The Best and Worst Cruise Ports – Cruise Bloggers reveal all!

The Best and Worst

Cruise Ports Around the World

Cruise Bloggers reveal all!

 

We have cruised many times and are always planning our next cruising adventure. Thinking about our past experiences, we know the cruise ports of call we have loved and know those where we have asked the question ‘Why did the ship stop here?

With this in mind we decided to reach out to our fellow cruise bloggers to hear their thoughts on their experiences, both good and bad.

So we asked our cruise blogger friends this question – 

‘What are the best and worst cruise ports in the world?’

This is what they had to say!

 

Emma – Cruising Isn’t Just For Old People

Worst Cruise Port: Cozumel, Mexico

I really don’t know why this port is on so many itineraries. Maybe it is because cruise lines are able to make a lot of money from this port due to the complete lack or anything to do if you don’t book an excursion. The only thing there is a shopping centre where people will shout at you to get you to go into their shops. They kept saying ‘which one do you like? which one do you like?’ walking around was not pleasant. It all felt very manufactured and I did not leave feeling as though I had visited Mexico. It was nice to get off and stretch my legs but think the day was better spent on the ship. I have no doubt that it is a fantastic place to visit if you have money for excursions, but if not I’d give Cozumel a miss.

Cozumel best and Worst Cruise Ports - Cruise Bloggers reveal all!

Cozumel, Mexico

Best Cruise Port: Barcelona, Spain

I have been lucky enough to visit Barcelona on several occasions, the most recent trip being when I took a cruise over Christmas which started and ended in Barcelona. Barcelona has an extremely busy cruise port and often has multiple cruise ships docked at the same time. I’m not sure that it is possible to see all that Barcelona has to offer in a day but it certainly is possible to get an overview of the city and a tour of the ‘best bits’. It is easy to get around Barcelona and there is loads to see, including: Park Guell, Sangrada Familia, La Pedrera, La Rambla, the Columbus monument and a fun cable car that takes you down to the beach.

The Best and Worst Cruise Ports - Cruise Bloggers reveal all! Barcelona

Barcelona, Spain

Sanna – Vegancruiser

Worst Cruise Port: Gibraltar, Spain

My least favourite cruise port of all has to Gibraltar. It is tiny. The town is like a tired, small UK village high street with tatty hand-written signs advertising cheap booze and cigarettes. You cannot move from the crowds if you try to get from the port to the cable car station – you’re better following the car traffic. Plus if you call in at the weekend, many stores close early afternoon and many are closed on Sunday too. Yes, there are monkeys on the rock and you may see dolphins but as a port, Gib town is a bore.

Gibraltar The Best and Worst Cruise Ports - Cruise Bloggers reveal all!

Gibraltar

Best Cruise Port: Kotor, Montenegro

I totally adore cruising the Adriatic, especially the ports on the Dalmatian sea. Wonderful ports like Dubrovnik and Split in Croatia, but the best of them all so far is the stunning coastal town of Kotor in Montenegro and I cannot wait to go back. Kotor has an enchanted fortified old town and a medieval maze of streets full of cats & kittens vying for your attention, who are descendants of former ship cats, apparently. The town itself is nestled deep in the bay of Kotor, between majestic mountains making the long sail-into and sail-away one not to miss. It is like sailing into a Norwegian fjord, but on the Adriatic!

Kotor Montenegro The Best and Worst Cruise Ports - Cruise Bloggers reveal all!

Kotor Montenegro

JamieExplore with Ed

Worst Cruise Port: Le Harve, France  

My least favourite port of call to date has been Le Havre. I didn’t really do my research before visiting this port and possibly missed the best bits as I aimlessly wandered into a very quiet city centre on a cool and cloudy Sunday. Most people spend the day in Paris, but journey times are over 2 hours and I’ve fortunately visited a few times. If I was cruising there again I’d probably go see the local museums or head to historical Rouen as I enjoyed my day trip there years ago.

le harve best and worst cruise ports paul and carole

Le Harve, France

Best Cruise Port: Villefranche-Sur-Mer, France

My favourite port so far has been Villefranche-Sur-Mer, a pretty seaside town in the French Riviera. Independence of the Seas dropped anchor in the harbour and we tendered to shore where I transferred onto a coach on an scenic excursion to Saint-Paul-de-Vence. On the way we passed through Nice and enjoyed some of the city’s best sights before ascending to the hill top Medieval village in the lower Alps. Saint-Paul-de-Vence is a maze of narrow cobbled streets with breathtaking views stretching from the snow-capped mountains to the warm Mediterranean coast.

