filled with delights from China’s past. The Bund is a busy waterfront area and the perfect place to take a stroll, and offers extraordinary views of the river and buildings on the front. Getting around can feel like a visit to the future with a trip on the Maglev train which reaches speeds of up to 267 miles per hour.
Copenhagen is the perfect destination for a shore excursion with plenty to see within walking distance. Constructed in 1700s, Amalienborg Palace is a great example of Danish Rococco architecture where visitors can experience the past and present of the Danish Royal Family. Bakken is the world’s oldest amusement park at more than 400 years old. It’s located in the forest of Jægersborg Dyrehave where ancient trees meet rollercoasters and ferris wheels. A trip to Copenhagen wouldn’t be complete without a photo with The Little Mermaid statue on Langelinje Pier, inspired by the Hans Christian Andersen story.
The Capital of Puerto Rico is popular with tourists with plenty of mainstream attractions to entertain. There's the historic intrigue of Old San Juan featuring plenty of architecture reflecting the colonial past, alongside a bounty of pristine beaches to enjoy the warm sunshine. There are countless water sports to try out with surfing, sailing and kitesurfing readily available. Or perhaps with time on a cruise ship, you prefer to sample to local specialities. Puerto Rico is the home of coffee and you’ll be sure to find a high quality pick me up in one of the many cafes.
There’s barely time to scratch the surface of Cape Town with quick stopover so be sure to plan your day before you step off the ship. Table Mountain looms over everything and you can reach the peak in quick time and enjoy the stunning views with a cable car trip. For those looking to delve into South Africa’s past then there are opportunities to learn on Robben Island, a destination synonymous with Apartheid, with more to discover at the District Six Museum. Throughout the day, Long Street offers an excellent shopping experience and at night visitors can enjoy the party atmosphere in the many bars and clubs where you can savour some of South Africa’s fabulous wines.
New Orleans is famed for its incredible Mardi Gras celebrations but it’s a city alive with music and culture all year round. Take a trip to the French Quarter starting with Jackson Square and discover beautiful architecture, elegant hotels, orate art galleries and world famous restaurants. In the evening, be sure to visit some of the clubs like the Blue Nile or Snug Harbour and enjoy renowned jazz bands and solo performers while sipping on an expertly prepared cocktail. For something fun for all the family, a trip to the Audubon Nature Institute is a must visit and this excellent attraction features a zoo, insectarium and an aquarium.
There's much to explore among the metropolis of the port city of Rodderdam. In Museumpark visit the Kunsthal which features an ever-changing range of exhibits, and the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen which features works of art by Rembrandt, da Vinci, Rembrandt and many others. If you’d like to see more of the town in a short space of time (and space) then visit Miniworld Rotterdam and see the largest miniature collection in the Netherlands which features 100 model trains, 2km of tracks and various buildings. For football fans then the De Kuip stadium, home of Feyenood is a must visit. There’s even a 90 minute tour available which provides fascinating insights into the history of the club and a glimpse into the trophy room.