The Best and Worst Cruise Ports – Cruise Bloggers reveal all!
We have cruised many times and are always planning our next cruising adventure. 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!
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.
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.
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.
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!
Jamie – Explore 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.
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.
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.
Worst cruise port – St Vincent
There are not many ports we have visited that I can look back on and say I didn’t care too much for that place, but there is one that does immediately spring to mind and that is Kingstown, St Vincent. It was in 2009 and only our third cruise and part of a 2-week Caribbean itinerary. Despite doing some research prior to sailing our plan was only ever to get off and explore the town,
I was unprepared for what we found, and I have to say of any Caribbean islands we have ever stopped at, it still ranks as the worst experience. Admittedly, all we did was take a wander through the town but that was enough. It was very rundown, and we did not feel comfortable or safe, it certainly was not a tourist destination like the other islands. Seeing a few of the locals wandering around completely stoned did little to encourage us to walk further. All it was missing was a brawling drunken Jack Sparrow. So after 40 minutes or so we all headed back to the sanctuary of the ship and made the most of the facilities onboard. Granted this was 11 years ago, and over time I would really love to hear that things have now improved.
Best cruise port: Sydney, Australia
My best cruise port just has to be Sydney, Australia, we did a B2B2B itinerary down under in February/March 2017 and were very fortunate to sail into Sydney 3 times and out twice in 15 days. I can’t put my finger on one specific thing about Sydney, only that it just possesses a certain magic for me. The sail in where the iconic landmarks gradually grow large before your very eyes just sets my pulse racing thinking about it. The city’s vibrant cosmopolitan feel only adds to the experience and I have such fond memories of just wandering around and exploring the place. The locals are super friendly too and they really make you feel welcome, it is just an amazing place to visit. Its making me want to go back now just writing about it.
Gavin and Luke – Cruise Monkeys
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!
Anna – The Cruise Blogger
Worst Cruise Port: Sarandë, Albania
Last summer I cruised to Sarandë in Albania. From a distance the port looked really pretty, with a lovely beach along the front. But after getting the tender ashore, I was really unimpressed. I felt very unsafe walking around, and there were lots of people begging for money along the seafront. Sarandë didn’t look quite so nice close up! There were also rows of half-finished apartment blocks and the centre felt run down, with very little to see or do. The restaurants were meant to be very cheap to eat in though. Other passengers told me that the real highlights were further afield in the countryside. If I did go there again on a cruise, I would do an excursion so I could escape Sarandë itself. Otherwise I wouldn’t bother getting off there again!
Best Cruise Port: Ho Chi Min City Vietnam
Ho Chi Minh City was electric. I was blown away by the throngs of people, queues of traffic and the noise, but I loved it. It was unlike anywhere I’d been to before. We visited some major local landmarks, before topping off our experience with a delicious Vietnamese feast. I’d love to go back and see more of Vietnam.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
and our thoughts….
Paul and Carole – Paul and Carole Love to Travel
Worst Cruise Port: Durres, Albania
Researching this cruise port before our visit we were looking forward to a beach day and exploring the town of Durres. 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 actually depressing and unwelcoming. The beach not far from the ship was dirty and littered which was really disappointing. This port of call had a very strange atmosphere and we were glad to get back on the ship.
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.
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!
So which cruise line should you choose to cruise to these destinations? To help you decide do check out this excellent post by Laura from Cruise Lifestyle – Cruise Bloggers Favourite Cruise lines
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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