Viilefranche-del-sur, France best and worst ports paul and carole

Viilefranche-del-sur, France

Victoria – Lost Ashore 

Worst Cruise Port: Marseilles, France

I’m definitely fussy and there has been a few cruise ports I haven’t really cared for: the Canary Islands didn’t do much for me, Palermo was downright ugly and Ajaccio has little to offer. But if you asked me my most hated port I would say Marseilles, time and time again! I am fairly sure that Cruise Ships dock here to go to the beautiful wineries in Aix-En-Provence; that is somewhere that people sing the praises of. But none of us drink wine and Marseilles itself left a lot to be desired…

I don’t care how glamorous they make it look on Cruising with Jane McDonald, that is a myth! The industrial dock gives way to a slum like shanty town, you dice with death through the French traffic (our oh so charming bus driver text and drove the whole way there) and are eventually left in a bus bay, behind some shops. As you wander down to the waterfront it dawns on you that not just the dock is rough – Now, I’m from an industrial town in the UK, that has been notoriously named the worst place to live in the UK. But I felt far more unsafe in Marseilles than I ever feel at home; I constantly felt like I was going to be mugged. I’m normally a sucker for a harbour view but even that couldn’t redeem it for me. It was just run down and awful, I didn’t even take any photos!

Best Cruise Port: Mykonos, Greece

The first time I visited Mykonos was in the October of 2014, it was grey and just a little bit rainy and though it was charming, the weather didn’t provide the best backdrop for the quaint white streets. When I visited again in June 2016 under bright blue skies and blazing sun – I fell head over heels for the beauty of this Greek wonder. Mykonos is truly a place to get lost, doing so is the only way to see every inch of its winding streets. As an island it definitely doesn’t offer the most thrilling excursions. But a simple day of exploration and Greek food will leave you enthralled with this sapphire of the Mediterranean.

best and worst cruise ports by paul and carole

Mykonos, Greece

Gavin and Luke – Holidays at Sea

Worst cruise port: Stavanger, Norway.

We arrived in a very wet Stavanger. It may have been our fault for doing little research in this port, but decided to give the hop on hop off bus a go. Waiting in the pouring rain, bus after bus arrived all full of people with no one venturing off and I don’t blame them as the rain was pelting it down. When we eventually got on the bus, we must of had a new driver as he seemed to be lost – I don’t think we really got anything out of the experience – not even a picture! We were glad to get back on the ship – nice weather may have improved this visit, but the best recommendation… research and plan and excursion if you can.

Best Cruise Port: Aldansnes, Norway

This port was a replacement to Flam, we were looking forward to the train there. As we did have advance notice of the change, we did some research. We read about this fabulous viewpoint, Rampestreken. The lookout is 600 meters high, and the view over Åndalsnes is magnificent. The platform has a see through bottom , it’s like walking out in to the sky! It’s quite a hike but worth it. If walking isn’t for you, there was a fabulous tourist information centre at the port where you could book excursions. We were disappointed we missed Flam but this was a really good substitute, and became one of our all time favourites!

best and worst cruise ports by paul and carole

Aldanses, Norway

best and worst cruise ports by paul and carole

Aldanses, Norway

Danielle – Cruise Miss

Worst Cruise Port: Azores (Ponta Delgada)

I would list this as my least favourite port, it’s usually a stop off on the way to or from the Caribbean for me and let’s face it, when you’re looking toward the likes of Jamaica, St Lucia, Barbados, Cozumel, Tortola and Antigua, Ponta Delgada just doesn’t quite do anything for ones senses. The only things that make me smile when I am here, is eating a pastel de nata and a Burger King and seeing if Kiko have any offers on their mascara. I am actually visiting on my World Cruise in January and for the first time, I have booked an excursion. Maybe my attitude towards this little island will change…watch this space.

best and worst cruise ports by paul and carole

Azores

Best Cruise Port: Cozumel

I have many cruise ports that I would like to list as my favourite, but as I am only allowed to mention one, it has to be Cozumel. I’ve been lucky enough to visit several times and I’ve tried everything from a relaxing beach day to the absolute must-do Cozumel Bar Hop. I just love the island. It’s got hustle and bustle, but it also has relaxation, incredible historical sites and some nice shopping opportunities. I tend to always head to the east of the island now and usually with the Cozumel Bar Hop. You don’t get many tourists on the east side, so it’s a nice break from that and there are some awesome beach bars worth checking out.

best and worst cruise ports by paul and carole

Cozumel, Mexico

Marcus – Sparkx
Best Cruise Port: Cinque Terre, Italy

One of my favourite places in the world is around the Cinque Terre region in Italy.  Located in the north west of the country, Cinque Terre, literally meaning five lands, is comprised of five villages spread across a rugged and dramatic coastline, all of which are classed as a national park and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

best and worst cruise port bloggers reveal all paul and carole

Cinque Terre, Italy

When people think of the region the images that come to mind are the variety of brightly coloured houses that hang over the water’s edge.  The unique colours originated from the fishermen, who whilst fishing wanted to be able to see their house with ease.  You can access the region from a number of cruise ports, though the port of La Spezia is the closest.  

best and worst cruise port bloggers reveal all paul and carole

Cinque Terre, Italy

My top tip would be to sail up the coast from La Spezia to get the full beauty of the region and stop off at the various villages.  Whilst there you can also hike between the villages or take the train.

Worst Cruise Port: Nassau, Bahamas

For me, one of my least favourite ports is unfortunately Nassau in the Bahamas.  It feels very much like a ‘filler port’ for itineraries, where many ships will typically stay only for half a day before sailing to other parts of the Caribbean.  Nassau itself is very beautiful with many richly coloured buildings and history, but other than the standard fare of shops or potentially expensive trips to the beach, there isn’t really much to do.

best and worst cruise port bloggers reveal all paul and carole

Nassau

 and our thoughts….

Paul and Carole – Paul and Carole Love to Travel

 

Worst Cruise Port: Durres, Albania

The view of this industrial port welcomed us as we opened our curtains and unfortunately the view did not improve. The town of Durres was depressing and unwelcoming. The beach not far from the ship was dirty and littered. This port of call had a very strange atmosphere and we were glad to get back on the ship. In hind site we should have booked an organised excursion to really see what Albania had to offer.

The best and the worst ports of call - Cruise Bloggers reveal all!

Port of Durres in Albania

Best Cruise Port: Singapore

Our ship docked near the Marina Bay Sands Hotel, which was such a fantastic sight, the views from the 57th floor over to the Gardens by the Bay were superb, and the gardens were a great place to visit. A short taxi journey takes you to Little India, Chinatown or will drop you off at the iconic Raffles Hotel for a Singapore Sling. The Hop on Hop off bus is also a really good way to get around whilst you are in port. We would really love to return to Singapore, it is a fabulous port of call! If your heading to Singapore do check out our post Top Travel Tips Singapore to make the most of your day.

The best and worst cruise ports cruise bloggers reveal all

Gardens by the Bay from the 57th floor of the Marina Bay Sands Hotel

It has been really interesting putting this post together and seeing what cruise ports are loved and those that are not and there is certainly a difference of opinion. The world of cruising is full of diverse itineraries so there will always be one that will suit you!

What do you think? We would love to know what ports are your best and worst, let us know in the comments below!

 

We would like to thank all the cruise bloggers that have contributed to this post, we feel privileged to be in the company of such great bloggers!

 

If you love cruising come and join the Facebook group Cruising Isn’t for Old People. It is a fun place, full of cruising information and interesting debates!

 

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About paulandcarole

A travelling, cruising, housesitting couple who hope to inspire others along the way!

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27 Responses to The Best and Worst Cruise Ports – Cruise Bloggers reveal all!

  1. I agree with Jamie about Le Harve! I didn’t even bother getting off 😉

  2. Great post! Funny how one place can be great for one and not for another. Just goes to show we’re all different! But I do like Villefranche-Sur-Mer. We have seen the town, though not as a port of call. We docked in Cannes; really, you can’t go wrong anywhere in the region!
    Rob+Ann @TravelLatte(.net) recently posted…Top 5 Castle Day Trips from DublinMy Profile

    • Thanks for reading. Your right that region is lovely, we cruised to Villefranche-sur-mer too pretty place and we visited Monaco to see how the other half live! Would happily go back.

  3. Meg Cale says:

    I haven’t been on a proper cruise. It’s on my list but I always wondered if it’d be mostly families and then randomly… me. lol This gives me a bit of hope that it could be something I’d enjoy.

    • There are many different cruises that will suit everyone, even for solo travellers. Many companies offer different experiences so do explore the options as it is a great way to travel!

  4. Ruth says:

    I find interesting that one person says Cozumel is their favorite and another says Cozumel is the worst they have visited. Hmmmmm! I would research like crazy when trying to choose a cruise. A lot of friends have been frustrated because there is nothing to do at port. The truth is that a lot of ports are a jumping platform for more interesting places. I do not think going with the “The cruise is all inclusive and I do not want to pay extra to go on an excursion” is going to work in your favor. If you wan to do something at port, you have to consider how much it is going to cost.

    • Just goes to show that what suits one person does not suit another. You have to pick your cruise carefully, sometimes it is not about where you are going it is getting to know and enjoy a new ship and it is amazing to see how many passengers stay on the ships. We love exploring somewhere new so itinerary is important to us. Ports get changed at the last minute too. Next week we have had one Isle de Juventud cancelled and replaced with Cozumel which means we are going to Cozumel twice which is a bit annoying so it will be interesting to see what we think!

  5. Lolo says:

    Love how you wrote about the best and worst ports and shared why! Will certainly help to decide which ports to visit! I’d love to do a Mediterranean cruise one day! #FeetdoTravel
    Lolo recently posted…The Weekly PostcardMy Profile

  6. sarah says:

    Great post, we are in the process of planning our first cruise, so it was great to see everyone’s point of you. It is interesting that someone’s favourite is also someones worst. Guess its all about what you are looking for in a port.
    sarah recently posted…Our Disney Aulani Food GuideMy Profile

  7. I loved this one. We’ve done a lot of cruises so I have visited a few of these ports and agree and disagree with a few. I also think Kotor is one of the coolest. As for Cozumel being one of the worst, I think if you take an excursion to Playa Del Carmen you can actually have a pretty amazing day trip. One of my best trips was docking in Cozumel and taking a ferry to go cave swimming in Playa Del Carmen. I want to go back!

    • Cozumel definitely does split the crowd. We are thinking about a trip to Playa Del Carmen as that is one of the excursions on our cruise, we are going to decide on the ship next week! Kotor is also on our to do list too!

  8. Great list here! Have been to some of these places but never taken a cruise from any… great post for a reference while planning one #FeetDoTravel

  9. What an interesting post! Likes and dislikes are definitely relative as seen in the Cozumel reviews. Unless we’re doing an organized excursion, I like a port to have quiet little shops and cafes. I hate being yelled at, so that’s a big turnoff at some ports.
    Carmen Baguio recently posted…What to See & Do in Orcas Island, Washington StateMy Profile

  10. Pete says:

    Great idea! I’ve only been to two of these ports – Barcelona and Singapore (incidentally, on the same cruise!) – and agree with the ratings.

    One wonders what to assess, really. Cruise berths are a bit like airports, usually not in the centre of town, and usually not a lot there. Sydney is a happy exception. So complaining about the bus or taxi cost is like complaining that they didn’t build the airport next to City Hall.

    Historic, cultural, or interesting places to get smashed are what makes a port. Barcelona is chock full of such places, as is Singapore. Love them both!

    Thanks for the warning about Cozumel – I’ll steer clear of that hell-hole and instead visit the nearby paradise of the same name. Must be dreadfully confusing!

    • Thanks for reading Pete and commenting, your right ports are like airports but always a bonus when they are pretty close to the centre! We are heading to Cozumel next week on a cruise so will see what we think!

  11. Pete says:

    I loved this post! I’ve taken the liberty of adding three links and a para of your text here: http://athousandflights.com/cruise-ports-good-bad/

  12. As terrible as some of these sound – there are still worse places to be! The best ones are definitely make me reconsider not wanting to take a cruise!

  13. Great to know the places to avoid and others to include. Cruising is such a fab way to see the world.

    Shona @ paraphernalia.co recently posted…South Africa: Charles Back and the Paarl Spice Route Destination!My Profile

  14. Very interesting. I pinned this in a cruising group pin board as I think this is great information for people cruising.

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